The Fred Astaire of Carleton Place — John Stanzel

The Fred Astaire of Carleton Place — John Stanzel


In 1929, young John Stanzel began tap lessons in Carleton Place after he learned to jig from his father Fred. Stanzel was born in our fair town on May 1, 1923. Despite taunts from the neighbourhood kids, who called him Shirley Temple, he paid for his lessons delivering newspapers. His father was also a caller for square dancing at functions such as our local fireman’s ball. His Dad worked at odd jobs, and his mother, Elizabeth, ran a fast-food counter. John’s brother, and one of his sisters, died when they were teenagers, and both his parents had passed away by the time he was 18 years old.

When John was 7 his father sent him for tap dance lessons with Eileen Snowdon. Lessons were 25 cents and when he had the money he would get his lessons, and when he didn’t, he still got them. There wasn’t much you could do as a tap dancer in Carleton Place, so he made his move to Ottawa.

When he lived in Ottawa he worked as a civil servant and later he gave tap lessons in his spare time. John also began a small tap dance studio and did character roles with Nesta Toumine’s Classical Ballet Company. He appeared and assisted in the 1968 production of Maggie Flynn on Broadway starring Shirley Jones and Jack Cassidy. The Carleton Place native taught tap dancing at Les Ballet Jazz to classes of over 250 people. Monique Leyrac, the famous actress and singer from Quebec was a special student of his. In 1978 he toured Europe with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens.


The dancer, choreographer and teacher was a founding member of what is now Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal and worked extensively with Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal. Despite his longstanding connection as a character dancer with ballet and jazz companies, he considered himself to be first and foremost a tap dancer.
“He was a consummate actor/dancer,” longtime friend Brydon Paige said, “closer in style to the elegance of Fred Astaire than to the athletic style of Gene Kelly.”


                                                        (John-gray beard and hair next to girl with white socks)

He attributed his huge success to watching Fred Astaire movies on the family couch in Carleton Place. “I could have watched movies all day long”, he said. When Stanzel suffered a stroke in 1983, his friends looked after him and bought a house in Carlton Place so that he could recuperate in his hometown.

He died in 2003 at the age of 80. Someone who has been long overlooked from the town of Carleton Place.


Clipped from The Ottawa Journal,  12 Aug 1971, Thu,  Page 29


 - By MARY LYNN SHAW Dirty uncle- uncle- Ernie in...


 - . Mr. Stanzel says he enjoys travelling with"...


Clipped from The Ottawa Journal,  12 Aug 1971, Thu,  Page 29

About lindaseccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina was born in Cowansville, Quebec about the same time as the wheel was invented and the first time she realized she could tell a tale was when she got caught passing her smutty stories around in Grade 7 at CHS by Mrs. Blinn. When Derek "Wheels" Wheeler from Degrassi Jr. High died in 2010, Linda wrote her own obituary. Some people said she should think about a career in writing obituaries. Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa from 1976-1996. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off she finally found her calling. Is it sex drugs and rock n' roll you might ask? No, it is history. Seeing that her very first boyfriend in Grade 5 (who she won a Twist contest with in the 60s) is the head of the Brome Misissiquoi Historical Society and also specializes in local history back in Quebec, she finds that quite funny. She writes every single day and is also a columnist for Hometown News and Screamin's Mamas. She is a volunteer for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, an admin for the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page, and a local guest speaker. She has been now labelled an historian by the locals which in her mind is wrong. You see she will never be like the iconic local Lanark County historian Howard Morton Brown, nor like famed local writer Mary Cook. She proudly calls herself The National Enquirer Historical writer of Lanark County, and that she can live with. Linda has been called the most stubborn woman in Lanark County, and has requested her ashes to be distributed in any Casino parking lot as close to any Wheel of Fortune machine as you can get. But since she wrote her obituary, most people assume she's already dead. Linda has published six books, "Menopausal Woman From the Corn," "Cowansville High Misremembered," "Naked Yoga, Twinkies and Celebrities," "Cancer Calls Collect," "The Tilted Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place," and "Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac." All are available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Linda's books are for sale on Amazon or at Wisteria · 62 Bridge Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada, and at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum · 267 Edmund Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada--Appleton Museum-Mississippi Textile Mill and Mill Street Books and Heritage House Museum and The Artists Loft in Smith Falls.

2 responses »

  1. John
    Stanzel was a great friend f my Aunt Dot (Dorothy) Jamieson. Gwen Stanzel was also a friend of my Aunt Jean. I heard many stories of the Stanzels in my childhood

    Liked by 1 person

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