June 21, 2024

At an age when kids typically play with toys, Timothy Bignell chose to mingle with musical instruments. 
To Timothy, a microphone is a canvas, the lyrics are his paintbrush and his songs are acoustic art. Timothy has been passionate about music since he was 11 years old, and credits his parents for his love of music. 

Timothy has been passionate about music since he was 11 years old, and credits his parents for his love of music. 

“I always believed my brother and I got our rhythm from mom and dad. My father played the concertina and the harmonica, whereas my mother sang in the church choir and played guitar and piano,” Timothy said.

Timothy Bignell plays the bugle in the Dutch Boy Cadets.
(Photo courtesy of Timothy Bignell)

It all began when he started playing the bugle in a marching band named the Dutch Boy Cadets in Kitchener.

“One day, my mother found out that the band was recruiting people. So, my brother and I went, and we got enrolled in the band,” he said. 

Timothy , 60, is an appliance salesperson who used to live in Ayr, Ont., but moved to Waterloo recently to save time that he wasted on travelling to work every day.

He works as a full-time sales associate at Lowe’s in Waterloo.

Timothy is one of those lucky few who are not only blessed with a melodious voice but can also inscribe lyrics.

“I enjoy singing, and I love painting with words,” he said.

He performed with the Dutch Boy Cadets for nine years, but he left the band to follow his dream of recording an album.

Timothy Bignell plays the bugle.
(Photo courtesy of Timothy Bignell)

Timothy’s decision to turn his aspirations into reality has a tragic backstory that links to his family. 

At a young age, he was a notorious boy. He didn’t bother learning much about his father, Graham Bignell, who served in the Second World War and who passed away in 1984.

“I never paid attention to my sergeant father’s work the way I should have. I was always interested in hanging out with friends,” Timothy said.

 He was further grief-stricken when two of his brothers, Bobby and Terry, died after turning 59 years of age, one from cancer and the other from a heart attack.

“Turning 60 years old was a big thing for me. I was nervous as my brothers died when they were 59,” he said.

Nancy Thayer, the New York Times bestselling author, once said, “It’s never too late – in fiction or in life – to revise.”

This is exactly what Timothy did.

“The day I read about the Canadian soldiers who were killed in Afghanistan during the war in 2009, I realized the sacrifice made by each one of them,” he said.

He got his inspiration to start writing lyrics for his album from an article published in the Waterloo Region Record on Jan. 2, 2010, with a headline that read, “Grieving soldiers say farewell to slain comrades, journalist.”

Timothy Bignell holds a picture of his wife on his phone at Fairview Park Mall on Nov. 27, 2019. (Kriti Thakur/ Spoke News)

“It also made me think that I lived with a hero in my family, and I never got a chance to thank him. How wonderful it was that he served our country,” Timothy said.

From there, Timothy decided to bring forward his struggles to understand the sacrifices made by soldiers through his music.

Timothy is an incredibly versatile musician who released his first album after 15 years of dedication and hard work. 

He plays the bugle and trumpet and knows how to play a little bit of guitar.

Titled, “Still In Love,” the CD is a collection of 12 songs he wrote and was released on Jan. 1, 2019.

This album is his way of reflecting his emotions regarding the situations he has gone through in his life.

“Whether it is holding on to my guilt … resentment or bitterness, all my songs are true-life stories,” he said.

For him, releasing the album is his most significant accomplishment. 

People may call him “an old man who is still dreaming,” but for him, dreams are immortal and age is nothing but a number.

Timothy is forever thankful to his “best friend” Ian Tanner, for giving music to his lyrics, and bringing his “passion to life.”

“He is the sailor of my boat,” Timothy said .

Tanner, a resident of Kitchener, is a songwriter and a multi-instrumentalist who has been performing in rock bands since the ’80s.

According to Timothy, his “buddy is a genius in music.”

Tanner, a virtuoso, tours with Jim Witter, an award-winning Canadian musician, and they play in different cities with various symphony orchestras, said Bignell.

He said he is also fortunate to have a partner who supports his passion and lifts his spirit. To him, Julie Bignell, his wife, is the “jewel” of his heart.

“I call her Jewel,” he said.

 He met her when she was 18 years old and they “have been together for almost 40 years.”

“She is a wonderful woman and I can’t imagine my life without her,” he said.

Even at this age, his wife always reminds him to never stop dreaming.

Timothy said his wife says “never say never” – just like the Canadian singer, Justin Bieber.

“No matter what, I’ll keep dreaming and singing.”

Jewel is Timothy’s support.

“I support him in whatever he does. It is important to follow your dreams, no matter how old you are,” she said.

Her husband prefers eating at home as “she is one of the best cooks in the world.”

Jewel can make Mexican-Italian mashups with lasagna and tostada along with delicious Indian dishes, including butter chicken and pumpkin soup.

The couple never misses a chance to make each other feel special. 

In the happiness of 37 years of togetherness, Timothy wrote a lovey-dovey “anniversary poem” for his lovely life partner. 

“If the seasons of my life were captured on a canvas, the palette of colours would be you.

Springtime wildflowers in rolling green meadows, where we sipped peach wine from innocence in bloom.

In the warm summer breeze, we danced like the wheat fields near the cascading streams, 

I planned gold for you. It’s now autumn, and the tree line has stained glass colours, I reflect on my life like the winding river view.

I thank God for you, my love as winters around the corner. Till drifted footprints are one, I’ll be loving you.” 

His love for her is as deep as the ocean.

“She is like a warm sweater,” he said.

Timothy and Jewel have lived without kids for more than four decades.

 “It was our choice to never have children,” he said.

However, he now regrets that decision because he will never get a chance to be called grandpa.

Apart from lifting weights in the gym, the famously gregarious artist also likes “lifting” glasses of wine.

“Food and wine make me happy,” he said.

Timothy does not only adore his wife but also admires his older brother, Craig Bignell.

“He is an amazing drummer and a singer,” he said.

Craig lives with his wife, Suzanne Levesque, in Alberta.

The husband and wife duo have created a famous band called “Over The Moon.”  It is a blend of old-time and romantic music. 

 “They both are phenomenal artists,” Timothy said.

In his downtime, Timothy is interested in fitness. He has a gym in his house where he can work out without interruption. 

According to him, the benefit of having an exercise room at home is that he can listen to the music of his choice.

“It is a great way of generating ideas to write new songs as I can focus on myself physically and mentally while I am working out,” he said.

Timothy is not only a musician but also a sales specialist.

“I love my job, and I think getting paid for talking is pretty awesome,” he said.

Timothy is not one of those who eats lunch in the break room. Instead, he prefers sitting in his car at lunch breaks and enjoys singing his songs. 

He said, “The best part about work is that I get to spend my lunch hour in my car. I scroll through all my songs every day. 

“And the geese walking around in the parking lot are my audience. They sit and watch me as I’m singing.”

Rathesa Kodeeswaran, one of Timothy’s co-workers, said, “He is inspiring people to do what they love. He is truly talented and blessed with a tuneful voice.” 

Timothy also cares deeply about his community.

 “There are less fortunate people everywhere, not only around the world but also in your own backyard,” he said.

He has donated 200 CDs to Hockey Helps the Homeless, which is a charity that raises funds for the homeless. 

“Be grateful for whatever you have,” he said.

“Don’t take life for granted.”

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