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Arts & Culture: Breathing life into the Little Skidoo

Sudbury musician Bert Collins gift to the world is the infectious holiday ditty ‘Little Skidoo’. Now, playwright Judi Straughan has transformed the song into a stage production

Where were you in 1976? If you were in Sudbury, you might have been humming a new Christmas song being played on the radio.

Sudbury musician and civil servant Bert Collins wrote an infectious ditty, "Little Skidoo" about a snowmobile that saved Christmas after Santa's sled crashes for his children in 1967.

Collins, who died in 2012, attracted a local following as an entertainer. He was a gifted accordion player who also played piano, guitar, ukulele and bass.

The song was recorded 10 years later by Ricki Lamoureux and became a local hit. A French version,"Petit Skidoo" was released in 1982.

The Collins and Lamoureux families also performed the Christmas song at children's parties and concerts for decades.

Judi Straughan, who remembers the song from her childhood, has adapted the story into a family play, Little Skidoo, It's Up To You.

The writer and director has updated the original story with a few modern twists and characters that reflect the city's diverse population. 

Presented by CKLU Productions, the family holiday show stars Stéphane Paquette as Bert Collins and Natalie Lalonde as his niece. The cast also includes puppeteer Jöel Giroux and some adorable puppets. There are also numerous cameo appearances.

Straughan’s colleague, Katherine Smith, first talked to her about adapting the magical snowmobile story a couple of years ago. When Smith moved away, Straughan got interested in the project.

She was able to get permission from Collins's daughter, Julie Lamoureux, to use her father's song. (Julie's husband Ricki Lamoureux died in September at the age of 89.)

"She will be getting guest tickets for sure," said Straughan.

Back in 1967, Collins was not able to get permission from Bombardier to use the word "Ski-Doo." So, he changed the spelling to "Skidoo." 

Fun fact: When the first Ski-Doo was launched in 1959, the original name was Ski-Dog. There was a typo in a Bombardier brochure and Ski-Dog became Ski-Doo.

In addition to the title song, the play features another Collins's tune, "Ethelbert the Elf!!!" ("He put ketchup in the gumdrops, mustard in the pie.")

Straughan said she hopes her adaptation of "The LIttle Skidoo" will be a hit with children as well as with their parents and grandparents who remember the made-in-Sudbury Christmas story.

She has written two other plays based on Sudbury history, The Case of the Missing Mayor, and The Case of the Missing A.Y. Jackson.

There are school presentations scheduled in addition to four performances for the general public in the Sheridan Auditorium at Sudbury Secondary School Dec. 9 and 10. 

Tickets, available at, are $10 for children and $20 for adults. Some tickets will be available at the door, cash only.

The production is a fundraiser for community radio station, CKLU FM.

Vicki Gilhula is a freelance writer. Arts and Culture is made possible by our Community Leaders Program.