The tiny town of Stratford, Ont. knows a side of Justin Bieber that the rest of the world doesn’t, and they’re finally spilling the beans.
Stratford is known for its annual theatre festival, but more importantly (OK, equally as important), it’s known for being the birthplace of Justin Bieber. The community has wholly embraced this honour, creating a Hollywood Walk of Fame-esque star on the steps outside the Avon Theatre where the 23-year-old used to busk as a kid, and the town’s tourism website even features a map of Bieber’s favourite places to hang (Swiss Chalet, anyone?). But Stratford’s latest show of love is on an even grander scale: the Stratford Perth Museum just opened an exhibit, Steps to Stardom, that tells the story of the homegrown star's rise to fame. Here, five things we learned during our exclusive tour of the exhibit.
More than just a pretty… voice
John Kastner, general manager of the museum, says the exhibit not only focuses on the singer’s career, but also emphasizes his role in the community. “Some of the things we have here predate his fame and talk more about his presence growing up in Stratford,” he told FLARE. The items on display include photos of baby Biebs with his mother Pattie Mallette, personal notes and the singer’s old hockey bag.
Once the Biebs, always the Biebs
You may think it was a clever moniker given by his loyal fan base, but the nickname, Biebs, came long before the fans. According to Kastner, the entire community called Bieber by the shortened name. “There were some people that didn’t know his real first name,” he revealed. The nickname is etched on the back of Bieber’s Stratford Warriors jacket (he played in the minor hockey league as a kid).
The Leafs are Beliebers
Speaking of hockey, Justin has often been snapped supporting his favourite team at the Air Canada Centre, but did you know the Toronto Maple Leafs love the pop singer back? The exhibit features a Leafs jersey signed by the entire team for Bieber’s 18th birthday. That’s some serious love.
Beauty with a beat
Justin has publicly shown off his bangin’ drumming skills in the past, but his talent dates back really far. His first mentor (before Scooter Braun came on the scene) was family friend Nathan McKay. McKay helped raise over $2,000 to buy Bieber his first drum set when the future superstar was only eight. That same drum set is on display at the exhibit.
Old habits die hard
According to Mimi Price, the CEO of the Stratford YMCA—where Bieber would hang out as a kid—the performer was always willing to put on a show for his fans. “At the Stratford Star [singing] competition, during the finale, he sang three different songs and had three different outfits,” she says. What’s the one thing he still does during his performances? “He still sings with his hand over his heart today,” she revealed. *awwwww*