E-Chen Hsu and Patrick Horn

September 2020

In a throwback to a tried-and-true schoolyard crush maneuver, Patrick Horn would leave E-Chen Hsu notes on her locker when they first met at Northwestern University in Chicago. Both were completing graduate programs in music. Northwestern served almost as a halfway point between the separate hometowns of the two - E-Chen is from the GTA and Patrick is from the Bay Area in California. They met in the locker room where they would store their instruments (E-Chen plays the clarinet and Patrick plays the viola).

“One winter he came into school and he was covered in snow. I noticed his hat right away because it was an old-school, 70s style toque with a Canadian flag on it. I thought I knew all the Canadians in the graduate music programs, so I wondered at his hat. Of course, it turned out that he is not Canadian, but he did have an aunt who lived in Ottawa,” E-Chen tells me.

“I’m glad for that toque! I think I was too cheap to buy one, so I wore the old Canadian flag hat” says Patrick. “I was covered in snow because I didn’t have a car and I biked everywhere on a road bike, even in the middle of winter.”

“We didn’t really have any classes together, except one optional orchestra repertoire class. I don’t think we even got credit for taking this class, so I would always come in late,” says Patrick.

“He would leave little post-it notes on my locker,” says E-Chen. “That’s how he first asked me out. My friend would spot the notes and tell me about them.”

Their first date was at a restaurant in Evanston, a city just north of Chicago. From that point, the two were a couple.

In the years after graduation, E-Chen found herself working a customer service job in Toronto and she was eager to find a job playing the clarinet full-time.

“I auditioned for a one-year replacement gig with the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra. I got called back to do another one-year contract after that,” E-Chen explains. Her and Patrick were doing long-distance dating during this period, and they got engaged after E-Chen’s first year in Thunder Bay.

After two years or so, Patrick was able to join E-Chen playing in the TBSO. They have been musicians with the orchestra for just under twenty years. In that time, they have made a home for themselves and their son, Kalen, who was born and raised here.

“The stars really had to align for us to end up playing in the same orchestra,” says Patrick.

“If we were to move to a different orchestra, a viola position and a clarinet position would have to become available at the same time, then we’d both have to audition and win those positions. We feel really lucky that we both have spots in the TBSO,” says E-Chen.

“It’s a great place to live,” she continues. “We like winter sports, like skiing and snowshoeing, so of course it’s perfect for that. Our son was born here and he loves winter. A few years ago, we were in Australia, and one of the first things he did when we got home was just lie in the snow in his snowsuit.”

“I love to swim, and the Complex has a great pool and a Masters swim team,” says Patrick. “I can participate in all the activities I like here, like running and biking.”

They also enjoy hiking, and they mention their appreciation for the easy access to hiking trails right in the city, like at Centennial Park and the Cascades.

“You don’t have to worry about traffic here. It would take us three hours to get to a skihill when I was living in Southern Ontario, and now it takes 30 minutes” says E-Chen. “You spend more of your time living,” she adds.

In their downtime, they enjoy cooking and Patrick has some interest and knowledge in foraging for wild foods and plants.

“I like the country market a lot,” says E-Chen. “It’s been really nice that during the pandemic a lot of local vendors have moved online.

Every couple of weeks during the lockdown I was getting a box of local groceries and produce from Superior Seasons.”

One of their favourite places to eat out at is Bight. They also gravitate towards anywhere that uses fresh, local produce and ingredients, like The Growing Season. Another favourite local spot is Prime Gelato, especially for their lactose free options.

“The marina is another place we love. It’s a great place to go if you have kids since there is a lot for them to do, especially with the skating rink,” says E-Chen.

This past August, Patrick and E-Chen celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary. Two decades of love and friendship and music – it’s a good thing Patrick’s aunt gave him that red and white Canadian toque.

Cassandra Blair has a Masters of Arts in English Literature and is a regular contributor to Bayview.

Zircon - This is a contributing Drupal Theme
Design by WeebPal.