Our Community - Dale Wallace Sr.
"Pickin' & a grinnin' in Paradise"

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 14, No. 33            September 15, 2004

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Dale Wallace Sr.

Music plays a vital part in the lives of people around the world, and Ambergris Caye is no exception. To enjoy the beach with a delicious frozen drink in hand while listening to lively Caribbean and calypso rhythms is part of the attraction of San Pedro Town. This week, The San Pedro Sun introduces a man who does his part to keep the music alive on "La Isla Bonita" – Dale Wallace Sr.    

    Dale was born in the small mining town of Flin Flon, Manitoba, Canada on January 6th, 1950 to Marjorie and Len Wallace. The youngest child in a family of four boys and one girl, Dale grew up singing and listening to music with his father, a renowned musician in Canada.

    At the age of two, Dale's father passed away, and his family traveled back and forth from Flin Flon to Vancouver, where his grandparents had retired.

    Dale attended both elementary and high school in Vancouver, British Colombia. When he was 14, his older brother gave him his first guitar as a birthday present and taught him how to play. While attending Lord Byng High School, he was a member of several neighborhood bands. After classes, they would rehearse in a friend's basement, and on weekends they took advantage of every opportunity to play for school dances.

    Graduating in 1968, Dale was first employed as a carpenter's helper. Over the years, Dale worked on oil rigs, in warehouses, and at any other "odds and ends" (jobs) that he was offered. He would work for at least six months in order to save enough money to travel, on his own, to other parts of the world. On one of his many trips to Mexico, he traveled down to Belize where some friends in Belize City told him about San Pedro.

    In 1974, Dale paid his first visit to Ambergris Caye, and instantly fell in love with the laid back island lifestyle. At that time, there were no televisions or radios on the island, and he enjoyed walking around town in his bare feet. "There were only two vehicles and no bicycles on the island then. The freedom and worry-free life San Pedro offered were very attractive!" he exclaimed.

    While taking a stroll down the beach one day, Dale heard the sound of a guitar playing at Fido's Resort and Bar owned, at the time, by the Nuñez family. He went in, sat down, ordered a rum and coke, and listened to Wilfredo Nuñez Jr. play calypso, Caribbean, and Latin beats for the rest of the afternoon. After Wil's performance, Dale quickly went to his hotel, picked up his guitar and brought it back to Fido's, where Wil taught him to play the rhythms he had heard.

    Dale returned to Vancouver, and worked for a few months at a time so he could afford to make several trips back to "La Isla Bonita." In mid-1977, Dale accepted a job performing at Barrier Reef Hotel (where the Alliance Bank of Belize is now), and later began working for the Nuñez family, tending the bar and helping around the resort.

    That year, Dale met and fell in love with Virginia Alamilla. On Christmas Eve, December 24th, 1978, the couple exchanged vows of Holy Matrimony. Today, they are the parents of: Dale (23), Beverly (21), Michael (15), and Gina (14).

    Shortly after Dale and Virginia were married, the couple moved back to Vancouver. Unfortunately, tragedy struck when the couple lost their first child, one-year-old Delia. After nine years of living in Canada, Dale realized he no longer felt at home there and made the decision to move his family back to Ambergris Caye. "San Pedro was my home from the day I stepped foot on it, and like they say, ‘there is no place like home'," he said. 

    Back on the island, Dale was first employed by Paradise Resort Hotel as an inventory manager, responsible for keeping the hotel well supplied with all the tools and materials needed to keep it running smoothly. In his free time, he would meet with Wil, and other local men (Oscar Aguilar, Chico Flores, and Emilio Rivero) to engage in their favorite hobby – playing music.

     In 1992, the group released their first cassette, Wil and Friends. A mixture of ballads with well-known songs such as "Beautiful San Pedro," the cassette increased the band's popularity. Soon, Wil and Dale began receiving offers to play "everywhere," from the beach barbeque at the Holiday Hotel to weddings and various other social functions. Eventually "our hobby got out of hand," Dale commented. The team released their second cassette, Wil and the Outlaws and not long after, recorded their first compact disc, in January of 2002. Souvenir, as it was aptly named, was aimed at tourists wanting to take home a taste of the Caribbean. Their next collection of Spanish rhythms, Tequila Trio, recorded with Oscar Aguilar, was compiled "by popular demand," specifically for San Pedro residents.

    On the side, Dale began repairing guitars from home, and eventually made up his mind to create his own guitar. Surprising many skeptics, Dale read several books in order to build his first guitar, and today he has made a business out of it. In the near future, Dale plans to have his own guitar shop where he will build guitars, and repair them, as well as any other stringed instrument. He is proud to say that each guitar he creates is a handmade original, from start to finish, made with the best woods available in Belize, such as zericote, mahogany, pine and rosewood.

    Soon, Dale and Wil plan to release a San Pedro Souvenir II compact disc with other popular calypso and Latin songs. A country western compact disc is also in the making, with songs made popular by artists such as Hank Williams, Elvis Presley and the Merry Men from Barbados.

    In his free time, Dale enjoys spending time with his grandchildren, John Elijah (3) and Ryan Michael (10 months). "I love taking them for walks and swimming in the beautiful Caribbean Sea," he said. "I do not regret making the choice to live in Paradise, especially now that I am able to work at what I love best," he said.

    Dale is satisfied with his life in Ambergris Caye and considers it home. He is certainly a role model to anyone who wishes to pursue a career in music. "Success in music takes time. Do not get frustrated, just keep moving forward," he ended. Always entertaining and willing to help anyone interested in pursuing a musical career, Dale Wallace is a big part of the "harmony" in "Our Community."

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