The Brandon Sun ~ January 7, 2010

Sue-On Hillman

Bruce Penton
Sue-On Hillman is a familiar face in the entertainment industry in Brandon. She and her husband Bill are well known in a variety of musical circles. Sue-on was born in China, came to Newdale, Man., as a 10-year-old and has been a Manitoban since. Among other things, the mother of three teaches English to foreign students at Brandon University and serves on the executive of the Westman Chinese Association. She was interviewed by Editor Bruce Penton.
What's your favourite part of the Lieutenant Governor's Winter Festival?
The food.

Do you try to hit a variety of pavilions?
The last couple of years we haven't been to many because we've had the pavilion and been busy with it, but in the past, we tried to hit as many as we could.

How important would you rate music in your life?
Very important, because it got us into a lot of different activities, a lot of travelling to different places.

How would your life be different if you'd never met your husband Bill?
No music. And I probably would not have gone into teaching. Because he is a teacher, we shared a lot of the same interests and it really jived with our schedule. If I hadn't met Bill, I probably wouldn't be in music and wouldn't have become a teacher. Maybe my parents would have pushed me into medicine or something like that, like lawyer. This is a lot more fun.

Why do you and Bill make such a great team?
We're different, but the same. We're very different personalities, but we like the same  =things. And we really complement each other. We work together very well.

Give me the names of three famous people in the entertainment industry you've either met or worked with.
Alan Clark of Dire Straits.  Little Jimmy Dickens. George Hamilton IV. Carroll Baker.  Tommy Hunter. That's a lot of the country music people we've worked with. (See www.hillmanweb.com/odyssey1  )

What do you remember about the first time you appeared on TV? How old would you have been?
First time I appeared on TV, I was probably about 19. I sang "Boots Are Made For Walking" and Leroy Van Dyke's "Walk On By." Two songs.

Were you nervous . . . comfortable?
I think I was quite comfortable because I had been working in the band with Bill and Barry (Forman) and that bunch for a little while before that TV show.

What inspired you to get involved with the Westman Chinese Association?
We were asked to, and I think we really haven't had a lot of representation in the community, and so when the festival came up, I think it was just a small table in the global village and as more people came to work at Maple Leaf, we felt that we should be better represented.

What sort of work does the association do?
We have done a lot of fundraising. We do a lot of facilitating, getting new immigrants into the community, assisting them with the language and getting them housing and any kind of social assistance. Not in terms of monetary, but fitting into the community.

How have things changed over the years as they relate to your job as a language instructor at Brandon University?
It probably hasn't changed a lot because my students are more university students.  Mind you, prior to last year, I was also teaching down at the Westman Immigrant Services, so I was doing a lot of life skills and tried to help them fit into the community. The last year I've focused more on the academic side.

What are the advantages to the ever-increasing Asian population in Western Manitoba?
I suppose more food. My whole life is food and music. (laughs) More variety. More cultural features. We have the Winter Festival and we're represented. We have the opportunity to present shows like the Sechuan acrobat group that's coming up.

What's your favourite Chinese food dish?
Hot and sour soup probably.

North American Dish?
Roast beef.

When you think back to the 10 years that you ran Soo's Chinese Restaurant on Tenth Street, do you look at it with fondness or regret?
Fondness. I made a lot of friends. And they're still friends. They're not just customers. We got to know different generations of families, so that's really terrific.

What are your children up to these days?
Our oldest son is a massage therapist. That's Ja-on. I'll tell you a story about him. All our children used to get a lot of 'Oh, you're Bill and Sue-On's son or 'you're Bill and Sue-On's daughter.' Now, it's 'Oh, you're Ja-on's mom.' Or 'you're Robin's mom.' Robin, our second son, is a web designer and our daughter China (Chee-na) will be graduating from fourth-year medicine come May from the University of Manitoba.

How often have you used your black belt karate skills outside of the karate class?
Never. I just tell them I have a black belt and that does it. Or else I'll take off my shoes and that's another step.

January 14, 2010

Ken Daniels' Cantina
A private club for die-hard musicians who wanna jam all night

The  House Band:
Ken (guitar) ~ Ken (bass) ~ John (drums) ~ Bill (guitar)

Sanctuary to scores of musicians from all over Canada for over 15 years.
Rock | Rock 'n' Roll | Heavy Blues | C & W | Bluegrass | etc.

More Jam Pics

Gigs & Jams
Pics I | Pics II |Pics III
Hillman Musical Odyssey
Blues Connection

See Hillmans In The News 2010: Part II


Bill & Sue-On Hillman