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Musquodoboit Harbour's Ship Shape Barbershop

Eastern Shore, NS • 2021-01-26

A Touch of Nostalgia with Wayne Collette at the Ship Shape Barbershop

Wayne ColletteFeature by Garry Williams

When he joins me on Zoom, Wayne Collette is wearing a 2019 Old Navy Pride graphic tee. The peace sign – a rainbow V for victory – is indicative of Wayne’s positive, pleasant, and peaceful manner.

Wayne runs Ship Shape Barbershop, a 1940s style shop in Musquodoboit Harbour, beside the Clipper Gallery, 3.5 miles from highway 7. An iconic portrait of the young Judy Garland, ca. 1940, hangs on the wall. “Everyone knows I’m gay,” he says.

Wayne is out and proud. “My partner and I have been together for the last seven years.” Wayne and his partner Ken Vaughan, proprietor of the Clipper Gallery, met in 2014, and opened the business together three years ago. “It’s outside of Halifax. In a rural community. That’s big.”

“I had one old-ish gentleman,” he remembers, “in his 90s, say – it was during Pride – and we had all the stuff in the shop. He said, ‘Are you gay or something’? I said, ‘Yes, and my partner’s in the gallery!” Wayne laughs. “That’s how we handle it.”

“Out here, there is a large GLBT community, so I get a lot of GLBT clients.” Community-minded, Wayne values family and friends. He tries to live by the Golden Rule. “Treat people the way you want to be treated.”

When he first opened Ship Shape, he and his partner Ken wanted to raise funds for community non-profit organizations such as the Food Bank and Lions Club, so they put on Movie Night for the first six months. “We would show the old ‘40s movies, and people would come and give donations.”

“One of the ‘couple things’ we did is we went to Memory Lane”, a living heritage museum depicting rural Nova Scotia life in the ’40s. “I really liked that era, and that just stuck with me.”

Like Clipper Galley, Ship Shape is a play on words. “It was a term in the ‘40s for a well-groomed gentleman”, Wayne explains. “You’re looking ship shape!” Originally a nautical term, ship shape also denotes a sailor’s tidy, orderly berth.

No surprise to find a framed, black and white promotional still of Cary Grant, the epitome of meticulous grooming. ’40s style icon? Clark Gable! Collette’s Hollywood wall in the shop also features queer glamour icons James Dean, Grace Kelly, and a poster of the 1942 cult classic Casablanca.

But for Wayne, the 40s mean more than nostalgia. “I came out at 45. I made mistakes, which a lot of men do coming out at that age. Then I met Ken, and that was great”. Raised in Truro, from age thirteen, Wayne married in the Pentecostal Church, and had three kids. “Of course that marriage didn’t last!”

Wayne’s family is supportive. “My ex wife loves Ken, and thinks he’s great,” says Waynes. “My kids also do. I’ve met Ken’s ex, and she’s very lovely.” Wayne enjoys seeing his children in Truro, Lunenburg, and Eatsern Passage, whenever possible.

For Wayne, Ship Shape is his “gateway to retirement”. After working as a waiter, a residential counsellor, and an EPA – he has a background in education –, Wayne works with Sherry, an old friend he met in New Glasgow in 1982 at the Head Shoppe, where he graduated as a men’s hairstylist. “The salon atmosphere wasn’t for me.”

Now, despite COVID precautions, Wayne is determined to keep business going. “We were shut down for three months from March 19 to June 5th. It was tough to get through that. With the overhead and everything… you still have to pay the bills, even though you’re not working. My landlord was very generous!”

Wayne’s commitment to the community continues. “We’re hoping to have a Pride Fair here next summer,” Waynes says, with local vendors, on June 27.” The theme of the fair is Wear Your Pride. “So, it would be whatever you’re wearing to show your pride.”

Wayne lives only a kilometer from Martinique beach, which Wayne says is “the best beach” in Nova Scotia. “You’ll have to come out to see the shop!” he says. “It’s by appointment, or walk-ins by chance.”

I think I will.

Ship Shape Barbershop, 8339 B Highway 7, Musquodoboit Harbour, NS, (902) 889-2071