By Spencer McBride, The Guard –
Giuseppe Maimone, the resident barber and manager of the NDHQ Barber Shop, celebrated his 80th birthday on 5 February, 2019. Maimone, affectionately known as “Joe” by the many Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members and Department of National Defence (DND) employees who visit his shop on the second floor of the South Tower at NDHQ (Pearkes), has been cutting hair for the Defence Team over four decades, beginning in 1978.
Joe celebrated his birthday with his usual positive attitude. “Everyone is surprised when I say I’m 80,” still cutting hair expertly as he spoke. “I just hope the girls don’t stop looking,” he laughed. Every customer confirmed this as they learnt about his age, arguing that he was much too active to be eighty.
Joe has given 10 to 20 haircuts to CAF members almost every weekday for the past forty years, totaling well past 150,000 cuts. Many of those customers were CAF leadership, and Joe fondly recalls serving General (ret’d) Ramsey Withers, General (ret’d) Gérard Thériault, General (ret’d) Thomas J. Lawson, and many other Chiefs of the Defence Staff, along with Defence Ministers such as Peter McKay, whose haircut photo still hangs in the shop. Joe moved from his barber shop in Geneva, Switzerland, to a shop in the Rideau Centre in 1963, where he soon gained a reputation with clients from NDHQ.
Joe tells his stories modestly and warmly, engaging with each new client that comes into the shop. One of those customers is Commander Ted Parkinson, whose hair Joe has cut, on-and-off, since 1988. The two joked back-and-forth as Joe cut his hair and trimmed his beard, with Cdr Parkinson commenting that “Joe is a fixture, an important part of the building.”
“Joe is a fixture, an important part of the building.” – Cdr Ted Parkinson
The building, of course, has changed many times since Joe began in 1978, but he remains the same. “Things change, personnel change. But the people here have always been great.”
At eighty, he is begrudgingly planning for retirement. “My daughter says she will let me work in her basement and still give a few haircuts every day. You need to keep some work to keep sharp!” As for when he might retire, there’s no current plans. “God is all our boss. When he tells me to stop, then I will.”
Reflecting on his long time at NDHQ, Joe smiles. “I have been happy the whole time I’ve been here. I thank DND all the time.”
DND thanks you as well, Joe.
Happy Eightieth Birthday!
This post is also available in: Français (French)