Cutups! Russell gains new room to groom

Around the Nation

by Tom Van Dusen

Well that’s a hair-raising surprise! Not in a scary way… in a startling development when it comes to grooming way!

Russell has a new barbershop, Trieste, about to open it appears as soon as COVID-19 protocols permit, as early as today, Feb 16. It’s in the back end of a building which once housed a video store that has been under renovation for years. From the outside and online photos, it looks like some nice décor has been introduced inside.

I spotted the new business while strolling through the village on my way to Pronto to pick up a few essentials such as bread, milk and Cheese Whiz. I vaguely remembered seeing a local news report about Trieste’s arrival but forgot until I walked past the tell-tale blue, red and white pole and the sign in the window that the new shop at the bridge is “Coming Soon”.

Trieste is across Concession and Mill streets from another blue, red and white pole outside The Barber Shop, cutting a swath in that spot for 20 years, with Ronda working the scissors. That’s been my shearer of choice for about as long as it’s been in business; the last time I went in I got the $15 seniors rate for a trim and a thin, with Ronda politely asking as usual if I was entitled to the discount.

Interested in the concept of two barbers in close competition in the same village, I did some research on Trieste. That’s what I do. I’m a reporter after all! And I need a haircut!

I discovered that Trieste’s owner is Cristoforo Roman who plied his trade in Winchester beginning in 2018. In fact, there’s a photo of the editor of this news service sitting in the Trieste chair back then with Cristoforo conducting a beard trim; I presume you paid full rate Nelson!

Nation Valley News editor Nelson Zandbergen awaits the shave of Trieste Barbershop’s Chris Roman in Winchester (a couple of years before the pandemic.)

Forced to cut way back by COVID-19 closures like everyone else in the profession, Roman decided to relocate to the hirsute hinterland of Russell. Billing himself as Russell’s only male barber, he’s offering a full range of services including cool flattops and buzz cuts — even tattoo hair designs — with the price for a run-of-the Mill Street regular cleanup set at $17. He also sells grooming products such as beard oil and nose and ear trimmers for $10. I don’t need the former and already own the latter.

I have a long a complex relationship with barbers going back to growing up in Aylmer in the 1950s and to regularly getting my ears lowered in a shop operated by Mr. Mainville, a one-eyed 80-year-old scissors wielder with severe shakes. There was a long oak waiting bench, a spittoon in the corner, containers of colourful mysterious liquids on the counter, and kids sat up on a board placed across the arms of the barber chair.

The constant concern was of getting an ear trimmed along with the hair. I got through the Mainville years without incident… until the 1970s when, as an Ottawa Citizen reporter, I did a story on old-fashioned barbers still working in the increasingly trendy Byward Market. As part of my report, I recalled sitting on Mr. Mainville’s board and fearfully dodging his scissors. I may have embellished it a little bit.

I assumed he was dead of course. But he wasn’t. I received a terse message from the family offended by my references to their father who, at 103, was still alive. I refrained from answering that I hoped he was no longer cutting hair.

One of the photos from that 70s Citizen feature is framed and hanging in Russell’s Barber Shop, confirming a certain loyalty to that establishment. New business is always welcome, and I wish Cristoforo every success but, as usual, I’ll be getting my next Covid cut from Ronda. (Editor’s note: The NVN editor will likewise show similar loyalty as Tom — by getting his next cut from Cristoforo at Trieste!)

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