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Trombone sends bear packing at St. John’s Academy on Vancouver Island

Music teacher grabbed biggest instrument he had

The saying “music soothes the savage beast” was put to the test at St. John’s Academy in Shawnigan Lake on May 27.

Over a period of several days, a black bear had been attracted to the smell of the school’s trash cans, which are kept outside in a wooden structure and not accessible to wildlife.

In response, the academy had restricted the movement of students to avoid the area where the trash cans are stored until the bear finally realized it wasn’t going to be able to get at the cans.

But the bear was back at it again on May 27, and music teacher Tristan Clausen had a clear view of the animal from his classroom window.


He said one of his students left the classroom through the outside door, but quickly retreated back inside when she saw the bear.

“I have a saxophone, a trumpet and a trombone behind my desk, so I grabbed the largest one that could make the most noise, which was the trombone, and started playing it as loud as I could as I walked toward the bear,” Clausen said.

“I was thinking at the time that I should have learned the A&W theme song beforehand. Apparently, the bear didn’t care for my playing because he ran into the woods and I haven’t seen it since.”

Clausen said he wasn’t scared during the incident.

“I wasn’t far from the door, but I could tell that the bear was frightened, which is why I wasn’t frightened myself,” he said.

“The bear just left the scene after he saw me and heard me play. This is a rural school, so you never know what could happen. Bradley Myrholm [the academy’s director of academics] said I was a legend and I don’t know about that, but I do intend to keep my trombone close by in the future.”

The incident was captured on video.

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Tristan Clausen, a music teacher at St. John’s Academy in Shawnigan Lake, scared a bear away from school grounds by loudly playing his trombone. (Submitted photo)

Robert Barron

About the Author: Robert Barron

Since 2016, I've had had the pleasure of working with our dedicated staff and community in the Cowichan Valley.
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