Born and bred in Hintonburg, Uncle Bob Cabana who owns Fab Gear 64 on Wellington Street West is a neighbourhood icon. With the shop closed on Mondays, he arranged to meet us at 11:00 for a chat and a photo shoot. When we arrived, band rehearsal was in full swing in the clothing shop. “Come on in,” Uncle Bob welcomed us as soon as the set was over. “These boys are The Fenton Brothers and we were just getting ready for our performance at Blues Fest on July 7.”
While the band took a break, Uncle Bob indulged us by taking up residence in his famous red chair while we peppered him with questions and took photos of the dapper gentleman in his boater jacket responsible for better dressed men on several continents as well as across Kitchissippi.
1. Uncle Bob grew up on O’Meara Street.
“I was born at the Grace Hospital, went to school at St. François, was baptised at the big silver church and plan to be escorted out of the neighbourhood feet first from that same church.” Uncle Bob lives on Fairmont Avenue.
2. Uncle Bob’s personal mission is to “funkify the City of Ottawa.”
“I never forget a shirt I’ve sold. Sometimes I’m in an airport and I’ll see someone with one of my shirts from years ago. I’ve been a stylist for most of the bands in Ottawa. Sooner or later guys learn that torn old jeans and t-shirts will only take them so far.” Every year Uncle Bob attends a clothing show in Vegas where he picks up classy clothes for classy guys.
A few weeks ago some visitors from Calgary stopped by Fab Gear 64 because they’d read on Trip Advisor.ca (the popular user-generated travel guide site) that this was a top destination in Ottawa.
3. Uncle Bob is not running for Mayor.
He was, however, recently elected as the new marketing chair for the Wellington West BIA, an organization he’s been involved with for the past three years. In his new position, Uncle Bob, fittingly, plans to “add a little pizazz” to the WWBIA, to market the area to the rest of Ottawa.
4. Uncle Bob’s grandma used to sew his clothes.
“When I was 17 my grandma made my clothes. I looked the best out of all my friends and that certainly helped in the dating scene.” Now Uncle Bob carries clothing from the 60s, including the Beatle suits.
His stock is eclectic, unique and 90% men’s wear. Often women are waiting in the famous red chair while men select just the right shirt.
5. Uncle Bob and The Fenton Brothers are, indeed, playing Blues Fest.
On July 7 at 2:45 p.m., the River Stage will be rocking with slide-driven rock and roll. Most of the band’s material is original. But the mystery remains. What will Uncle Bob wear on stage?