Canadian-born Peter Gibbard, 71, is chairman of the Friends of York Art Gallery, which celebrates its 70th anniversary this year. He and his wife Sharon became British citizens in 1992 and live in central York.
What’s your first Yorkshire memory? My career in telecoms took my wife Sharon and I all over the place for many years and we’d seen a lot of Europe. We came up to Yorkshire looking for a new home, and had a look at Harrogate (and loved it, too) and then we came over to York, took a walking tour of the city, and ended up at Russells, which was then on Stonegate. For the first time in my life, I had proper Yorkshire puddings. That was the clincher. We stayed, and we found our home near The Mount, which is where we still live. So, thank you, Russells.
What’s your favourite part of the county – and why? It could be anywhere at all – because even with the biggest Yorkshire cities, within a few minutes of driving, you are in the middle of a whole new set of diverse landscapes, both rural and post-industrial. I love the history of the mills and the mill towns just as much as I appreciate the amazing colours of the countryside.
What’s your idea of a perfect day, or a perfect weekend, out in Yorkshire?
We’d aim for a good walk somewhere, preferably with two things at the end of it – an interesting art gallery or industrial site, and a good cafe or restaurant that is warm on a cold day, and where the door can be closed to keep it cosy. Leyburn, Middleham and Roundhay are three good places to aim for.
Do you have a favourite walk – or view?
From East Witton in Wensleydale across the fields to Middleham, with the racing and the horses in between, and the river with the stepping stones. The perfect Yorkshire countryside.
Which Yorkshire sportsman, past or present, would you like to take for lunch?
This is a blank canvas for me – I don’t know any individual sportspeople. But we are always delighted when the county does so well – as with the recent Tour de Yorkshire.
Which Yorkshire stage or screen star, past or present, would you like to take for dinner?
Dame Judi Dench. She never seems to stop, and she is always there for a challenge. Who else glides so (apparently) effortlessly from light comedy to the dramatic roles, and the classics, not to mention musicals?
If you had to name your Yorkshire ‘hidden gem’, what would it be?
All Saints, in North Street, York, which was built in the 14th and 15th centuries. It has the most amazing collection of stained glass. When the lighting outside is right, it just glows with life, and the windows give you an insight into the social life of the day. There’s one panel which is the first to show a man wearing spectacles.
If you could choose somewhere, or some object, from or in Yorkshire to own for a day, what would it be?
The Hepworth in Wakefield are going to have to loan me Head of a Woman, by Henry Moore, and I promise faithfully to be a careful custodian. Along with that, absolutely anything by the artist Jacob Kramer, who was long associated with Leeds College of Art.
What do you think gives Yorkshire its unique identity?
The complex variety of the landscapes, the history that reaches back to the Vikings and beyond, and, interwoven into all of that, the cultural opportunities and innovations, the theatres, the film-making, the galleries in abundance. Weave all that together with the people, and you have one of the richest and most rewarding tapestries that you will find anywhere.
Do you follow sport in the county, and if so, what?
I did support York City for a while, but my patience finally evaporated. I’ve thought that I might transfer allegiance to Harrogate Town, and pay them some attention. Watch this space.
Do you have a favourite restaurant, or pub?
We are spoiled for choice in York, and everything has improved in recent years as far as diversity and price ranges are concerned. We get to three places quite a lot, Mannion & Co in Blake Street, Skosh in Micklegate and Côte Brasserie in Low Petergate.
Do you have a favourite food shop?
There are so many really first-rate independents – butchers, cheese and bread shops, delis, the lot. Why try anywhere else?
How do you think that Yorkshire has changed, for better or for worse, in the time that you’ve known it?
It has become, in the main, more prosperous and accessible, and the transport system has improved – although it needs to do far more in getting people from A to B with less fuss and taking less time.
If you had to change one thing in, or about Yorkshire, what would that be? More funding for our universities and for tourism. Great strides have been made, but there has been terrible industrial decline, and we must compensate for that.
Who is the Yorkshire person that you most admire?
David Hockney, because he is a creative man who just never stands still. He is always trying something new, always changing, forever giving us something that is innovative and fresh.
Has Yorkshire influenced your work?
Immensely, but not just my work, but my life. I’ve learned so much since we came here – from the people, the places, the events, the day-to-day things. It’s still a daily voyage of discovery for me.
Name your favourite Yorkshire book/author/artist/CD/performer.?
Anything by Alan Bennett, because he gives a unique insight into Yorkshire life.
If a stranger to Yorkshire only had time to visit one place, it would be?
York, and for so many reasons. Only the other day I got talking to a chap in the street that I bumped into – a Texan. He and his daughter were staying in London and decided to get the train here for one reason – to visit the Chocolate Experience. It’s wonderful that we have something to offer for everyone.
70 Years of Giving Art runs at York Art Gallery until September 2. yorkartgallery.org.uk