Justin Bieber museum exhibit draws raves, fans

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STRATFORD – Beliebers from far and wide were packed shoulder-to-shoulder at the front entrance of the Stratford Perth Museum this weekend for the grand opening of the Steps to Stardom exhibit celebrating Justin Bieber’s rise to fame.

Fans from across Ontario, Quebec and the United States made the trek to Stratford for the chance to see dozens of pieces of memorabilia, personal items and awards – many of which were donated by hometown superstar’s grandparents and have never been on display for fans before.

After chatting with each other online through Bieber message boards, Sandrine Ally and Camille Verret of Montreal, and Samantha English and Stacie Francis of Indiana, met for the first time at the museum. They travelled more than six hours each by car.

“I’m speechless — I don’t know what to say, for real,” Ally said after touring the exhibit.

“I’m very excited about it,” English added. “I know he’s very successful and he’s accomplished a lot, but it’s so cool to see it in person. I’m just so proud of him. There’s just no words to explain how proud we are of him.”

A little closer to home, Alexandra Wilson and her fiancé Taran Parish drove down from Whitby to see both the items on display and to visit Stratford for the first time.

“Ever since I walked in I had tears in my eyes,” Wilson said. “I’ve been watching him through YouTube since he was a kid, so it’s so crazy seeing everything in real life. It’s our first time in Stratford too, so we’re going to go see the Avon Theatre and everything.”

But by far, the fans who travelled the furthest to see the exhibit were Thomas Dorlye, Alexandre Bineau, Alvina Ascenso, and Orlane Audiard. who flew 10 hours from France.

“We saw all these things on TV and in movies, and all the awards. To be able to be this close to it, it’s so cool,” Bineau said.

Bieber was born to single mom Pattie Mallette and raised in Stratford, where he famously busked on the steps of the city’s Avon Theatre as a young boy. Bieber cooperated with museum officials to put the exhibit together.