Pat Blythe – Canada Turns 150? and Canadian Music Reminders…..

A weekend (and a year) of celebrations across Canada….150 years young…..but is it really?

Oh how I love history! An item on my “to do” list before I pop my clogs is to work towards, and obtain, my BA Mediaeval History. Cambridge University is where I’d love to be (I do love England) but University of St. Michaels College here in Toronto is also an excellent choice and know for their studies in Mediaval history. The bucket list is not long, just really big projects.

A very short history lesson…go on, you might learn something….

First there was Upper and Lower Canada. Then came the Act of The Union in 1841 which created the Province of Canada. Upper Canada became Canada West and Lower Canada became Canada East. Fast forward to the spring of 1864 and the colonies of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island (PEI) were contemplating a Maritime Union. When the Premier of the Province of Canada got wind of the discussions, he asked to be included. This, of course, was none other than Sir John A. MacDonald and the negotiations became known as the Charlottetown Conference.

The second meeting, known as the Quebec Conference, now included Newfoundland. The third and final meeting, the London Conference took place in (you guessed it) London, England. After much debate here at home, a draft of 72 resolutions, agreed upon by all parties concerned was then taken across the ocean. Sixteen delegates from the colonies and the province traveled to London to meet with Queen Victoria and the British government. The go-ahead was given and work was finally begun on the British North American Act, with all 72 resolutions remaining intact. The document was completed and submitted to England by February, 1867. It was approved by all levels of British parliament and received royal assent March 29, 1867. The date for the union was set for July 1, 1867.

Queen Victoria, We do ordain, declare, and command that on and after the First day of July, One Thousand Eight Hundred and Sixty-seven, the Provinces of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, shall form and be One Dominion, under the name of Canada.” The Province of Canada had been (agreeably) split up to create the Province of Ontario (formerly Upper Canada) and the Province of Quebec (formerly Lower Canada). PEI wasn’t thrilled with the outcome of the Quebec Conference so held out joining the Dominion until 1873. Newfoundland, the final province to come into the fold, decided to wait 82 years before joining in 1949. So strictly speaking, Canada, with all ten provinces united, is really only 68-years-old. We are also still a ‘Dominion’ today although the term is not commonly used. The reference has been slowly phased out, except for official documents. Apparently monarchists take great comfort in this and the Constitution Act of 1982 does not mention, nor did it remove, the title and a constitutional amendment would be required to change this.

Lower right-hand corner in white, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick & Nova Scotia. As is obvious, both Ontario and Quebec grew considerably in size while Rupert’s Land and North-Western Territory were broken up into the western provinces we know today.

In its 26-year lifespan, the capital city of the Province of Canada changed six times. Talk abound indecision. I’m not sure if cities were simply taking turns or if it was the result of political tugs-of-war. Whatever it was, the first was Kingston in 1841 (four years), moving on to Montreal (five years), then Toronto (four years), next was Quebec City (five years), back to Toronto for one more year, Quebec City again (seven years) and finally, in 1857, Queen Victoria settle the matter by  choosing Ottawa as the permanent capital where it remains today as the capital of the Dominion of Canada 160 years later. Construction of Canada’s first parliament buildings began shortly afterwards. Ironically, the first stage, completed in 1865, was just in time to host the Province of Canada’s final session.

I love this country for all its peccadilloes and foibles. We have wounds yet to heal and archaic laws that need removing or changing. True, we haven’t always been the most welcoming, kindest or gentlest country in the world. This marriage has had its ups and downs and often went a bit sideways. We need to treat ALL people honorably with respect, honesty and common courtesy….do unto others….. We need to support our own and sometimes, we need to take a stronger stand for what is right, both at home and abroad. We need to call a spade a spade and state the obvious….”politically correct” is not part of my vocabulary but neither is rudeness or bullying. We need to stop sweeping problems under the rug and take responsibility for our actions and/or decisions, just like our parents taught us to do. We need to forgive but not forget and learn from our mistakes. Most importantly, ALL of us need to work together.

Canada’s diversity in land mass….from the Rockies to the prairies, from the Canadian Shield and Niagara Falls to the east coast…. offers some of the most incredible vistas in the world. We excel in education, science, technology, medicine, arts and entertainment, culture and class. There are more ethnicities represented in Canada than in any other country in the world. Just imagine the food!!!

Now…..can you honestly tell me where else you would rather call home?

By the way, there’s a test next Wednesday…..

FYI Music News (FYI) posted their Canada 150 Charts on June 30, just in time for Canada Day. Go here to read it.

The information was gleaned from Nielsen Music and Billboard and was supposed to list the top Canadian artists, albums and songs. Now, granted, we can’t go back 150 years, maybe not even 100, but we sure as hell can go back 60 years without breaking a sweat. I am extremely disappointed and very surprised that FYI, who uses a maple leaf as part of their logo, relied on two AMERICAN companies that could only cover 20 years. REALLY!!! No, I am not a loss for words this time.

This is the response I wrote in their comments section.

“Canada is 150 years old. Research can at least take us back to 40s o 50s for Canadian music. Nielsen and Billboard shouldn’t be the only source of info. Why is the focus always on the past 20 years (or less)? Canada has produced some of the top, most influential musicians in the world over the past 60 years! Come on FYI, you can do much better than that!!!”

However, I felt compelled to address this a little more thoroughly as the list of singers, songwriters, albums and songs, goes much, much, much deeper than the superficial “notes” in the FYI article. It’s been a bit of a bee in my bonnet…..


Hank Snow, Gisele MacKenzie, The Diamonds (Why Do Fools Fall In Love), The Crew Cuts….Paul Anka in 1958 with his hit Diana, a song that is one of the best selling singles in music history. Anka also wrote the them for Johnny Carson’s The Tonight Show and My Way for Frank Sinatra. Ronnie Hawkins (although from Arkansas) moved to Canada in 1958. We consider him one of us. Notably, the CHUM Chart (CHUM’s Weekly Hit Parade) started in 1958 and lasted 40 years.

Little Darlin’ – The Diamonds

Sh Boom Sh Boom – The Crew Cuts

I’ve Been Everywhere – Hank Snow

Diana – Paul Anka


Bobby Curtola, considered Canada’s first “pop idol” was the first Canadian to get residency in Las Vegas AND the first Canadian to have a gold album. Then there’s Neil Young who started out with Buffalo Springfield, was one quarter of the supergroup Crosby, Stills Nash & Young and has continued on with a successful solo career. Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Ian and Sylvia, Gordon Lightfoot, The Sparrow(s) (later Steppenwolf), Andy Kim, David Clayton-Thomas, Bruce Cockburn, Murray McLauchlan, Willie P. Bennett, Stan Rogers, Denny Doherty, Zal Yanovsky, The Band (only a single Yank in the bunch, Levon Helm),The Guess Who…. Heavens, I’ll never get them all. This was a time period when music was just exploding on to the Canadian scene from within and without.

Fortune Teller – Bobby Curtola

Friends of Mine – The Guess Who

Helpless – Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Carry On – Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Goin’ To California – John Kay and the Sparrow

Suzanne – Leonard Cohen

In The Early Morning Rain – Ian and Sylvia (written by Gordon Lightfoot)

Rainbow Ride – Andy Kim

Little Green – Joni Mitchell

Many of the artists from the 1960s carried on well into the 1970s and beyond. Some becoming solo acts, some switching up bands, some going back to their roots…. New and upcoming performers, heavily influenced by their local heroes as well as music from abroad, started creating their own “Canadian” versions. Lighthouse, Crowbar, Chiliwack, Mashmakhan, Ann Murray, The Poppy Family, Edward Bear, Terry Jacks, Luke and The Apostles, Tranquility Base, Original Caste, Jesse Winchester, Ginette Reno, The Bells, Valdy, R. Dean Taylor, Dan Hill, April Wine, The Stampeders, Offenbach, Ocean…..

Pretty Lady – Lighthouse

You Make Me High – Luke and The Apostles

If  You’re Lookin’ – Tranquility Base

Sometimes When We Touch – Dan Hill

Oh What A Feeling – Crowbar

My Girl (Gone Gone Gone) – Chiliwack

Sign of the Gypsy Queen – Lorence Hud

Oowatanite – April Wine

Stage Fright – The Band

Where Evil Grows – The Poppy Family

White Line – Willie P. Bennett

Don’t get me going on the 1980’s and forward, we’ll be here for years. The cornucopia of Canadian talent is endless and the names above don’t include the songwriters and albums and barely scratches the surface of Canada’s musical catalogue. I suppose I’ve made my point. Jaimie Vernon’s recent publications of The Canadian Pop Music Encyclopedia (volumes 1 & 2) should have been an obvious and easy “go to” reference guide. To rely on two American sources was lazy and quite frankly, unpatriotic. To ignore the history of what has gone on before and the influence it has on popular culture today is a disservice to all who read FYI Music News. To order Jaimie Vernon’s The Canadian Pop Music Encyclopedia (volumes 1 & 2), plus his NEW VINYL EDITION, go here.

So, on that note, I am very proud to be a Canadian. I think I’ll stay…..


For my little list of local events click here


FYI Music News, The Canadian Music Blog, The Canadian Pop Music Encyclopedia, Wikipedia, The Canadian Encylopedia, Wikipedia, CBC, conversations with  Canadian musicians



Pat’s column appears every Wednesday.

Contact us at:

dbawis-button7“Music and photography….my heart, my passions.” After an extended absence —  33 years as a consultant and design specialist in the telecommunications industry — Pat has turned her focus back to the music scene. Immersing herself in the local club circuit, attending the many diverse music festivals, listening to some great music, photographing and writing once again, she is eager to spread the word about this great Music City of ours…..Toronto. Together for 34 years, Pat little-red-headed-dancing-girlalso worked alongside her late husband Christopher Blythe, The PictureTaker©, who, beginning in the early 70s, photographed much of the local talent (think Goddo, Frank Soda and the Imps, BB Gabor, the first Police Picnic, Buzzsaw, Hellfield, Shooter, The Segarini Band….) as well as national and international acts. Pat is currently making her way through 40 years of Chris’s archives, 20 of which are a photographic history of the local GTA music scene beginning in 1974. It continues to be a work in progress. Oh…..and she LOVES to dance! 

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