Ontario Pioneers

June 30, 2020

Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Larry Coad

(born: December 20, 1946 – Espanola, ON) (died: November 21, 2012 – Burlington, ON) (by Larry Delaney) Larry Garnet Coad was born December 20, 1946, in Espanola, Ontario. His love for the Ontario Northlands region and his Metis heritage was frequently found in his songs, such as, Espanola (recorded by Terry Roberts); Manitoulin (recorded by Marjorie Freeborn); and Sudbury (recorded by Colin Butler); the latter winning Song of the Year in the 2005 Sudbury’s Homecoming event. During the 1980s, Larry Coad was one of the hottest songwriters on the Canadian country music scene, scoring many national chart hits for top artists, most notably, Harold MacIntyre and the group South Mountain. The Larry Coad and Harold MacIntyre (and the Area Code 705 band) combination was particularly […]
May 31, 2020

Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Al Bruno

Born: January 22, 1937 – Sudbury, Ontario Died: August 21, 2015 – Pensacola, Florida (by Larry Delaney) Some of Canada’s very best musicians and entertainers often fly just below the radar… and achieve international stardom without receiving much recognition back home in Canada for their efforts. Al Bruno certainly fits the description. The Sudbury, Ontario-born super guitarist toured with Conway Twitty, worked numerous major sessions in the USA (Merle Haggard and Buck Owens recordings among them), and was named the Academy Of Country Music’s (ACM’s) Guitar Player Of The Year ten times – he has even served several terms as a Director of the Academy Of Country Music. Born Al Bruneau, January 22, 1937, in Sudbury, Al worked his first gig when he was five […]
April 27, 2020

Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Alabama

(by Larry Delaney) Country music fans are familiar with the super-group ALABAMA, the Nashville-based foursome who charted some 80 Billboard Country Hits over two decades (1980-2000), including an incredible total of 33 #1 hits. Some fans, however, may not be aware that Canada had its own ALABAMA, a decade earlier. The Canadian group was a foursome of country/rockers, clearly ahead of their time. The Canadian version of the group Alabama was best known for their radio hit “Highway Driving”, a 1973 recording that has stood the test of time and is now recognized as a Canadian classic. The lyrics of the song remain emblazoned on the minds of many: Ninety miles to North Bay, and I’m on the road again I’ll make it home sometime […]
March 31, 2020

Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Johnny Burke

Born: April 28, 1940 – Rosaireville, New Brunswick Died: September 21, 2017 – Cobourg, Ontario (by Larry Delaney) Jean Paul Bourque was born into a French Acadian family in New Brunswick. He moved to Toronto in the early 1960s, anglicizing his name to Johnny BURKE and began working the Toronto music scene, heading up the band Johnny & The Bees and later, the Blue Valley Boys. After a lengthy stint in the house band for The Carl Smith Country Music Hall TV series, Johnny then (1967) headed-up The Caribou Showband, which would later (1972) become the popular Johnny Burke and Eastwind band. The Johnny Burke & Eastwind group (Al Brisco, Joe Howe, Brian Barron, Roddy Lee, Mel Aucoin) toured extensively across Canada and were the […]
February 29, 2020

Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Ron McMunn (“The Silver Fox”)

Born: Dec. 6, 1932 – Almonte (Clayton), Ontario Died: July 17, 2007 – Ashton, Ontario (by Larry Delaney) Ottawa Valley country music performer Ron McMunn was dubbed “The Silver Fox” long before Nashville hit-maker Charlie Rich used the descriptive tag. McMunn has been acknowledged as a huge mentor and influence in the Ottawa Valley country music scene and for the artists who followed in his footsteps. He remains best recognized for his classic country songs, “Reserve Me A Table”, “Play Me One More Country Song”, “My Old Truck” and “This Bottle Filled With Wine” – all songs that he wrote. Ron McMunn was born December 6, 1932, on the family farm in Almonte, Ontario. He learned to play fiddle, harmonica and guitar during family gatherings, […]
January 29, 2020

Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Julie Lynn

Born: 1947 – Gaspe, Quebec Hometown: Mattawa, Ontario (by Larry Delaney) Country singer Julie Lynn was born Julia Catherine FLYNN, of Irish heritage, in the Gaspe region of Quebec. She later relocated to Fort Coulonge in Western Quebec, and by her late teens was making her home in Mattawa, Ontario, where she began pursuing her career in music; first, as a member of the group Pauline Noland & Her Jamboree Pals, and later (1966) forming her own Julie Lynn Showband. The group featured Julie, her brother Bobby Flynn, Pete McCormick and Gary Spicer; the latter going on to become a member of the award-winning Family Brown group. Julie began her recording career in 1970, with the release of her album “The Nickel Song” on the […]
December 29, 2019

Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Harold MacIntyre

Born: September 6, 1948 – Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia Hometown: Brampton, Ontario (by Larry Delaney) Harold MacIntyre was born in Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia, and raised in nearby Sugarcamp, where he spent much of his childhood years singing at family gatherings. By his late teens, he had moved to Toronto, where he worked a day job at the General Electric Company and spent his evenings singing in local night clubs. He soon teamed up with fellow musician Albert MacDonald to form the country band Harold’s Super Service. In the late 1970s, Harold MacIntyre recorded a debut album, “MyCountry Way”, released on the Condor Records label. The album, produced by piano legend Bobby Munro, featured Harold singing classic country hits of the day. Soon afterwards, he […]
November 30, 2019

Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Ralph Carlson

Born: November 6, 1940 – Montreal, Quebec Died: October 10, 2002 – Ottawa, Ontario (by Larry Delaney) Ralph Carlson is widely recognized as a country singer-songwriter, recording artist, bluegrass music performer and radio show host. Born in Montreal, he spent his early childhood years in Shediac Cape, New Brunswick, and by his pre-teens, the family had permanently relocated to Ottawa. While in high school, Ralph formed his first band, The Jive Rockets; a country/rockabilly group that also featured such notables as Vern Craig, Bob Anka (Paul’s cousin) and Dewey Midkiff, who later went on to fame as Dewey Martin with the country/rock group Buffalo Springfield. After the demise of the band, Ralph began to direct his musical interests to traditional country, making guest appearances with […]
October 31, 2019

Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Ross Allen

Born: Feb 27, 1937 – Toronto, ON Home: Cambridge, ON (by Larry Delaney)   Ross Allen was once described as a “music making machine”; an accurate statement, considering his career accomplishments as a singer, songwriter, entertainer, recording artist, producer, music publisher and record label founder/executive. Born in Toronto, Ross James Allen first worked the local cafe and cabaret music scene in a duo act for some ten years with musician Bill Gibbs. Their album “A Few Selections Of ???” lived up to its title by covering a variety of material – country, folk and pop; all recorded live from The Rivalda Club in Toronto. The duo worked dance halls throughout Southwest Ontario and Ross would eventually lean more towards the “country” side of things, including […]

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