Ontario Pioneers

June 8, 2021

Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Wendell Ferguson

// by Larry Delaney // (Born: February 28, 1954 – Streetsville, Ontario) (#50 in the Ontario Pioneers Series)   Wendell Ferguson is the “Mr. Do-It-All” of Canadian country music. A guitar player, a singer, a songwriter, a producer, a band leader, a comedian, an industry executive… and probably a whole lot more. Born and still residing in Streetsville (Mississauga), Ontario, Wendell became fixated on being a guitar player after hearing Chet Atkins play the instrument. Although he took several years of formal guitar lessons, Wendell was off-and-running as a guitar player, fueled more by listening to and emulating the recordings of some of his guitar idols: Chet Atkins, Les Paul, The Ventures and other guitar gods. In 1987, after years of practice and dues-paying, Wendell […]
April 16, 2021

Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Gordon Lightfoot

// by Larry Delaney // (THE “COUNTRY” SIDE OF GORDON LIGHTFOOT) Born: November 17, 1938 – Orillia, Ontario (#48 in the Ontario Pioneers Series)   Gordon Lightfoot, one of Canada’s most renowned singer/songwriters, has seen his compositions recorded by artists from around the globe… and from all musical genres. Lightfoot’s own recordings of many of his songs have become permanently etched in our musical memories. While Gordon Lightfoot is most often regarded as a “Folk” artist, his “Country” roots run just as deep. His songs have been recorded by the Who’s Who of country music, many of them becoming major chart hits for those artists. During the 1970s and mid 80s, Lightfoot placed eight of his recordings of original songs on the Billboard Country Charts, […]
March 12, 2021

Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Carroll Baker

// by Larry Delaney // Born: March 4, 1949 – Bridgewater, Nova Scotia Home: Guelph, Ontario (#47 in the Ontario Pioneers Series)   Carroll Baker’s career in Canadian country music remains unmatched. Notwithstanding the modern-day accomplishments of such Canadian-bred country stars as Shania Twain, Terri Clark, Michelle Wright, etc., Carroll Baker still holds the Canadian chart record of scoring 12 consecutive #1 hits (February 1975 to May 1979). Carroll Baker was on the RPM Country Hit Charts for a total of 528 weeks, with 31 consecutive singles reaching the charts and 20 of them making the Top 10, mostly achieved with her manager/producer/songwriting partner, the late Don Grashey. Carroll’s success story did not end with the Don Grashey era. After moving to Tembo Records in […]
February 9, 2021

Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Mike O’Reilly

// by Larry Delaney // Born: Dec. 10, 1944 – Seaton (Devonshire) England Home: Ottawa, Ontario (#46 in the Ontario Pioneers Series) In the Bluegrass Music world, Mike O’Reilly has long been one of Canada’s “best kept secrets”. The now-veteran Canuck has done it all: a masterful musician, a gifted singer, a quality songwriter, and a stage presence that balances a traditional bluegrass voice with a comedic side that keeps an audience enthralled. Today’s bluegrass fans will likely be aware of Mike O’Reilly’s quartet of albums recorded with long-time music partner Dick Smith, releasing the four albums (from 2002-2008) on the New Era Recording label under the “Dick Smith – Mike O’Reilly Band” banner. Amazingly, all 56 songs featured on these albums were written solely […]