MACLEAN’S REPORTS

The hit song that’s rocking all Ca-na-da

PENNY WILLIAMS February 1 1967
MACLEAN’S REPORTS

The hit song that’s rocking all Ca-na-da

PENNY WILLIAMS February 1 1967

The hit song that’s rocking all Ca-na-da

PENNY WILLIAMS

ON PAPER the song looks about as meaningful as Three Blind Mice and, with its double melody, a lot harder to sing. But don’t knock it. Canadians east, west, young and old love Bobby Gimby’s Canada. For one thing, it has given them something else to identify themselves with besides Alouette.

CA-NA-DA

(One little two little three Canadians) WE LOVE THEE (Now we are twenty million) CA-NA-DA

(Four little five little six little provinces) PROUD AND FREE

(Now we are 10 and the territories — sea to sea)

The song is a hit more or less by accident. Earlier Expo had staged a contest for a national song (first prize $6,000) and the grand result was Hey Friend, Say Friend. It flopped. Meanwhile Gimby, a Toronto trumpet player, had composed Canada out of genuine non-monetary inspiration. He offered it to Vickers and Benson, advertising agency for the Centennial Commission. They liked it and the result was that famous television commercial celebrating “the hundredth birthday of Con-feder-ation” — sung by a Pied Piper’s retinue of children waving flags and streaming over the summer countryside.

Parents, children, schools, musical groups and radio stations have been demanding the words and music ever since. (The International Harmonica Association even wanted a special harmonica version.) And now, since midJanuary, they can buy it. Quality Records distributes the record (label CE 1967, of course), and Gordon V. Thompson Ltd. the sheet music.

Gimby, 46, is delighted. It all grew out of his ear for kids — when he wrote the Malaysian national anthem in 1964, he had children’s voices in mind — and his urge to give all Canadian children a song they could sing. Now he’s touring Canada, resplendent with "Pied Piper” cape and jewelled trumpet, teaching children his song. (He’ll be in Victoria on February 8 and 9; in Jasper on February 22.)

The song is bilingual: the record has one side of each language (each diplomatically labelled “side one”). So is its inspiration: the idea of a song for children was his own, but he borrowed the flags and the marching from an enthusiastic St - Jean - Baptiste parade he once watched in Quebec.