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Wilf Carter (1904-1996)

Wilf Carter photo-Glenbow Archives

Wilfred Arthur Charles “Wilf” Carter was born in Port Hilford, Nova Scotia in 1904, one of nine children. After seeing a traveling show named “The Yodelling Fool” as a youth, Carter became interested in country music and yodelling.

Carter left home at age 15, and by 1929 he arrived in Calgary, Alberta, where he worked as a cowboy and made extra money singing on the street. In 1930 he got a job singing one night a week with radio station CFCN, which later led to significant work with the CBS network in New York.

After developing his talents as a songwriter and guitarist with a unique yodelling style Carter became the Canadian Pacific Railway’s major entertainer on trail drives through the Rocky Mountains.

ln 1933, Carter released his first recording, “The Swiss Moonlight Lullaby”, with RCA Records. It was the first major country hit in Canada.

Through the years, Carter composed more than 500 songs covering a wide range of themes, including traditional country western, cowboy, folk, and hobo songs. Hundreds of these were recorded and he toured Canada and the United States showcasing his work. His recordings of “Blue Canadian Rockies” and “You Are My Sunshine” are among the most popular.

Wilf CarterIn 1964, Carter performed for the first time at the Calgary Stampede and he was also a popular guest on the Tommy Hunter television show.

Other accomplishments include his induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame, the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Juno Awards Hall of Fame.

Wilf Carter died in 1996 in Scottsdale, Arizona at the age of 91. Widely acknowledged as the father of Canadian country music, Carter was Canada’s first country music star, inspiring a generation of young Canadian performers.

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