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Boer War Era Music - 1899 - 1902

Henry Burr (1885-1941): "Where is My Wandering Boy Tonight" 1918 - Verse 1

You are listening to an original recording from the early 1900s featuring one of Canada's very first recording artists, Henry Burr, singing our television program's theme song, "Where is My Wandering Boy Tonight." Henry Burr from New Brunswick, started recording in 1902 while in his teens, and, with some 12,000 recordings to his credit, was the most prolific recording artist of his generation. (Verse 1 Page 6, Verse 2 Page 7, Verse 3 Page 8)

You can hear these earliest Canadian recordings on our program's soundtrack.
Details on our Music Page

The Gramophone - an early record player - had been patented in Canada in 1897, so during the Boer War (1899-1902), Canadians were playing popular songs on 7 and 10 inch 78 rpm, black, brown and maroon records.

The Canadian Recordings, Singers, & Songs of the Boer War Era
all featured in various versions on the pages of the Canadian Anglo-Boer War Museum
37 - Abide With Me 1920
13 - After They Gather the Hay
92 - All Through the Night 1902
12 - Annie Laurie 1901
28 - Break the News to Mother 1918
15 - Bring Back My Bonnie to Me 1901
70 - Bye and Bye You Will Forget Me
19 - Canadian Medley 1904
17 - Darling Nellie Gray 1920
22 - God Be With You Till We Meet Again 1902
66 - God Save the King 1901
5 - Goodbye Dolly Gray 1901
23 - I'll Be With You When the Roses Bloom Again 1902
18 - Liberty Bell March 1904
38 - Little Boy in Blue 1902
69 - Maple Leaf Forever 1902
71 - My Old Kentucky Home 1901
31 - Nearer My God to Thee 1901 (Macdonough)
10 - Nearer My God to Thee 1901 (Burr)
26 - Orange Free State Anthem 2000
90 - Oh Canada 1908
39 - Onward Christian Soldiers 1902
72 - Pass Me Not Oh Gentle Saviour 1905
16 - Red Wing
53 - Reel de Fiset
11 - Rocked in the Cradle of the Deep 1902
64 - Safe in the Arms of Jesus
25 - Rule Brittania
68 - Scottish Reminiscences 1902
4 - Seeing Nellie Home
24 - Shall We Meet Beyond the River 1902
33 - Silver Threads Among the Gold 1915
14 - Soldiers of the Queen 1902
3 - When the Roll is Called Up Yonder 1902
50 - When You and I Were Young Maggie
6 - Where is My Wandering Boy Tonight 1901 (Burr)
44 - Where is My Wandering Boy 1901(Macdonough)
02 - Feedback - Whispering Hope 1920
We Proudly Present
Performances by Canada's First Recording Artists on the Soundtrack of:

"The Great Anglo-Boer War: The Canadian Experience"

Our program features, a soundtrack spiced with rare original recordings made during the Boer War Era - around 1900 - and the singing of Canada's very first recording artists.


Harry Macdonough - Tenor (1871-1931)

Harry Macdonough is our featured performer, singing numerous songs including: our opening song "Goodbye Dolly Gray" - which reflected the patriotic fervour of Canadians on the eve of war - and our final song over the credits, "Where is My Wandering Boy Tonight." He is backed throughout by the "Haydn Quartet."

Harry Macdonough was one of the most well-liked ballad singers of his time, his popularity second only to that of Henry Burr. Macdonough was born John Scantlebury Macdonald in Hamilton, Ontario on May 30, 1871. He later changed his name, believing Harry Macdonough to be a more suitable name for a romantic balladeer. He had musical training as a youth and began his singing career as a church soloist.

In 1898, he made his first recordings for the Michigan Electric Company of Detroit, which were used in its slot-machine phonograph parlours. In 1899, he was invited to sing second tenor for the Edison Male Quartet with John Bieling (tenor), S.H. Dudley (baritone) and William F. Hooley (bass). The group then began recording for Berliner and Victor as the Haydn Quartet which [rose] to fame by concentrating on sentimental ballads, old standards, and gospel hymns [Hoffman]. Macdonough had great success both as a soloist and in concert with the Victor Mixed Chorus, the Victor Light Opera Company (c. 1909-12), the Victor Opera Trio, Quartet & Sextet (1915), the Lyric Quartet (1906-15?), the Orpheus Quartet, the Original Lyric Trio (1899), and the Christy Minstrels (Billy Murray and the Haydn Quartet).

Over the years, Macdonough became more involved with the administrative side of the business (as early as 1905 he had supervision of all Victor recording outside Camden, N.J.), and by 1920 had retired from singing. Until 1922, he was a sales manager for Victor Talking Machine Co. From 1923-25, he held the post of Manager of Artists & Repertoire at Victor. In 1925, he took a job at Columbia as director of recording studios, where he worked until his death in 1931.

In the course of his singing career, Macdonough recorded hundreds of solos, duets and ensemble pieces. Among his recordings were Tell Me Pretty Maiden* (with Grace Spencer), Hiawatha*, Annie Laurie* (with the Haydn Quartet), and By the Light of the Silv'ry Moon (with the Haydn Quartet and Billy Murray). A discography can be found in Roll Back the Years.

For more information on Harry Macdonough's recordings, please consult the Virtual Gramophone data base.

Henry Burr - Tenor (1885-1941)

Henry Burr was the most prolific recording artist of his time, with more than 12 000 recordings to his credit by his own reported estimate. He was born Harry McClaskey in St. Stephen near Saint John, New Brunswick on January 15, 1885. He began singing as a young child and at age 13 (1898) was a boy soprano with a Saint John concert band. When Giuseppe Campanari of the Metropolitan Opera heard his singing, he suggested that Burr go to the United States to study voice. In 1902, he left New Brunswick for New York City where he studied with John D. Meehan and Ellen Burr (from whom he adopted his most often used professional pseudonym), and sang at Grace Methodist Episcopal Church.

While still in his teens (probably in 1902), Burr began recording for Columbia. The first Columbia recording on which his name appeared was released in 1904. In 1906 he joined the Columbia Male Quartet which recorded under the name Peerless Quartet for the Victor label. He assumed the leadership of the group in 1910, managing it until 1928. Over the years he would record under many names (Harry McClaskey, Henry Burr, and Irving Gillette, to name a few) also singing with a number of ensembles, including the Heidelberg Quintette and the Sterling Trio, and performing many popular duets with Albert Campbell. In 1915, he assembled a touring troupe of the most popular Victor recording artists, including singers Billy Murray, Arthur Collins, Albert Campbell, and banjo player Vess Ossman. After several years of recording as a freelance artist, Burr signed a lucrative exclusive contract with Victor and continued to manage and tour with the Eight Popular Victor Artists troupe. They also starred on the Goodrich Zippers and the Cities Service radio programmes. When Victor decided not to renew the ensemble's contract after a management change in 1927, Burr disbanded the group and assumed the position of programme director for the Columbia Broadcasting Company (later CBS).

Burr was never content to rely solely on his singing career for income, involving himself in other ventures while still at the peak of his popularity. In 1915, to try his hand at record making, he established the Paroquette Manufacturing Co. which soon went out of business (1917). He was joint owner with Fred Van Eps of a banjo factory, and for a few years ran a music publishing company in New York City. He wrote lyrics for other artists including those for Ray Perkins, Stand Up and Sing for Your Father an Old-time Tune.

Though his recording career was largely over by the late 1920s due to changes in both recording technology and popular taste, Burr made a successful comeback on Chicago radio station WLS's National Barn Dance in the 1930s. The programme's popularity rivaled that of Nashville's Grand Ole Opry. Henry Burr died of throat cancer in 1941 and was buried in Westchester, New York. He was survived by his wife Cecilia.

To estimate accurately Burr's recording output is difficult due to both the quantity of his recordings and the multitude of pseudonyms under which he recorded. Partial discographies can be found in Roll Back the Years and in a biography by Arthur Makosinski, in preparation (1998). A few of his most popular songs include, In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree, The Song that Stole My Heart Away and My Buddy, recorded as a soloist, and Let Me Call You Sweetheart and My bird of Paradise with the Peerless Quartet.

Harold Augustus Jarvis - Tenor (1864-1924)

Harold Jarvis was born in Toronto in 1864, the son of singer Annie McLear. As a young boy he gained some popularity singing Scottish songs while in highland costume. At the age of 14, he entered the merchant marine, sailing on the Allen and P & O lines between Montreal and England, and joined the Royal Naval Reserve. He left the marine service to study Music at the Royal Academy of Music where he won a gold medal.

In 1891, he moved to Detroit where he sang as a tenor soloist at the First Presbyterian Church. The following year he married the singer, Laurie Geikie of Toronto. In 1903, he sang the tenor role in The Messiah, performing with the celebrated Canadian opera singer Emma Albani.

He returned to Toronto in 1911, but was to settle finally in Detroit, where he died in 1924 at the age of 60.

He began recording for Victor in 1908, for Columbia in 1912 and for Edison in 1914. His most popular song was Beautiful Isle of Somewhere , first recorded in 1914. Among his recordings for Victor were March of the Cameron men*, My ain countrie* and O Canada*. A partial discography can be found in Roll Back the Years.

For more information on Harold Jarvis's recordings, please consult the Virtual Gramophone data base.

All recordings, information, and pictures are courtesy of the Virtual Gramophone, a division of the National Library of Canada.

Canadian Musical Treasures from the Boer War Era

Songs recorded by Canada's very first recording artists between 1901 and 1905, are used in a number of ways on our sound track. These include:

-"Goodbye Dolly Gray" - which Canadian Gramophones were playing as the volunteers joined up to rally to the flag and the Mother Country.

- "All Through the Night" - as the British and Boer dead and wounded lay all night atop Spion Kop after a day long battle on this "Acre of Massacre".

- "Shall We Gather at the River" - as the British army, leaving thousands of its dead and wounded behind, retreated across the Tugela River after the disastrous defeat at Spion Kop.

- "God Be With You Till We Meet Again" - as the Canadian Contingents are cheered off to war at Halifax, and as the Canadians leave their dead behind in lonely African graves after their terms of service was up.

- "Rule Britannia" - expresses the continuing British resolve to win and the fervent goal of Lord Roberts as his triumphant army entered the captured Boer capitals, only to find that in fact it was the Boers who were "ruling" the countryside outside the towns, which prolonged the war for two more years.

- "The Maple Leaf Forever" - which the Canadians of the Royal Canadian Regiment sang as their ship entered the harbour in Cape Town. The Maple Leaf Forever was Canada's unofficial national anthem and was sung at every possible opportunity.

- "My Old Kentucky Home" - which the homesick Canadians sang as My Old Canadian Home as their term of service came to an end and they were longing for "the beautiful clean snows of Old Canada."

- "Where is My Wandering Boy Tonight" - the haunting recording which we used as a theme song for the Canadian fallen after Paardeberg and the signature song closing each program. It expresses well, the poignant private emotional torment of men, women, and children down through the ages for husbands, sons, and brothers who never returned from the battlefield.

To hear other Canadian singers from 100 years ago sing other recordings from the period go to:

http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/gramophone/m2-9000-e.html

The Virtual Gramophone is a department of the National Library of Canada in Ottawa, ON, which restores these old recordings and makes them available to interested parties.

From the Soundtrack of
"The Great Anglo-Boer War: the Canadian Experience 1899 - 1902"

Canada's First Ever Recorded Band Music

The Kilties (1902-1933)

(also known as the Regimental Band of the Gordon Highlanders)

Formed in Toronto by members of the 48th Highlanders Band to keep some touring commitments of that group, the Kilties Band of Belleville, Ontario was one of Canada's most popular international touring bands of its day.

Thomas P.J. Power and William F. Robinson were its first bandmasters, and its membership at times included cornetist, Mr. Voss, and pipe sergeant, David Ferguson (who also recorded bagpipe solos for Berliner).

Playing at parks and touring on the vaudeville circuit, they eventually performed in 20 countries, appearing at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904 and giving two Royal Command Performances in Britain. From 1908 to 1910 they went around the world, and in 1915 played to great critical acclaim at the Panama-San Diego Exposition.

(left) Hear the instruments and voices of the Kilties as they play three of Canada's most popular Boer War medleys on this vintage recording from 1902.

One of Canada's very first record labels from c 1902, the highly distinctive plaid 78 rpm gramophone label of the Kilties band from Belleville, ON featured on our soundtrack.
The Pipes & Drums of the 48th Highlanders
Want to hear the band that accompanied the Canadian Boer War volunteers to the train station in Toronto a hundred years ago? And greeted their return a year later? Luckily you can. The band is still with us (left).

Get the CD and listen to this phenomenally moving sound experience and discover why Celtic peoples of Europe and Great Britain thrill to their very core when the massed bagpipes skirl into action.

Listen to the masterful orchestrations of Pipe Major Alexander "Sandy" Dewar, C.D. (left), and Drum Major Larry Fullerton.

And hear a wonderful potpourri of almost 40 of the most moving pipe arrangements you will ever hear, including the achingly beautiful Rose of Kelvingrove, the awesome Highland Cathedral, the marvellous Song for Mary, as well as sad laments, and peppy reels and strathspeys, mixed in with old favourites. Discover the wild Scot you never knew was in you!

Definitely NOT for Christians only.

Produced by Fanfare Records

The Pipes and Drums of the 48th Highlanders were formed in 1891 and won the North American Band Championship, in 1993 at Maxville, ON.
CONTENTS: Amazing Grace, March Strathspey Reel, Hugh Kennedy, Maggie Cameron, Thompson's Dirk, Kenneth J. MacLeod, Capt. E.E.B. Towse, VC, Shall We Gather at the River, In the Sweet Bye and Bye, Highland Cathedral, Now is the Hour, Ode to Joy, Lord of the Dance, Simple Gifts, Sou Gan, Oft in the Stilley Night, Morag of Dunvegan, The Lord is My Shepherd, Dr. MacInne's Fancy, Finlay M. MacRae, Fiddler's Joy, Maids of the Black Glen, Walter Sammon's Grandmother, Cup o' Tea, the Whistling Postman, The Millbank, Hesson Run, Nearer My God to Thee, Pie Jesu, The Day Thou Gavest, Going Home, the Rose of Kelvingrove, Abide With Me, The Dark Island, Faith of Our Fathers, Bugles Last Post, Flowers of the Forest, Bugles Reveille, Song for Mary, the Irish Guards Welcome to Toronto, The Battle of Waterloo, Flett from Flotta.
Copyright Goldi Productions Ltd. 1996-1999-2005