Totally Unknown Toronto, Ontario Band That Recorded in 1936


In 1936, Truetone Recordings, located at 22 Grenville Street, Toronto, Ontario, which was managed by (the later radio magnate) Ralph T. Snelgrove, cut a 10 inch acetate transcription (aircheck) recorded by Bill McKeag and his Orchestra. In a recent discussion with bandleader Howard Cable who had formed his own band about this time, Howard remembered  McKeag, and in his own words said: 

“I remember Bill McKeag from the 30’s. There were pick up bands in those days. I remember playing with him in a pavilion in Longbranch and at Ramona Gardens on St. Clair Avenue. I think he was a trumpet player, but I’m not 100% positive. After those gigs, I never saw him again. Sorry I don’t have any more information for you.

As you probably know, the building at 22 Grenville later became the CBC Playhouse Studio. We did the Canadian Cavalcade with Lorne Greene from that studio.”

The two sides “Remember” and “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” bear a strikingly Canadian sound to them in their interpretation, with some hot solos. The uncovering of this recording is truly a historic find, as we now know about a band that has never been mentioned in discographies before. There is a flair of Jazz and Swing together in these recordings, and I hope to find more of these private recordings in the near future. The local radio stations would have had given the acetate airtime if it was ever sent to them.

If anyone has any information on Bill McKeag and his Orchestra, please add it to the comments below. 

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