On the Record:
They Also Sold Records ... (Early Canadian Independent Labels)
by Steven C. Barr
A few independent operations sold records in Canada prior to 1942.
All of these firms
drew their material from U.S. sources, and some were more closely involved with foreign firms.
The first Canadian label after Berliner and Columbia was, in fact, a phonograph firm who apparently
wanted records under their
About 150 records were issued, primarily standard items although a few dated popular songs appeared;
master used appears to be from late 1915, which suggests
1916 as an issue date.
most of the material seems to be from the 1912-13 era,
suggesting that Columbia,
who pressed the records,
may have been less than enthusiastic about duplicating their own
Most of the artists appear under pseudonyms,
although those most easily
recognizable appear under their
The label is of interest primarily to U.S. label
since the material is eminently forgettable.
Inasmuch as my own collection
includes very few vertically-cut records, most
of my knowledge of this label is second-hand.
Pathe records were imported into Canada (as
well as the U.S.)
from 1914 onward, with the first being the odd-sized center-start records
that sold poorly.
In 1918, quite possibly due to the difficulties in importing engendered
War I, Pathe began manufacturing records in Canada as well as distributing
and until evidence indicates otherwise, it can be assumed that the handful of Canadian
records in an 800 series date from this time.
as Pathe/Perfect masters appear on
Compo from 1923 on.
This very scarce label was pressed c. 1918;
numbers appearing in the shellac
although Pathe masters were used, they may have been acquired through a connection
with the very short-lived Crescent label in the U.S.
are Pathe-type vertical-cut.
Further details regarding this label are not
under this name (the predecessor of today's
company distributed what are known as the
In 1918, as the Okeh line was launched in the U.S.,
same records appeared in
Canada under the Phonola
name, with the same catalog
In 1919, a 4000 lateral-cut series
launched and from 1920 onward the records were
The label disappeared in 1922, shortly after
line of records.
This U.S. label sold records in Canada as The Gennett Company of Canada in
1920 and 1921.
The Starr (later Gennett)
and records had, from 1917 until this
date, been imported and sold by a Canadian distributor.
In late 1921, the Gennett of Canada disappeared,
and the label became more closely tied to Compo.
In 1925, the use of
Gennett masters ceased and the label name changed from Starr-Gennett to Starr;
was used until well into the postwar years for Quebecois material.
these plastic-coated cardboard records were almost certainly
never manufactured in Canada, I have seen one imprinted
on the reverse with advertising
news firm, indicating they were distributed in Canada.
Edward Moogk's book Roll Back the Years credits the existence of a line
of 8-inch vertical-cut records under this
A similar U.S. label is
and it is most likely that these were in fact imported.
A Compo label under this name
One source credits an early label of this
however, I have not seen
one nor do I know anyone else
This list appears to cover the extent of the record industry in Canada prior to the
flood of independent labels after World War II. It is almost certain that other U.S.
labels were distributed here.
Famous, for example,
an obscure and scarce label in the
U.S. shows up often enough to indicate it may well have been
remaindered here after its
There also may have been private labels made for special purposes.
on the Ambassador label, featuring a religious vocal group of similar
appears to date from the mid-1930s and is custom-pressed by
have been others.