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"Songs of My People": A Short-Lived Canadian Record Label

If you come across one of these records, you have three reasons to keep them. They are reasonably rare, there were only four different records ever issued under this label and they are Canadian. Here's the story.

In 1952, Keith MacMillan, son of Sir Ernest, co-founded a record company called Hallmark Recordings. Most of their releases were LP's, but they produced some 78's under the "Spiral" label with such Canadian artists as George Murray, the Lou Snider Trio, Jacqueline Smith and Pegi Brown.

In 1953, CBC Radio introduced a very popular Sunday evening ethnic program called "Songs of My Peopie". The host of this show was Jan Rubes, a Czechoslovakian basso who has made Toronto his home for the past thirty-five years. The orchestra and chorus were led by Toronto-born Ivan Romanoff. Together, this group sang the songs of forty different countries.

Keith MacMillan must have thought that here was a sure-fire combination worth recording - a popular ethnic show using Canadian talent, surrounded by an ethnic community that was growing in numbers every day.

In 1954, two soloists were chosen to make two records a piece - Jan Rubes would record four Czechoslovakian songs and Leopoldine Pichler would sing four Austrian songs. All four records would be put out under a new label called "Songs of My People”, and it was hoped that many more records would follow. However, the records did not sell. Maybe it was too late for 78's. Even though the radio program was a popular favourite for ten years, no more commercial recordings were made under the "Songs of My People" label.

Below are listed the four records with their catalogue numbers, their foreign and English titles, and their singers. All are accompanied by Ivan Romanoff's orchestra or ensemble.

SP 1A Jan Rubes Tece Voda, Tece (Flowing Waters)
SP 1B Jan Rubes Verchovina (Hills of Home)
SP 2A Jan Rubes Slovak som (Slovak am I)
SP 2B Jan Rubes Ceska Pisnicka (Little Czech Song)
SP 3A Leopoldine Pichler (duet with herself) Alte Zrinnerunger (Old Memories)
SP 3B Leopoldine Pichler (duet with herself) Vergiss mich nicht (Forget Me Not)
SP 4A Leopoldine Pichler (duet with herself while playing the zither) Im gebirg ist es lustig (Mountain Life)
SP 4B Leopoldine Pichler (by herself) (The Happy Mountain Climber)