Edward B. Moogk
The Grand Old Man of Canadian Recorded Sound
As was the case with a great
many of those who knew him,
my first acquaintance with Ed
Moogk was through his legendary
CBC radio program Roll Back The
Years, to which I listened religiously
every week as a boy of 10. As a budding collector
of things phonographic,
I was astounded not only with Edís vast
knowledge of the whole field of early
recorded sound, but with his ability to
present his material week after week in
an interesting and humorous manner.
Edward B. Moogk (1914-1979)
We corresponded by mail from
time to time and I still treasure some
78s he sold to me as early as 1951. It is indicative of
Edís personal warmth and desire to share his enthusiasm
with anyone of like interest that such a great personality
should choose to spend his precious free time writing
replies to a mere child. Our 25 year discrepancy in
chronological age apparently meant nothing to him and
as time passed it came to mean nothing to me as well.
We did not meet personally, however, until about
1962, when Ed was Director of Public Service for CFPL
Television (London, ON). A mutual friend took my
then-fiancee, Nora and myself to the Moogk home on
Hibiscus Avenue one afternoon, where we were warmly
welcomed by Ed and his wife Edith, and introduced to
their 3 lively children, Janet 15, Debbie 13, and George
11. It was on this day that our acquaintance truly blossomed
into friendship and regular visits back and forth from
the Moogk residence to the Dodington residence in
Toronto became joyful events in all our lives.
Strangely enough, the final barrier was not yet broken
down. We, like others, had always known him as Ed
Manning, but on our second visit to Hibiscus I happened
to notice a letter addressed to Edward B. Moogk (pro-
nounced Moke) lying on a desk. It was then that I came
to realize that as a Canadian of German extraction, he
had found it advisable, at least in his public persona, to
"anglicise" his unusual surname. This
he had done during the 1940s to
avoid awkward situations and perhaps
downright unpleasantness. It was a
common practice since prejudice was
indeed rampant in those days!
We were both relieved after I began
to call him Ed Moogk instead of Ed
Manning, and our relationship from
that time on was characterized by an
openness and lack of pretension which
we both treasured.
Ed had grown up as the third son
in his family and like many younger
sons he had developed a bit of an
inferiority complex in relation to his two successful
older brothers, Ernie and Willis, both of whom eventually went on to distinguished military careers as Captain
and Brigadier-General respectively. As our friendship
deepened, I began to realize that Ed,like other public
personalities, had found it prudent to erect a protective
veneer about himself and his family. This was done in
part to become more acceptable to his audience and
particularly to what he perceived to be the anglophone
ruling majority in Ontario, but I think also to convince
himself that he was just as successful as his two brothers.
Most of us remember his public image ó Ed
Manning, the impeccable dresser with the meticulous
grooming, driving the big, flashy cars. But those
of us who were privileged to know him better could get beyond
all the trappings and appreciate the real Ed ó a man of
great generosity, sensitivity and openness. He had an
almost child-like enthusiasm for just plain goofing off
and having fun, without ever going beyond the bounds
of good taste.
His interest in recorded sound began in early
childhood in Weston where his father had a windup
gramophone and the usual assortment of records. After
his parents passed away and he went to live with his
maternal grandfather, John Grasser, in Kitchener in
1934 the records went with him. It was here that his life-
long interest in jazz and Big Band music began to flower.
He became an accomplished drummer, eventually playing
in the Bob Donelle and Willis Tipping dance bands.
Ed and Edith Moogk
(CAPS member) Gerald Parker recounts a marvellous
Ed Moogk story: At a Canadian Collector's
Congress annual meeting (Ross)
Brethour played a segment from this disc featuring the dance
band of which Ed was a member between 1940 ó 1942,
the anthology being "hot off the presses" and thus new to
those present, during a mischievous "guess who" musical
quiz. Asked to identify the "mystery drummer" of the band
the astute and well-informed attendees desperately guessed
celebrities from George Wettling to Gene Krupa ó the
playing was that good ó and consternation reigned when
Brethour revealed to all assembled that Ed Moogk, sitting
in their midst was the drummer. Such a grin on Edís face
such a chuckle!
I believe that it was through his dance band involvement that he met and in 1939 married Edith Howell of
nearby Doon, Ontario, who was three years his junior.
She remained all his life a warm and faithful supporter
of her husband in all his activities, professional and
otherwise. Her personal day-by-day sacrifices are an
unrecognized part of the development of both Edís
professional career and his enormous record collection.
In the years immediately after World War II Ed
amassed much of his documentary material and became
personally acquainted with countless early recording
artists and technicians, a rapidly vanishing breed. Most
of these,like aging movie stars, were long since forgotten
and languishing in retirement. Such luminaries as Billy
Murray, Reinald Werrenrath, Charles Harrison and Elsie
Baker became personal friends, and Ed even managed to
persuade the occasional one, like Charlie Harrison, then
in his 70s,to re-record some of his old chestnuts for the
Gavotte label, which Ed had established during his years
with the Gordon V. Thompson Publishing Company
in Toronto. Ed and Edith were invited as weekend guests
on more than one occasion to the Reinald Werrenrath
mansion in the Thousand Islands, where guests were
expected to appear for dinner in formal dress and to
address their host as Doctor Werrenrath!
On another occasion in the early 1950s, a reunion of
early acoustic recording artists was arranged (probably in
New Jersey) and Ed's stories about the characters that
showed up were truly marvellous: Elsie Baker made a
grand entrance wearing an enormous hat of Edwardian
vintage, Billy Murray poking fun at all the ladies, and so
forth. It was at once a joyous but tearful event, and sadly
the last time that many of them ever saw one another.
Ed was as much interested in the personalities of the
early recording days as in their accomplishments. When
he visited Billy Murray at his Freeport, Long Island home
in the fall of 1950 he discovered that Murray was a man
of deep religious convictions, a rather surprising revelation when one considers his recorded legacy. Murray
was still going strong, singing as a tenor soloist in one
of the large churches in New York.
Ed's friendship with Herbert S. Berliner of Montreal
was of long duration and one of his favourite phonographic jokes came from Berliner: Young son asked his father, "Father, did Edison invent the first talking
machine?" To which his father replied, "No, my son, God
invented the first talking machine but Edison invented
the first one that could be shut off".
During the mid-1960s Ed occasionally visited Toronto
to attend meetings of such esoteric societies as the
Mississauga Jazz Muddies. He generally stayed at our
home, and naturally these visits invariably degenerated
into a veritable cacophony of non-stop cylinders and
discs, which we would play "at" each another. Our wives,
who usually exhibited a superior sense of decorum, gave
up in disgust on such occasions and withdrew to saner
surroundings. Ed had always been plagued with bad
luck in his dealings with mechanical devices, and early
phonographs, especially cylinder players, were a constant
source of trouble although he
enjoyed the records. It was a
source of amazement to him that
my early phonographs worked
flawlessly (I never did reveal to
him that this was not always the
case) and that early recordings
could sound so good. One day,
he gave me his entire collection
of about 600 cylinders along
with a decrepit, but potentially
gorgeous Edison Triumph Model
D complete with Model O
all with absolutely no strings attached. I
was dumbfounded. "I think you'll get more out
of this stuff than I ever will" he said. Such was his generosity.
Nora and I brought the precious cargo home in our
venerable 1950 Pontiac in a harrowing 7 hour trip from
London to Toronto in an ice storm.
In August, 1964, Ed's plan of forming a national collection
of sound recordings of Canadian content was first presented to the Centennial Commission. I was honoured
to be asked by Ed to be among those to support the
proposal and to advise the commission as to its validity.
The rest, as we know, is history, and it eventually came
to pass that the collection of recorded Canadiana so
amassed became established within the mandate of the
National Library (of Canada). Edís vast personal collection of Canadian material became its nucleus, and many
of Ed's friends and colleagues, including myself, simply
opened up our collections to him and gave generously
of our treasures to support the cause.
A caricature of Ed Moogk drawn by his son, George (ca.1970)
When Ed was appointed curator of the Recorded
Sound Division in 1972, the resulting move to Ottawa
naturally made personal contact with his Toronto and
Western Ontario friends a bit more difficult to maintain.
Nevertheless, Nora and I did participate in a number of
the Ottawa events, including the launching of his book,
Roll Back The Years published in
English and French versions by
the National Library in 1975.
We also provided many
of the display items for the exhibition
celebrating 85 years of Recorded
Sound in Canada. And again in
1977 we provided phonographs,
records and ephemera fora special
display which Ed organized at
the Canadian National Exhibition
in Toronto, celebrating 100 Years
of Recorded Sound.
Meanwhile interest in
recorded sound had been reaching
unprecedented heights, largely because of Edís publicising
of this esoteric field
of interest. In 1970, when he learned
that a few of the old record buffs in Southern Ontario
were about to establish a formal society, he gave much
advice and encouragement to the fledgling organization
and became one of the charter members of the Antique
Phonograph Society, later known as CAPS. Ed himself
became a charter member and gave one of the first presentations
ó the story of the Berliner Gram-O-Phone
Company of Montreal.
The years from 1972
ó 1979 that he spent at the
National Library were rewarding, if lonely ones for the
Moogks. By this time of course the children had all been
launched on their various careers, and Ed was at long
last receiving due recognition as one of the worldís foremost authorities on early recorded sound. (Ed was made a
member of the Order of Canada in 1975.) And yet, I could
sense as time went on a growing disillusionment with the
civil service nature of the job and that both he and Edith
were looking forward with anticipation to his retirement.
I well remember the weekend in 1979 when Nora
and I helped the Moogkís move his personal record collection from Ottawa back to London, Ontario where they
had purchased a new home. Because so many of his
priceless discs had been damaged by professional movers
in the earlier move to Ottawa, I had convinced Ed that it
might be better to rent a van and that Nora and I, along
with Ed, Edith and their children would do the job.
Hundreds of empty liquor cartons had been scrounged
from LCBO outlets and the records had been carefully
stacked therein by Ed and Edith during the preceding
weeks. As we began loading up the rental van,it soon
became apparent that the vehicle was a bit undersized
in terms of carrying the incredible weight. This was solved
(or so we thought) by inflating the tires to 50 psi, far
above the maximum rating, and even then they bulged
ominously. All of our automobiles were subjected to
the same overloads, and by about 10 a.m. on a bright
June morning, Edís record collection was trundling
along on its way to London.
Just west of Kingston, the inevitable happened. The
left rear tire blew to pieces and we careened to a sudden
stop on the shoulder. George Moogk, who had been
following close behind, took the wheel to a nearby garage,
where a new tire was fitted.
The full moon was high in the sky that evening
when the caravan finally arrived at the Moogkís new
home on Wilkins Street, and the last of the precious
boxes were unloaded. We had completely filled the
basement floor from end to end. To the best of my
knowledge not one record was damaged in transit, but
we had all aged considerably. After a good night's rest,
and one of Edithís legendary breakfasts, we all agreed
that it had been a once-in-a-lifetime adventure and that
we would not have missed it for worlds.
In the interim, since publication of Roll Back The Years,
Ed had been working away at a sequel, which was to
cover the period from 1930 to the end of the 78 rpm era.
But he had other smaller projects on the go as well, and
of these his favourite was to write a history
of the Anglo-Canadian Leather Co. Band of Huntsville, Ontario.
This organization, although it never made a formal
sound recording, gained an international reputation as
one of the finest concert bands during the period 1917-
1922 under the baton of renowned Sousa cornetist and
assistant conductor, Herbert L. Clarke.
Clarke, along with several other luminaries from
Sousaís band, had been lured up to the northern backwoods of Canada by the owner of the local tannery,
Charles Orlando Shaw, himself an amateur cornetist.
The demand for leather for boots, harness and other
military equipment had risen to unprecedented heights
because of the war in Europe, making Shaw a very
wealthy man. Most of his tannery employees had been
recruited from Italy in the early years of the century as
cheap labour. The local police chief had pleaded with
Shaw to provide some sort of activity to keep all these
young bucks from tearing up the town every Saturday
night. Shaw, assuming that all Italians were by nature
musicians, therefore established a company band about
1908, with himself, of course, as cornet soloist. By 1917,
when Clarke and his colleagues from Sousa were hired,
at astronomical salaries, the band was already an established fact. Under Clarke's direction the Anglo-Canadian
Band developed a world-wide reputation in spite of the
fact that it never recorded and never ventured further from
Huntsville than to the Canadian National
Exhibition in Toronto, 140 miles to the south. Such was its reputation,
that Major J. Mackenzie-Rogan,
Hon. RAM. leader of the band of H.M.Coldstream
Guards made a special trip to Huntsville to observe and
to conduct this legendary concert band.
Nora and I had moved from Toronto to Port Carling
in Muskoka, not far from Huntsville, in 1976, and had
gained some intimate knowledge of the area and its
history, so it was only natural that when Ed and Edith
came to visit us for a week in September 1979 we should
actively pursue Edís Anglo-Canadian interest.
While Edith and Nora spent their days enjoying
each other's company and caring for our two young
daughters, Ed and I were off bright and early each
morning to Huntsville
researching and interviewing
the half-dozen surviving members of the Anglo-Canadian
Band. One of these wonderful characters was still living
in the old octagonal bandstand which he had helped
build in 1908. After the band folded in the mid-20s, he
bought it and converted it into his residence.
By the end of the week, Ed and I had together
managed to amass a considerable collection of tape-
recorded interviews and photographs, as well as sheaves
of notes. We had visited the local pioneer village, which
houses considerable Anglo-Canadian memorabilia, and
had even surreptitiously peeked in the parlour window
of Herbert L. Clarke's substantial home overlooking
Hunter's Bay to see the screw eyes in the ceiling from
which the great cornetist suspended his instrument on
wires while practising his technique.
After dinner at home each evening we took a trip
in our 1903 vintage steam launch, Constance, among
the island-studded waters of Lake Rosseau, visiting such
lovely century-old hotels as Clevelands and Windermere
House. Returning home after dusk there would begin a
non-stop session of early recordings until utter exhaustion
imposed a reluctant finish to another day. It was an idyllic
week of joyful activity for us all, and it was with heavy
hearts that we said goodbye when the Moogks returned
to London. Little did any of us suspect that it was all
over. We would never see Ed again.
Less that two weeks later, he suffered a ruptured
aneurism behind his knee, and his leg eventually had to
be amputated. Most of the autumn of 1979, he spent
in a semi-conscious state in hospital, where his condition
gradually deteriorated. The Moogk family drew together
for mutual support during the crisis, and when we
heard from Edith on December 18th that Ed had died,
I immediately regretted not having gone to see him in
spite of his "no visitors" request. It was important to him
to maintain his personal dignity to the end.
At first, Nora and I felt a degree of personal responsibility for hastening the onset of Edís demise. For some time he had been overweight and in poor physical condition, and in retrospect we should have made
allowances for this. When the Moogks visited us in
Muskoka that week, should we have been a little less
enthusiastic in encouraging his Anglo-Canadian project?
Should our activities have been less physically demanding?
After Ed's passing, Edith, suspecting our feelings
of uneasiness, revealed to our surprise that the summer
of Ed's retirement had been a period of depression and
lethargy for him. Of course, this is frequently the case
when one retires from oneís career activities at age 65.
She reassured us that the week in Muskoka had had the
salutary effect of revitalizing Edís youthful
exuberance, and had re-awakened his usual interest in research and
life in general. She insisted that none of us should harbour any feelings of guilt or regret, and assured us that
Ed had spent that week exactly as he would have wished.
Edith requested that I sing at the memorial service
which was to be held at Hamilton Road Presbyterian
Church in London, but I suggested that in this
case it might be much more appropriate to play a suitable
vintage Canadian record on an early horn gramophone,
an idea which she readily accepted.
The service was well attended by his friends and
associates from the many areas of Ed's multifaceted career,
as well as by his close and extended family. For the musical
I provided a Victor V Talking Machine with oak
horn on which was played Herbert S. Berliners fine
recording of Toronto baritone, Frank Oldfield singing
Arthur Sullivan's The Lost Chord. It was a selection
which proved touchingly appropriate to the occasion.
I believe that Ed would be gratified to see the bountiful
harvest of the seeds which he sowed during his lifetime
across the whole field of historic recorded sound. Certainly
in Canada his influence has been greater than that of any
other single individual. In his own unassuming way, he
managed to quietly link up Canadian collectors, and give
them, through his programs, his writings, and his personal encouragement, a focus to their individual activities.
He was fiercely proud of the countless contributions of
Canadians ro virtually every aspect of recorded sound and encouraged
us all to recognize, respect, and preserve that important legacy.
He even went so far as to say that
the phonograph itself would have been a Canadian
invention, had Edison's Canadian-born father not gotten
himself mixed up in the 1837 "comic opera" political
rebellion, which forced him to seek asylum in the USA.
But while Ed, by his own example encouraged
scholarly research, he never once lost sight of one essential
fact: collecting, owning and playing old records and using
old phonographic equipment is fun. He was well aware
that in the great melting pot that we call time,the things
that survive are those which embellish the human spirit,
and which continue to bring joy and inspiration to
succeeding generations. I believe that Edward Balthasar
Moogk, in the tradition of his biblical namesake, showed
us by his own example that through our own personal
enthusiasm we must preserve and interpret our rich
recorded sound legacy, and seek new ways of keeping it
all relevant for the enlightenment and enjoyment of
generations yet to come.
The author wishes to thank Barry R. Ashpole, and also
the three Moogk children, Janet, Debbie and George
and their families for their enthusiastic and invaluable
assistance and advice in the preparation of this article.
- Parker G. Edward G. Moogk. Obituary and Personal
Reminiscences. ARSC Journal 1979;11(2-3):97-99.
- Ford C. and Kallman H. Moogk, Edward B. Encyclopedia
of Music in Canada Toronto, on: University of Toronto
Press, 1985 page 882.
- Barriault J. and Jean S. Moogk, Edward B., 1914-1979
Catalogue ofthe Archival Fonds and Collections of the Music
Division (National Library of Canada) Ottawa, ON: 1994.