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Monday, February 15, 2010

TED WESLEY-big river (the mackenzie)-glitter of gold-1973 NORTH OF CANADA

 This guy put out some interesting Canadian themed music,
incidentally and deserved, he is appreciated by a wide range of folk.
He almost won a Juno in '77, then quietly receded into his 
own personal life.

Here are 3 cuts from his 3rd LP "North of Canada"  on Boot Records.
Features the talents of Brian Russell, Red Shea, Chuck Goudie, Clint Grantham
and his stable song writer appears  on this LP again, L.Bean.

Recorded in Toronto in 1976 it is more mellow Than his previous 2 LP's
and he continues to parlay a great message in his music.

Originally I posted the single from his first LP. Since my youtube
account is still held hostage by Youtube inc, I have taken 3 tracks from
his 3rd LP to share via my new youtube page. 


See the article at the bottom added Feb.2012 detailing his journey.


bio from

Ted Wesley is a singer/song-writer who has lived in and loved the North for over 40 years and is a tribute to the land and it's people, resonating in the hearts all those proud to call themselves Northerners. He began his music career when he formed the music group "The Tundra Folk" for Canada's Centennial in 1967. In 1972, he recorded his first album Straight North and his is second album, Blackflies, Mosquitoes and Other Love Songs was released in 1973. In 1977, he received national acclaim with more than 70,000 albums sold and a Juno nomination as Country Male Vocalist of the Year for his recording of his third album, Long Dusty Road. His first recording in a cd format I Remember...Our Northern Heritage, is a poetic treasury of a time that may be lost, but never forgotten.
Ted Wesley has two children, a son Jonathon and a daughter Nahanni. He is living and working in northern Alberta with his wife, daughter Nahanni and her husband and their two children. He continues to share dulcet stories of his time in Yellowknife with anyone who will listen.

great source of info on Ted:

Ted recorded 3 albums:
1. North of Canada
2. Straight North, and
3. Blackflies and Mosquitoes

BOB RUZICKA - one of Ted's songwriters

Wilf Bean -another of Ted's Writers :

 LISTEN TO CLIP: (sorry youtube is holding my needledrop videos hostage)

What happened to Ted Wesley?


Northern balladeer sold 70,000 records during the 1970s and then quietly disappeared
Mike W. Bryant
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, April 23, 2008
YELLOWKNIFE - Thirty years ago, a man named Ted Wesley was the North's favourite singing son.
The Long, Dusty Road, a song from his third album titled North of Canada, was for weeks a hit on national radio.
In 1977, Murray MacLaughlin barely edged him out for a Juno award for Country Male Vocalist of the Year. 

Ted Wesley playing guitar at home in Fort McMurray. Born in Zambia to Polish parents and off to Canada at age nine, Wesley moved North in 1961. His first album, Straight North, was released in 1972. - photo courtesy of Ted Wesley -
All told he had sold some 70,000 records. Not bad for a guy who's usual gig was at the Hoist Room in downtown Yellowknife, renamed several times since and now called Surly Bob's.
Another feather in Wesley's toque came when he dreamed up the Folk on the Rocks music festival, now in its 28th year.
His impact on the North's music scene was profound. Few here have risen as high as he did but after one final performance at Folk on the Rocks in 1982 he quietly disappeared. He hasn't played in Yellowknife since.
"He really did seem to drop out of the public eye," says fan Bob Stewart, who last November launched a website,, begging the question: Whatever happened to Ted Wesley?
Stewart never saw Wesley perform but he does own his three albums, purchased after his arrival in Yellowknife in 1982.
Those records - the last two recorded for the now defunct Boot Records, which released many of Stompin' Tom Connors earlier records - exist only on vinyl and have been out of print for years. Stewart compares Wesley to Gordon Lightfoot and maritime legend Stan Rogers.
"This music is too good to let disappear from memory," says Stewart. "When I started the website I didn't even know if Ted was still alive or not," says Stewart. 
NNSL Photo/Graphic

Bob Stewart is a Ted Wesley fan. Here he holds a copy of Wesley's 1973 album Blackflies and Mosquitoes. - Mike W. Bryant/nnsl photo
"There's still some people out there wondering what happened to him."
In fact, Wesley is very much alive and well. Yellowknifer found Wesley living peacefully with his wife of 47 years, Leslie, in Fort McMurray, Alta.
They share a house with their daughter Nahanni - who besides the river, shares her name with a song on Wesley's second album Blackflies and Mosquitoes - her husband and their two children.
Wesley still plays music albeit in a more low key manner than he once did.
For the past few years the 63-year-old has been operating a giant excavator in the tar patch outside of town.
That's what I like to do," says Wesley. "I play with these massive toys in a really big sand box."
Wesley was a miner before he became a singer.
In 1961, at age 16, he ventured North from Edmonton to work at Discovery Mine.
He lied about his age to get the job, and lied again when he took another job working underground at Giant Mine and to play hockey for the mine's team, the Giant Grizzlies.
One had to be 21-years old to work underground in those days, and hockey was an entry point for many young workers in Yellowknife if they could show that they could handle a puck and compete in the city's ultra-competitive hockey league.
While Wesley had talent on ice, his musical skills were still in their infancy.
"My brother bought a guitar just before I came to Yellowknife and I ended up stealing it from him," Wesley recalls.
"I grabbed it on my way out the door. I don't think he knew it was gone."
It wasn't long before Wesley met Leslie working the ticket booth at an Elk's Hall dance, herself the daughter of a Giant miner.
The couple were married and began singing duets together and competing in talent contests.
After meeting Andy Steen, a young man from Inuvik residing at Akaitcho Hall, they formed a group, calling themselves the Tundra Folk.
"We tried to be different," says Wesley. "Instead of doing the same thing everybody else was doing, we started doing a bunch of research. We wanted to do Canadian songs. There was a shortage of them, short of singing East Coast type songs."
In 1967, the Tundra Folk were invited to take part in a series of concerts up the Mackenzie Valley and into the High Arctic to mark Canada's centennial.
It wasn't long before Wesley became acquainted with Bob Ruzicka, known as "The Singing Dentist," who, true to his moniker, practised dentistry by day in Inuvik and other Northern towns and sang his songs on a CBC radio by night.
Ruzicka is a Canadian music legend in his own right. His first album, What the World's All About, produced two top-10 hits in 1972. He went on to record several major label albums, and wrote songs for such Canadian singing stars as Valdy and Anne Murray.
Ruzicka was given credit for most of the songs on Wesley's first album, 1972's Straight North, which included fan favourite The Ballad of Muk Tuk Annie. The song was later re-recorded by Stompin' Tom Connors for his album Stompin' Tom Meets Muk Tuk Annie.
"He wrote that song while I was in the studio (in Edmonton)," says Wesley. "He went to the can and wrote it down on some toilet paper. It was a huge success."
Wesley and others say Ruzicka settled in B.C. but Yellowknifer couldn't find him.
The album release party for Straight North was held in the Hoist Room and featured a slide show of photographs taken by author and Catholic missionary Rene Fumoleau. The guest list included a who's who of Northern bigwigs and politicians.
For the next album, 1973's Blackflies and Mosquitoes, Wesley borrowed more songs from Ruzicka and included another songwriter in the mix, Wilf Bean.
Wesley says he got in touch with Bean after his songs were recommended to him by Nellie Cournoyea, who would go on to become premier of the Northwest Territories.
Bean was an employee of the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs living in Kugluktuk and Cambridge Bay before taking work with the Indian Brotherhood.
It was during the lead up to the Berger Inquiry and the Dene were beginning to assert their rights to the land.
All the songs Wesley recorded dealt with Northern people and places but some also harboured a vein of protest, including Ruzicka's James Bay Hydro-Electric Power Play and Bean's Pipeline Promises.
"That decade in the North was an incredibly transformative experience," says Bean, who now resides in Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia.
"It was a time to be writing. I was lucky to be there at the right time, and I think with Ted's music, people were looking for some expression and artistic commentary from the North."
Though Bean penned four songs for the Blackflies album and almost all the songs on North of Canada, he says he only met Wesley a handful of times.
Wesley wrote songs as well but recorded only a couple co-written with friend and back-up player Doug Leonard.
"I didn't need them," says Wesley.
In 1976, he released his third and biggest album yet, North of Canada. Musicians for the album, recorded in Toronto, included Lightfoot's guitar player Red Shea.
A Yellowknife favourite was the Ballad of Chuck McAvoy. Written by Wesley's bandmate Frank Ferguson, the song retells the story of the famed lost bush pilot, who by then had been missing for more than 20 years. The Long, Dusty Road, written by Bean, meanwhile, started getting a lot of airplay.
"We were on a trip to B.C. and the song came on the radio," recalls Leslie, who spent many a late night packing LPs to meet the demand from listeners requesting her husband's records.
"The DJ said this is a great song, we play it a lot and have a lot a calls about it. We'd sure like to talk to Ted Wesley sometime," she says. "So we hopped the ferry and went our way across to Victoria, walked into the radio station and asked for the DJ. Ted said, 'How do you do? I'm Ted Wesley. I heard you wanted to talk to me."
His musical success continued to grow.
He was invited to perform his songs on several TV shows, and hit the stage at the Pacific Colosseum in Vancouver. He quit his job at Giant and started a small taxi company in Yellowknife.
He was touring lots, playing as far away as Alert and Charlottetown, P.E.I.
After performing a festival in Faro, Yukon, Wesley thought Yellowknife could use a similar event.
With Leslie and his sister-in-law and manager Heather Pritchard - who organized the first Arctic Winter Games in 1970 - plans for a Yellowknife summer music festival started to take shape.
It was 1979 and CBC wanted to celebrate the July 1 festivities by showcasing events from across the country. Yellowknife, with its midnight sun, would be shown last. Frame Lake's McNiven Beach was chosen for the event.
"We wanted to call it Stage on the Rocks but we couldn't house too many people (at McNiven Beach) so that's when we actually moved it to Long Lake," says Wesley.
"That was basically the formation of Folk on the Rocks."
Wesley went on to perform at the first three Folk on the Rocks festivals, which officially launched under that name in 1980.
But Wesley's Yellowknife playing days were coming to an end. In 1981, he left the city and took a job at Polaris Mine on Little Cornwallis Island, Nunavut. Leslie and the kids went to B.C.
He came back to Yellowknife in 1982 to play Folk on the Rocks, bringing with him a group, the Little Walrus Band, that he had formed up at the mine. But though he passed through Yellowknife many times over the years on his way to and from the mine, his playing days in the city were over.
"I think a big transition for me was that I quit smoking and a lot of my gigs were in the Hoist Room, and playing in bars where everybody else smoked," says Wesley. "I had to quit because of my health. I was smoking almost two packs a day. I just couldn't take it any more so I ended up quitting and getting a regular job."
Wesley worked at the mine in weeks-longs shifts in relative isolation for 22 years until it closed in 2003.
He still continues to play music. One of the guys he jams with used to play in Bachman-Turner Overdrive, says Wesley.
He says he would love to play in Yellowknife again, perhaps for next year's Folk on the Rocks. As for re-releasing the old albums, something is in the works.
"We've been talking about that the last couple years but life keeps getting in the way," says Wesley. "When this thing with Bob Stewart came up, we were like, 'holy moly, we got to do something about it now.'"


  1. this was a great find for me
    i never heard of that guy , he wasn't even listed in rateyourmusic

  2. do you have any of teds albums available for download? all of his music only exists on vinyl as far as i know. if you have any of his music available for download i would love to have a copy



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