New additions to the Virtual Gramophone – Roméo Beaudry

By Margaret Ashburner

A black-and-white photograph of a man looking right at the camera and wearing a grey suit.

Roméo Beaudry. Source: Canadian Music Trades Journal, Toronto, Fullerton Pub. Co., September 1931, ISSN 0383-0705.

Roméo Beaudry was a key figure in the emerging gramophone music scene in Canada. He founded Starr Phonograph of Quebec and specialized in producing gramophone discs for the francophone market. In addition to this, Beaudry was a busy composer and translator. He wrote many unique and popular songs as well as adapting American songs to French. This selection of newly digitized 78’s provides examples of Beaudry’s extensive work as both a translator and a composer.


Margaret Ashburner is the Special Collections Librarian of the retrospective music collection at Library and Archives Canada

New additions to the Virtual Gramophone – Henry Burr

By Margaret Ashburner

A black-and-white photograph of a man standing in front of a car, holding a small dog and wearing a Bowler hat.

Henry Burr. Source: Library and Archives Canada music collection, Public Domain.

A prolific recording artist, Henry Burr is estimated to have performed in over 12,000 recordings over the course of his life. His given name was Harry McClaskey, but he recorded under a wide variety of pseudonyms, the most well known being Henry Burr. Burr regularly performed not only tenor solos, but also in duets, quartets and other ensembles. He often performed alongside Albert Campbell.


Margaret Ashburner is the Special Collections Librarian of the retrospective music collection at Library and Archives Canada

New additions to the Virtual Gramophone – English songs

By Margaret Ashburner

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is fortunate to have a collection of early audio recordings that capture the popular music that Canadians were listening to in the early 20th century. This collection of newly digitized recordings is a broad sampling of popular songs recorded in the 78-rpm format.

Featured performer

Albert William Plunkett

Black-and-white image of a young man smiling.

Albert Plunkett. Source: Canadian Music Trades Journal, Toronto, Fullerton Pub. Co., ISSN 0383-0705.

Plunkett is best known for his work as a soldier-entertainer with The Dumbells group. The Dumbells was run by Albert’s older brother Captain Mert Plunkett. The group started in 1917 and was active until 1932.

Harry Macdonough

A black-and-white image of a man wearing a suit.

Harry Macdonough. Source: Library and Archives Canada music collection, Public Domain.

Born in Hamilton, Ontario, as John Scantlebury Macdonald, the singer changed his name to Harry Macdonough in hopes that it would help his singing career. This popular ballad singer was a prolific recording artist and was involved in solo, duet and quartet recordings, many of which are among LAC’s collection.


Margaret Ashburner is the Special Collections Librarian of retrospective music at Library and Archives Canada.

New additions to the Virtual Gramophone!

By Margaret Ashburner

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is pleased to present a list of newly digitized recordings from our 78-rpm disc collection. These early 20th century recordings include a variety of Canadian musicians, performers, composers and publishers. We will present the new recordings to you in six installments over the next few months.

French songs

Our first batch of newly digitized songs includes a variety of French-language songs. The release dates on these range from 1918 to the late 1930s and reflect the influx of francophone immigrants to Quebec, and Montreal in particular. With the boom in a French-speaking population came some great artistic developments for Canada, including francophone popular music, a small sample of which we have here:

A colour photograph of a black circular label at the centre of a 78-rpm disc. Gold lettering reads: “His Master’s Voice. Victor. Y-A des loups (Quentin-de Bexeuil). Georges Beauchemin. 263510-A.”

A Georges Beauchemin record label for Y-A des loups; image from Library and Archives Canada (AMICUS 31386448)

A colour photograph of a black circular label at the centre of a 78-rpm disc. Gold lettering reads: “Starr, Tenor, Avec piano, A SON CHEVET (Fyscher), LUDOVIC HUOT (Au piano: J. Allan McIver). 15929-A”

Record label for À son chevet by Ludovic Huot; image from Library and Archives Canada (AMICUS 31394570)

Featured performers

Georges Beauchemin, baritone

Georges Beauchemin is an interesting early example of the potential that recording technology brought to musicians. Beauchemin possessed a light baritone voice that would not have been suitable for solo stage and operatic roles. However, the new recording technologies allowed musicians with less powerful voices to be recorded and amplified.

Hector Pellerin, baritone

A black and white image of a young man wearing a tuxedo.

Hector Pellerin, photograph taken from the Virtual Gramophone. (AMICUS 2653974)

Hector Pellerin was an industrious musician who started out training in piano and organ but quickly moved on to popular music through his work accompanying silent films. He continued to work in various musical capacities before landing his first recording contract at the age of 29. He recorded in both wax cylinder and 78-rpm formats, ultimately making over 140 recordings.


Margaret Ashburner is the Special Collections Librarian of music at Library and Archives Canada