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Sony Music Entertainment (Canada) Inc. (Columbia Records of Canada, 1954-76; CBS Records Canada Ltd/CBS Disques Canada Ltée 1976-90). The (US) Columbia Graphophone Co first established operations in Canada with a Toronto company known succcessively as Columbia Phonograph 1904-13, Columbia Graphophone 1914-22, Columbia Gramophone 1923-4, and Columbia Phonograph 1925-3?. (The US parent company had been created in 1894 by the merger of the American Graphophone Co, manufacturer 1886-94 of playback machines - graphophones - and cylinder recordings, and the Columbia Phonograph Co, manufacturer of cylinder recordings and, after 1902, of disc recordings.) By 1912 Columbia had established a factory in Toronto for pressing records and assembling graphophones. In 1923, however, the parent company declared bankruptcy for various reasons, including an unmanageably high inventory and the rapid advance of radio. The following year it was reorganized as the Columbia Phonograph Co and its Canadian operation was taken over by Montreal financiers, who maintained the head office in Toronto and distribution centres in Vancouver, Winnipeg, and Montreal. The Canadian operation did not survive the depression.

Control of (US) Columbia passed through various hands until it was purchased in 1938 by CBS, which in 1939 contracted Sparton records as Canadian licensee, presser and distributor for the Columbia line. Columbia itself moved again into Canada in 1954 with a head office initially in Toronto and, as of 1960, in its suburb of Don Mills, where a plant in operation 1971-88 was capable of pressing 100,000 discs a day, and served many non-affiliated Canadian labels in this capacity. Branch offices were eventually opened in Vancouver, Calgary, and Montreal, and near Moncton. International control of CBS was taken over by the Sony Corp of Japan in 1988, and the Sony name was adopted as of 1 Jan 1991.

The company operated under the direction of Bob Pampe 1954-68 and Fred Wilmot 1968-73; both held the position of vice-president and general manager. Terence M. Lynd was the company's first president, as of 1973, superseded as chief executive by Arnold Gosewich, chairman of the board 1977-80. Direction thereafter returned to the company's presidents: Bernard DiMatteo 1981-9 and Paul Burger, as of 1989. Columbia/CBS owned and operated A & A Records & Tapes 1971-82; at its most successful the retail chain comprised more than 100 stores across Canada in this period.

Columbia had Canadian artists on its roster in its earliest years, beginning with the concert performers Pierre-Aurèle Asselin, Craig Campbell, Louis Chartier, Paul Dufault, Eduardo Ferrari-Fontana, Jeanne Gordon, Émile Gour, Kathleen Parlow, and Joseph Saucier, some of whom recorded for the US company, others for the French-Canadian catalogue established after 1910 by Louis-Richard Beaudry. After Columbia introduced its revolutionary 33-rpm LP in 1948, it expanded its international roster greatly. In subsequent years the classical roster - issued in turn in the Masterworks and Sony Classical series - has included Donald Bell, Liona Boyd, John Boyden, Canadian Brass the Canadian String Quartet, Don Garrard, Glenn Gould (who recorded exclusively for Columbia), Raoul Jobin, Lois Marshall, James Milligan, Léopold Simoneau, Tafelmusik, the TS, and André Turp. Stravinsky conducted several noted recordings of his works with the CBC Symphony Orchestra, the Festival Singers and other Canadian artists for Columbia 1962-4. CBS was the international distributor 1976-84 for Eleanor Koldofsky's Aquitaine label.

The Quebec folk instrumentalists Henri Lacroix, Wellie Ringuette, and Isidore Soucy, among others, recorded for Columbia in the 1920s, as did the folksingers Conrad Gauthier, Ovila Légaré, and Charles Marchand. In later years the Columbia/CBS/Sony pop roster would include Leonard Cohen, Percy Faith, Maynard Ferguson, the Four Lads, and Robert Goulet (all of whom recorded for US Columbia), as well as Gerry Boulet, Céline Dion, Harmonium, Dan Hill, Monique Leyrac, Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush, Phyllis Marshall, Mashmakhan, Octobre, Offenbach, Michel Pagliaro, Les Séguin, the Travellers, Gilles Valiquette, and Gilles Vigneault. CBS also has distributed its own Epic line (Alta Moda, Barney Bentall, Cindi Cain, Cats Can Fly, Gowan, France Joli, Mae Moore, Aldo Nova, Straight Lines, and others), as well as recordings under the independent Canadian labels Anthem (see Rush), Isba (Laymen Twaist, Mitsou, Nuance), and True North.

Author Edward B. Moogk


RPM, special issue ('CBS Records Canada 25th Anniversary'), 22 Dec 1979

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