(December 18, 1904 - December 5,
1996), also known as Montana Slim
, was a Canadian
guitarist, and yodeller
acknowledged as the father of Canadian country music, Carter was
Canada's first country music star, inspiring a generation of young
Wilfred Arthur Charles
Carter was born in Port Hilford, Nova
nine children, Carter began working odd jobs by the age of eight in
He began singing after seeing a travelling
Swiss performer named "The Yodelling Fool" in Canning. Carter left
home at the age of 15 after a falling out with his father, who was
a Baptist minister.
after working as a lumberjack and singing with hobos in boxcars,
Carter moved west to Calgary, Alberta, where he found work as a cowboy.
He made extra money singing and
playing his guitar at dances, performing for tourist parties,
travelling in the Canadian Rockies]. It was during this time that
he developed his own yodelling style, sometimes called an "echo
yodel" or a "three-in-one."
Carter performed his first radio
in 1930. Soon after, he
was heard locally on CFAC
and nationally on the
. Two years later, he was entertaining
tourists as a trail rider for the Canadian Pacific Railway
promoted horseback excursions into the Canadian Rockies. Carter
soon became very popular in the region.
In 1933, Carter began recording for RCA
in Montreal. His first 78 recording, which included "My
Swiss Moonlight Lullaby" and "The Capture of Albert Johnson," was
the first hit record by a Canadian country music performer.
Carter's popularity grew steadily. In 1933, he was hired as an entertainer on
the maiden voyage of the British ship
. On his way to the ship, he stopped off in
Montreal and recorded
two songs he had just written: "My Swiss Moonlight Lullaby" and
"The Capture of Albert
The record became a best-seller within a year.
That same year, Carter also wrote and recorded "Pete Knight
, The King of the Cowboys," which
also became a hit.
Carter moved to New York
City, where he performed on WABC radio.
He also hosted a CBS country music radio
program until 1937. During this time, someone tagged him with the
name "Montana Slim," and the name stuck.
In 1937, Carter returned to Alberta, where he purchased a ranch. He
continued to appear on both American and Canadian radio shows, as
well as perform live concerts.
In 1940, Carter seriously injured his back in a car accident in
Montana. He was unable to perform for much of the decade, but his
popularity was sustained by the periodic release of new recordings.
his ranch in 1949 and moved his family to a 180-acre
(0.73 km2) farm in New Jersey. In 1952, he moved again, this time to
Florida, where he opened the Wilf Carter Motor Lodge, a
venture that lasted only two years.
Return to the road
In 1949, Carter resumed live performances with tours in Canada and
the United States. In 1950, he attracted over 50,000 people
during a week at the Canadian National Exhibition bandstand in Toronto.
In 1953, Wilf Carter started touring with his own show called,
The Family Show with the Folks You Know.
Carol and Sheila, worked with him as dancers and back-up
Carter performed for the first time at the Calgary
He also became one of the most requested
guests on the TV show
hosted by Canadian
country singer Tommy Hunter
Wilf Carter recorded over 40 original and compilation LP records
for RCA and its affiliates, including Nuggets of the Golden
, Christmas in Canada
, Songs of the Rail and
, Songs of Australia
, Wilf Carter Sings
, and Let's Go Back to the Bible
1983 he rerecorded many of his most popular songs for Fifty
In 1971, Wilf Carter was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of
. In 1979, he served as the grand marshal at
Stampede, and in 1981, he toured with his contemporary,
He was inducted into the
Music Hall of Fame
in 1984, and the following year, he was
inducted into the Canadian
Music Hall of Fame
and the Juno Awards Hall of Fame. A video
documentary was released in 2000, called The Last Round-up: The
Wilf Carter Story
, which examined Carter's distinguished
In 1988, Carter recorded his last album, What Ever Happened to
All Those Years
. In 1991, at age 86, he performed his last
tour, appropriately called The Last Round-up Tour, with
shows throughout Nova
Brunswick, Ontario, and Manitoba.
He retired the following year, due to his
loss of hearing. Wilf Carter died in 1996 in Scottsdale,
Arizona at the age of 91.
Wilf Carter's simple, honest sound continues to attract listeners
with each new generation. His straightforward singing and guitar
playing have a universal appeal. He wrote hundreds of songs
covering a wide range of themes, including traditional country
western, cowboy, folk, and hobo songs. His recordings of "Blue
Canadian Rockies" and "You Are My
" are among the most popular. Some believe that Carter
wrote the popular American Christmas carol, "Jolly Old Saint Nicholas
- Carter, Wilf. The Yodelling Cowboy. Toronto: Ryerson,
- Encyclopedia of Music in Canada