Hank Rivers (his real name was Hank LaRiviere) was born in Hawkesbury, Ontario Canada.
He was raised in Ottawa. His mother bought him his first guitar for his 12th birthday.
Henri LaRiviere began his musical career at the age of 17. He recorded his first record in 1933.
He began singing professionally in 1933 for $10 a week at the Ottawa House Hotel in Hull, Ontario.
Hank was one of Canada’s top artist/composer/singer, radio and television recording stars.
He was signed by Hugh Joseph to the RCA Victor record label in Montreal in 1939.
His first release on RCA came while he was in the army and led him to become known as
“The Singing Soldier” and to recording tunes such as "Hurrah for Camp Borden", "Oh, But I’m Happy In The Army",
"Northern Cannon Ball", and "Soldiers Farewell".
Three artists were signed in the 40’s to RCA Victor Blue Bird Records:
Hank Snow, Wilf Carter, Hank LaRiviere. Wilf Carter featured Gene Autry,
Hawkshaw Hawkins, Hank Snow, Hank LaRiviere on the “ Wilf Carter Tour”
in the 1950’s.
In 1948, Hank was the featured vocalist on the CBC Dominion radio network program
The Western Five, broadcast from the Chateau Laurier Building in Ottawa,
doing 2 shows a week for 2 years. The program was broadcast throughout the world on
the CBC band which brought him fan mail from England, Scotland, Germany, France, Australia,
Texas and Canada.
Hank appeared again on the "The Western Five" as a guest of Cammie Howard on March 7, 1957. A week
later, Orval Prophet guested on the same show. Mention was made that Hank was also a part of
Hank Snow's early Canadian career in this article.
"Maple Sugar Sweetheart" was Hank's top song which was also recorded
by Mac Wiseman, Doc Williams, and Ramblin' Lou (Shriver).
Ward Allen wrote the music and called it “Maple Sugar”, and
Hank wrote the words and called it "Maple Sugar Sweetheart".
In the 1950's the hit ”Stop Look and Listen” was born for Hank.
The recording featured a “B” side sung in French. "Stop, Look and Listen",
along with “Sister Mary”, were re-recorded by Ted Daigle, CKBY program director
and writer/musician. Ted, who was also Associate Producer on Hank’s
album “Centennial Travels”, was Hank’s dearest friend and encouraged him throughout
Magazine articles in the 1950's make mention of Henry LaRiviere. John Corrigan in his Cowboy Songs column
mentions that Henry was a guest and interviewed on one his radio shows.
In 1954, Hank was part of a tour with Orval "Tex" Prophet as he was known at that time. They were
touring the Maritime provinces. Also included in the tour were Curley Kenny and others.
In 1955, John Corrigan and Hal Stewart mentioned in their column that Henry was recording for Gavotte Records
label and appearing on the Bytown Jamboree at the Strand Hall in Ottawa, Ontario. Also on the show's
cast was Orval (Rex) Prophet.
Hank and Sneezy Waters were also featured with Paul Henry Dallaire
on a song called "For You My Love, My Canada". We would like to note that Sneezy Waters
also did a movie tribute to Hank Williams entitled "The Show He Never Gave", a fictional account
of Hank stopping at some bar along the way on his last night alive.
Hank played at the Calgary Stampede and was featured on the morning radio
show for 15 minutes opening up with a song he wrote "We're Heading for the Calgary Stampede”.
The most rewarding period of his career was in the 1960's which saw him promoting
another hit “Confederation Train" by playing the Exhibitions in Ottawa and Toronto,
at Toronto’s Horseshoe Tavern, and at Montreal’s Expo 67.
His travels brought about another album, “Hank’s Centennial Travels”.
The album contained a collection of songs, one from each province . It was used
in "Canada - The First One Hundred Years” which was featured on
the Centennial Caravan train that traveled the country from coast to coast. According to a 1967
article, it featured movies, slides, photos and other paraphernalia related to the first
100 years of Canada's history. At the same time The Canadian Pavilion at Expo 67,
with its myriad of international visitors and tourists,
featured the music of “Centennial Travels”.
While on tour in the early 1980’s Wilf stopped in the Ottawa Valley, which brought
two great artist’s together once again.
In September 1984, the Ottawa Valley Country Music Hall of Fame held a dinner and dance at the Salon
C at the Civic Centre in Ottawa according to reporter Dave Muholland. About 550 people attended
the ceremonies which were to honor not only Hank Rivers, but others such as Bob King, Rank Ryan and Irwin
Prescott. Hank's longtime friend, Ted Baigle of CKBY presented the plaque to Hank stating, "This man
has been in the hall of fame in our minds for many years." In his remarks, Hank noted that one of the
highlights of his career was touring with Gene Autry who encouraged him and is included in a song
he wrote called "Longing for Old Alberta".
Credits & Sources
- Hillbilly-Music.com wishes to express its appreciation to Hank LaRiviere, Jr.,
son of Henri LaRiviere for his patience and contacting us and allowing us to provide information
about his father's musical career.
- Cowboy Songs; No. 30; December 1953; American Folk Publications; Charlton Building;
- Cowboy Songs; No. 32; March - April 1954; American Folk Publications; Charlton Building;
- Cowboy Songs; No. 41; June 1955; American Folk Publications; Charlton Building;
- Cowboy Songs; No. 53; August 1957; American Folk Publications; Charlton Building;
- Country Music Life; July 1967; Country Music Life Publications; PO Box 2366, El Modeno Station,
Orange, CA 92667
- The Citizen; September 24, 1984; Ottawa, ON Canada
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