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Hank Rivers
Born:  January 23, 1917
Died:  May 7, 1996
Ottawa Valley Country Music Hall of Fame (1984)
Calgary Stampede

About The Artist

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.

The Singing Soldier - Hank Rivers / Hank LaRiviere 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 Hank's career.

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; Derby, CT
  • Cowboy Songs; No. 32; March - April 1954; American Folk Publications; Charlton Building; Derby, CT
  • Cowboy Songs; No. 41; June 1955; American Folk Publications; Charlton Building; Derby, CT
  • Cowboy Songs; No. 53; August 1957; American Folk Publications; Charlton Building; Derby, CT
  • 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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Hank Rivers

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Recordings (78rpm/45rpm)

 
Bluebird
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  B 4686 A Longing For Old Alberta
  B 4686 B The Soldier's Farewell
 
RCA Victor
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  57-1015 A Christmas In The Maritimes
  57-1015 B A Christmas Dream
  57-3426 A Confederation Train
  57-3426 B Hank's Centennial Travels
  57-3434 A Take Me Back To Old New Brunswick
  57-3434 B Sister Mary
  57-3454 A Something To Sing About
  57-3454 B Shoes Keep Walking
 
Rodeo Records
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  RO 257 A Maple Sugar Sweetheart
  RO 257 B Hank's Traveling Blues
  RO 3154 A Singing Wheels
  RO 3154 B Your Turn To Cry
  RO 3164 A Hurrah For Camp Borden
  RO 3164 B Longest Day


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