Our Monthly Story
Plot T, Lot 1933
Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto
Bobby Gimby was born in Cabri, Saskatchewan on October 25, 1918. As the entire Gimby family was a music-loving group, it wasn’t long before six-year-old Bobby was making his contribution on a cornet his father had purchased from the Eaton’s catalogue. Gimby eventually moved to Vancouver where he joined Mart Kenney and His Western Gentlemen. In the early 1940s he ventured east and started his own orchestra, playing in such well known dance halls as Toronto’s Palais Royal and Palace Pier, Dunn’s Pavilion in Muskoka, and the famous Brant Inn in Burlington. In 1945 Gimby found himself teamed up with several other talented Canadian musicians on the extremely popular CBC radio show “The Happy Gang.” He stayed with the show until the late 1950s.
In 1966, Centennial Year commissioner John Fisher suggested to Gimby that he compose a song for the country’s 100th birthday. On June 24 of that year, while visiting Quebec, Gimby was captivated by a group of children who were marching and singing in the St. Jean Baptiste Day parade. Inspired by what he had just witnessed, it wasn’t long before Gimby had the words (in both English and French) and the music for a children’s marching song that caught the country’s birthday spirit and quickly transformed Gimby into “Canada’s Pied Piper” complete with cape and bejewelled trumpet, both created by his daughter Lynn. “The Ca-na-da Song” was performed by Gimby in the farthest reaches of the nation and soon became the biggest selling record in Canadian history. In late 1967 Gimby arranged to have all future royalties from his song turned over to the Boy Scouts of Canada. The Scouts continue to hold title to the song.
Gimby’s proudest moment occurred during Centennial Year when he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. Gimby died on June 20, 1998. Several days later an upbeat funeral (Dixieland music was played) was held in the pretty little Deer Park United Church on St. Clair Avenue West. Draped over the casket were a Canadian flag with Gimby’s famous herald trumpet and his Order of Canada medal resting on top.