The Culling XXX: Canadian Talent Library

May 12, 2011

I still have a way to go to reach my goal of collecting every record put out by the Canadian Talent Library – some 268 LPs all told (according to The Canadian Encyclopedia) of which I have 47. It’s a challenging but achievable goal.

Generic CTL logo record cover

A brief history: The non-profit CTL began in 1962 as a subscription service for easy listening radio stations. The goal was to get more Canadian talent (composers and performers) on the radio at a time when there was little Canadian music on the airwaves (Canadian content wasn’t regulated by law until 1970).

Initially, recordings were issued only to subscribing stations, but in 1966 CTL began licensing its records to major labels such as RCA, Columbia and United Artists for commercial release. The CTL’s biggest seller was undoubtedly a 1975 album by composer/vibes player Hagood Hardy that featured his instrumental hit The Homecoming (a song originally written as background for a tea commercial). The album sold over 200,000 copies – I find it just about every time I visit a thrift store (and yet have somehow managed to avoid buying it).

Other CTL records are a little harder to find. I’d dearly love to have a copy of CTL 5049, a 1964 compilation that has Gordon Lightfoot’s first recorded songs (2 originals and 4 covers including Turn, Turn, Turn and The Auctioneer). Another album I absolutely need for my collection is CTL 5014 – “Canadian Football Songs” by The Dal Richards Orchestra and Chorus – one peppy “fight song” for each of the CFL’s (then) 9 teams (you can download the songs here, but I still want the album for the cover art).

Basic CTL cover from the early years. The felt pen markings and color-coding tape on the spine indicate that this record came from a radio station record library. The subscribing stations are listed on the right (click to enlarge). In Edmonton they were CHQT and CFRN - two stations I wouldn't have been caught dead listening to as a teenager.

I’m a little conflicted in my feelings about the CTL. Much of it is a little too easy and bland for my taste (like most of the Laurie Bower Singers’ prodigious output). Many CTL records featured the cream of Toronto’s jazz players – Terry Riley (organ), Moe Koffman (flute), Peter Appleyard (vibes), Rob McConnell (trombone), among others, but they were constricted by the needs of the middle-of-the-road radio format.

Nevertheless, there are some standout tracks to be found in CTL grooves. I’ve assembled a little “mix-tape” of some of my favourite cuts from my small sampling of the CTL catalogue.

1. Peter Appleyard: Soulful Strut
The British-born vibes player recorded 8 albums for the CTL.

2. Guido Basso: Give Her My Love
An original by the Toronto horn player.

3. Bob Lucier: Too High
“Canada’s king of the steel guitar.” The song is by Stevie Wonder.

4. Ben McPeek: Kapuskasing Kaper
McPeek’s orchestra plays on more than a dozen CTL records. The composer, conductor, arranger, and pianist also wrote more than 2,000 ad jingles.

5. Rob McConnell and The Boss Brass: Canadian Pie
McConnell created the Boss Brass for a CTL recording session in 1968.

6. Jackie Mittoo: Telstar
The Jamaican organ superstar lived in Toronto (off and on)  from the late 60s until his death in 1990. He made two records for the CTL.

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One Response to “The Culling XXX: Canadian Talent Library”


  1. […] favourites – Peter Appleyard’s Soulful Strut and Ben McPeek’s Kapuskasing Kaper (listen to them here), plus numbers by CTL stalwarts Jimmy Namaro, Jerry Toth, Rob McConnell, Bill Badgley and Lucio […]


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