The Happy Gang

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The Happy Gang display at the CBC Museum, 2009

The Happy Gang was a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio lunchtime variety show that ran from 1937 to 1959. The show began on CRCT, a CBC affiliate in Toronto, moved to the CBC network four months later, and ran for 22 years, totalling nearly 4900 broadcasts.

The series also served as the template for CBC's French language service, Les Joyeux Troubadours, which was broadcast in Quebec from 1941 to 1977.

In 1937, CBC Regional Program Director George Taggart was given the assignment to come up with a Monday-through-Friday half-hour variety program that would fill the period 1.00 to 1.30 PM E.S.T. His tight budget permitted only four musicians. To “lead the band”, and as Master of Ceremonies, Taggart’s choice was Bert Pearl. His fellow musicians were trumpeter Robert (Bob) Farnon, violinist Blain Mathe and organist Kathleen (Kay) Stokes. Herb May, who served his apprenticeship with CBO Ottawa and had been moved to Toronto, became the show’s first regular announcer. George Temple was appointed producer. Singer-accordionist Eddie Allen joined in 1938 and remained with the Gang for the remainder of their history, along with Mathé and Stokes.

Other instrumentalists who were members of the troupe include:

  • trumpeter Bobby Gimby - from 1943-April 1959
  • saxophonist-clarinetist Cliff McKay - 1943-52 and returned to replace Gimby
  • keyboardist Jimmy Namaro - 1943 to 1959
  • bassist Joe Niosi - 1945 to 1959
  • organist Lou Snider - 1948 to 1957
  • pianist Lloyd Edwards - 1950 to 1959
  • saxophonist-clarinetist Bert Niosi - 1952 to 1959
  • accordionist Les Foster - 1955 to 1959.

The show's announcers were Herb May until 1938, Hugh Bartlett 1938-1952, and Barry Wood 1952-1959.

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