Fred Penner

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Fred Penner
Born Frederick Ralph Cornelius Penner
(1946-11-06) November 6, 1946 (age 70)
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Alma mater University of Winnipeg
Occupation Singer, guitarist
Known for Fred Penner's Place (1985–1997)
Spouse(s) Odette Graziella Heyn (1981–present)

Frederick Ralph Cornelius "Fred" Penner, CM OM (born November 6, 1946) is a Canadian children's music performer who gives appearances throughout North America. His television show, Fred Penner's Place, aired on CBC in Canada from 1985 to 1997, and was seen in the United States on the cable channel Nickelodeon from 1989 to 1992.

Life and career[edit]

Penner was born on November 6, 1946 to Lydia Agathe Penner (née Winters, 1913-2005) and Edward W. Penner (d. 1971). Penner had four siblings: one older sister Carol, one older brother Wesley, one younger brother Terry, and one younger sister Susan (d. 1970).

Penner was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba. At the early age of four, Penner began making up songs while travelling on the bus with his mother. He taught himself how to play the guitar when he was in grade school, and performed in school choirs and pageants. Through his experience with his sister Susan's Down Syndrome, he recognized the therapeutic value of music.

Penner received his high school diploma at Kelvin High School, where he took lead roles in the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. After graduating from the University of Winnipeg with a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and psychology, he spent time working with mentally and physically challenged children, using music to comfort and entertain. In 1977, he met choreographer and future wife Odette Heyn, with whom he started a children's dance theatre company. Penner accepted an offer to do a recording, which resulted in the album The Cat Came Back, which launched his career and established him as one of Canada's leading children's entertainers.

In 1984, he appeared on the children's television show, The Elephant Show, singing "The Cat Came Back". In 1991, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada for "using music and song to entertain and educate his young audience".[1] In 2011, he was made a Member of the Order of Manitoba.[2]

Currently, Penner splits his time between Winnipeg, Manitoba and Toronto, Ontario. He was formerly married to Odette Heyn, with whom he has four children: Damien, Hayley, Danica and Kendra. According to his son, Damien's Facebook page, Penner has two grandsons, August and Lochlan. Currently his partner is theatre director Rae Ellen Bodie, with whom he shares a home in Toronto.


Penner performing in 2011
  • The Cat Came Back (1979)
  • The Polka Dot Pony (1981) (reissued as Poco)
  • Special Delivery (1983) (reissued as Ebeneezer Sneezer)
  • A House for Me (1985)
  • Fred Penner's Place (1988)
  • Collections (1989)
  • The Season (1990)
  • Happy Feet (1992)
  • What A Day! (1994)
  • Moonlight Express (2001)
  • Sing With Fred (2003)
  • Where In The World (2014)



  1. ^ "Order of Canada". Governor General of Canada. Retrieved 2008-01-09. 
  2. ^ [1][dead link]

External links[edit]