"I started thinking about compiling everything in a book and for over 10 years it has been a dream.
It is time to make it a reality..."
Cape Breton's Maestro
Growing up, my brothers and I were accustomed to hearing stories about our father's orchestra and the events that happened at the dances i.e. meeting a very special person for the first time, marriage proposals, births. Yes, births! I was told about a woman giving birth in New Waterford years ago as she heard Gib Whitney's Orchestra playing its last waltz, The Night Watch. What a wonderful story!
People were always anxious to share their memories and talk about the 'good ol'days'. I wondered how I could share what I have with them - newspaper clippings, notes, dance cards, pictures of the orchestra and items they used 'in the day' like microphones and speaker boxes. The invitations and dance cards from as far back as the early 40's include the names of graduates from nursing schools and universities. So I started thinking about compiling everything in a book and for over 10 years it has been a dream. It is time to make it a reality.
Our father passed away in 1975 and in the year 2000 he was awarded the Stompin' Tom Connor's ECMA award. To this day people still remember him and his music. What a tribute to Cape Breton's Maestro! I want to have this history available to everyone so they can enjoy looking it over and reading about it whenever they feel like it.
I hope you share my excitement of bringing this musical era to life for so many people who remember it and would love to re-live it whenever they want.
Thanks! Keep the music alive!
Gib Whitney's Orchestra
By: Bethany Reid, Great Granddaughter
Gilbert Whitney was the founder and lead singer/saxophone player of 'Gib Whitney's Orchestra'. Over the years, there were ten people that played in the orchestra. There was Frank Dobranski, Tony Lannon, Charlie Hillcoat, Alex Lighter, Bobby MacLeod, Jimmy Shea, Peter Dominic, Johnny Nearing, Russel LeBlanc (alive), Nancy Whitney (alive).
Gib grew up in a very musical family, and learned to play many Instruments at an early age. Some were: piano, guitar, accordion, saxophone, and my favorite, singing. As he got older, he began to teach students to play many of these instruments.
Gib's orchestra played all over the Maritimes, especially Nova Scotia. When he had to travel far, however, he almost always drove on dirt roads. Only every once in a while would they take a train. Despite the rough journeys, he loved what he did.
Gib Whitney died at the age of 57, in the year of 1957. His death was and still is a great loss to our family and the musical community. However, in 2000, he was awarded the 'Stompin Tom Connors ECMA' award for his musical contributions to the community. His musical talent is still celebrated in our family.