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The EMI Music Canada Virtual Exhibit contains items from the EMI Music Canada fonds preserved by the University of Calgary’s Archives and Special Collections.  The virtual exhibit highlights the history of EMI Music Canada back to its beginnings in 1949 as Capitol Records Canada through photographs, posters, record awards, demo tapes, early studio recordings from the ‘60s and ‘70s, as well as marketing plans, artwork, publicity material, and studio masters from five of the label’s major stars – Canadian musical icons Anne Murray, Tom Cochrane, Glass Tiger, Helix, and The Rankin Family. 

EMI Music Canada was one of the most active record labels in Canada from the mid-1960s onwards in fostering a domestic Canadian music industry.  The label operated in Canada for over 60 years and played an integral role in the growth of Canadian popular music, particularly in the pop, rock, and folk genres.  

EMI Music Canada was instrumental in the development of many notable Canadian recording artists including Susan Aglukark, Beau Dommage, Tom Cochrane, Stompin’ Tom Connors, Edward Bear, Glass Tiger, Helix, k-os, John McDermott, Rita MacNeil, Moist, Anne Murray, Nickelback, The Rankin Family, The Tea Party, and David Wilcox.

The copyright for the materials in this collection is held by Universal Music Canada and their affiliates. Patrons may not download, reproduce, alter or transmit files/images without permission from the copyright holder(s). These files/images may not be used for commercial purposes but may be used under the fair dealing or educational exemptions outlined in the Canadian Copyright Act.

For more information about the EMI Music Canada fonds, contact

Featured Artists


Anne Murray at Capitol Records CanadaAnne Murray

Anne Murray is one of the brightest stars to have built their careers with Capitol-EMI Canada.  A Canadian musical icon, Anne Murray signed with Capitol Records Canada in 1969 and released over 30 albums with the label.  She has had worldwide album sales in excess of 30 million copies, multi-platinum sales in North America and Australia and silver status in the United Kingdom.  The music industry has recognized her achievements with numerous awards, including four Grammys, three American Music Awards, three Canadian Country Music Association Awards, and 24 Junos – more than any other single artist.

Source: Nicholas Jennings. Fifty Years of Music: The Story of EMI Music Canada. Macmillan Canada, 2000.




Tom Cochrane and Red Rider - Boy Inside the Man single, 45 rpm audio discTom Cochrane

International superstar and consummate singer-songwriter, Tom Cochrane released over 10 albums with Capitol-EMI Canada, both as a solo artist and with Red Rider.  His hit 1991 album Mad Mad World featuring the single “Life is a Highway” kick-started his solo career and led to two world tours, four Junos, and sales of over one million copies in Canada and two million worldwide.  Cochrane was also well-known during the 1980s as the lead singer and chief songwriter for Red Rider, one of Canada’s top rock acts of the ‘80s, fueled by hit singles “Lunatic Fringe”, “White Hot”, and “Boy Inside the Man”.

Source: Nicholas Jennings. Fifty Years of Music: The Story of EMI Music Canada. Macmillan Canada, 2000.



Glass Tiger logo designsGlass Tiger

Glass Tiger was one of Capitol-EMI Canada’s most successful bands of the 1980s.  Glass Tiger’s first album Thin Red Line was released in 1986 and featured the hit singles “Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone)” and “Someday”, both of which placed in the Billboard top 10.  The album sold over 1.5 million copies worldwide, led to tours opening for Tina Turner and Journey, and garnered the band three Juno Awards.  The band released two more albums, Diamond Sun in 1988 and Simple Mission in 1991, which also went on to have tremendous sales and received critical acclaim before Glass Tiger broke up in 1993.

Source: Nicholas Jennings. Fifty Years of Music: The Story of EMI Music Canada. Macmillan Canada, 2000.





Helix - Back For Another Taste tour programHelix

Helix was one of Canada’s leading heavy metal bands during the 1980s. Known for what members liked to call a “rip-yer-face-off style of rock”, they also proved themselves capable of melting hearts with the occasional tender ballad.  Through the 1980s, Helix became one of Capitol-EMI Canada’s most consistent recording acts: not one of the band’s six albums for the label sold less than 35,000 copies and some surpassed the 100,000 mark.  The exposure led Helix to tour extensively across North America and Europe with bands such as Kiss, Motörhead, Rush, Mötley Crüe, and Alice Cooper. 

Source: Nicholas Jennings. Fifty Years of Music: The Story of EMI Music Canada. Macmillan Canada, 2000.




The Rankin FamilyThe Rankin Family

Cape Breton’s The Rankin Family were at the forefront of the Canadian Celtic music scene in the 1990s.  Capitol-EMI Canada signed the band in 1992 following the success of their self-released first two albums, The Rankin Family and Fare Thee Well Love.  Soon thereafter EMI Music Canada released their next album, North Country.  The Rankins’ Celtic sound then swept the Juno Awards in early 1994, as the quintet won all four categories they were nominated in: Country Group or Duo of the Year, Group of the Year, Single of the Year (“Fare Thee Well Love”), and the coveted Canadian Entertainer of the Year.  In 1995 the band released Endless Seasons, recorded with Nashville producer John Jennings, and two years later released Uprooted, which stretched the Rankins’ definition of Celtic sound.  The success of the Rankin Family led EMI Music Canada to sign numerous East Coast acts, including Ron Hynes, Bruce Guthro, Kim Stockwood, and Damhnait Doyle.

Source: Nicholas Jennings. Fifty Years of Music: The Story of EMI Music Canada. Macmillan Canada, 2000.




Barenaked Ladies - CBC Recordings, demo tapeDemos

Throughout its 60 year history Capitol-EMI Canada has been a major supporter of Canadian talent.  The label has been instrumental in the development of the Canadian music industry and has had a long and proud tradition of committing to seek out and sign local artists.  The label’s devotion to domestic talent gave Canadian artists the opportunity to build their careers in Canada instead of leaving for the larger market south of the border.  A small selection of demo tapes which were received by the label’s president Deane Cameron reveal the wide range of domestic acts that were under consideration by the label.  While some were passed over, these early recordings by Corey Hart and The Rankin Family later became top selling albums for the label.




The Beach Boys backstage at Maple Leaf Gardens, 1965Early recordings 

EMI Music Canada began in 1949 when Capitol Records of Canada was formed in London, Ontario, by Ken Kerr, Johnny Downs, and Lockwood Miller.  Initially the label strictly distributed recordings made by the Los Angeles-based American parent company Capitol Records.  One of the Canadian company’s earliest releases is displayed – the Canadian country-and-western artist Jack Kingston’s “Yodeling Cowboy” from 1950.  The British label EMI purchased Capitol Records in 1955 and with the immense success of the Beatles in the mid-1960s the label’s command of the market share in Canada grew to over forty percent. Capitol soon became the country’s largest supplier of Canadian recording artists, releasing British-invasion influenced pop groups like The Esquires and The Staccatos (later Five Man Electrical Band), represented here by two early studio recordings.  Capitol-EMI Canada opened an A&R division in Montreal in 1966 and went on later to sign the Quebec artists Pierre Lalonde, Les Cailloux, Beau Dommage, and Suzanne Stevens. The label promoted its domestic talent under the banner “Sounds Canadian”, a marketing campaign initiated in 1970 that drew upon Capitol-EMI Canada’s recent signings of Canadian artists and the mainstream success of Anne Murray and Edward Bear.

Source: Nicholas Jennings. Fifty Years of Music: The Story of EMI Music Canada. Macmillan Canada, 2000.




The immense success of EMI Music Canada is reflected in the numerous gold and platinum record awards that its artists collected over the years.  This small selection of record awards includes an eight times platinum award that Tom Cochrane received for his album Mad Mad World,one of the few releases by a Canadian artist to reach one million sales in Canada and to receive diamond status.  Also included are platinum awards received by Anne Murray, Iron Maiden, Garth Brooks, Red Rider, Beastie Boys, and Glass Tiger.  The photographs selected here show some of the celebrations that went hand-in-hand with the award presentations, often held backstage at concert venues or at the label’s Toronto head office as an occasion to bring together the stars and EMI Music Canada staff.





An incredible catalogue of British, American, and International EMI recording artists were issued in Canada over the years through EMI Music Canada.  This catalogue of artists includes some of the biggest names in pop and rock music: the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Pink Floyd, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, David Bowie, Duran Duran, Kate Bush, Queen, Tina Turner, Garth Brooks, Iron Maiden, Beastie Boys, Pet Shop Boys, Janet Jackson, Coldplay, Norah Jones, and Radiohead.  EMI Music Canada not only distributed some of the biggest international stars but also provided a broad range of music in multiple genres from around the world.  Some of the influential labels owned by EMI and distributed in Canada through EMI Music Canada included Capitol, Angel, Seraphim, Pathé, Chrysalis, United Artists, Virgin, and Blue Note.



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