Q. Whose strong a cappella voice sang these words? “Ah, for just one time I would take the Northwest Passage To find the hand of Franklin reaching for the Beaufort Sea; Tracing one warm line through a land so wild and savage And make a Northwest Passage to the sea”
A. Stanley Allison “Stan” Rogers (November 29, 1949 – June 2, 1983) was a Canadian folk musician and songwriter.
Rogers was noted for his rich, baritone voice and his finely crafted, traditional-sounding songs which were frequently inspired by Canadian history and the daily lives of working people, especially those from the fishing villages of the Maritime provinces and, later, the farms of the Canadian prairies and Great Lakes. Rogers died in a fire aboard Air Canada Flight 797 on the ground at the Greater Cincinnati Airport at the age of 33.
Rogers was born in Hamilton, Ontario the eldest son of Nathan Allison “Al” and Valerie Rogers (née Bushell), two Maritimers who had relocated to Ontario in search of work shortly after their marriage in July 1948. Although Rogers was raised in Woodburn, Ontario (a community in the easternmost part of Hamilton), he often spent summers visiting family in Guysborough County, Nova Scotia. It was there that he became familiar with the way of life in the Maritimes, an influence which was to have a profound impact on his subsequent musical development. He was interested in music from an early age, reportedly beginning to sing shortly after learning to speak. He received his first guitar, hand-built by his uncle Lee Bushell, when he was five years of age. He was exposed to a variety of music influences, but among the most lasting were the country and western tunes his uncles would sing during family get-togethers. Throughout his childhood, he would practice his singing and playing along with his brother Garnet, six years his junior.
By the time that Rogers was attending Saltfleet High School in Stoney Creek, he started to meet other young people interested in folk music, although at this time he was also dabbling in rock and roll, singing and playing bass guitar in garage bands such as “Stanley and the Living Stones” and “The Hobbits”.
As a young man, Rogers briefly attended both McMaster University and Trent University, where he performed in small venues with other student musicians, including Ian Tamblyn, Chris Ward and fellow Hobbit Nigel Russell.
Rogers signed with RCA Records in 1970 and recorded two singles: “Here’s to You Santa Claus” in 1970, and “The Fat Girl Rag” in 1971. In 1973 Rogers recorded three singles for Polygram: “Three Pennies”, “Guysborough Train” and “Past Fifty.”
In 1976, Rogers recorded his debut album, Fogarty’s Cove, released in 1977 on Barnswallow Records. The album’s subject matter dealt almost entirely with life in maritime Canada, and was an immediate success. Rogers then formed Fogarty’s Cove Music, and bought Barnswallow during the production of Turnaround, allowing him to release his own albums.