British Columbia

Vancouver woman finds late father's 37-year-old CBC recording of Danny Boy she never knew existed

Julia Piper was recently rummaging through some old papers that had belonged to her late father when she discovered he had had a brush with fame in the 80s she knew nothing about.

'I was able to hear my dad sing for the first time since before he passed away,' Julia Piper says

When her stepmother passed away, Julia Piper was left a pile of papers that belonged to her father Bob Bacon, who died in 1998. While sorting through them, she found a letter from a CBC radio host and realized her dad had sung on national radio — something she and her two sisters had never known about. (Submitted by Julia Piper)

Julia Piper was recently rummaging through some old papers that had belonged to her late father when she discovered he had had a brief brush with fame she knew absolutely nothing about.

Tucked among the papers was a letter, dated Oct. 5, 1984, that had been sent to her dad, Robert (Bob) Bacon, from CBC personality Max Ferguson, host of the long-running radio program The Max Ferguson Show.

In that letter, Ferguson thanked Bacon for sending in a cassette recording of him singing the famous Irish ballad Danny Boy — and told Bacon when his recording would air.

It was the first Piper had ever heard about it.

CBC radio host Max Ferguson told Bob Bacon in 1984 he enjoyed his singing and praised what he called 'a very pleasant, relaxed baritone' coming through on the home recording Bacon submitted to Ferguson's show. (Submitted by Julia Piper)

"I had no idea," she told Stephen Quinn, host of CBC's The Early Edition, about her father's secret serenade.

But when she found the letter, Piper knew her dad's pipes were calling and she set out to find the recording.

It took some digging, but with the help of staff at the broadcaster's archives department in Toronto, it was unearthed.

Bob Bacon rides a ferry with his three daughters. Julia Piper is pictured on the left in the blue sweater. Her sister Lisa Bacon sits on the floor and Alice Bacon sits between Piper and their father. (Submitted by Julia Piper)

On Feb. 4, Piper received a digital recording of the original broadcast, including her dad's rendition of Danny Boy to a guitar accompaniment.

A week later, she says she can still barely make it through the full song without crying.

"I was able to hear my dad sing for the first time since before he passed away," said Piper. "From the first note of the song, it was like he was right here with me. I could feel him in the room."

From left, sisters Julia Piper, Alice Bacon and Lisa Bacon. The three women were able to hear their father sing for the first time since before his death in 1998 after Piper did some sleuthing and tracked down an old radio recording. (Submitted by Julia Piper)

Bacon died in November 1998. Piper said Danny Boy was one of his favourite tunes and it has been wonderful to share his version with her two sisters, Lisa and Alice.

"Just to have this small piece of him, I just feel so fortunate," said Piper. "It's just a fantastic thing for us to be able to have."

  • Tap here to listen to Julia Piper on The Early Edition and Bob Bacon singing Danny Boy on The Max Ferguson Show.
Bob Bacon kicks back in a fisherman knit sweater, a fitting choice for a fan of the Irish ballad, Danny Boy. (Submitted by Julia Piper)

The 1913 lyrics of Danny Boy by Frederick E. Weatherly:

Oh, Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling
From glen to glen, and down the mountain side.
The summer's gone, and all the roses falling,
It's you, It's you must go and I must bide.
But come ye back when summer's in the meadow,
Or when the valley's hushed and white with snow,
It's I'll be here in sunshine or in shadow,—
Oh, Danny boy, O Danny boy, I love you so!

But when ye come, and all the flowers are dying,
If I am dead, as dead I well may be,
Ye'll come and find the place where I am lying,
And kneel and say an Avè there for me.
And I shall hear, though soft you tread above me,
And all my grave will warmer, sweeter be,
For you will bend and tell me that you love me,
And I shall sleep in peace until you come to me!

With files from The Early Edition


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