PEI

Song about Charlottetown by comedian Johnny Wayne re-discovered

When the son of comedian Johnny Wayne, of Wayne and Shuster, from an old recording of his father singing a song called Charlottetown, he knew people on P.E.I. would want to hear it.

Son of Johnny Wayne finds 50-year old treasure from opening of Confederation Centre

Wayne and Shuster appeared at the opening shows for the Confederation Centre for the Arts in 1965. (CBC Still Photo Collection)

The comedy duo of Wayne and Shuster were two of the country's biggest stars, from their many appearances on CBC Radio and Television, and as favourite and frequent guests on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Now, a special connection between the duo and Charlottetown has been re-discovered, heard again for the first time in over 50 years.

It's thanks to Johnny Wayne's son, Michael, who reached out to CBC Radio's Island Morning to tell them what he'd found.

"We're in the process of donating the scripts and the tapes from his old shows to the archives at the University of Toronto," Wayne told host Matt Rainnie.

Part of that involved digitizing the old performances, and in the process, Wayne came across a record called Charlottetown, and gave it a listen.

It turned out to be a special song Johnny Wayne wrote and performed when the duo appeared at a series of shows to mark the opening of the Confederation Centre for the Arts back in 1965.

Although they hadn't taken part in a live stage show for years, Wayne remembered what an honour it was for them to be part of the event over several nights.

Thrilled to be on P.E.I.

"They were very proud to be able to do it," he said. "Premiers came from across the country to see it, my brothers and I and my mother were there, we spent a week in Charlottetown and had a wonderful time and got to go to the shows, and it was so special for us all."

The song touched on Johnny Wayne's well-known love of history, and Charlottetown's place as the cradle of Confederation.

Always history buffs, Wayne and Shuster were drawn to Charlottetown's Confederation connection. (CBC Still Photo Collection)

Michael Wayne also remembers what a major event the opening of the arts centre was at the time.

"It meant so much to the country," he confirmed. "Charlottetown was standing as the centre of where the country really began. It was just so very special for all of us."

Wants Islanders to hear song

Michael Wayne was so touched by hearing the song again, he knew he wanted more people to hear it.

It was sent to CBC Radio's Sunday Edition, where Michael Enright played it, and now Wayne would like Islanders to get to hear it too, especially around Canada Day.

"It should be something that is heard everywhere, because it speaks to a vision of Canada as a land founded in peace and dedicated to peace," he said. "To be played especially in Charlottetown, it makes me think of Charlottetown, and I think it really belongs there."

With files from Island Morning