Yodelling cowboy dead at 95

Canada's yodelling cowboy, Alberta Slim, has died at age 95.

Canada's yodelling cowboy, Alberta Slim, has died at age 95.

Born Eric Charles Edwards, this pioneer of country music died at his Surrey, B.C., home on Nov. 26.

An immigrant from England, Edwards settled with his family on a ranch near Lloydminster. During the Depression years, Edwards recalled riding the rails with other jobless men and landing, penniless, in Regina.

"We got off the freight and headed for town, me and my stagehands, hoping to put on our usual street corner concert," he said. "We were broke as usual and hungry, so we headed for the Salvation Army, what was called the Sally Ann by us boys. ... They always had a meal for us and a flop in a dormitory."

Edwards found a clean pair of pants and entered an amateur show at Regina's CKCK radio station. The prize was breakfast, but Edwards also got an invitation to play again that turned into a three-year job.

He became known throughout Saskatchewan and was a regular performer on a number of radio stations.

In the late 1940s, Edwards started a travelling circus and toured the country with his fortune-telling horse Kitten, an elephant who played the harmonica, a dog who sang harmony and a bicycle-riding chimpanzee.

As Alberta Slim, he went on to write dozens of songs about Canada and the life of a Prairie cowboy, including The Hanging of Louis Riel, The Red River Two Step, Queen of the Calgary Stampede and She Taught Me How to Yodel.

He recorded several albums and toured Canada and the United States.

Edwards moved to British Columbia in the late 1940s and settled into a real estate career. He was rediscovered at the age of 87 when he was asked to perform at the Vancouver Folk Festival.

His last public performance was on the CBC at the age of 93.