GEORGE ESSERY (2001 Inductee)

George Essery was born in Medicine Hat, Alberta, in 1915, moving to Prince Edward Island when he was a year old. Intrigued with the sound of music, he picked up skills on a variety of instruments in his early teens, eventually mastering banjo, guitar, piano, trumpet, fiddle and steel. George’s first "pro" job was playing banjo and singing on CHGS Summerside, PEI, at the age of 14. By 16, he was working at CFCY Charlottetown and, over the next few years, worked all over the Maritime Provinces, playing country, jazz and pop music of the day. By then, the country was in the grip of the Great Depression, and since trains have always been a consuming interest, he spent the next few summers riding boxcars across the country, hopping off at towns, finding a band shell, playing his banjo and making a dime here and a nickel there.

In the late 30’s, George moved to Toronto where he worked such venues as The Royal York Hotel. In 1941, he went overseas with the Royal Canadian Signal Corp, and after the war, he moved to Regina, Sask., where he met his future wife, Margaret, whom he married in 1946. George worked in Western Canada, including a stint in Edmonton in 1949-50 on CJCA with Canadian country singer Stu Davis. During the early 50’s through the late 60’s, he worked the Montreal area with such entertainers as: The Hachey Brothers, Zeb Turner, Orval (Johnny Six) Prophet and Ronnie Prophet at The Monterey and The Blue Angel.

In the 1970’s, George became Sneezy Waters’ steel guitarist and band leader in the Maynard Collins production of "Hank Williams - The Show He Never Gave", a stage play which toured until the early 90’s traveling over 140,000 miles coast to coast in Canada and Stateside. George moved to the Moose Creek area in 1981 and found time between touring with Sneezy to play steel for Doug and Shirley Sinclair and Hi & Dri Country, work Diamond Lil’s Cabaret at the Skyline, and play with the Press Club band with such luminaries as Fred Davis, Charles Lynch and Sue Lumsden.

George retired from active participation in the music field in 1997 but, as a longtime member of the American Federation of Musicians, he carried his Musicians’ Union card right up until his death in December 2003.

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