The official theme song of Canada’s centennial celebrations, “Ca-na-da” (also known by its formal title, “Canada: A Centennial Song”) was composed by songwriter and trumpeter Bobby Gimbyas a children’s marching song with English and French lyrics. Gimby composed the song on his own initiative and offered it to the advertising agency for Canada’s Centennial Commission, which purchased it for use in the CBC Television documentary, “Preview ‘67.” The song was quickly adopted by the Centennial Commission as a theme song for the country’s centennial (see also Expo 67).
A recording by the Young Canada Singers — two groups of ten-year-old children, one conducted in Montréal by Raymond Berthiaume and the other in Toronto by Laurie Bower — became the most popular Canadian single of 1967. It gained immediate and widespread popularity, setting a record for a Canadian recording at that time with over 270,000 45-rpm singles sold. Published by Gordon V. Thompson, the song has been recorded by more than 25 other artists — including Gimby, Johnny Burt, Jim McHarg, the Saints and Sinners, and the Sugar Shoppe. More than 75,000 copies of its sheet music have been sold.
Gimby toured Canada throughout 1967, leading groups of schoolchildren in the song’s performance. He became widely known as the Pied Piper of Canada, a nickname he had portentously earned in Malaysia in 1962 after writing the song “Malaysia Forever” —commemorating the formation of the Malaysian federation — and leading a children’s choir there. Gimby was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1967. In 1971, he donated all royalties from “Ca-na-da” to the Boy Scouts of Canada.
A version of this entry originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada.