Edward B. Moogk, recorded-sound archivist, discographer and broadcaster, was known reverently as the “Grand Old Man” of Canadian recorded sound research and collecting. His life’s work was centred on decades of dedicated collection and research into recorded sound.
Without him, much of Canada’s rich musical heritage would be lost.
Moogk was born in Weston, Ontario, in 1914. His introduction to music began with piano lessons at an early age; he went on to play drums with the Bob Donelle and Willis Tipping dance bands in his mid- to late twenties, from 1938 until 1943.
In 1942, he began what would become a thirty-year career in radio broadcasting and the recording industry under the professional name Ed Manning. He worked as assistant manager of radio station CKCR in Kitchener, Ontario, between the years 1942 to 1950. From 1951 to 1955 he was manager of record divisions at Gordon V. Thompson Ltd., then Sparton of Canada between 1955 and 1959.
As director of public service for CFPL-TV in London, Ontario, between 1959 and 1972, Moogk hosted the CBC record programs “Audio,” “Den of Antiquity,” and “Roll Back the Years.” The latter began in Kitchener in 1945, and became a network feature from 1950 to 1970.
He produced the records The Big Sing (two vols: 1952, Gav LPG-100; 1954, Gav LPG-107) and American Vaude and Variety (two vols: Rococo 4006, 4009, released in the late 1960s) for Gavotte and Rococo.
Moogk also organized the exhibits “85 Years of Recorded Sound” (1975) at the National Library of Canada and “100 Years of Recorded Sound” (1977) at the Canadian National Exhibition.
But perhaps his greatest achievement was founding and developing the National Library’s Recorded Sound Collection. As head of the collection, he presented Canada’s Centennial Commission with the idea of forming an archive of Canadian sound recordings to document and preserve the nation’s musical history.
The commission, which was looking for projects to fund as part of the country’s centennial celebrations, approved Moogk’s proposal, and soon after, a home was created for the collection in a federal establishment. Interestingly, much of the collection was built upon Moogk’s personal items. The collection later became the heart of the National Library of Canada’s Music Division, and the Library adopted the recorded-sound collection as part of its mandate. Moogk was appointed head of the National Library’s Recorded Sound Collection from 1972 to 1979.
Moogk’s extensive and unparalleled first-hand knowledge of the Canadian music and broadcasting business, coupled with the resources of the National Library and the help of his supportive staff, helped prepare him to compile his book “Roll Back the Years: History of Canadian Recorded Sound and Its Legacy, Genesis to 1930” (Ottawa, 1975). Produced by the National Library in both English and French, this pioneer work in the field of Canadian discography chronicles Canada’s history of recorded sound to 1930. His death at age 65 left the planned sequel, which would take up where the first volume left off at the end of the 78 era, unfinished.
In addition to this important publication, Moogk wrote numerous articles for Opera Canada, Record News, Ontario Library Review, the London Free Press, Electron, and Encyclopedia of Music in Canada.
Edith K. Moogk (Edward’s wife), Gerald Parker and David Emmerson later updated his legacy by publishing Title Index to Canadian Works Listed in Edward B. Moogk’s Roll Back the Years (Ottawa 1988). Martin F. Bryan compiled Additions and Corrections to Edward B. Moogk’s Roll Back the Years (self-published, St Johnsbury, Vt, 1986).