This CD contains 26 tracks from various live performances and studio recordings from the 1960s and from a 1997 reunion show in Ottawa. The Children never released a record in their two year career, yet they left behind a rich legacy of live and demo recordings. Exploring their limits and finding there were none, the Children produced songs of astonishing variety music both raw and beautiful. In this collection you will hear rock, pop, garage, punk, folk, jug band, blues, country, bluegrass and psychedelic. The Ottawa super group was comprised of several notable singer/ songwriters whose careers continue to the present day; including Bruce Cockburn, Sandy Crawley, Neville Wells, Peter (Sneezy Waters) Hodgson, David Wiffen & poet / songwriter William Hawkins.
The Children were formed in Ottawa in late 1965 by poet Bill Hawkins (b. May 20, 1940, Ottawa), after Harvey Glatt, concert promoter and owner of local Treble Clef records store, suggested that he take up guitar and put his poetry to music.
Hawkins rounded up his friends Sandy Crawley (b. December 7, 1947, Ottawa), (son of filmmakers Budge and Judith Crawley), Peter Hodgson (b. March 1, 1945, Ottawa) and Neville Wells (b. 1940, Newfoundland) (who had played with Hodgson in the duo, Nev & Pete), and Chris Anderson, and signed to Glatt’s management company. Their music was a mixture of British beat covers and Hawkins’s originals.
The group became residents at Le Hibou coffeehouse (co-owned by Glatt), debuting there in May 1966. At this point, the group enlisted guitarist singer/songwriter Bruce Cockburn (b. May 27, 1945, Ottawa), who had just graduated from the Berklee College of Music in Boston. They then took part in a Battle of the Bands competition, held at the Coliseum, Lansdowne Park in Ottawa in June. During this period Crawley and Cockburn co-wrote with Hawkins and added their own original songs.
In October 1966, Anderson and Hodgson both left; the former drifting into obscurity after moving to Vancouver, the latter later forming A Rosewood Daydream and then changing his name to Sneezy Waters and becoming a solo artist.
The band carried on and enlisted ex-Esquires drummer Richard Patterson (b. September 20, 1944, Ottawa) and solo artist and former Pacers member David Wiffen (b. March 11, 1942, Sydenham, Kent, England). This line-up opened for The Lovin’ Spoonful in Toronto and Ottawa during the latter’s Canadian tour. Wiffen’s original songs were added to the repertoire.
By late 1966, the band’s repertoire continued to reflect the growth of Cockburn and Wiffen as writers. Cockburn‘s ‘‘Merry-Go-Round’ (written with Hawkins), ‘Bird Without Wings’ and ‘The Trains Don’t Go Here Anymore’, ‘I’m Leaving You Out’ and David Wiffen’s ‘I Don’t Want To Drive You Away’ were all demoed in early 1967.
Even though the group never released any singles, local band The Esquires did cover Hawkins’s ‘It’s A Dirty Shame’ as their penultimate single and 3’s a Crowd, whom Wiffen and Patterson joined in April 1967, recorded a number of The Children’s songs on their lone album later that year.
The final line-up barely lasted six months; Cockburn left in March to play with The Esquires and Wiffen and Patterson joined 3’s a Crowd which later added Crawley, Cockburn, Dennis Pendrith and Coleen Peterson to record a television series in Montreal and later (sans Crawley) to tour to the United States.
Crawley and Hawkins had put together The Occasional Flash (which also included Colleen Peterson) immediately after The Children split up and Wells joined Hodgson in A Rosewood Daydream. On August 23, 1997, all of The Children’s members reunited for a one-off appearance at the Ottawa Folk Festival, which was extremely well received.
Advertised gigs (From Ottawa Citizen and Toronto Telegram)
May 29 1966 – Le Hibou, Ottawa
June 18 1966 – Ottawa Coliseum, Ottawa
June 29-July 3 1966 – Le Hibou, Ottawa
September 25 1966 – Le Hibou, Ottawa
October 20-21 1966 – Le Hibou, Ottawa
November 6 1966 – Le Hibou, Ottawa
December 11 1966 – Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto with The Lovin’ Spoonful and The Paupers
Thanks to Richard Patterson, Sandy Crawley, Joanne Wiffen and Bill Hawkins for help with this story.
Nick Warburton is a UK freelance writer, who has written for Shindig, Record Collector, the Garage Hangover website and Richard Morton Jack’s new book, Endless Trip.
I have tried to ensure the accuracy of this article but I appreciate that there are likely to be errors and omissions. I would appreciate any feedback from anyone who can provide any additions or corrections. Email: Warchive@aol.com
Copyright © Nick Warburton, 2010. All Rights Reserved
Bruce Cockburn: guitar, keyboards, harmonica, vocals
Bill Hawkins: guitar, vocals
David Wiffen: guitar, vocals
Sandy Crawley: guitar, vocals
Peter Hodgson: bass, guitar, harmonica, vocals
Neville Wells: bass, guitar, vocals
Chris Anderson: drums
Richard Patterson: drums