Gib Whitney: "Cape Breton's Maestro"

Gilbert “Gib” Whitney was the lead singer and saxophone player for Gib Whitney's Orchestra -- a popular swing band in Sydney in the 1940s post-war era.


His daughter, Nancy Whitney-Latham, a United Church minister born in Glace Bay, is compiling stories about her father into a biography she hopes to have published one day.

"I'm always very proud to speak about my father because he was an incredible artist, as well as a tireless gardener," says Whitney-Latham. "People who remember him speak very highly of his musical abilities. He was a local legend, and touched the lives of many people.”

Whitney-Latham wants to hear from people who have memories or anecdotes of Gib to share, so she can continue to add to her book.

"We have many treasures that belonged to him, like his Selmer saxophone and his accordion, both over 100 years old. Margaret Lynn Munn (Miss Canada, 1949) gave him a personal note to say how much she appreciated his music when she visited here, and so did Duke Ellington.”

Whitney-Latham says her father's orchestra entertained droves of couples at galas and black-tie affairs in Sydney and throughout Eastern Canada. “Just imagine how glamorous that would be, people wearing their best clothes and dancing to Dad's music. His band played at some of the best places in Sydney, such as the Venetian Gardens, Spaine’s Pavilion, and The Strand.”

Whitney died at the age of 57 in 1977. He can still be heard in a number of live recordings that have survived.

*NOTE:  The magazine version of the story mistakenly notes that Mr. Whitney died in 1957, but the date of his passing occurred in 1977.  

You can find more information about Gib Whitney and hear his music HERE

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