Richard Patterson memorial
Hailing from the nation’s capital, Canada Goose was formed in 1970 by remnants of The Esquires – guitarists Gary Comeau and Paul Huot, who’d recently left The Townsmen, and drummer Richard Patterson. Patterson had just returned home after a three year stint with 3’s A Crowd, and was the only one of the three who was still in music at the time.
All three were originally just looking to form a band to keep themselves out of trouble on weekends, but venues in the downtown Ottawa area at that time where people could enjoy pop music and oldies that also boasted a dance floor were few and far between. They found their steady weekend gig at The Tabu Room in Ottawa’s Beacon Arms Hotel, and over the course of the next few months, became a jam session for members of other local mid ’60s groups, as well as Barbra Bullard, an up and coming singer. With that, they seized the opportunity to cash in on their previous success as The Esquires, and dubbed themselves the New Esquires.
Eventually, packed houses led club management to open up on Wednesday nights, as well. One of the regulars was Harvey Glatt, former Esquires and 3’s A Crowd manager, who suggested they make a record that could then be sold at the club. He financed enough studio time that they were able to cut three tracks, and then shopped the demo around to gauge reaction from the music industry itself. The tape caught the attention of Jerry Ragavoy, a producer and songwriter who was doing A&R work for New York based Tonsil Records. The group soon became one of their first signings.
But because a Detroit based R&B group was now using the name The Esquires, it was suggested they should find a new name. Patterson remembered blues/folk guitarist Amos Garrett’s quip years earlier that he was going to assemble a rock group called Canada Goose, and suggested the name to the rest of the band, which consisted of Comeau, Patterson, Huot, Bullard, bassist Wayne Leslie, and Daryl Wadworth on piano.
In 1971, their only single “Higher and Higher” b/w “Answer Man” was getting good airplay around the Ottawa Valley, and then Toronto and other markets. They started touring Ontario, Quebec, and northern US, forcing them to turn down gigs at their regular hotspot, The Tabu Room. The highlight of their US dates came when the manager of a Burlington, Vermont club asked them if they’d do him a favour and play for the president of the United States during his visit to Burlington that weekend. They agreed, and Richard Nixon’s office sent the band a thank you letter for their efforts.
But later that year, Patterson received a call from Trevor Veitch, a former 3’s A Crowd member who was working with folk star Tom Rush. Rush needed a drummer for a North American fall tour, and Patterson jumped at the chance, leaving the band. Within a couple of months, the rest of the band also packed it in as touring was causing conflicts with their personal lives.
Early the next year, a revised version of the group began playing the Ottawa circuit, featuring Huot, Bullard and Wadsworth, along with guitarist Lach MacFadyne (ex of Liverpool Set), Barry Gosselin on bass and drummer Phil Downey. Various incarnations that included John Matthews and Valerie Tuck on vocals, Rick Lemieux on bass, and guitarist Derek O’Neil kept the name alive, but the band finally called it quits in early 1973.
Comeau and Tuck would eventually both join James Leroy & Denim, and then Comeau moved to LA and joined Coyote, before becoming a producer of other artists as well as national commercials. Leslie went on to play with Wells Fargo, before joining Tom Rush. O’Neil moved to LA, where he went on to become a successful studio musician, producer, and writer. MacFadyen eventually became a producer, working with the likes of Harlequin and Joe Hall & The Continental Drift, among others. Following his stint with Tom Rush, Patterson joined David Wiffen, then Ian & Sylvia, and Bobby Vee, before working with CBC Radio & TV in Ottawa. He died in 2011.
Comeau, Huot and Patterson reunited in 1987 with other members of The Esquires for their 25th anniversary concert and charity event for the Eastern Ontario Childrens Hospital. The City of Ottawa proclaimed it Esquires Day.