Tributes are pouring in for Ted Wesley, a Juno-nominated folk singer who co-founded Folk on the Rocks in 1980.
The former Yellowknife resident recorded three albums in the 1970s. His third album, North of Canada, released in 1977, was certified gold after selling more than 70,000 copies. It earned him a Juno nomination for Country Male Vocalist of the Year.
“Uncle Ted was a very loved and important person in our lives,” wrote niece Jody Brody on Wesley’s Facebook page, which has been filling up with tributes and memories of the famed troubadour since news of his death emerged late in the afternoon on Dec. 30.
“He was a man with a giant heart, a big laugh, and his soul was filled with music that he shared with everyone he knew.”
Wesley – born in northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) — arrived in Yellowknife in 1961 at age 16 where he met his future wife Lesley and found work as a miner after lying about his age, according to the website Canadianbands.com. He claims to have learned how to play guitar after stealing one from his brother and after developing his talent, he began gigging around Yellowknife.
His first album, Straight North, was recorded in 1972, followed by Blackflies and Mosquitoes in 1973. One song off of Straight North, “Muk Tuk Annie,” written by Bob Ruzicka, another Northern singer-songwriter, was later covered by Stompin’ Tom Connors.
Ted and Lesley Wesley were among the original founders of Folk on the Rocks in 1980.
A compilation album, I Remember… Our Northern Heritage, featuring songs from all three of his albums, was released in 2010. The release launched a musical comeback after being somewhat dormant for 30 years, culminating in a performance at the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre.
Wesley is survived by his wife, and children Nahanni and Jon, plus several grandchildren.
This story will be updated.
Thanks everyone for your kind comments, it is so wonderful that his music has stood the test of time. As I go through Teds belongings, I am coming across several of his unpublished works and am in the process of figuring out how to get them published. So many amazing memories
My condolences to Lesley and family.
You certainly make take solace and comfort in the knowledge that Ted and his music have touched and enhanced many lives!
I was introduced to Ted’s music by my friend Yuri (who’s comment is below). He “discovered” Ted’s music by happenstance, and so passed it on to me. He told me that if I listen to the songs, that I’ll have an education in Northern life. And exactly that did happen.
Ted’s music (I Remember… Our Northern Heritage, CD Compilation) accompanies me almost exclusively during my wintertime driving commutes, just seems to fit while driving in Northern Illinois in wintertime!
Peace be with you my friends!
I just heard the sad news. My condolences Lesley. I picked up one of Ted’s albums on a whim while perusing the stacks at Toronto’s Sam The Record Man and instantly fell in love with Ted’s music. I quickly returned to pick up his remaining two releases. I cannot begin to tell how his music had touched my life. Though I didn’t know him personally, I will certainly miss his musical talent.
my condolences to Teds family,I worked in Polaris Mine my husband and I for 14 years we were like one big family.Ted always had a smile with his greeting.I heard him play and sing it sounded so good,I guess like song “dancing in the sky” he is singing with the angels God Bless you thru this difficult time …Carmelita Halleran… from Newfoundland
I knew Ted and Lesley in YK in the 1970’s and my company Gemini North invested the funds to help launch Straight North. His song on Bush Pilots was an inspiration to many young pilots. A cheerful, talented hardworking man supported by his loving wife Lesley, and later his children was a high note among our friends and families. One tour of the Central Arctic is chronicled in former bush pilot Dominque Prinet’s 2021 book Extreme Flying and is available on Amazon. Great memories, Lesley Nahanni and Jon….He is singing and strumming in our hearts.
I am so very sorry
Ted and Lesley have been my best friends for a long time ..
We wanted to see each other again as soon as the Virus was gone..
We were looking forward for him to play my grandfathers 100 year old guitar..
Ted, you will be missed … always !