The Wakami Wailers
940 Bonisteel Rd
The Wakami Wailers transport audiences back to simpler times, through music and humour, telling the stories of Canada’s trappers, miners, settlers, and lumberjacks.
In 1981, four employees at Wakami Lake Provincial Park, near Chapleau, Ontario, formed the Wakami Wailers to interpret Canada’s colourful history through songs and stories.
In 1984, Mark Despault, Rob Hollett, Mike Bernier, and Jeff Allen were commissioned by the Government of Ontario to develop a musical interpretation of the province’s rich white pine lumbering heritage. They developed the interpretive showcase “The Last of the White Pine Loggers”, and toured extensively throughout Ontario. This show has since been enjoyed by audiences throughout North America, from Epcot Center in Florida, to Expo 86 in Vancouver.
In 1985, they were retained by Parks Canada to develop a musical play depicting 100 years of Canada’s National Parks history.
They have performed on the soundtrack of two award winning films: The Winter Camp, a depiction of life in a turn of the century lumber camp, and Places Out of Time, an exploration of the first 100 years of Ontario Parks. They have also contributed music to a documentary project produced in Simcoe, Ontario, examining the unique alligator tug boats used for logging since the late 19th century.
To date, the Wakami Wailers have produced three releases: Recording for their first release, The Last of the White Pine Loggers, began in 1986 in North Bay, Ontario, and was completed two years later at Studio 29, near Campbellford. The album went on to sell over 10,000 copies and received a wonderful response from folkies, reviewers, and historians. Their second recording, Waltz With the Woods, is a salute to Ontario’s heritage and its Provincial Parks. It features, for the most part, original songs penned by the band members. In 1999, they recapture the feel of their original album with a third release, River Through the Pines, revisiting the lumberjack theme.