Canada Jam, Ontario 1978

Canada Jam, Ontario 1978
Authored By John Nicholson

Canada Jam was held at Mosport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada, about 100 kilometres east of Toronto, on August 26, 1978. The festival was produced by Sandy Feldman and Leonard Stogel, who produced California Jam and California Jam II in 1974 and 1978, down in, confusingly, Ontario, San Bernardino County, Southern California. Those two shows were massive sell-out successes and were filmed for TV too. They’re often cited as the two most lucrative shows of the era. So understandably, they thought they could repeat the trick north of the border.

It was sponsored by brewers, Carling O'Keefe, marking just how times had changed, compared to ten years earlier when no sponsor would touch a festival held in a muddy field for thousands of hippies with the proverbial barge pole. 

It attracted over 110,000 fans, making it the largest paying rock event in Canadian history at that time. 

Canada Jam was the second of three major music festivals held at Mosport between 1970 and 1980. The other two were the Woodstock-esque Strawberry Fields Festival held August 7–9, 1970 and the punk and new wave themed, Heatwave Festival held August 23, 1980. Both these festivals were produced by Toronto promoter John Brower who facilitated the introduction to Mosport Park for Feldman and Stogel.

Around 350 people were treated in the medical tent for fatigue, cuts and drug and alcohol-related ailments, but no major incidents or problems occurred. Tickets for the event sold for $20.00 in advance and $30.00 on the day of the event and the event grossed an estimated 2.5 million dollars. Feldmann and Stogel had done it again.

What they had realised was that to pull the big money for a one-dayer the key wasn’t to fill up the bill with also-rans but to make it heavy hitters and big up and comers. To that end the bill for Canada Jam was strong 

Ozark Mountain Daredevils, The Doobie Brothers, Atlanta Rhythm Section, Village People(!) Dave Mason, Wha-Koo (a band featuring David Palmer who had sung on the first Steely Dan album and who had a current single in the charts), Prism, Kansas, Commodores and Triumph headlined, ending their set at 3.30am!

Four television specials were made from the event and broadcast across the CTV television network in Canada. Those broadcasts were turned into many bootleg albums, of course, the best of which is probably Triumph’s imperious set.

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