Valdy is an icon in Canadian Folk Music.
He’s produced fifteen albums, twenty-two singles, and four gold records.
He’s won two Juno Awards, with another seven nominations.
He’s received the Order of Canada.
And, he lives on Salt Spring Island. So how did Salt Spring become home?
Valdy traces it back to his father.
“Paul Valdemar Horsdal was the eleventh child of a farm family on the mainland in Denmark.
“He had been trained in photography, portrait photography, after the war, and so in 1924, he was just going around the world, just to see it, and he came to Ottawa, and fell in love with the Gatineau River, and the whole Gatineau Valley up north of Ottawa.”
Valdy’s mother, Lillian, was born in England.
“And she was booked” says Valdy, “with her family, on the Titanic. But she developed scarlet fever, and therefore the whole family was quarantined, as they did in that day, and they were really mad at her for about two weeks…until they heard the news.”
His mother’s family made it to Canada, on the Lusitania.
Paul and Lillian married in 1939, had two daughters, then a son, named after his father, Paul Valdemar Horsdal.
“So he got the Paul, I got the Valdemar, hence Valdy is an abbreviation for Valdemar” Valdy explains with a smile.
When Valdy was fourteen, the family vacationed on Salt Spring Island.
“In 1960, we went out as a family, drove across the country, and we stayed there for the whole summer.”
And it made a big impression.
“Everybody knew everybody. And I’m from Ottawa. It was really something. It was a paradigm shift for me.”
And it must have been for his sisters too, as now all three live on Salt Spring.
“Now, we all live around the lake.”
At just four months old, his daughter graced an album cover.
“Chelah.” Valdy points to her picture, beaming with pride, “She’s now forty-three. She’s an actor in Vancouver.”
He says he’ll never retire, and he’s written a song for Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations.
“It’s to empower youth, to feel like they have an opportunity to change the future.”
You can catch Valdy Friday, March 17 at Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre, or 2:30 Sunday afternoon, at Char’s Landing in Port Alberni.