Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Russell Clarence “The Singing Farmer / Russ” Gurr (1918-2011)

Farmer, musician.

Born on a farm near Arrow River on 23 December 1918, son of Albert Edward Gurr (1888-1969) and Bertha Maud Richardson (1890-1983), on 5 January 1939 he married Phyllis Patricia Hunter (1917-2000) of Lenore and they farmed at Lenore (1939-1946), Hamiota (1946-1949), and Brandon (1949-2011). He began singing and playing guitar at an early age, won his first singing competition at age 17, and began performing professionally on the newly opened CKX Television in Brandon in 1955.

He signed a promotional contract with Federal Grain in 1967 and, over the next half dozen years, he and the band Western Union performed at rodeos, fairs, and events across the prairies, including for Queen Elizabeth II as part of Manitoba’s centennial celebrations. Known for his powerful voice and yodeling, he released three albums: Federal Grain Train (1970), On Tour With Russ Gurr (1973), and Hogs are Beautiful (1976).

He died at Brandon on 8 November 2011 and was buried in the Brandon Cemetery. He is commemorated by the MTS video “Please Bring Your Guitar” (2017).

Sources:

Marriage registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

Obituary, Brandon Sun, November 2011.

Russ Gurr Discography, Discogs.

Obituaries and burial transcriptions, Manitoba Genealogical Society.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 31 March 2021

Memorable Manitobans

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