Fonds 69 - Harry and Ida Culley fonds

Identity area

Reference code

OTUFM 69

Title

Harry and Ida Culley fonds

Date(s)

  • 1891-1983, 2021-2022 (Creation)

Level of description

Fonds

Extent and medium

65 cm of textual records and other materials

Context area

Name of creator

(1895-1968)

Biographical history

Henry Francis "Harry" Culley was born May 23, 1895, the son of Henry Teck Culley (1863-1948) and Catherine Bourke (1874-1948). He married Ida May Fernley on May 16, 1914. He died May 8, 1968.

A professional conductor and pianist, he conducted the Royal York Orchestra (1929-1930) and was Music Director at the Royal Alexandra Theatre (1948-1955). In the 1930s and 1940s, he was part of a two-piano, four hands team with his wife Ida (“Claudette”) Culley called the Black and White Spotters. They performed regularly on radio shows on CKCL, CFRB, and CBC from the 1930s to 1950s. The duo also travelled to United Kingdom (1936-1938) where they performed on BBC radio, Radio Luxembourg, and accompanied Hollywood stars Bebe Daniels and Ben Lyons on a tour, including performances in South Africa. They also accompanied British comedian and film star George Fromby when he toured Canada. They stopped performing as a duo in 1948 when Harry Culley accepted the position of musical director of the Royal Alexandra Theatre.

Name of creator

(1897-1983)

Biographical history

Ida May Fernley was born on March 8, 1897 to parents Charles Robert Fernley and Mary Woods. She married Henry Francis "Harry" Culley on May 16, 1914. She died March 14, 1983.

She learned piano by ear, and at the age of 7 demonstrated pianos at the Canadian National Exhibition. Later, she played piano accompaniments to silent movies at a theatre on Clinton Street in Toronto, where she met Harry Culley.

In the 1930s and 1940s, she was part of a two-piano, four hands team called the Black and White Spotters under the stage name "Claudette" with her husband Harry Culley. They performed regularly on radio shows on CKCL, CFRB, and CBC from the 1930s to 1950s. The duo also travelled to United Kingdom (1936-1938) where they performed on BBC radio, Radio Luxembourg, and accompanied Hollywood stars Bebe Daniels and Ben Lyons on a tour, including performances in South Africa. They also accompanied British comedian and film star George Fromby when he toured Canada. They stopped performing as a duo in 1948 when Harry Culley accepted the position of musical director of the Royal Alexandra Theatre. Ida Culley continued to perform as a soloist throughout her life, including entertaining water veterans at Sunnybrook Medical Centre in her 80s.

Archival history

Materials collected by the Culley family. Some sheet music (181 titles) donated in 1999 by Harry Culley Jr. (son of Harry and Ida Culley) to the Music Library and added to the Music Library's sheet music collection. The A2021-10 donation followed a CBC news story (aired September 23, 2021) on Harry and Ida Culley, their performing careers, and their sheet music collection. The collection was organized prior to its arrival at the Music Library by Joanne Culley. Some items remain in the donor's possession and will be donated at a later date.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Donated by granddaughter of Harry and Ida Culley, Joanne Culley (A2021-10). Further accruals expected.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Fonds consists of records pertaining to the two-piano, four-hands duo of Harry and Ida "Claudette" Culley, the "The Black and White Spotters". Records include annotated sheet music and manuscript parts copied by Harry Culley for performance; newspaper articles and press releases; posters; programs; photographs; and correspondence.

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Accruals

System of arrangement

Arrangement of fonds reflects the curatorial efforts of the donor, Joanne Culley. Fonds consists of two series: (A) Sheet music collection; (B) Memorabilia.

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Dates of creation revision deletion

Last edited May 2, 2022. RS.

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