Joined: 14 Nov 2003
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
|I Remember on Remembrance Day!
By Maurice Ali
I remember of this November 1 (2015) Donald Brasseur who was the oldest member at IAIJ. Don was known as “Boots” in the music world was an actual D-Day campaign veteran who landed on the beaches of Normandy and was injured in the fighting in the Falaise gap. But his interesting life did not end there with Boots becoming a world class harmonica musician that harkened back to the waning days of vaudeville.
Don Brasseur in WW2!
Don as lead man in the group The Three Reeds!
The Three Reeds on TV in the 1950s!
I met Boots around 2007 from another member of IAIJ (Dave Getchell) who said I had to meet this man. A short interview with Don made it clear I had found another interesting musical act for our little record label and a possible documentary for out fledgling television production house. The rest is history with FOF and FOF Records producing two albums with Don. The first was “Memories of Christmas” which is a collection of traditional Christmas music in instrumental fashion with Boot’s harmonica music leading the way. We even got radio play and a short bio on Don on AM740 (a radio station in Toronto) which played a song from that Christmas album:
Maurice Ali (FOF/FOF Records) presents the first copy of "Memories of Christmas" to Donald "Boots" Brasseur!
The second was “A Maze of Music” which was classical and original music in instrumental form with Don’s harmonica front and center. We did follow through with the documentary finishing with a 30 minute documentary on Don’s life that chronicled his experience in WW2 as well as his harmonica career with “The Three Reeds” and after and his experiences with Bob Hope, Perry Como and playing at famous venues like the Windmill Theater in London, England and Roy Thompson Hall and Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. Don was a regular on TV staring in the 1950’s at Lime Ridge Studios in London and was on a documentary hosted by The Right Honorable Adrianne Clarkson on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation back in the 1980’s.
With his association with IAIJ Donald Brasseur was awarded the “IAIJ Award for Journalism” with his work on collecting artifacts and photos of Canadians in WW2 that fought alongside Don in the early days of the Normandy invasion.
Sue Earps (Dicrector at IAIJ) awarding Don the "IAIJ Award for Journalism"!
Aside from the two albums with Fortress of Freedom and FOF Records, we did get Don’s documentary on CTV on July 26 (2009) on daytime programming and Don was also on TV when he entered the “Senior Stars” competition where he finished as one the finalists. The show was broadcast by Vision TV and even went into rotation for awhile. Here is an archived clip:
Don’s last performance with FOF and FOF Records was on August 1 (2011) when he played at our FOFSTOCK music festival held in Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square on a summer long weekend holiday.
Donald "Boots" Brasseur at FOFSTOCK!
Donald “Boots” Brasseur” lived a long full life and when he passed away on December 24 (2014) he was given a military funeral complete with Honor Guard at a military cemetery in Hamilton, Ontario. And so was buried one the last heroes of the D-Day campaign in WW2. And so was buried one of the last vaudevillians from that era.
Funeral procession. (Photo from: canadianheroes.com)
A military service for out WW2 Hero! (Photo from: canadianheroes.com)
At the grave (Photo from: canadianheroes.com)
So on this Remembrance Day we remember for the first but not the last time, one of the finest individuals I have ever known: Donald “Boots” Brasseur!