Harry MacGregor The Man, The Music and The Memories

Cashbox Canada Harry MacGregor.png

Submitted by Don Graham

He never had a hit record, wrote a hit song, played before thousands of people or won any major awards.  He was never even really a full time musician, although he could have been, but chose a different path early in his life to support his family and take care of business.

Harry would laugh to think he was on the cover of Cashbox, a music industry magazine but his love and support of music has earned him that place. Harry MacGregor,  Big Harry to many, Harry Hollywood to others, Dad to two great kids Stephanie and Stuart,  sweetheart to wife Bonnie MacGregor and Grandpa to Harrison and Fiona. He was a larger than life figure, although in life he was already a six foot three presence. He bore an uncanny resemblance to Joe Cocker and many times was mistaken for Joe. “ One time a man came up to while I was dressed in my white suit and said ‘ Great show Mr. Cocker’. I said I’m not Joe Cocker and he said “Okay, your secret is safe with me!”

Bonnie and Harry MacGregorBonnie and Harry MacGregorBorn in Glasgow, Scotland right after the War in 1946, Harry worked to support himself and as a young man took an interest in music in general, guitar specifically. He joked once that he had a problem with tempo saying, “In school they gave me the big bass drum to carry and play and keep the tempo for the band. The problem was I arrived long before the rest of the band so they took that job away from me. My tempo is better now though”. he said laughing that big laugh of his.

He moved to Canada to get ahead and not sure what he wanted to do with rest of his life he headed to sunny California where he worked in a bar, picked fruit and generally enjoyed life and the search for purpose. He moved back to Canada where he met the love of his life Bonnie Vallaine.  They married and had two wonderful children, daughter Stephanie son Stuart.

As Harry wrote in a song of his that he was thinking of recording not long ago called ‘My Hometown’ “ I picked guitar and I picked oranges, I picked a girl and settled down. Had some kids and raised a family, far away from my hometown.” Harry would sing songs to Bonnie while accompanying himself of his 12 string Framus and life was good. Harry was selling insurance and doing well when he and Jack Baird decided to start their own business and the very successful Baird MacGregor insurance company was formed. The company did very well and Harry eventually sold his share and decided to move out of the city and enjoy life. He moved into a huge house in Port Hope.Ontario with lots of rooms and lots of guitars on a big lot high on a hill. He had a sound system installed that would play music in almost every room of his huge house. Harry MacGregorHarry MacGregorHere he could pursue his other great love, gardening. He built a recording studio is his basement, Underground Recording Studio and began writing more songs and encouraging others to play and write alongside him. He wanted to start a label called Northumberland Records, he opened a bar, Harry’s Little City of Bricks where he hired local bands and musicians, giving them an outlet for their music. But it was a tough go and eventually Harry’s generosity was the downfall of the bar so he sold it and moved ON. He missed his hometown and native land and he relocated to his Scotland where he was close to his sister Isabelle and brother in law Joe, daughter Stephanie, son in law Justian and two beautiful grandchildren Harrison and Fiona.

Stephanie MacGregor Cross wanted us to know "Dad was a kind, generous person and was adored by many. He managed all things impossible effortlessly. He had a magnetic personality and lit up the room with music, conversation and humour. Heartbreak is not having Big Harry around.”

So long my friend, travel lightly in our hearts. You will always be remembered and be a cherished memory for so many of us here. See you when I get there.