Bruce Cole’s Hidden Photo Gems Surface For 40th Junos Anniversary

Cover Dec 17, 2010

Story:Bill Delingat 

Bruce Cole, born in what many had called Canada’s ‘Motor City’ (Oshawa), was uprooted at the tender age of five when his family moved to Toronto. He attended Bathurst Heights Secondary School and later Ryerson Polytechnic Institute.

While attending High School in 1967, Cole built his own dark room in his parent’s basement. This allowed him to deepen his interest in photography and from then on, there was no turning back. Cole’s career blossomed as he took pictures of famous musicians including Gordon Lightfoot, Bette Midler, Rush, Bryan Adams and others. Cole became an “in-demand photographer” for the music industry with requests to shoot album cover artwork and live concert performances. In the process, he was compiling a collection of thousands of photographs of famous rock and pop stars over the years.  

Cole became one of the first official JUNO Awards photographers from 1971 until 1990. His vast library of music icons was not gained without sacrifice as Cole attributes his partial hearing loss to that part of the job involving “being too close to the stage” to capture that special moment of action for fans to cherish for years to come. 


Paul Anka-Paul Anka blessing the JUNOS gathering.Paul Anka-Paul Anka blessing the JUNOS gathering.

Cole’s Plum Studios along with partners Hiltz Squared Media Group have created a Web portal to display one of the Canada’s largest photographic collections on the Canadian music scene and its artists online for the first time. 


What is now known as the Bruce Cole Collection, consisting of never before seen photos of some of Canada’s greatest stars in their early years, is now available to the public and media outlets for viewing and purchasing. 

Anne Murray-Anne Murray exchanges JUNOS gossip with Gordon Lightfoot and Stompin' Tom Connors.Anne Murray-Anne Murray exchanges JUNOS gossip with Gordon Lightfoot and Stompin' Tom Connors.

Hiltz Squared Media Group has established an online storefront for the sale of hard copy photos and fine art prints. Some 95 images have been digitized in high resolution formats, from original negatives (often 35mm, but many in a 2 ¼" format) Cole describes, but notes that sales will all be hard copy prints, numbered and signed as a collectors edition produced in association with a Toronto-based digital facility. Images will be added weekly and the site will eventually include the works of other photographers who also "lived and breathed the music industry" said Cole.


Cole’s pictures will be included in next year’s various celebrations and activities for the JUNO Awards 40th Anniversary. Melanie Berry, CEO and President of CARAS was quoted as saying, "The JUNO Awards are a constantly evolving celebration. This year we're truly enhancing the entertainment experience by offering all-new engaging events celebrating Canadian music 365 days of the year”.


Burton Cummings shows off his JUNO.Burton Cummings shows off his JUNO.

"It has been 40 years in the making, 40 years of celebrating the strength and diversity of our rich musical heritage and artists, and 40 years of bringing Canadian music closer to the fans."


Cole has selected 85 images from his collection for the just published “Official JUNO 40th Anniversary Book “called “Music From Far and Wide” Cole describes the release and publication of the photos as "beneficial all around. 

“ Yes, we are looking for ways to monetize the collection," Cole adds, "but it will be a part of building a huge awareness for not just the 40th Anniversary of the Junos, but we hope for Canadian music and the history of rock 'n' roll in our country overall." 

Howie Mandel-Howie Mandel getting the star treatment.Howie Mandel-Howie Mandel getting the star treatment.

If you know someone or it may even be you that knows “BTO” is not a new breakfast sandwich at Tim Horton’s and “Fludd” is not a result of a new Tsunami, this book is a must for your collection.

CARAS, the industry organization behind the Junos, will be using some of the proceeds for the book to fund the not-for-profit Foundation, “MusiCounts”, which supports music education in Canadian schools.


The 2011 JUNO Awards will be airing live from Toronto's Air Canada Centre on Sunday, March 27, which also marks the 10th anniversary broadcast of Canada's Music Awards on the CTV network. 

Read Our Q&A with Bruce Cole