Monday, January 26, 2015


Joyce Anne Rankin, a waitress at Jasper Park Lodge, and Irving Berlin had something in common: both wrote a song that was sung by American crooner Bing Crosby.

The difference is that millions of people have heard Crosby sing Berlin’s White Christmas.

Only people attending a JPL staff dance heard Crosby sing Rankin’s Jasper Blues. And he probably sang it just that one time.

The talented, 21-year-old Rankin, dubbed “Stevie” by her friends, proved her ability as a composer in the summer of 1948 when she wrote Jasper Blues for the annual staff musical production at the lodge. The song conjured visions of lofty snow-capped peaks, shimmering blue-green lakes, and turbulent rivers.

It received favourable comment from Crosby, who sang it in 1950, while a guest at the lodge. “I really don’t know much about music,” Rankin told the Journal, “but I like to write words. I wrote the words to Jasper Blues, thought up a tune, and got another lodge employee to write down the music.

“It’s hard to say exactly what inspired the song,” she continued. “They just needed something for the campfire scene in the show, so I wrote it.”

The words of the song described the way she felt about Jasper.

Rankin was in Edmonton on her way back home to Toronto after a motor trip to California and a summer’s work at Jasper.

She had worked three summers at JPL but having completed her English degree at the University of Toronto that spring, she didn’t expect to be back the following year.

Rankin had never written any other songs, but was credited for many parodies of popular songs, mostly written for staff shows at Jasper.

On returning home, she planned to take the song to a Toronto music publishing firm and have it published.

It appears that never happened. Joyce Anne Rankin and Jasper Blues, as arranged by Alan C. E. McKinlay, are listed in the Catalog of Copyright Entries 1949 Unpublished Music...


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