Songster History 

We could say that the Songster ministry started with the opening of the Salvation Army’s work in Ottawa in 1885. The first indoor meeting of what would become No 1 Corps, later Slater Street Citadel and finally Ottawa Citadel, featured the singing of six members of the Salvation Army (three men and three women).   


While the Brigade was not commissioned until 1921, records show that its first official performance was for the stone-laying ceremony for the Grace Hospital (now Grace Manor) in 1920. In the early days, the Songsters, in addition to providing music to support weekly worship, took part in various ceremonies and celebrations within the city, visited other Corps to provide “special music” and participated in festivals celebrations such as the Corps’ Golden Jubilee, in 1935, and annual Easter and Christmas events. In 1967, the Songsters participated in the Canada’s Centennial Celebrations in Montreal. In the late 1980s, they, with other Corps singers, performed the Gowans and Larson Musical, Spirit, under the direction of Major Bev Ivany, and later took part in a Massed Chorus at Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto. 


More recent Brigade highlights would include participation in annual Festival of Carols and joint Good Friday services here in Ottawa. In June 2017, the Citadel Songsters hosted and performed with the Canadian Staff Songsters here in Ottawa and sang with the Legacy Chorus as part of the Canada’s 150th celebrations in Cornwall. In June 2019 the group joined with the Citadel Band to present a program at Trinity Bible Church in Osgoode. 


Past Songster leaders include John Nixon, Colonel Merv Leach, Gordon Dean, Archie Smith, Ken Charter, Edley Selwood, Jim Ferguson and Geoff Linklater.  May Linklater, Trevor Lewis, Dawna Weber, Steven Verhey, Mark van Gulik, Geoff Linklater and Laurie Hamilton served as pianists.