Who Remembers “CKSO Here Comes Summer”?

The summer solstice arrived in Greater Sudbury at 12:24 a.m. today and also took us on a trip down memory lane as we remembered how we used to welcome summer back in the 1970s.

Summer '78 Inco Triangle

This photo was taken on the shores of Lake Ramsey with the crowds at Bell Park for CKSO’s Summer ’78. Photo: Cover of Inco Triangle July/August 1978 Greater Sudbury Public Library

The first “CKSO Here Comes Summer” or “CKSO Welcomes Summer” (known by both names back then) event took place at Bell Park in 1970 on the Saturday closest to the summer solstice. The event started at noon but people started showing up in the morning in order to get a seat in that beautiful amphitheatre that once graced the shores of Ramsey Lake.  Crowds spilled over to the grassy knoll on the side of the amphitheatre as thousands of kids and adults converged to welcome summer with local live music, bathtub races and bikini contests.

Here Comes Summer Inco Triangle 1978

A view from way up top of the old amphitheatre at Bell Park at CKSO Here Comes Summer ’78. The Bell Park Amphitheatre was an incredible set up for concerts. Greater Sudbury Public Library Inco Triangle July/August 1978

The cover of the Inco Triangle above taken in 1978 had this to say about the event, “This year’s ‘Here Comes Summer’ extravaganza drew the largest crowd ever to the beautiful shores of Lake Ramsey. With perfect weather conditions, Sudbury and area residents turned out in record numbers, with thousands arriving in the early morning hours and staying until well past an awe-inspiring Northern Ontario sunset. According to one participant, ‘Here Comes Summer’ was a great happening and, chauvinism aside, ‘the bikinis were particularly pleasing to the eye after our long, cold winter of overcoats.'”

A view from the shore as the bathtub races started at CKSO Here Comes Summer ’78. Photo: Greater Sudbury Public Library Inco Triangle July/August 1978.

One of the later features of “Here Comes Summer” was the bathtub races which were first held in 1977. Local participants, young and old, made their own bathtub creations and raced along the shores of Lake Ramsey for the title.

CKSO Here Comes Summer 1975 First Company

First Company on stage at the CKSO Here Comes Summer ’75. Photo: Facebook/First Company Showband

We had a great conversation with Rod St. Denis of the local band First Company that used to open the show at the Bell Park Amphitheatre which started at noon. First Company was formed in 1972 and members were around 13 and 14 years old at the time. The band made their debut at “CKSO Here Comes Summer” in 1973,  a year after they got together, and played at the festival for seven summers. First Company stars founders Rod St. Denis on drums and vocals and Wayne Morel on keyboards, guitar, trumpet and vocals with Terry Wiseman on bass guitar, trumpet and vocals and Brian Gagnon, guitar and vocals. Other band members over the years included Kevin Cooper, Richard Bradley, Denis Simard, Marcel Trudeau, Tim Fitzpatrick. The band played covers by Elvis, Beach Boys, KC & The Sunshine Band, BeeGees and a whole lot more and they still get together to play special events. You can watch the video below of First Company, there’s a short interview and the song starts at about the 1:50 minute mark. – it will bring back a lot of memories.

“CKSO Here Comes Summer” was organized by CKSO Radio in Sudbury which first signed on in 1935. According to Rod St. Denis, former radio hosts at CKSO Ron Smith and Gary Duguay were instrumental in putting “CKSO Here Comes Summer” together every year.

Along with First Company, some of the other local bands that played at many of the “CKSO Here Comes Summer” events over the years included Illusion, Steel, Lief Ericson, Mokombo Grooveline, Timothy, Crystal, Pot Pourie, Fairchild and so many more. How many do you remember?

There were no beer tents back then, but we remember some creative ways drinks were brought into the festival. In later years a beer fest was held at the old Centennial Arena where the IMAX Theatre is today. At sunset, when the entertainment was over a steady stream of people travelled down Paris Street to continue welcoming summer at the arena.

CKSO Here Comes Summer 1978 First Company Showband facebook

A photo taken of “CKSO Here Comes Summer” in 1978 from First Company’s Facebook Page. Anyone look familiar from 39 years ago?


Here Comes Summer First Company Showband Facebook

See anyone you know? Photo: Facebook First Company

If anyone has photos from any of the “CKSO Here Comes Summer” event please share them with us – we’d love to add them to the story.

If you want to find out more about First Company they have put together a great Facebook page filled with stories and fantastic photos of gigs they played in Sudbury and out of town. It’s well worth the look.

There are 45 lakes in the former Town of Valley East.

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