Elvis Presley in Canada

Elvis Presley performed in only one other country besides the United States, and that one country is Canada.

Elvis made his first and last Canadian appearances in 1957. Young Elvis – having already released his first album and film in 1956, and had just purchased Graceland – arrived in Canada for the first two of these appearances in April 1957.

Elvis’ first Canadian performances were at the Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. April 2, 1957. Elvis wore his stunning, sparkling gold suit for this show – and this was the last time he wore the full suit. For future performances, Elvis would only wear pieces from this suit, such as just the jacket, belt and shoes, and in some shows, just the jacket.

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Many fans know Elvis’ gold suit from the cover of his album, “50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong.”

 

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Elvis’ famous gold lamé suit was made by Nudie Cohn, who made thousands of sparkling works of art for artists during his career.

 

Elvis poses with Miss Toronto Judy Welch.

Elvis poses with Miss Toronto, Judy Welch.

At this performance, Elvis accompanied himself on piano for “Blueberry Hill,” Fats Domino’s chart-topping hit. Elvis loved Fats and owned several of his albums.

Elvis performed again in Canada the next day, April 3, at 4:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. at the Ottawa Auditorium in Ottawa. Elvis wore the gold jacket and shoes, but not the gold tie and pants.

Elvis’ career was in full swing, but he was still a bit of controversial figure. Parents and religious officials were concerned about their kids listening to rock ‘n’ roll and the potentially dangerous influence Elvis had on his fans (a funny notion nearly 60 years later, huh?). A local girls’ school, the Notre Dame Convent, forbade its students to attend the concert and suspended eight of its students who ignored the rule. Elvis was booked to perform in Montreal, too, but that show was canceled due to civic concern and pressure from local Catholic officials.

Elvis wore the full gold suit for the first time earlier in 1957 at a gig in Chicago, but as 1957 continued, he began only wearing pieces of the gold suit instead of the full ensemble. The pieces allowed Elvis to shine onstage but still maintain a more conservative look.

Elvis wore the full gold suit for the first time earlier in 1957 at a gig in Chicago, but as 1957 continued, he began only wearing pieces of the gold suit instead of the full ensemble. The pieces allowed Elvis to shine onstage but still maintain a more conservative look.

Elvis’ next Canadian concert was at the Empire Stadium in Vancouver on August 31, 1957.

The 26,500 fans in attendance went wild for the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. The stage was set up on the empty football field, but fans wanted to be closer. Thousands bypassed security to find a place in front of the stage on the field. The show had to be stopped twice for safety concerns. Elvis’ manager, Col. Tom Parker, suggested to Elvis that he tone down his show, but being a rock ‘n’ roll rebel, Elvis didn’t listen to him. He did shorten the set, though, and – for safety reasons – he fooled the audience. He gave his gold jacket to a crew member to wear while getting into a car, so fans would think it was Elvis leaving. The fans followed the man in the gold jacket, and Elvis was allowed to calmly leave the stadium unharmed.

Elvis took a few minutes to chill out before his Toronto gig.

Elvis took a few minutes to chill out before his Toronto gig.

Canadian fans still love Elvis that much to this day. Fans host Elvis festivals that celebrate the man, his music and his legacy.

The Penticton Elvis Festival is June 24-26, 2016, and it includes an Ultimate ETA Contest preliminary round, headlining concerts, gospel show and more.

One of the biggest Canadian Elvis events is the Collingwood Elvis Festival, set for July 20-24, 2016. The schedule of events includes an Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest preliminary round, ETA performances, Memphis RibFest, street party and much more.

And the feeling is mutual. Elvis’ hometown, Memphis, celebrated Canada last month as part of its annual Memphis in May International Festival.

For a full list of Elvis-inspired events taking place all over the world, check out Graceland.com’s Calendar of Events.


15 Comments

  1. Robert

    Great, gold suits him well.

  2. Marilyn Lowther

    I pleaded to go to the Toronto concert but since I was pnly 13 my parents would not agree. I have never gotten over it and never did get to see him live in concert.

    • I pleaded, too, but to no avail. I was 13, too. I did get to see him on April 5, 1972 in Buffalo, THANK THE GOOD LORD FOR THAT!

  3. PATRICIA G. BLACKWELL

    Still and always be in love with ELVIS!!So many memories for each song comes back from my childhood to grown-up years with each song.I have seen so many ELVIS TRIBUTE ARTIST”S that try and some come close,but they will never be another ELVIS PRESLEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Annah-Elvis Laux

    Thank you for sharing this blast from the past about Elvis’ performances in Canada, and that country’s continued loyalty to Elvis. The pictures and insight are wonderful, This happened a few years before my birth, and when I think about Elvis being 22 years old at the time, I feel like he was just a kid…God dealt him a life very few will ever experience, and a gift that only he will ever possess. There will never be another Elvis!

  5. Alice Etter

    Enjoyed reading this information, I first saw Elvis at Keill Auditorium in St. Louis, Mo. in 1956 or 1957. I have loved Elvis every since I knew he existed and still do. I have worn out two CD players in my car as that is all I listen to when driving. He is still missed so much by myself as well as the world over.

    • Ian mackay

      You lucky woman Alice. Please tell me that you have written it down for a fan magazine.

  6. Yvonne Hart

    I love reading all the Elvis information posted on this Graceland blog. I love all things Elvis I have bought tickets for the Cardiff and Birmingham England concerts for the Royal Philharmonic orchestra and Elvis singing songs from the new million spellings triple platinum album on the big screen in November I can’t wait.

    • Yvonne Hart

      Should read selling obviously!!!! Not spelling Sorry folks ❤️

  7. William F. Martin, Jr.

    I appreciate this detailed info. This blog should make fans even more interested in visiting Graceland. It is well worth the trip. Thanks

  8. Kaye Marsh

    Lucky Canada! Wish he’d toured Australia ‘cos we love him here! @Kaizara@bigpond.com

  9. Candy Brodie

    Thank you for this…My husband and I are true Canadian Elvis Fans..I have been since 1956..not saying my age..lol…we have booked our trip for the grand opening of the Guesthouse in Oct..we were at Graceland two years ago and walking into Elvis’s house is unexplainable the feeling we got. Thank God we have Pricilla,Lisa and George Klein to keep this legacy going for future generations.

  10. Elisabeth Rohrmoser

    Es ist sehr schön immer wieder etwas Neues aus Elvis Leben zu lesen. Elvis is unforgotten and still will be

  11. Philippe Collin

    Love his music listen to it everyday!!!!

  12. Cheryl Carbone

    This man is always and forever in my heart. I think of him every day and continue to play his records.

    I miss him terribly.

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