Vance 1946
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THE E
ARLY YEARS

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* THE EARLY YEARS

THE CRESCENDOS

THE FIFTH

BROTHER

DIANNE HEATHERINGTON & THE MERRY-GO-ROUND

ALAN SCHICK

PAPA PLUTO

BURTON CUMMINGS

THE GUESS WHO

YOGI & FRIENDS

THE WALSH TWINS

GUNS 4 HIRE

FREELANCE WORK
Alfred Eisenstaedt's 1945 LIFE photograph of a sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square symbolizes the cathartic joy of V-J Day.  Around the country, patriotism ran high and in the prairie city of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Ina and Paul Schmidt welcomed their second child, a baby boy, into the world, choosing names to reflect that eventful day.  Vance Jerold Schmidt was born August 14, 1945, on the final day of World War 2.

Vance’s early years were certainly not easy.  Before he turned 5, his father succumbed to the ravages of tuberculosis.  In those days, there were not a lot of career opportunities for women, and money was tight.  His mother struggled to raise her young family - Vance, and his sister, Arlene.  The only affordable housing was located in a rough and tumble neighborhood, populated by street toughs and bootleggers, in Winnipeg’s north end.  At the age of 6, Vance developed a limp that eventually caused the small child to endure body casts and a 3-year stay in Shriner’s Hospital.  When he was finally released, his world had changed dramatically.  His mother was remarried, he had a new stepfather, Clarence Masters, and a new home in a different neighborhood.

Times were still tough for the family, but the one bit of entertainment they could afford was the radio.  Having spent the better part of his formative years in the socially restricted setting of a hospital ward, Vance emerged as a somewhat shy, unsure little boy.  The radio had been his only link to the outside world.  The music of the big bands that had diverted his attention away from the endless drudgery of tests and physical therapy, now served as replacement for the friends he had left behind when the family had moved.  Too poor to afford a musical instrument, he would sit for hours on end in front of a footstool, attempting to reproduce the drum patterns he heard.

In the late 50's, the family took over management and caretaking duties of an apartment building on Clarke Street, a move that would forever change the direction of Vance's life.  Terry Loeb and his family also lived in the same complex, and the two boys became fast friends.  They attended Churchill High School together, walking along the frozen Red River in the winter.  On really cold days, Terry's mother would drive the boys to their classes. 

Recognizing their child’s natural talent, and that this was no passing fancy, Ina and Clarence Masters scraped together the money to provide their son with some formal instruction.  Vance studied under the tutelage of Willie Wendt, percussionist for the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. 

Terry's uncle was kind enough to allow Vance to use his drum set.  The young musicians would set the equipment up in the basement of Augustine United Church on River Avenue and spent incalculable hours, developing their skills.

It would be several years before Vance would own a real drum set of his own.

Vance 1948
Vance

1948

Vance 1949
Vance with his mother, Ina (on the
right) and his aunt Tilly
1949

Vance 1950
Vance with his mother, Ina,
and sister, Arlene
1950

Vance 1956
1956

Terry & Vance 1961
Terry Loeb (left), Vance (centre) 1961

Vance 1962
1962

VJM ©
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