Formation and Early Years
Arc Records, a subsidiary of Arc Sound Company Ltd., was established in Toronto in 1958 by Philip G. Anderson. At first a record distributor, Arc Sound began releasing recordings under its own Arc Records label in 1959 and purchased the Precision Pressing Co. in 1961.
Under the direction of Anderson, its president, and Vice-President Bill Gilliland, Arc Records entered into a contract with US Hit Records and released a series of pop singles albums under the name Hit Parade (1963–64) that specialized in regional artists and tribute albums. Among the earliest of Arc's LPs were those by the popular Newfoundland singers Omar Blondahl and Dick Nolan. Later LPs, some for Arc's Caribou and International Artists labels, presented other Newfoundlanders, including Burt Cuff, Harry Hibbs, Gordon Pinsent, Ray Walsh and John White.
Arc also issued singles by several Toronto rock bands of the mid-1960s under its Yorkville label. Artists and groups to record for Arc, or its affiliated labels, included some of the most successful Canadian recording artists of the 1960s: the Abbey Tavern Singers, Bill Amesbury, Terry Black, Brothers-in-Law, the Majestics, Fred McKenna, Catherine McKinnon, the Metro Stompers, Anne Murray, Ocean, Billy O’Connor, Pat Riccio, Sugar Shoppe, the cast of CBC TV's Singalong Jubilee, Stitch in Tyme, Richie Knight & The Mid-Knights (the first Canadian band to have a No. 1 hit on the CHUM chart, in July 1963), the Ugly Ducklings, Ronnie Hawkins and The Travellers.
Many of Arc’s most popular recordings, including those by Murray and Hawkins, were produced by acclaimed producer Brian Ahern, who later moved to Nashville and worked with Johnny Cash, Emmy Lou Harris, George Jones and Linda Ronstadt, among many others.
In May 1969, Billboard magazine called Arc “one of Canada’s most successful Top Forty producers, reportedly scoring more major market chart successes over the past few years than all other labels combined, excluding those produced for the French-Canadian market. Among the internationally known acts Arc has worked with are The Paupers, The Sugar Shoppe and David Clayton-Thomas.”
In 1969, Arc Sound and its subsidiaries came under the control of the Canadian-owned holding company AHED Music Corporation Ltd., to expand AHED’s guitar and amplifier manufacturing business to include music distribution. Arc and AHED ceased operations in 1986.
A version of this entry originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada.