by Highlands Historical Society – July 22, 2021
Article written by Carol Snyder, edited by Laurel Erickson, from Vol 18 No 2 (Summer 2007) of the HHS Newsletters.
from the newsletter…
Gaby was born in Czechoslovakia on November 7, 1920. He was taught violin and piano, and classical music. The family decided to come to Canada in 1939 when small lots of free land were offered to Europeans as an enticement to settle here. The family settled near St. Walburg, but only lasted one year in very tough circumstances as they had no farming experience.
The family moved to Edmonton in 1940 where Gaby’s father began a long career in the music business that same year, opening a music store on 97th street. Gaby met and married an Edmonton girl, Dorothy Anderson, in 1946. They shared a house with Gaby’s parents at 11431 – 67th street. Pepe was born in 1948 while the family lived in this house.
In 1951 Gaby and Dorothy moved to 11143 – 66th street where they lived for seven years and Pepe attended Virginia Park School. The family made another move to 11207 – 56th street in 1958. Pepe, his brother Larry and sister Sari, attended Mount Royal School, Highlands School and Eastglen High School.
Gaby Haas still holds the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest running radio host in the same time slot at the same station. This was a period of forty years. During recent 75th anniversary celebrations at CKUA, Gaby was fondly remembered as a host who provided live music on the radio long before the use of records. Gaby became well known for his famous saying, “Let’s Polka!”
As a musician, composer and arranger, Gaby became an international recording star, producing 57 albums and 60 singles. He composed over 100 waltzes, polkas, and country tunes. He headlined an estimated 15,000 concert and dance dates throughout North America. With the arrival of television in the late 1950s he appeared on Don Messer’s Jubilee, Cross Canada Barn Dance, Polka Party, as well as a local TV show “The Noon Show”. He was inducted into the Alberta Recording Industry Hall of Fame, and the City of Edmonton Hall of Fame.
Gaby died November 22, 1987 at the age of 67.
To read dozens of other articles about the Highlands and its history, join the Highlands Historical Society. As a member you are invited to our upcoming At Home event at the Gaby Haas house at 11207 – 56th street on August 22. Drop in anytime between 1:00 and 4:00 pm. You may join the Highlands Historical Society at the door that day. This event is free for members.