The joy behind Chilliwack’s second coming on full display July 10 at Peterborough Musicfest

Founder, lead singer, and guitarist Bill Henderson brings the Canadian hit-making rock band to Del Crary Park for a free-admission concert

Chilliwack founder Bill Henderson (second from right) with current band members (from left) Jerry Adolphe, Ed Henderson, and Gord Maxwell will perform a free-admission concert at Peterborough Musicfest on July 10, 2024 at Del Crary Park in downtown Peterborough. (Photo: Erich Saide)
Chilliwack founder Bill Henderson (second from right) with current band members (from left) Jerry Adolphe, Ed Henderson, and Gord Maxwell will perform a free-admission concert at Peterborough Musicfest on July 10, 2024 at Del Crary Park in downtown Peterborough. (Photo: Erich Saide)

When the question “Which is the greatest Canadian rock band of all time?” is posed, varied answers spill forth.

The Guess Who, The Band, Rush, April Wine, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Glass Tiger, Blue Rodeo, and The Tragically Hip are typically somewhere on the resulting lists. All worthy of praise, for sure, but there are several other bands that don’t come to mind as quickly but are no less deserving of our attention decades after they formed.

Take Chilliwack, for example.

The hit songs aside, there’s the sheer staying power, evidence of which will be presented on Wednesday, July 10th as Peterborough Musicfest brings the classic Canadian rock quartet to Del Crary Park — a remarkable 54 years after the band formed in Vancouver.

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While it’s true singer and lead guitarist Bill Henderson is the only original member with the current configuration of the band, his recognizable vocals and splendid riffs are more than enough to turn back the clock for those “mature” enough to Chilliwack in its heyday.

Ably backed by Jerry Adolphe on drums, Bill’s brother Ed Henderson on rhythm and lead guitar, and Gord Maxwell on bass — each of whom has put in years of their own with the band — Henderson is bringing Chilliwack to the shore of Little Lake and that’s more than good enough on a warm summer night.

A continuation of the psychedelic-progressive band The Collectors, Chilliwack — the name of a city east of Vancouver in the Fraser Valley based on a Salish term meaning “valley of many streams” — formed when lead singer Howie Vickers left the band, leaving Henderson to cobble together the pieces.

That brought forth Chilliwack’s debut self-titled album in 1970, followed a year later by a double album, also self-titled, which spawned “Lonesome Mary,” the band’s first Canadian top 10 hit.

VIDEO: “Fly at Night” – Chilliwack (2019)

In 1974, Chilliwack’s fourth studio album Riding High, with its hit single “Crazy Talk,” proved the band wasn’t a one-and-done affair — a point driven home in 1977 with the release of Dreams, Dreams, Dreams and the chart success of the singles “Fly at Night,” “California Girl,” and “Baby Blue.” The album was subsequently certified platinum in Canada based on sales.

From 1978 to 1981, Chilliwack released three more albums — Lights From The Valley, Breakdown In Paradise, and Wanna Be A Star — and the singles “Arms of Mary” (a cover of the 1976 Sutherland Brothers and Quiver hit), “I Believe,” and “My Girl (Gone, Gone, Gone),” with the latter placing first on the Canadian charts and earning the band long overdue attention south of the border, where the song peaked at number 22 on Billboard’s Top 40.

In 1982, Opus X brought forth the hit single “Watcha Gonna Do (When I’m Gone)” and earned Henderson, with fellow Chilliwack member Brian MacLeod, Producer of the Year honours at the 1983 Juno Awards.

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But then the bubble burst when MacLeod and Ab Bryant left Chilliwack to play full-time with their band The Headpins. A Chilliwack Greatest Hits compilation was released in 1984 but it appeared the journey had ended as what was a trio had been reduced by two-thirds, Henderson being the last man standing.

There things sat until 1997 when Henderson reformed Chilliwack. The second coming didn’t produce a new studio album but, in 2003, There And Back – Live was released, drawing upon the band’s material from various live shows.

More than 20 years later, Chilliwack continues to tour — life on the road interrupted briefly in 2019 when the band was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. A member of the Order of Canada, Henderson was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame last year, at which time he reflected on Chilliwack’s longevity.

VIDEO: “My Girl (Gone, Gone, Gone)” – Bill Henderson on Behind The Vinyl

“It became clear to me that the quality of our songs was the most important aspect of our work,” he said, adding “If we could come up with good stuff we could survive for a long time,” Henderson said.

“I wrote songs every day for many years and it took a long time to learn how to do a decent job. But every once in awhile, ‘the muse’ would give me one for free. I gave her all my time and she gave me some good ones.”

Songwriting, noted Henderson, is something all musicians should focus their attention on.

“Styles come and go through the years, but songwriting will never die. The urge to sing is deeper and more lasting than any style. So if you’re a songwriter, don’t worry. As long as you write songs that people like to sing, you’ll never be laid off.”

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Back in 2011, during an interview with Daniel Colussi of Scout Magazine, Henderson reflected on his bringing Chilliwack back from the dead. In doing so, he revealed a joy that he no doubt still derives from bringing Chilliwack’s music to new audiences and fans from the band’s hey-day.

“Since getting a version of the band back together again in the late 90s, I’ve learned what I liked about Chilliwack and how much fun I can have with it. Maybe my audience has too. There’s a lot of heart in it now.”

“Lots of young people come up after our shows with vinyl albums of ours that they want signed. I see them out there singing the words. And when I tell them about what it was like in the early 70s and we play them a real wide-open jammer, they’re right into it. Very cool. ”

VIDEO: “Whatcha Gonna Do (When I’m Gone)” – Chilliwack (1982)

Peterborough Musicfest is presenting 16 free-admission concerts during its 37th season, each staged on Wednesday and Saturday nights until August 17th.

Overseen by executive director Tracey Randall and staff, a board of directors, and numerous volunteers, Peterborough Musicfest’s stated mission remains “to provide diverse, affordable live music to enrich cultural and economic prosperity in our community.”

For more information on this concert or the 2024 season, visit or phone the Peterborough Musicfest office at 705-755-1111.


kawarthaNOW is proud to be a headline sponsor of Peterborough Musicfest’s 2024 season.

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Paul Rellinger
Paul Rellinger a.k.a Relly is an award-winning journalist and longtime former newspaper editor still searching for the perfect lead. When he's not putting pen to paper, Paul is on a sincere but woefully futile quest to own every postage stamp ever issued. A rabid reader of history, Paul claims to know who killed JFK but can't say out of fear for the safety of his oh so supportive wife Mary, his three wonderful kids and his three spirited grandchildren. Paul counts among his passions Peterborough's rich live music scene, the Toronto Maple Leafs, slopitch and retrieving golf balls from the woods. You can follow Paul on Twitter at @rellywrites.