April 9, 2024


The Board of Directors and the entire Canmore Folk Festival family is saddened to learn of the passing of our “director emeritus” Ken Rooks last week in Canmore.

Ken was born with the music in his marrow, and from the minute he hit town in the 1980s and signed up to volunteer for a tiny half-day music festival, he began a journey that would change the culture of the community, and in many ways the culture of the Canadian folk music scene.

He had an ephemeral magic touch, able to find and cultivate young performers just starting out. He built and maintained relationships with more senior and experienced musicians, ensuring they’d be happy to return to our festival when asked. He mixed them all together into main stage concerts and side stage workshops. He built relationships with other festivals to share expenses when a choice performer was on tour.

His tenure with us spanned the days of food services via volunteer potlucks and performers billeted in local homes for a half-day Heritage Day festival on the Monday to a three-day, full-on musical extravaganza with a kick-off free Friday concert. For most of those years he worked 10 months for zero pay.

Since his retirement in 2010 we have tried to remain true to his vision. Because he was an adventurous visionary.

He is survived by his life partner Sharon Bowie and thousands of fellow folkies throughout the country.

Written by: Carol Picard