Hy Bloom and his H.H. Bloom Sound Enterprises were a downtown Ottawa landmark for more than 50 years. Photo: Bruce Beachman, Ottawa Citizen
Hy Bloom and his H.H. Bloom Sound Enterprises were a downtown Ottawa landmark for more than 50 years. Photo: Bruce Beachman, Ottawa Citizen

RIP: Canada’s Harry Hyman “Hy” Bloom

The Ottawa-born sound equipment manufacturer, studio owner, and archivist died Wednesday, July 19, at the age of 96.

A natural born tinkerer, he left home as a young man and learned his craft visiting local recording studios and radio stations in New York City. He returned to his hometown to work at Orme's Music Store and, subsequently, in the military section of the National Research Council, followed by a stint in the army.

It was during this time that his experimentation gave way to production, and in 1939 he opened Soundmaster Ltd., using space in his parents' Kent St. home.

In the early 1950s, he expanded and moved to 283 Bank St. where he stayed for 25 years, patenting and producing reliable, handcrafted and individually made sound equipment and selling more than 30,000 amplifiers.

At around the same time, Bloom also opened a small recording studio, which soon attracted a young Orval Prophet, the first of many entertainers to come under his influence.

He promoted Prophet and many others who came to his studio, which quickly became a gathering place for musicians and singers. Hy traveled extensively in Europe to learn the latest advancements in the sound business, after that he moved to 386 MacLaren St. until 2011.

His reputation, earned from adherence to detail, made him the choice to provide sound equipment for a succession of Prime Ministers from Mackenzie King to Brian Mulroney, and for state visits of dignitaries.

He was also a meticulous audio archivist and, after a lot of back-and-forths he was able to strike a deal with the City of Ottawa Archives in 2012 to acquire a significant collection of recordings and audio equipment that he had made over the years.

As reported in an Ottawa Citizen feature at that time, the “Bloom vault” included a Johnny Cash concert from 1963, and another by local bandleader Champ Champagne. A recording of poet Irving Layton is there, as is the “Voice of Doom” Lorne Greene narrating the Victory Loan drive campaigns broadcast from a car throughout the streets of Ottawa.

Campaign speeches by Pierre Trudeau are among the trove, while a 15-year-old Alanis Morissette singing "O Canada" on Parliament Hill is also preserved.

So, too, has Ottawa Valley Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Danny Ducharme’s rendition of Rockin’ Reindeer" in 1959, and residents at the last Rockcliffe town hall meeting before amalgamation complaining about garbage pickup. When Princess Diana opened the new Ottawa police station in 1983, and when, in 1976, Ottawa mayor Lorry Greenberg was honoured at a celebrity roast, Bloom was there with his tape recorders.

Over the years, Bloom also donated approximately 100 audio recordings relevant to the Jewish Community to the Ottawa Jewish Archives.

A music fan with perfect pitch, Bloom also recorded numerous bands in clubs in Bermuda and the Bahamas in the 1950s.

Harry Hyman (Hy) Bloom, born July 15, 1921, in Ottawa, dear son of the late David Lewis Bloom, a tailor, and his wife Celia, passed away peacefully surrounded by family July 19, 2017, at the age of 96.

With acknowledgment to and background information provided by musicologist and journalist Larry Delaney.

Leave a comment