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My given name is Cornelis van Sprang and I was born in Holland. But I am known in Canada and in the music industry as Ronnie King. I am one of three founding members of the Canadian rock band The Stampeders, which was established in the 1970’s – along with my mates Kim Berly and Rich Dodson. Our biggest worldwide hit was Rich’s composition of “Sweet City Woman” as well as few other songs we’re known for and still listened to globally today (www.stampeders.net).

My friends at Pier 21 asked for a story about adjusting to life on the prairies. This is an excerpt from my memoirs:

“On our 15 minute drive from the train station to our temporary home, I looked at the city of Calgary with great wonder. Back then, this city of less than 200,000 people, was within view of the majestic Canadian Rocky Mountains which became such a familiar sight. So vast, seemingly within walking distance, but it was actually a one hour drive away. We were now living in the land of the cowboys, horses, cattle ranching and farming, the Calgary Stampede, home to our North American Aboriginal native brothers and sisters, buffalo, Tipi’s, warm Chinook winds in winter, and the wilderness in your backyard feel. This was to become our chosen home for the rest of our lives.

Although, as we turned onto the street where the house was, I wasn’t quite ready for what my cousin Gary had planned for us. There, in the middle of the road as we drove up, was Gary all decked out in his Davy Crocket buckskins with fringes, a coonskin hat, a toy rifle, and a gun and holsters at his side, singing at the top of his lungs, ‘Davy, Davy Crocket, king of the wild frontier.’ It was priceless, and something I’ll never forget.

Not having television in Holland, we didn’t know about any of the popular TV shows of the day. And even though we really didn’t know what Gary was singing about or why he was dressed like that, that moment will always be fondly remembered as the very charming way in which Gary wanted to welcome us to Calgary. It was then we first experienced black and white television at one of the homes we stayed at. How wondrous this was – seeing moving picture shows, in your own home – now look at us…

Later on, it was at Mount Royal Elementary School in grade three, that my parents witnessed my very first stage performance – dancing the Charleston with three other couples. I was pretty good – and proud that my parents were there to witness the birth of a star…”