Clarence Eugene “Hank” Snow was born on May 9th, 1914 in the sleepy fishing village of Brooklyn, Queens County, on Nova Scotia’s beautiful South Shore, just down the tracks from Liverpool.
As a boy, Hank faced many difficulties and shortcomings. He had to face the trauma of his parents’ divorce at just eight years old and he was forced to stay with his grandparents. He then had to deal with an abusive grandmother who forbid him to see his mother. He regularly sneaked out at night and walked the railroad tracks to Liverpool where his mother was living. Not willing to return to his grandmother, who would often beat him for visiting his mom, he would sometimes seek shelter in Liverpool’s railway station, now home of the Hank Snow Country Music Centre.
Both his parents had musical talent and Hank picked up his basic guitar-playing skills from his mother. In 1926, Hank went to sea as a 12-year-old cabin boy on fishing schooners based out of Lunenburg to escape his abusive step-father and never returned to school. With his first earned income he bought his first guitar, a T. Eaton Special for $5.95. While at sea, Hank would listen to Jimmie Rodgers on the radio and began to imitate him and entertain the crew. It wasn’t long before Hank had picked up his own style.
He entertained friends and neighbors and quickly developed excellent skills as a musician and entertainer at kitchen parties and neighborhood picnics.
His professional career started at CHNS Radio in Halifax in 1933 where he had his own radio show. He changed his name to “Hank, The Yodeling Ranger” because it sounded more western. Throughout the 30s and 40s he toured the Maritimes and Western Canada playing at county fairs and local radio stations.