Born in 1954 in Ayrshire, Scotland, Francey immigrated to Canada with his family at age 12. A proud physical labourer, he spent more than 30 years toiling in the Toronto rail yards, the Yukon bush and the Eastern Townships’ construction sites – hitchhiking across Canada at least three times in the process – all the while quietly chronicling in song the triumphs and hardships of life in the trenches. He played no instruments, never aspired to a career in music, and only reluctantly took to the stage at the age of 45 under pressure from friends and family.
The reaction was instant.
Within two years, he’d won his first Juno, was touring internationally, and got to thinking that perhaps he should quit his construction job and try this music thing full time for a while. Since then, he’s won two more Junos and been nominated a total of five times. His songs have been covered by the Del McCoury Band, the Rankins, the Barra McNeils and Tracy Grammer – among countless others – and his “Skating Rink” video aired several times on Hockey Day in Canada, earning Francey the fandom of host Ron MacLean. He performs regularly at some of the world’s most prestigious music festivals – Tonder in Denmark, Port Fairy in Australia – and he’s been the subject of a nationally-televised feature documentary (Burning Bright).
The Georgia Straight called Francey “The closest thing Canada has to Woody Guthrie.”
Francey currently lives in Elphin, Ontario with his wife Beth Girdler.