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"A miniature carretto"

George Petralia & Alfio Puglisi Sicilian Wood Carver

Master Sculptor George Concetto Petralia with nephew Alfio Puglisi  - 1953

This sicilian master wood carver came to Canada in July 1955, on the Greek Ocean Liner, Olympia.  He settled in Oshawa eventually working for Sklar Furniture.

George Petralia was exhibiting his wood carvings in an Ontario tour, during Canada's Centennial year in  1967,  when he came into Port Arthur, now Thunder Bay, where he met Frank Potocniki, a well known wood carver in Port Arthur.

George met country singer, who introduced George to Don  Grashey an internationally recognized  record producer in Port Arthur, Ontario Canada,  now Thunder Bay, operating DMG Studios on Cumberland Street.  Don Grashey is recognized in three Halls of Fame, including The  Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame, and Nashville's Country Hall of Fame.    Don Grashey, together with Charlie Chuck William's discovered and produced Loretta Lynn, although the
 movie and the book, "Coal Miners Daughter" does not reflect this. ("My Rambling Heart", An Autobiography of Don Grashey, Washington DC, 1995).    Don Grashey had produced singer,  "Jerry Palmer", "Buddy De Val", "Myrna Lorrie", "Heather Haig" and eventually "Carroll Baker".

Carroll Baker Petralia Grasley

George Petralia  -  Carroll Baker  -   Don Grashey

While living in southern Ontario, George Petralia  discovered Carroll Baker at a country and western jamboree. George tried to convince  Carroll Baker  to meet with Don Grashey, who was the president of "Gaiety" and "Zero Records" to produce a record. 

Don Grashey writes...

" George Petralia was living in Oshawa Ontario, and in May or June of 1970, I received in the mail a tape from him, on it were songs by a female vocalist I had never heard of before.  At the time she was residing in Oakville, Ontario, but she originally hailed from Port Medway, Nova Scotia.   George wanted to know if I would be interested in recording her.

I listened to the tape and her inexperience was immediately apparent.  Her diction made me think of an English school marm.  But the quality and range of her voice were good, and she sang with feeling.  There was something about the sound and personality she projected in one of her songs that intrigued me.  I could correct the overripe diction and the other minor flaws in her delivery.
But was she worth the effort ?  I wasn't sure, so I called in Chuck Williams for a second opinion.....

...On July 20, I answered a knock on the studio door and found myself confronted by George Petralia, the singer, Carroll Beauliu, her husband John and a lead guitar player.

...It turned out that George had brought Carroll to Thunder Bay for a session, with studio time I promised to him in return for taking me to Hollywood.  He wanted to record two songs, one of which he had written.  he'd also prepared a plaque consisting of a bronzed 45 RPM record with "DMG" engrave on it. . . . Don Grashey "

Loretta Lynn Day in Vancouver

Left to Right

Loretta Lynn,  Rob Howatson (Freelance Writer), and Mike Harling


Loretta Lynn was discovered by Don Grashey and Chuck Williams from Thunder Bay, singing at "The Chicken Coop" in British Columbia.  Loretta Lynn was living in Washington, and came over the border to perform at the "Chicken Coop".

Don Grashey, President of Zero Records, and Chuck Williams secretary of promotion, went to "The Chicken Coop" in Vanouver and heard her singing.

They asked her to record with them, and she recorded two songs for Zero Records, "Honky Tonk Girl" and  "Whispering Pines".

.... and the rest is well recorded somewhere  in Canadian History. 
(Wikipedia Carol Baker)

'My Rambling Heart"


Her song ended and Thunder Bay' Community Auditorium exploded with applause, cheers and whistles. Resplendent in a glittering, floor length gown, Loretta Lynn graciously acknowledged the capacity crowd's enthusiastic response.  Publication of her biography, and the academy award winning motion picture loosely based on it, had propelled the "Coal miner's Daughter" to a peak of international popularity never before scaled by a female country music artist.

The applause died and Loretta again stepped up to the microphone. 

In her familiar Kentucky drawl she said :
"I'd like to introduce y'all to an old friend of mine, Chuck Williams.  Come on out here, Chuck"

My long-time associate stepped out of the wings and was greeted warmly by Loretta. 
She turned back to the audience and said: 
"This is one of the fellas who discovered me singing in Vancouver.  Is the other fella  here?  Is Don Grashey here?  Come on up and take a bow, Don."

The "Queen of Country Music", was finally - publicly - disclosing my contribution to her success - twenty-seven years too late !  Well, no matter.  Long before I discovered her vocalizing in a converted chicken coop I had learned a hard, but invaluable lesson: In the music business, gratitude is dispensed almost as reluctantly as managerial fees.

That lesson was to be repeated over and over again during my forty-six years as a Writer, Producer and Manager.

Don Grashey


From the book, "My Rambling Heart" by Don Grashey, co-authored by Joseph Mauro

(If you would like to order a copy of the book,

"My Rambling Heart" An auto-biography by Don Grashey, co-written with Joseph Maruo
Copyright 1995
Washington, DC.

Contact George Petralia at the e-mail address below.

To contact George Petralia for commissioned works contact him at

e-mail the sicilian wood carver

Thunder Bay Snow Sculpture Display on Simpson Street

George Petralia in Ice  ?

George Petralia Snow Sculpture

George Petralia standing beside a larger than life of a
'Canadian Trapper' with some Husky dogs. 

The  "Wood Carving Club of Thunder Bay"  decided to organize a snow sculpture display on Simpson Street.  Members and organizers include Brian Nieminen, Les Barrow, and George Petralia.

Word is that Thunder Bay wood carvers decided to pay tribute to the greatest Sicilian Wood Carver north of the 49th parellel and used George as the model.

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