Beginning many years ago Ron Marenger played a variety of musical instruments while growing up in Espanola, Ontario. He decided to teach himself how to play the saxophone and read music.
Forming his first band in 1959, an excerpt from a local newspaper in 1960 read, "The annual Snowball Hop will be held in the Elk's Hall, with dancing to the Ron Marenger Orchestra from 10:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m."
Ron's career took him to Montreal and Toronto where he continued to form and lead Big Bands, playing many notable Toronto venues such as The Old Mill, Harbourfront and Kew Gardens. In 1979, Ron led bands in both Montreal and Toronto, keeping him busy commuting up and down Highway 401.
In 2002, Ron retired from his National Life position and settled in the heart of the Kawartha Lakes. While living in Ennismore, Ontario he recruited local musicians to form the current band. After rehearsing for several months, Peterborough's Ron Marenger Big Band played its first gig at the Navy Club. Performing at many local functions, the band has been featured at Peterborough's Festival of Trees galas, the Festival of Lights, Peterborough Downtown Jazz Festival and Showplace Performance Centre.
Farther a field, the band has appeared at Lindsay's Academy Theatre, Lakefield Jazz Festival, Lakeview Arts Barn and at the 75th anniversary celebration of the Kawartha Golf & Country Club, amongst many other venues.
Diagnosed with cancer in 2004 and despite undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments, Ron continued to rehearse the band. Incredibly, during this period of failing health, Ron conducted a number of gigs while organizing performances aboard the Carnival Cruise Ship, 'Victory' for a 7-day Caribbean Cruise in January 2006.
Ron was in the midst of arranging details for a second cruise to take place in 2008 when unfortunately, he succumbed to cancer, passing away in February 2007.
"Wasn't That A Party!!" - a dance organized as a remembrance of the wonderful time everybody enjoyed on the 2006 cruise was attended by many of the passengers from that cruise.
The Ron Marenger Big Band continues to perform as a testament to Ron's ability for assembling the right players and personalities to recreate the engaging music from the big band era. Ron's wish was for the band to continue as his legacy, leaving something wonderful for us all - players, dancers and music lovers alike.