Garnie Scheel was born in Arnprior, Ontario. As a youngster, his father, Les, a church organist and local brass band member, encouraged Garnie to play music. His mother, Esther, taught him piano, and public school friend, Horace Blanchette, taught him the fiddle. The young prodigy joined with Blanchette and first appeared at Arnprior’ s O’Brien Theatre in 193, playing the Dobro guitar. After years of passing the hat at house parties, Garnie moved on to the Mayfair Pavilion in 1937. Then, following a couple of years with Mac Beattie, he moved to Carleton Place, where he joined Almonte’s Charlie Finner and the Hay Shakers.
Having learned the butcher’s trade from his father, Garnie moved to Kitchener and Schneider meats in 1941, spending his free time playing with popular local bands. He returned to Arnprior in 1947, joining Mac Beattie’s group, the Ottawa Valley Melodiers, which also included Gaetan Fairfield and Reg Hill. The bands made hundreds of appearances at the popular Renfrew County dance hall, Sunny Dale Acres in Lake Dore, and were a top draw all over the Ottawa Valley. In addition to their live performances, they also enjoyed a ten-year run at radio station CHOV in Pembroke, followed by stints on CFRA and CKOY in Ottawa, CJET in Smith’s Falls and, with the advent of the new medium of television, appearances on CJOH-TV.
Garnie began to find the Melodiers’ constant travel schedule onerous and, with his family and a thriving butcher shop located in Stittsville, opted to play local gigs with Ron McMunn’ s band, The Country Cousins, from 1962 to 1972.
Rejoining his old buddy Mac Beattie in 1973, Garnie played with the Melodiers until Mac’s untimely death in 1982. He seldom played after the loss of his closest friend and, in 1987, he sold his butcher shop and retired completely from music.