During the heyday of the big bands, it was next to impossible for a Canadian orchestra to get permission from the American Federation of Musicians to perform in the United States. But there were eight Canadian bandleaders who succeeded at their craft by moving to the U.S. and working with American players — all, of course, AFM members.

Some of these Canadians, such as Gil Evans and Will Osborne, moved to America with their families at an early age and grew up in the U.S. Others, such as Dennis Farnon and Maynard Ferguson, moved south after their careers were well established. One of them, Guy Lombardo, began playing in Cleveland in the early 1920s, long before anyone thought to tell him his group of Canadian musicians wasn’t welcome.

Here is a list of eight successful Canadian bandleaders, all of whom were famous in their day and some of whom are still well known for the great bands they led and the great music they created.