Harold Jarvis was born in Toronto in 1864, the son of singer Annie McLear. As a young boy, he gained some popularity singing Scottish songs while in highland costume. At the age of 14, he entered the merchant marine, sailing on the Allen and P & O lines between Montréal and England, and joined the Royal Naval Reserve. He left the marine service to study music at the Royal Academy of Music, where he won a gold medal.
In 1891, he moved to Detroit where he sang as a tenor soloist at the First Presbyterian Church. The following year he married the singer Laurie Geikie, of Toronto. In 1903, he sang the tenor role in Messiah, performing with the celebrated Canadian opera singer Emma Albani. He began recording for Victor in 1908, for Columbia in 1912 and for Edison in 1914. His most popular song was "Beautiful Isle of Somewhere", first recorded in 1914.
He returned to Toronto in 1911, but was to settle finally in Detroit, where he died in 1924 at the age of 60.
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- The Canadian men and women of the time : a handbook of Canadian biography of living characters. Edited by Henry James Morgan. 2nd ed. Toronto : William Briggs, 1912. xx, 1218 p. AMICUS 11744015
- "Jarvis, Harold". Encyclopedia of music in Canada. Edited by Helmut Kallmann et al. 2nd ed. Toronto : University of Toronto Press, c1992. xxxii, 1524 p. AMICUS 12048560
- Moogk, Edward B. Roll back the years : history of Canadian recorded sound and its legacy : genesis to 1930. Ottawa : National Library of Canada, 1975. xii, 443 p. AMICUS 80154. Also published in French under the title: En remontant les années : l'histoire et l'héritage de l'enregistrement sonore au Canada, des débuts à 1930