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Ed Whitcomb was raised in Oak Lake, Manitoba, 200 kilometers west of Winnipeg. By the age of 14 he had written his first history essay, won his first history prize, and adopted music, coin collecting, and traveling as hobbies. He received a BA from the University of Manitoba in 1964, capturing the University silver medals in History and Economics, the Brandon College Faculty Prize and the Honour Society Award. In 1966 he completed an MA at the University of Manitoba in Canadian and European History. He received a Ph.D. from the University of London, England in 1970, published by Duke University Press under the title Napoleon’s Diplomatic Service.

After teaching History at universities in Nova Scotia, Quebec and Manitoba, he joined the Canadian Foreign Service. He served in Yugoslavia, Thailand, Indonesia and India, and spent 15 years as an international political and strategic analyst in the Privy Council Office. He retired in 2009 to work full time on promoting Canadian history and music.

He has published dozens of books, articles and letters including histories of all ten provinces. In May, 2017, he published "Rivals for Power: Ottawa and the Provinces, the contentious history of the Canadian federation."   In 1990 he compiled and published Canadian Fiddle Music, Volume I, which was re-published in 1999, by Mel Bay Publications, Inc., and Canadian Fiddle Music, Volume II, in 2001. He has compiled 50 songs that mention Canadian people, places, culture and history for The Great Canadian Songbook, Volume I, which was published in December, 2006.  Ed plays in an Irish-Canadian band with spouse, Kai, and daughters, Denise and Diana (see The Band).   In 2014, Ed was inducted into the Brandon Univerisity Wall of Fame.