Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, you have likely heard the expression “march to the beat of one’s own drum.” For those of us from Nova Scotia, the instrument is not a drum, and the expression rather has us tapping our feet to one’s own fiddle tune.
Fiddling and fiddle music is a tradition throughout much of the East Coast that travelled across the ocean with our Celtic ancestors. Like each stitch woven into our Nova Scotia tartan, you could say that fiddle music, along with the bagpipes, make up the double helix of our musical DNA.
This Saturday, May 20, we celebrate National Fiddling Day. The bill to establish a National Fiddling Day was a project of our former colleague P.E.I. Senator Libbe Hubley, herself a fiddler. To celebrate the bill, renowned Ontario fiddler Kelli Trottier even wrote a song called “Fiddle Bill.”
On the third Saturday in May, fiddlers all over Canada get together to celebrate their musical tradition and their own unique styles of fiddling. We Cape Bretoners have our very own style rooted in the Scottish tradition, but in the West, you can find the Métis style or the Anglo-Canadian style, which draws from a mix of many stylistic origins. The French-Canadian style found in Quebec and New Brunswick is different still.
Just how big is fiddle music in Cape Breton? For thousands who arrive to Sydney by cruise ships, the first thing to greet them on the waterfront is the world’s largest fiddle and bow, standing at 60 feet tall. It is a guarantee that their visit will include several good fiddle tunes and the inevitable accompanying step dance.
Honourable senators, if you find yourself in Nova Scotia this summer or fall, a highlight of the Nova Scotia tourist season is the annual Celtic Colours International Festival, which will take place this year from October 6 to 14. This festival features 49 concerts in 35 communities across Cape Breton Island celebrating its culture through music, song and dance.
While you are in Nova Scotia, a visit to the Red Shoe Pub in Mabou is a must, where you will experience lively music and a true East Coast kitchen party. You may even run into a member of the Rankin family, who are the owners of the pub. I challenge you to keep your toes from tapping. I offer my very best wishes to fiddlers across the country and to all those that enjoy fiddle music for a very happy National Fiddling Day.