Well-Known Cape Breton Fiddler, MacMaster, Dies the Age of 89

Internationally acclaimed Cape Breton fiddler, Hugh Alan (Buddy) MacMaster, has passed away at the age 89. Mr. MacMaster is widely believed to have brought Cape Breton fiddling to the world stage. Although he spent his entire career with Canadian National Railway, he often played fiddle on the side most nights of the week. During an interview earlier this year, he mentioned that “I never considered being a permanent violinist, you know, making a living at it. But ah, I was popular as a fiddler it seems.”

MacMaster was a member of both the Order of Canada and the Order of Nova Scotia. He was born into a Celtic-speaking musical family in the northeastern Ontario mining town of Timmins, while his family belonged to Cape Breton in Nova Scotia. MacMaster started playing the fiddle since his early years and despite his 45 years’ service in the railway company, he managed to spearhead a career performing his Cape Breton-style fiddle at concerts, dances and benefits. However, he did not begin recording albums until his resignation from the railway company in 1989 of at age 65.

Folk Alliance International awarded MacMaster its Lifetime Achievement Award earlier this year, which brought him up to the ranks of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Woodie Guthrie and Canadian Stan Rogers. According to the chair of the Folk Alliance Intermational Committee, i.e. one of North America’s largest folk music organizations, Art Menius mentioned that “[the award] honours those who have made monumental contributions as performers to Folk Music in North America.”

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