Cape Breton Fiddlers’ Association

Cape Breton

In 1972, The Vanishing Cape Breton Fiddler—a documentary produced by Ron MacInnis—was aired on CBC television. The film’s premise was that traditional Cape Breton violin music was in a state of decline and would soon disappear entirely! Reaction was swift and disbelieving. A group of dedicated individuals began contacting fiddlers from far and wide. There was such a strong response that the idea of a fiddlers’ organization was born and in 1973, the first Festival of Cape Breton Fiddling was staged. This concert attracted more than 130 fiddlers to Glendale for one of the most memorable and influential concerts in Cape Breton history. Twenty-five years later, 202 fiddlers filled the stage at Colaisde na Gàidhlig / the Gaelic College and in 2023, the Association will celebrate its fiftieth anniversary with fiddlers from all over the world making plans to attend the annual festival. The Association—with its membership of amateur and professional players from Cape Breton and abroad—has played a nurturing role as well as a practical one, hosting workshops, publishing tunes written by members, and presenting the annual festival. Cape Breton fiddle music is alive and well both on the Island and throughout the world, and the Cape Breton Fiddlers’ Association is proud to have played a significant role in this resurgence.

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