Page 36 - The Cape Breton Fiddler: A Talk with Allister MacGillivray
ISSUE : Issue 29
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1981/8/1
different sources as far as I can figure out, two theories on why he had a fairy bow. And if you met this man at a party and you wanted to use his violin, he had two approaches before he'd let you play. One of them was, he'd put the violin slightly out of tune from the tune he had. And it was understood that he had a pecu? liar tune--one of the strings was off a half tone. And he'd jiggle all the keys up and hand you the fiddle, and you'd have to retune it to standard pitch. That was one of his secrets. The other was, he'd never let you touch his bow. Maybe there was something special in the bow after all, and no one else was intended to have it. And though he died in 1878, there are still people in the Big Pond area who have stories about him, people who know him very well. And they knew those stories to be true. It would have happened in Scotland--Donald Campbell wasn't born in Cape Breton--it was either he himself or his father inter? cepted one of these fairy witches one time, and the blessing she put on him was that they would be excellent violin players for three generations. It was diminishing in each generation. Donald Campbell's son played fairly well, Donald Campbell played extremely well, and there's a possibility it was Donald's father who had the magic bow in the first place. The more common theory about Donald Campbell is that he w'as abducted. One of the sources is Peter MacKenzie Campbell's book. Highland Commun? ity on the Bras d'Or. He's met people in his research who'd swear by the fact that Donald Campbell had b'en abducted and learned his talents as a youngster from the fairies. That's also in the history of Christmas Island in an article on a man called John Og MacNeil (Young John Mac? Neil) --John was taught by Donald Campbell. Even in that article it speaks that John MacNeil was a wonderful violinist but there was no wonder, because he got his talents from a man who was taught in the first place by the fairies. Big Ronald MacLellan and Mary MacDonald (But most Cape Breton fiddlers were not taught by the fairies. How did they learn?) I came up with this phrase when I was do? ing my research, that there was a method that I'd call "observation and absorption." Mary MacDonald, a great violin player--she was originally from Mabou, moved to New Waterford, she's in Sydney now--she was ex? plaining to John Gibson of the Sun one Poplar Grove Restaurant AT MABOU ARENA, MABOU, INVERNESS COUNTY Phone 945-2808 We Specialize in Barbecue If you knit, you'll A/ant something natural. Create your own fashions with our new 100% virgin wool yarns especially made for hand knitting. Our yarns are made in Atlantic Canada (Cape Breton) from local and imported wool. Drop in to see us at Irish Cove, or write for sam? ple 40-colour shade cards and price lists. We of? fer special quantity discounts. Cape Breton Woolen Mills Ltd. R. R. No. 1, Irish Cove, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia BOA IHO (902) 828-2776 (36) Phone (902) 794-7251 Cable BRENNANS Telex 019-35149 Night & Holiday 736-8479 794-3178 Brennans Travel Agency 158 QUEEN STREET, NORTH SIDNEY STEAMSHIP AIRLINE -- RAIL AND HOTEL ACCOMMODATIONS Flora's Gift Shop Located 2 miles south of Cheticamp at POINT CROSS. The shop with the two fishing boats. Largest Display of CHETICAMP HOOKED RUGS Coasters - Chair Seats Wall Hangings Sceneries - Rugs Other Handcrafts 1'' Knitted Sweaters, Socks & Mitts Shawls, Ponchos & Placemats Quilts, Souvenirs Large parking for campers and buses. "If we don't have it, we'll make it." Telephone 902-224-3139 Cheticamp, Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia
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