Cape Breton fiddler Buddy MacMaster dies at age 89

Staff ~ The Cape Breton Post
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Buddy MacMaster raises his Dr. Helen Creighton Lifetime Achievement Award at the East Coast Music Award in Charlottetown in this Feb 27, 2006 file photo. Buddy MacMaster has died at age 89.

JUDIQUE — Buddy MacMaster, a master of the Cape Breton fiddle, has died at age 89.

In a phone interview from his home in Judique in February, MacMaster said that he was honoured to receive a lifetime achievement award from the Folk Alliance International and to join a prestigious list of award recipients that includes Pete Seeger, Harry Belafonte, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan and Stan Rogers.

 "I certainly was surprised and pleased to hear I was getting the award," MacMaster said. "There's a lot of big names who have received the award through the years."

MacMaster remembered developing a love for the music while growing up surrounded by tunes.

 "I didn't get a hold of my father's violin until I was 11 and that's when I started to play. I used to hear fiddlers, of course, and some pretty good players - Bill Lamey was one and Dan Hughie MacEachern from Glendale and there was a fiddler in Judique, Alexander MacDonnell, he played by ear and he was a very good player," he said.

"So I heard these guys playing and of course I enjoyed that and I just kept going at it."

In addition to his full-time job with the Canadian National Railroad, Buddy was a full-time fiddler, regularly performing across the island at dances, benefits, and parish and community events. Later in life he had numerous opportunities to tour and perform internationally, from Scotland to the United States, and conducted many workshops at home and abroad.

MacMaster  received many significant honours, locally, nationally and internationally, including an Order of Canada induction.

Organizations: Folk Alliance International, Canadian National Railroad

Geographic location: JUDIQUE, Cape Breton, Glendale Scotland United States Canada

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  • John F Ryan
    August 24, 2014 - 19:47

    My condolences to the family. Buddy the master of the jig was not only that but a very good human being. Buddy and Mary Lou received a great gift from God and they were unselfish in their sharing with the masses. May God bless this good man and may he find heavenly bliss with the angels. I was privedgled to call him a friend. John Ryan

  • Dundas Sue
    August 22, 2014 - 09:54

    In my mind the Ashokan Farewell is playing for a superb fiddler. RIP Mr McMaster.

    • Karen Cecchetto
      August 24, 2014 - 20:21

      All the best to all of Buddy's family at this very sad time - he was such a wonderful example of a Cape Breton musician making a mark on the world! We will never see another like him! God bless. I am very happy I saw him in person a few times at the Highland Village in Iona.