Fiddle great Buddy Macmaster dies

Staff ~ The Cape Breton Post
Published on August 21, 2014

Buddy MacMaster performing at the Highland Games in Antigonish in 1980.

©MacMaster Family Collection


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.