Rufus Guinchard

Rufus Guinchard. Fiddler, accordionist, composer, b Daniel's Harbour, Nfld, 6 Sep 1899, d Corner Brook, Nfld, 7 Sep 1990. He began playing violin at 11, holding the bow in the middle, and laying the instrument across his chest and against his right shoulder. He would play in in this manner throughout his life. His early repertoire comprised tunes performed by the Daniel's Harbour fiddlers John Peter Payne and Leonard Payne. While working variously as a fisherman, logger, trapper, seaman, labourer, warden and carpenter, he played for dances in and around Daniel's Harbour and, after 1949, Port Saunders, Nfld.

In 1972, Guinchard began to appear elsewhere in Newfoundland and was a member in the mid-1970s of the Breakwater Boys in St John's. He made his first LP, Rufus Guinchard - Newfoundland Fiddler (Breakwater 1002), during this period. Travelling with Kelly Russell and/or Jim Payne, Guinchard subsequently performed at folk events across Canada (eg the Mariposa, Atlantic, and Vancouver festivals) and at Expo 86, and appeared in the USA, England, Ireland, France, Japan (Expo 85, Tsukuba), and Australia (Expo 88, Brisbane).

The release of his second LP, Step Tunes & Dances (Pigeon Inlet Productions PIP 737; reissued in part on cassette as Newfoundland Songs & Fiddle Music, PIP 7321), co-incided with the publication of Russell's book Rufus Guinchard: The Man & His Music (St John's 1982) which included transcriptions of 60 tunes from Guinchard's repertoire. A third album, Humouring the Tunes (SingSong SS-9091 CD), issued posthumously, included two examples of Guinchard's accordion playing. Of Guinchard's own pieces, the best-known is Centennial Highway Reel, which has also been recorded by Figgy Duff and Red Island.

Guinchard was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada in 1986.