Canadian Open Old Time Fiddlers' Contest

Canadian Open Old Time Fiddlers' Contest. Most important annual competition of its kind in Canada (see Fiddling).

Canadian Open Old Time Fiddlers' Contest

Canadian Open Old Time Fiddlers' Contest. Most important annual competition of its kind in Canada (see Fiddling). Begun in 1951 to raise funds for charity, the contest has been held on two days each August at the arena in Shelburne (northwest of Toronto) under the joint sponsorship of the Rotary Club and the CBC. By the the late 1980s, with more than 150 fiddlers competing (amateur and professional, Canadian and other), eight classes had been established: open (or championship), novelty (in which emphasis is placed on showmanship), duet, and five divided according to age (eg, under 12, over 65). A competitor is judged in a waltz, a jig, and a reel, all played within a three-minute period.

Victory in the open class carries the greatest honour. Winners have been Mel Lavigne of Honey Harbour, Ont, 1951, 1952; Ward Allen of Ottawa, 1953; Wayne (Sleepy) Marlin of Louisville, Ky, 1954; Victor Pasowisty of Winnipeg, 1955; Ned Landry of Saint John, NB, 1956, 1957, 1962; Ed Gyurki of Woodstock, Ont, 1958, 1959, 1967, 1971, 1974, 1976, 1978; Al Cherny of Toronto, 1960, 1961; Graham Townsend of Toronto, 1963, 1968, 1969, 1970; Johnny Mooring of Springhill, NS, 1964, 1965, 1966; Rudy Meeks of Orillia, Ont, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977; Eleanor Townsend of Toronto, 1979; Don Reed of Sudbury, Ont, 1980, 1981, 1982; Chuck Joyce of London, Ont, 1983, 1985; Frank Leahy of Willowdale, Ont, 1984; Louis Schryer of Sudbury, 1986, 1987, 1990; and Pierre Schryer of Sudbury, 1988, 1989. Winners are heard on the final night (Saturday) in a concert broadcast by CBC radio. Cash prizes and trophies are awarded.


Further Reading

  • Proctor, George A. Old-Time Fiddling in Ontario (Ottawa 1963)

    Teitel, Jay. 'Miracle at Shelburne,' Toronto Life, Dec 1976

    Loverseed, Helga. 'There's strings attached to special Shelburne show,' Toronto Globe and Mail, 9 Aug 1989

    Nagler, Jack. 'Fiddling brothers vie at festival without losing their harmony,' Toronto Globe and Mail, 14 Aug 1989