Roma McMillan

Roma McMillan quickly assumed a prominent place among the region's traditional fiddlers, and went on to publish the books Roma McMillan's Favourite Valley Waltzes (Ottawa 1983) and Roma McMillan and Mostly Bows Favourite Valley Fiddle Tunes (Ottawa 1997).


Roma McMillan

 Roma McMillan (b Clarke). Violinist, fiddler, composer, teacher, b Lachine, Que, 5 Jul 1911, d Ottawa 4 Jul 2007. Roma McMillan began playing classical violin at age seven, studying both violin and piano with Armand Leduc. From 1929-35, she was second violin with the Montreal Philharmonic Orchestra, under Eugène Chartier. In 1935 she married and moved to Elma, Ont, near Williamsburg. There she took up traditional fiddling. In 1939 she put together her first band, the Elma Serenaders, which played for dances in Williamsburg during World War II. McMillan began entering old-time fiddle contests in the early 1960s, winning more than 175 prizes over the next 40 years.

Roma McMillan quickly assumed a prominent place among the region's traditional fiddlers, and went on to publish the books Roma McMillan's Favourite Valley Waltzes (Ottawa 1983) and Roma McMillan and Mostly Bows Favourite Valley Fiddle Tunes (Ottawa 1997). These contained her own compositions alongside those of Don Messer and Franz Lehar. She also taught violin and fiddle at the Ottawa Folklore Centre 1980-8.

Outside of her music career, Roma McMillan was a hospital office manager and was national secretary of the Federated Women's Institutes of Canada beginning in 1978. She served as president of the Ottawa and District Old Tyme Fiddlers Association 1974-5, and as a director of the Canadian Grand Masters Fiddling Championships 1990-3. She was inducted into the North American Fiddlers Hall of Fame in 1984 (an honour she shared with Eleanor Townsend) and the Ottawa Valley Country Music Hall of Fame in 2003. She was awarded the Canadian Grand Masters Fiddle Championship lifetime award and was also featured on the US television show "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno." Roma McMillan continued to play and to lead groups well past her 90th year.

Discography

Capital City Fiddle Tunes. 1979. Paff LPPF-6001

Seaway Valley Fiddle Tunes. 1981. Guitarama LPGU-6004

Fun Fiddling with Mostly Bows. 1987


Further Reading

  • Bakus, Shelley. "Roma fiddles for fun," Trans FM, Apr 1988

    Cheverie, Gerald. "Roma McMillan - Ottawa's first lady of the fiddle," Canadian Fiddler, Sep 1999

    Arseniuk, Melissa. "Obituary - Roma McMillan," Ottawa Citizen, 8 Jul 2007