Eleanor Townsend

Eleanor Townsend (b Reed, m Moorehead, later m Townsend). Fiddler, teacher, composer, b Dungannon, near Stratford, Ont, 8 Jan 1944, d Barrie, Ont, 31 Dec 1998. Eleanor Townsend studied classical violin from age 8 to 18 before turning to traditional fiddling.

Townsend, Eleanor

Eleanor Townsend (b Reed, m Moorehead, later m Townsend). Fiddler, teacher, composer, b Dungannon, near Stratford, Ont, 8 Jan 1944, d Barrie, Ont, 31 Dec 1998. Eleanor Townsend studied classical violin from age 8 to 18 before turning to traditional fiddling. She won the women's class of the Canadian Open Old Time Fiddlers' Contest in 1967, 1969, 1970, and 1974, and in 1979 became the first woman to win the open class; she remained the only female champion until April Verch won it in 1998. Eleanor married Graham Townsend in 1973. Besides touring with him as 'North America's only championship fiddling team,' she taught fiddling for boards of education in Scarborough and Simcoe, Ont. She recorded four solo albums, including for Dominion (her first was as Eleanor Moorehead) and Condor, and others with Graham - eg, The Great Canadian Fiddle, as well as Live at Barre, Vermont (1981, Condor 977-1489), and Fiddling Through the Years 'Championship Style' (1984, Goodtime K.C. 84-1). Her album Mrs. Country Fiddle (Marathon MMS-76046) is a companion album to Graham Townsend's Mr. Country Fiddle (Marathon MMS-76048). She also completed a book, The Townsend Old-Time Fiddle Method (Markham, Ont, 1996).

Eleanor Townsend was inducted into the Fiddlers Hall of Fame (Oceola, NY) at Oceola, NY in 1984, and the Canadian National Fiddling Hall of Fame in 1998. She died as the result of a house fire.


Further Reading

  • Cormier, Sam. Record jacket notes for Le Violin/The Fiddler, Rounder 7002 (1975)

    Delaney, Larry. 'Graham Townsend: the man with the magic bow,' CMN, vol 10, Mar 1990

    Macgowan, James. "Lives lived: Eleanor Reed Townsend," Globe and Mail, 4 Feb 1999