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Sam Macdonald photo
Fiddlers Calvin Vollrath (left), Elizabeth Hubley, Kelli Trottier, and Ivan Hicks were all part of a delegation to the Senate of Canada, looking to establish a National Fiddling Day in Canada.
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Vollrath pushes for National Fiddling Day

Jul 08, 2014 11:30 am | Sam Macdonald

Canada may soon have its own national day devoted to fiddling, after a meeting between members of the Canadian Grand Masters Fiddling Association and the Senate of Canada.

On June 19, the National Fiddling Day Bill S-128 passed in senate. Calvin Vollrath, a renowned local musician and member of the fiddling association, had an instrumental role in bringing the proposition to the Senate.

“The third Saturday in May has been adopted as World Fiddle Day, all around the globe. The fiddle association knows this and promotes that people get out and fiddle on that day,” said Vollrath.

“Somebody in the Canadian Grand Masters Fiddle Association thought it would be wonderful if we could adopt that day as a holiday in Canada, and call it National Fiddle Day,” he added.

Vollrath said the bill was the idea of Elizabeth Hubley, a senator from P.E.I., who also plays the fiddle.

“She thought this was a wonderful idea and presented the bill to Senate. It really broke history, in how fast this happened,” he added.

Vollrath said he and a number of other fiddlers came into the picture when the bill needed witnesses at its third reading. He, and a number of other fiddlers from around the country including Sherry Jonhson, Ivan Hicks, and Kelli Trottier, served as ambassadors for the association in Ottawa.

“We each had five minutes to talk and demonstrate. Fiddling in Canada is in many styles, with all the cultures here. It seems pretty much to be in every culture that came here to Canada – French and Ukrainian Canadian culture, Métis culture, Scottish and Irish culture, Polish – all of them have fiddle,” said Vollrath.

“Immigrants settling in Canada brought (fiddles) with them, since they were small and easy to transport.”

Vollrath and the others played for Senate members in a number of different fiddle styles. While Vollrath played, Johnson and Trottier put their dancing skills to work for the senators.

“When we brought our fiddles into the room, the senators were all so excited. The chair of the meeting said they never had any music played to senators in the meeting,” said Vollrath.

“The senators got up to take a closer look and at the end of the meeting, they didn’t have a lot of questions – they just wanted us to play more. We turned it into a jam-session,” he added.

Vollrath said the impromptu music and dancing created a happy moment for the senators dealing with political matters, noting there were no naysayers against the bill at the meeting.

“We talked about where the fiddle has been, the history, and where it’s going. The bill passed in the Senate with flying colours. I was honoured to get the call to be part of this groundbreaking history,” he said.

The next step the bill will take is further study in the House of Commons, possibly this coming fall, where it will be discussed by MPs.

“We have our fingers crossed. It looks good so far, everyone’s happy with it in the House of Commons,” said Vollrath.

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