John Allan Cameron

John Allan Cameron. Folksinger, guitarist, fiddler, actor, b Inverness, Cape Breton, NS, 16 Dec 1938, d Toronto 22 Nov 2006; BA (St Francis Xavier) 1966, B ED (Dalhousie) 1967, hon D LITT (University College of Cape Breton) 1998, hon LL D (St Francis Xavier) 2005.

John Allan Cameron. Folksinger, guitarist, fiddler, actor, b Inverness, Cape Breton, NS, 16 Dec 1938, d Toronto 22 Nov 2006; BA (St Francis Xavier) 1966, B ED (Dalhousie) 1967, hon D LITT (University College of Cape Breton) 1998, hon LL D (St Francis Xavier) 2005. John Allan Cameron's uncle was the fiddler and composer Dan R. MacDonald. His mother, Katie Ann, and brother, John Donald, were also fiddlers. At 12 John Allan began playing guitar for his brother at local dances. He studied 1957-63 for the priesthood with the Order of the Oblate Fathers in Ottawa. Though he took his final vows, he received papal dispensation in 1964 to become a performer. While studying subsequently at St Francis Xavier University, he performed on CJFX radio, Antigonish.

John Allan Cameron sang on CBC Halifax TV's Singalong Jubilee and Ceilidh, among other country and pop music programs, before starring in his own series on CTV (from Montreal, 1975-6) and CBC (from Halifax, summer 1979 and winter 1980-1). He appeared in 1970 at the Grand Ole Opry (Nashville), played in coffeehouses in various Canadian centres, and performed with Tommy Makem and Anne Murray in concert and on TV. Cameron sang at the Mariposa, Newport, Atlantic, Winnipeg and other folk festivals, and he performed in Celtic festivals and Highland games throughout North America and in Europe. Cameron was a member in 1977 and 1979, and the producer in 1989, of shows that performed at Canadian military bases in Germany and the Middle East. In 1989 he took dramatic roles at the Stephenville (Nfld) Festival and at the Neptune Theatre in Halifax, and in 1998 and 1999-2000 was a featured performer in the Mirvish theatrical production 'Needfire: Passions of the Heart.' Cameron was host and honorary chairman of Fiddles of the World (Halifax) in 1999 and of the Celtic Colours International Festival (Cape Breton) in 1998 and 1999. From 1985 until 2005 Cameron served as Honorary Chieftain of the Fergus (Ontario) Highland Games.

John Allan Cameron's repertoire included Cape Breton fiddle tunes and 'mouth music,' Scottish and Irish folk songs and stories, bagpipe music adapted for 12-string guitar, and songs by Bruce Cockburn, Gary Fjellgaard, Allister MacGillivray, Stan Rogers, Bob Ruzicka, and others. Cameron was known as the godfather of the Celtic revival, and in the year before his death was honoured in several tribute concerts by artists he had mentored, including Sandy MacIntyre, Ron Hynes, Ashley MacIsaac, Natalie MacMaster, Jimmy Rankin, Rita MacNeil, Blue Rodeo, Great Big Sea, The Barra MacNeils. MacIntyre produced a 40-track compilation CD, featuring artists who performed with or were influenced by Cameron (Yes! Let's hear it for John Allan Cameron! Scotsmarket 2006).

John Allan Cameron received the East Coast Music Association's Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995, and in 2003 was inducted as a Member of the Order of Canada.

Cameron's archive is at the Beaton Institute of Cape Breton University.


Here Comes... John Allan Cameron. 1969. AL7-1645 Apex

The Minstrel of Cranberry Lane. 1970. AL7-1650 Apex

Get There by Dawn. 1972. ELS 382/ES-90089 Columbia

Lord of the Dance. 1972. ELS 383/ES-90102 Columbia

Weddings, Wakes & Other Things. 1976. 2-GES-90343

Freeborn Man. 1979. CSPS 1432/GMI-002 Glencoe

Song for the Mira. 1981. CSPS 1640/GMI-003 Glencoe

The Best of John Allan Cameron. 1982. GAMC 3004 Great Atlantic Music Co.

Good Times. 1987. FR-019 Freedom

Wind Willow, MSCD-9128

Classic John Allan, vol 1-2. 1992. MSCD 9231 Margaree Sound

Classic John Allan, vol 3. 1996. 02 50444 Margaree Sound

Glencoe Station. 1996. 02 77657/5049 21 Atlantica Music

Featured on:

The Children's Collection. 1982. C 101 Tapestry

Portrait of a Scottish Fiddler. 1996. CUL 009D Culburnie

High Flight. 1999. WRC8-7319 8 Wing Trenton Pipe Band

Music of
John Allan Cameron

Further Reading

  • LeBlanc, Larry. 'Folk purism not for John Allan Cameron,' Music Scene, 274, Nov-Dec 1973

    Howell, Bill. 'The thinkin' man's Stompin' Tom,' Maclean's, Dec 1973

    Brown, Dick. 'For the love of it,' Canadian Magazine, 20 May 1976

    Cameron, Silver Donald. 'John Allan Cameron, entertainer,' Atlantic Insight, Nov 1980

    MacGillivray, Allister. The Cape Breton Fiddler (Sydney, NS 1981)

    Delaney, Larry. '...It's a wonderful life!! John Allan Cameron,' CMN, vol 12, Jun 1991

    MacIntyre, John. 'John Allan Cameron: Cape Breton's Musical Ambassador,' The Atlantic Advocate, Aug 1991

    MacDonald, Sandy. 'Roving Gypsy Boy,' The Daily News (Halifax), 25 Apr 1996

    Landa, Lloyd. 'John Allan Cameron,' Country Music News, vol 19, no 4, Jul 1998

    Quill, Greg. 'John Allan Cameron Made Celtic Cool,' Toronto Star, 20 May 2006

External Links