moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.
Mr. Speaker, I am happy to rise in the House to once again speak on my proposed Bill S-218 to designate a national fiddling day.
Fiddling has a rich history in our country, and I believe that this history needs to be cherished and celebrated. Fiddling is an expression that has roots throughout our entire nation. Fiddle music connects all regions of Canada and brings a universal smile and a toe tap whenever it is heard. From the down-east style made famous by Don Messer to the Métis style spread by John Arcand to the traditional Cape Breton style played by Natalie MacMaster, fiddling is an integral part of Canadian culture that has long-standing historical roots.
Whatever the style, the common thread is spreading happiness and joy to all those who play and listen. Enacting the third Saturday in May of each year as national fiddling day would encourage all Canadians to embrace and enjoy this day and would bring a spotlight to the many Canadians who have graced the country and the world with this infectious and important music.
I am especially happy to propose this legislation at this time when the Canadian Grand Masters Fiddling Association has recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. The association does important work promoting and preserving fiddling music in Canada. Also this year, the Canadian Grand Masters fiddling competition is being held in my home province of New Brunswick, in the town of Sackville.
New Brunswick, like all other provinces, has deep roots in the history of fiddling music. My province hosts a unique annual festival in the town of Plaster Rock, New Brunswick. It is the annual Fiddles on the Tobique. The event coincides, of course, with fiddlehead season. The festival started with a lone fiddler years ago and today attracts people from all over the world. Quite possibly it is the only event of its kind anywhere.
This event combines two time-honoured New Brunswick traditions: fiddling and canoeing. Imagine the beautiful sight and sound of a flotilla of canoes carrying almost 200 musicians down the Tobique River while they play old-time fiddle music. Those attending are treated to concerts, jam sessions, dances, and even an instructional fiddle camp.
Our Atlantic Canada region in general has had great fiddlers. Winston "Scotty" Fitzgerald, 1914 to 1987, was a renowned Cape Breton fiddler. He was a pioneer in recorded performances of the music and has heavily influenced the style and repertoire of later generations of players.
Another award-winning Cape Breton musician, Natalie MacMaster, began her fiddling career at 16.
Don Messer was born in Tweedside, New Brunswick and began playing the violin at age five, learning fiddle tunes with Irish and Scottish influences. As a young boy, Messer would play concerts in the local area, and later he played throughout southwestern New Brunswick. During the 1920s, Messer moved to Boston, Massachusetts for three years, where he received his only formal instruction in music.
Messer left Saint John in 1939 and moved to Charlottetown, P.E.l. and worked as music director at CFCY. There he formed the Islanders, and this music group began to make regular television appearances on CBHT-TV in Halifax, Nova Scotia. CBC television began a summer series called The Don Messer Show on August 7, 1959, which continued into the fall as Don Messer's Jubilee, produced in Halifax.
Don Messer's Jubilee was a must for us every Monday night throughout the 1960s. How we loved to hear the sound of the twin fiddles of Don Messer and Earl Mitton. The show won a wide audience and reportedly became the second-most watched television show in Canada during that decade, next to Hockey Night in Canada.
Another down-home style New Brunswick fiddler was Ned Landry, who taught himself to play the fiddle at an early age. Ned Landry was winner in the open class of 1956, 1957 and 1962 Canadian Open Old Time Fiddlers' Contest.
Landry appeared in the 1950s on CFBC Radio, Saint John, and in the 1960s on Don Messer's Jubilee and other TV shows. Landry was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 1991. Landry was also later inducted into the North American Fiddlers' Hall of Fame and the Nova Scotia Country Music Hall of Fame.
Ivan Hicks, another famous New Brunswick fiddler, has played the fiddle for over 60 years. He and his wife Vivian have shared their talents with many students, young and old alike, and have been an inspiration to countless others.
Ivan is actively involved in promoting, attending and instructing at workshops. He continues to judge fiddling contests throughout Canada.
Many awards and honours have come to them, including the induction into the New Brunswick Country Music Hall of Fame for both Ivan and Vivian, and the North American Fiddlers' Hall of Fame for Ivan.
Then, of course, there is Miramichi's very own Matilda Murdoch. At the age of eight, her father gave her a fiddle, and later that year, through her own determination, she played her very first tune. Since then, she has become an icon in fiddle circles throughout North America.
Murdoch has been part of a cultural community of Miramichi and New Brunswick for most of her 94 years. Her style of playing has been admired and studied by not only local fiddlers but also fiddlers from throughout North America, and more recently, from Ireland. Entertainer Don Messer was one of those many admirers. He invited Matilda to play on the popular Don Messer show, and he also recorded several of her tunes to show his respect for her music.
Another admirer of Matilda was one of our very own, the late Jim Flaherty, who visited Miramichi and was able to enjoy her music in his ancestral home of Loggieville. Murdoch has garnered regional, national and international recognition for her abilities as a composer, player and teacher. She was elected into the North American Fiddlers' Hall of Fame and the New Brunswick Country Music Hall of Fame.
Matilda Murdoch has reached and surpassed the definition of success. Organizations and musicians have recognized her on a worldwide scale. Matilda was the recipient of the Order of New Brunswick as well as the Order of Canada.
Loggieville also boasts another very accomplished fiddle player, Samantha Robichaud, who represents a new generation of fiddlers. Now in her late twenties, Samantha has released seven critically acclaimed albums and has earned many awards.
Her musical venture now spans over three decades, completing 11 albums, performing thousands of shows and collaborating with a multitude of world renowned artists.
These are just a few of our very known fiddlers. In Miramichi we have our very own group of fiddlers known as the Miramichi fiddlers. These men and women give of their time, volunteering at fundraisers and many events on the river. They certainly bring much enjoyment to our area and are always much appreciated by all.
These are just a few of the fiddlers that I grew up listening to and who are known in my region. I am sure my colleagues would agree that they are just a small portion of the well-known and talented fiddlers throughout our great nation.
I believe that a designated national fiddling day will also be important with the upcoming 150th anniversary of our great nation. In 2017, Canadians will celebrate this great milestone and a national fiddling day will be one way to help them learn about and express pride in the cultural and social impact that fiddling music has had on the shaping of our country.
Furthermore, we not only wish to celebrate the impact this music has had on our nation but also the beauty that is in the instrument itself, and shine a light on Antonio Stradivari, the renowned crafter of the stringed instrument. By spreading the history of the instrument, along with its historical significance, we can hopefully reach a whole new generation of fiddle players who will continue to shape the musical and cultural landscape of our country today and tomorrow.