Trent Bruner

Hello everyone!

There was many a tune played to compete with, dance to, listen to and enjoy no matter where you were in an audience, on stage or in a jam session in the Ottawa Valley region of Ontario during late August 2018. As promised earlier, this update is being posted on Facebook and now that Canada’s largest fiddle events have been completed for another year. Upon further review, I will write separate articles instead as there are too many points to include in one article alone.

August 24th and 25th marked the Canadian Grand Masters Fiddling Competition’s (CGMFC) 29th annual contest’s return to Ottawa, where it was held at the Shenkman Theatre in the suburb of Orleans on Ottawa’s east side. 23 contestants accepted the invitation to compete in the 2018 edition of Canada’s official national fiddling championship. The weekend began with a Friday night meet and greet that had a jam session for those involved in the contest along with paid patrons who purchased a day pass for the competition at the Shenkman Theatre. On Saturday, rehearsals, sound checks and a meeting with the judges and the accompanists took place in the morning before the preliminaries began at 12:00 Noon. In each round of the contest, the contestants play four tunes each. In the first round, the contestants play a waltz, jig, reel and tune of choice other than the first three, all within a five minute time limit. The top 11 fiddlers move on to the 7:00 PM finals and are then asked to play four contrasting tunes that are different from those used in the preliminaries. For most (if not all) of the fiddlers, they play the same type of program as in the afternoon within five minutes. Brian Hebert of Pembroke, Ontario, Daniel Gervais of Edmonton, Alberta and Mark Sullivan of Vancouver, B.C. were the contest judges, while Ben Knorr of Regina, Saskatchewan (guitar), Melika Lemelin of Hammer, Ontario (piano) and Yours truly (piano) were the other house accompanists.

Before the awards were handed out, three junior aged fiddlers from 18 years and under were invited by the Canadian Grand Masters to perform in the annual Junior Showcase. Shade Clark from Vegerville, Alberta, Lucas Candelino from Barrie, Ontario and Anna Smilek from Hamilton, Ontario gave outstanding performances to all in attendance during the Saturday evening program. These three fiddlers will have a bright future in Canadian fiddling because of their dedication to and love for fiddle music.

The top 11 finalists in their final order of placing were:

  1. Jane Cory                           Winnipeg, Manitoba
  2. Ethan Harty                        Strome, Alberta
  3. Kyle Burghout                     Ottawa, Ontario
  4. Michael Burnyeat                 Vancouver, British Columbia
  5. Emma March                       Pembroke, Ontario
  6. Paul Lemelin                       Hammer, Ontario
  7. Raymond Knorr                   Regina, Saskatchewan
  8. Lia Gronberg                       Abbotsford, British Columbia
  9. Janelle Melanson                 Moncton, New Brunswick
10. Alanna Jenish                      Oshawa, Ontario
11. Danny Perrault                    Granby, Quebec

The Canadian Grand Masters Lifetime Achievement Award for 2018 was presented to two time CGMFC champion fiddler Scott Woods of Fergus, Ontario. An accomplished award winning fiddler, dance musician and touring musician who has performed over Canada on his own and with the Memories of a Don Messer Jubilee, the United States and various locations throughout Europe, Scott has been a tremendous ambassador for Canadian fiddling and whether he plays with his mother Carolyn on piano or with his touring band for a show and dance, it was pointed out by award presenter Louis Schryer that Scott always aimed high in professionalism when performing fiddle music. Warmest congratulations to Scott for this high honour in Canadian fiddling.

This year also marked the first time an award was established by the Canadian Grand Masters to honour the builders/organizers of Canadian fiddling. This new award is known as “The Canadian Grand Masters Award of Merit.” A Powerpoint presentation, assembled by Victor Frush, Loretta Fitzpatrick and Yours truly in English, and translated into French by Lorraine Bussiere and Michel Mallette, listed all 54 names of the Ottawa region board members who lived in the area and gave some of the background from the CGMFC’s beginnings in 1990 to the present. The presentation was played in the Shenkman Arts Centre before each contest round and each intermission during the day.

Other award winners included Ethan Harty receiving the Ward Allen Memorial Trophy for the best waltz, while Ontario fiddlers Andrew Hammond received the Yamaha Silent Violin award in a random draw of contestants and Duncan MacDougall received the People’s Choice Award sponsored by Calvin Vollrath.

From 1990-2012 when it was normal for the CGMFC to be held in Nepean and Ottawa the weekend before or after the Pembroke Fiddle and Step Dance Contest, I nicknamed this trip “The Ontario Swing,” based on the title of a fiddle tune composed by the late New Brunswick fiddler Ned Landry. Yes, the Canadian fiddling legend passed away on Saturday, August 25th, 2018 at the age of 97.  I received word of Ned’s passing during the afternoon preliminaries, but did not receive verification on this until the same evening. A fitting tribute to Ned was presented during the Saturday Night Finals by veteran fiddlers Ivan Hicks of Riverview, New Brunswick, Louis Schryer of Chapeau, Quebec and Calvin Vollrath of St. Paul, Alberta when they played “Ontario Swing” and “Bowing the Strings,” two of Ned’s most well known fiddle tunes.

Many thanks to all who worked and volunteered throughout this weekend and gave their best effort behind the scenes and on stage for the competition. The 2019 Canadian Grand Masters Fiddling Competition will be held August 23rd and 24th in Abbotsford, British Columbia. Former three time CGMFC Champion fiddler Mark Sullivan is chairing the B.C. organizing committee. Further inquiries can be sent via e-mail to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it This will mark the 30th anniversary of the national competition. Also of note is that the 2020 CGMFC competition dates are in place for August 28th and 29th 2020 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, with three time CGMFC champion Patti Kusturok of Winnipeg leading the Manitoba organizing committee. Further information on this event will be posted at

More information will be posted in the coming days on “The Ontario Swing.” Until next time, see you somewhere down the music trail!

Musically yours, Trent