Hornby, Jim | Bowing Down Home

Jim Hornby, 1991


Jim Hornby studied folklore at Memorial University in St. Johns Newfoundland; his Master’s thesis, entitled “The Fiddle on the Island: Fiddling Tradition on Prince Edward Island" (1982) was probably the first systematic study of Island fiddling ever conducted. He also published a vivid account of the Island’s first major fiddle competition, entitled "The Great Fiddling Contests of 1926." (Island Magazine 7, Fall-Winter 1979, 25-30).

As a child, Jim studied classical violin with his aunt Kathleen McGuigan, the same teacher who also mentored Peter Robinson and Gary Chipman. During his early 20s he was working away from home in New Brunswick, and learned to play a few fiddle tunes during his spare time. He then began playing with fiddle music enthusiasts in New Brunswick, and when he moved back to PEI in the late 1970s he joined the Prince Edward Island Fiddlers’ Society, which was then just getting underway. Hornby’s involvement with the Society and the friendships he formed with Hector MacDonald, Joe Pete Chaisson, and some of its other older members then motivated him to undertake a serious study of traditional Island fiddling.

Available here: Hornby discusses why Island fiddle contests were rarely judged fairly; he also explains why the Queens County Fiddlers had such trouble over the years keeping its older, traditional players in the fold.

Tune Selections

Hornby, Jim - Archie Menzies Accompanied by: unacc

Oral Histories

Biased judging at contests Some factors that led to prejudice by judges: family or social connections; they were not experts info and transcript
Hornby, Jim - QCF loses its tradition bearers Founding of PEI Fiddlers, noting that older players didn't stick around, making the QCF at least a "learn to play" club info and transcript

Video Clips