Rafferty, Ervin | Bowing Down Home

Ervin Rafferty, 2006; behind him is the Foxley River


Ervin Rafferty’s forbears came to the Foxley River area from Ireland in the 1820s, eventually settling in the district in north-central Prince County that bears their name. Ervin grew up on a farm not far from an estuary that empties into the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and his family’s yearly round of activities – gathering cranberries and marsh hay, smelting, eel fishing, and so on – was strongly affected by this proximity.

There was no fiddling in the immediate family, but his household was musical and his father was an avid step-dancer. When Ervin was young, square dancing at house parties,weddings, and benefit dances was the area’s primary leisure activity. Two of the fiddlers who played many of these events were Lenie Bolger and Elmer Robinson. Robinson not only played at Rafferty’s own wedding in 1946, but he also played at the latter’s 40th and 50th anniversaries. Rafferty notes that just after the war, so many weddings took place that young couples had trouble lining up fiddlers to play for them.

Rafferty learned to play in his mid-20s, after he came home from the Second World War. Although local interest in square dancing had declined substantially after the War, he often played at music parties and benefit concerts. He developed a shoulder problem not long before his recording session that made it difficult for him to play without pain; that did not stop him, however, from getting together regularly with other musicians to help entertain at local Senior’s Citizens Homes. Ken’s Tune is his own composition.

Tune Selections

Rafferty, Ervin - Ken's Tune Accompanied by:
West Prince
Rafferty, Ervin - Liberty Two-Step Accompanied by:
West Prince

Oral Histories

Basket socials Auctioned a basket of food, had a card game and then a dance info and transcript
Farm chores along the Foxley River Gathering marsh hay for winter cattle feed; gathering cranberries and winter wood; smelting and eel fishing info and transcript
His neighbors lose interest in traditions House parties started to decline after the war; the mood of the younger people was different after the war info and transcript
Rafferty, Ervin - House parties around Rafferty Road Especially in the winter, Christmas: cards, lunch, music info and transcript
Raffertys come to PEI His family came from Ireland and settled in a cabin on the Foxley River info and transcript
Rafferty’s wedding Elmer Robinson was most renowned fiddler in the region; you had to get your fiddler lined up well ahead of the wedding; there was a particular shortage of fiddlers after WWII when everyone wanted to marry at once; picking up Robinson with a sleigh in the winter info and transcript