About Old Time

A fiddle tune to call our own.

A New Brunswick Tradition

In 2019 The New Brunswick Old Time Fiddle Co. was founded by championship ‘Old Time’ fiddler Stacey Read, to educate, preserve and promote this unique New Brunswick style. 

Under the tutelage of Sackville’s Ivan Hicks since the age of four; three decades later in 2014, Stacey created the group The Lumber Jills with four of her eldest students. The group was formed to encourage the students to practice for a tour of Ireland that year. It would become so much more. A project that has continued and expanded to include the young Junior Jills and Lil’ Jills as they learn and perform ‘Old Time’ far and wide, in the truest form of the genre.

The New Brunswick Old Time Fiddle Co. was created to encompass all the projects that were creating succession in the genre.

In 2019 The Lumber Jills were nominated for a Canadian Folk Music Award and continue to export internationally as the flagship ambassadors for The New Brunswick Old Time Fiddle Co. The Junior Jills and Lil’ Jills perform regionally and locally in their home of Sackville, New Brunswick. They also compete as individuals in fiddling and step dancing competitions.

So what is ‘Old Time’ exactly? How is it different from other styles?

‘Old Time’ or ‘Down East’ fiddling, is a genre deeply rooted in New Brunswick. It is born of the merged fiddle cultures and influences of Acadie and France, Scotland, Ireland and England.

The history of how the fiddle arrived in The Maritimes is vague, but there is documented evidence of Acadian fiddlers at Port Royal in the late 1700s, and an estate sale in Moncton that contained a fiddle in 1812. (source author, Gary Copeland)

From there, the instrument quickly became an important part of our culture and today remains popular with tourists to Atlantic Canada and is synonymous with East Coast culture, celebrations and gatherings.

With a bit of a country swing "feel"; the ‘Old Time’ genre was specifically created for the dancers and dance halls that emerged across the province after WWI.

The style requires a clean playing, less ornamentation than the Celtic style, as well as great speed and technical accuracy. The idea was to keep the dancers on the floor.

The style exploded in popularity in the fifties, as a CBC radio showcased New Brunswick's legendary fiddler Don Messer, who made ‘Old Time’, a household favourite.

At the same time, American radio shows coming up from Maine and Boston, were also reaching homes in New Brunswick and those great cowboy fiddle players were also influencing what would become the New Brunswick trademark fiddling sound.

From the lumber camps to the mines, and across the riverboats and railroads, ‘Old Time’ fiddle music was beloved by New Brunswickers.

The New Brunswick Old Time Fiddle Co. teaches and performs the music of many of our ‘Old Time’ fiddlers that have passed on. We lovingly remember and celebrate Curtis Hicks (Sackville), Ned Landry (Saint John), Matilda Murdoch (Miramichi), Earl Mitton (Fredericton), Don Messer (Tweedside), Johnny Mooring (Springhill) Eloi Leblanc (Memramcook), Etienne Larocque (Cap Bateau), Gerry Robichaud (Saint Paul), Mac Brogan (Chipman).