Friday, November 27, 2009

Musician Mike Hall is trying out the fine instrument at the Centre for Cape Breton Studies Studio where we were permitted to do some work collecting oral histories thanks to Dr. Richard MacKinnon. Photos by Chris MacIsaac.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Celtic Colours 2009

Celtic Colours Festival week means a week filled with visitors to the Centre and to the Archives. Thank you to all the donors who brought in their significant items to be preserved in the archives during this week.

The picture to the right is clipped from a large black and white 8 x 10 that was donated this past fall. There are some interesting notes about this picture. It was taken in Boston, -- or Detroit. Most of those asked stated: Boston. No one could identfy the dance hall, though. Please send us a note at, if you can.

We've been told by a local photographer that the photograph was printed from the reverse side of the negative. The fiddlers stances revealed this to him.

This photo shows a dance figure that I haven't seen done in a while. A couple dances in the centre of each circle of dancers. One person has been identified in the photograph but we'd like to know more. If you have clues to offer, please give us a call.

How much can we learn from a photograph of community events? Quite a bit because family and community history is captured by photographs. If you have photographs, letter, or material that you think should be preserved in an archives please bring them in for assessment.

Virginia, Archivist, CMIC

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Summer Fun

Here are staff from the Celtic Music Interpretive Centre in 2007 on the Parade float, during the Judique-on-the-Floor Festival. We are promoting the Celtic Music Centre, its Archives, and the Buddy MacMaster School of Fiddling. Our organization is community based and reaches out to the extended family of musicians, music fans and students of our traditional music. It's all part of the culture of hospitality that exists on our island.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Community Music: Weddings 2

Duncan M. MacDonald, fiddler at this MacDonald-MacMullin wedding in the 1950s.

Community Music: Weddings

Little Jack MacDonald played at the bride's home in Judique for the MacDonald-Beaton wedding in 1955.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Saltscapes Expo Display

Workshops help to preserve material

Last February and March, Chris MacIsaac, recent graduate of the Centre for Arts and Technology in Halifax, NS, came to the Centre in Judique on Cape Breton Island to give lighting and camera workshops. 

Three technicians and the rest of the interview team were preparing to collect material from musicians for an oral history project.

Over 50 interviews with musicians were recorded and saved on digital format. This will be placed in the CMIC archives. 

The centre hopes to continue to work with video and audio to preserve the music of Cape Breton. Watch soon  for the DVD release of composer and musician, Donald Angus Beaton, His Life and Music, which will be released soon by the Centre.  Watch the on-line store at where it will be listed when it becomes available. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Policies and Housing and Oral History

Some re-housing has been going on at the Archives at the Celtic Music Interpretive Centre during the past month. The archives staff who are working on an oral history project have started to reorganize the material in the climate controlled area by putting it in proper containers and adding proper labeling. This work is being done with funding for supplies and containers provided from the new Provincial Archives Development Program at Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management under the Department of Tourism, Culture, and Heritage and is helping the workers understand the storage needs of certain types of archival material and is allowing them to make space for the components of the Oral History project they’ve been working on for almost a year under a partnership with Service Canada and the Municipality of the County of Inverness. 

Contributing to technical assistance and supplies for the Service Canada Collection project were the community C@P group in Judique and the Inverness County C@P Network Society. 
Both groups provided computer hardware and software that had been placed in the community by Service Canada and Industry Canada to provide training opportunities for ongoing projects using computers, internet, digital cameras, and audio and video digitizing.  Three projects have been supported and twelve adult residents and students  have received specialized training and experience in using the equipment. 

The Oral History interviewers were Andrea Beaton and Kinnon Beaton. Diane Gillis, Angela MacNeil and Andrea Scott were audio-video archives techs who received hands-on training in collecting oral histories from musicians. These were recorded separately in digital audio and video. Though the project is not yet finished so far 53 interviews have been recorded, the audio and video uploaded, digitally stored, backed-up, photographs taken, and interviews transcribed. Throughout it all they’ve been learning to prepare the final material for deposit in the archives where it will be available to be viewed and listened to by the public.
“There are so many more on the list of potential interview subjects that we didn’t get to yet.” says Andrea Scott who was Lead Technician on the project for the past three months. Part of the project was to update the Audio Music Collection Project the county carried out between 1993 and 1996. “That first part has now been digitized.” says Donna MacDonald, Director of Recreation and Tourism for the Municipality of Inverness, “ and last year we progressed to video and this will be accessible for so many to study.”
The project also received help from the Centre for Cape Breton Studies and Dr. Richard MacKinnon. He coached the team in the beginning . With a successful year of collecting, Kinnon Beaton, Director of the Celtic Music Interpretive Centre confirms his wish to continue the project. “The information is so important. We lose so much whenever we lose another musician.” He’s thinking, for one, of John MacDougall from Kenloch who recently passed away. MacDougall was interviewed and was a storehouse of information and very willing to share his knowledge. Soon after, this man, renowned for his prolific composition of tunes, (upward of 30,000) and who instructed many younger fiddlers, succumbed to an illness.
His interview and the other tapes, backup drives, computer discs, and transcriptions, and project records will be deposited at the Celtic Music Interpretive Centre Archives. The archives is special as one of many institutional archives in Nova Scotia. Within the province, archives are encouraged to set preservation management as the guiding light for all archival functions, especially when acquiring materials and making the collections accessible to the public. Taking appropriate care of what donors deposit at the archives is key and with the new PADP funding assistance, the policies at the CMIC archives have been reviewed and rewritten with preservation management in mind. If you’d like more information about what you can do or deposit at the archives call 787-2708 or e-mail

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Introduction to Your Local Archives

What's an archives?

Well we try to preserve original, unique material for as long as possible, hopefully for 500 years. If you are an institutional archives as we are in Judique, you have to follow certain rules 1) to be open to the public, 2) staff have training recognized by the Nova Scotia Council of Archives and 3) have written polices about preservation, collection and providing access to the material.

We are presently renewing our policies and hope to get our list of materials in the Reference Library and Special Collections on-line before long. Our theme is the Celtic Music of Cape Breton Island and we are working to preserve the douments and records pertaining to the music of our people.

If you have an old audio recording of your grandparents who sang songs, made poetry, or played the fiddle or piano; or if you have pictures of people enjoying the music at a wedding, birthday, confirmation or any community event, we'd like to help preserve the pictures and the story they tell.

Our main website is at