Harrisville, Lewis County
Cape Breton Heritage Musicians
Three generations of musicians regularly gather at the mobile home of Ethel Fraser in Harrisville to sing and play music that has been in their family for generations. Tracing their roots clearly to Cape Breton – where they still keep a family camp and return each summer to refresh old friendships and their repertoire of tunes – they love the old Scottish and Irish traditions of ancestors who first arrived in Nova Scotia in 1791. When all the family gathers, there are about 12 to 15 who play fiddles, guitars, a banjo, an accordion, autoharp, a tin whistle, and bodhran. While they are often asked to play Irish music (they perform as a family each year for the local church’s St. Patrick’s corned beef and cabbage dinner), they also love the music of their Scottish heritage, which they include in some public performances. Don, the patriarch of the family, died in 2002, but his two sons and four daughters, grandchildren, and in-laws passionately carry on the family musical traditions today.