Buddy MacMaster honoured with fiddle-filled funeral in Cape Breton

Hundreds of people gathered in Cape Breton today to say goodbye to one of Cape Breton's best known and much-loved fiddlers.

MacMaster, born in Timmins, Ont., began recording albums at age 65, after a long rail career ended

Hundreds of people gathered in Cape Breton today to say goodbye to one of Cape Breton's best known and much-loved fiddlers.

Buddy MacMaster died last week at the age of 89.

At St. Andrews Roman Catholic Church in Judique, people remembered MacMaster as a talented player and a gentleman.

“He was generous and extremely kind and he always had something good to say about anybody you were talking to him about,” said fiddler and family friend Glenn Graham.

“He was just a great quiet mentor for all of us as musicians too. Just a perfect example in any regards of how to live your life and how to play your music.”

Fiddlers, including niece Natalie MacMaster, broke into a lively set of tunes as Buddy's funeral drew to a close.

A member of both the Order of Canada and the Order of Nova Scotia, MacMaster was born into a Gaelic-speaking musical family in the northeastern Ontario mining town of Timmins.

His family was originally from Cape Breton and returned when he was a toddler, moving to the town of Judique.

It’s Cape Breton where he’ll stay; MacMaster will be laid to rest in the parish cemetery.

Late career, inspirational musician  

MacMaster began playing the fiddle as a teenager. Although he worked for the railway company for about 45 years, he built a career performing his Cape Breton-style fiddle at concerts, dances, benefits and on CBC-TV shows.

He began recording albums in 1989 — at age 65 — after he retired from his rail career.

MacMaster also earned multiple industry awards and honorary doctorate degrees.

Earlier this year, Folk Alliance International chose MacMaster to receive its Lifetime Achievement Award, joining the likes of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Woodie Guthrie and Canadian Stan Rogers.

The Celtic Music Interpretive Centre, in Judique, says people come from around the world to learn to play like  MacMaster.

with files from the Canadian Press