My father, Stewart Cameron, was born in Scotland in 1947. His parents, Duncan (a native of Scotland) and Muriel (originally from Halifax, Canada) moved to Canada a year later. My father grew up in Ajax, Ontario.
He began showing an artistic streak at an early age. He was known amongst peers and family members as a talented artist. He was invited to paint a mural in the local hospital with his fellow high school students. When he expressed a desire to try his hand as a musician, my grandparents supported him by paying for piano accordion lessons. In his teens, he began making a stab at songwriting, very much in the style of Bob Dylan. He taught himself how to play the guitar and wrote songs that reflected the feelings of youths in the 60s.
Later, he attended University of Toronto studying Fine Arts. As a young man, he produced several paintings, many of which I remember seeing on the walls of our house as I was growing up. But as a young married man and new father, he couldn't depend on making money as a painter. He found work instead as a graphic artist for Sick Children's Hospital in Toronto.
He became involved in singing traditional Scottish music, reaching back to the culture of his birth. He sought out esteemed Scottish balladeers Ewan MacColl and A. L. Lloyd as primary sources for most of his repertoire. He performed at a few clubs in Toronto, singing solo or in duets with Margaret Chrystl. Soon, he was introduced to the up and coming folk sensation - The Friends of Fiddlers Green.
My father performed with the Friends of Fiddler's Green for the better part of a decade. With them, he traveled to festivals and clubs across Canada and the US. At the same time, he developed a reputation as a notable ballad singer, even winning the admiration of Canada's distinguished folklorist, Edith Fowke. Here are a smattering of photos of the Friends from the 70s to early 80s.
It was during this period he began dabbling in the art of storytelling. I recall being told (not read) stories as a small child, but for many years, my father never considered telling them professionally. After meeting Dan Yashinsky, one of the founders of the Toronto School of Storytelling, my father participated regularly at the 1001 Friday Nights of Storytelling club, as well as the annual Toronto Storytelling Festival.
In the mid-80s, my family moved to Sudbury, Ontario. My father immediately began making a name for himself in the region. He performed throughout Northern Ontario as a children's entertainer, a storyteller, and as a member of my family's performing mummer's troupe - Mums the Word. He got involved as an organizer of folk events, starting monthly House Ceilidhs (song circles), hosting house concerts for notable performers like Paddy Tutty and Roy Bailey, and even producing a regular TV show on the local cable channel to promote other local entertainers of all genres. And of course, he helped out as an artistic director for the Sudbury folk festival, Northern Lights Festival Boreal.
In August of 1988, my father performed for the last time at the Sudbury Summer Celtic Festival. He had been diagnosed with cancer earlier that summer. He died in June of 1989, just shy of receiving Festival Boreal's first "Jackie Washington Award". My mother received the award in his name.
My father, sadly, never made a recording. His music only remains as a memory kept alive by both my brother, Duncan, and me.
SONGS: My father sang a variety of ballads and folk songs, from England, Ireland, Scotland, Canada, and the United States. He also sang his own compositions (although he rarely performed them) and those of other esteemed singer-songwriters. Below are the lyrics of two samples of this diverse repertoire.
VIDEOS: My brother, Duncan, has uploaded several clips from Cable television show my father did while we lived in Sudbury, Ontario, to YouTube. Because the original tapes were in such bad shape, some of the videos have poor picture quality, but they still are a wonderful archive of how my father's skill at weaving stories both in story and song. Here are a few links, but to see more, visit Stewart Cameron YouTube Videos:
To contact Moira, firstname.lastname@example.org
Moira Cameron, 4505 Schooldraw Ave, Yellowknife, NT, X1A 2K3, Canada
This page has been updated June 29, 2016