John Allan Cameron
Member of the Order of Canada


Dec. 16, 1938 - Nov. 22, 2006



The Canadian "godfather of Celtic music," singer/guitarist/songwriter John Allan Cameron, died on Wednesday, November 22 at the Centenary Hospital in Scarborough, Ontario following a five-year battle with cancer. He was 67. He is survived by his son, celebrated guitarist Stuart Cameron, and wife Angela. "It was his time and he was a fighter and he never wanted to give up," says Stuart. "He lived life to its fullest."

The funeral was held on Monday, November 27 at St. Isaac Jogues Catholic Church in Pickering, Ontario.

Cameron's vitality remembered at musical funeral

PICKERING -- An emotional yet uplifting funeral for Cape Breton musician John Allan Cameron began with the mournful strains of a bagpipe but ended with the spirited cheer of a fiddle as friends, family and fans clapped their hands and shouted to Lord of the Dance.

The lively outburst followed a traditional Roman Catholic ceremony yesterday in which Cameron's widow Angela wept as she followed his casket into the church, and son Stuart fought back tears as he neared the end of a brief eulogy.

Rev. Leo Campbell told more than 500 people gathered for the ceremony that he will most remember his talented friend for his charm rather than his musicianship.

"It was the personality, it was the joy, it was the life and the vitality," said Campbell.

Cameron was one of the first to take reels and jigs of his home to the international stage. He died last week of bone marrow cancer and leukemia. He was 67.

Notables who paid their respects were rocker Tom Cochrane, Blue Rodeo's Greg Keelor and Walter Gretzky.

East Coast singers Damhnait Doyle and Tara Maclean sang Amazing Grace. More than a dozen pipers watched from the back of the church.

The Celtic heart beat strong for John Allan Cameron who captivated audiences around the world. His unique blend of music and story telling combined with his quick sense of humour made his performances events that will not soon be forgotten. John Allan Cameron was Celtic when Celtic wasn’t cool. He was a lone voice for the Celtic tradition for decades . . and yet he became and still is a household name in Canada. He introduced a brand of what would become known as Cape Breton music in the 1960s when he started picking traditional Scottish pipe tunes on twelve-string guitar.

On April 13, 2003, John was honoured by his family, friends and fans at the Bow and Arrow in Toronto, in celebration of his induction into the Order of Canada, to be presented to him later this year in Ottawa by the Governor of Canada. John Allan is receiving his OC in recognition of his efforts for over 30 years in establishing and growing the wonderful Celtic music scene in Canada.

Born in Cape Breton in 1938 to a very musical family, he is known as the Godfather of Celtic music in Canada, a mantle he wears with easy grace. He has brought Celtic music to the masses, and blazed a trail of succes for other East Coast artists to follow. He began playing the guitar as a teenager, but moved to Ottawa, Ontario, in 1957, to become a priest. He left and studied education at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, performing around campus with a group called the Cavaliers. After teaching in London, Ontario, he resumed music in 1968, playing traditional Scottish and Irish music at the Newport and Mariposa Folk Festivals.

He signed with Apex soon after and recorded Here Comes John Allan Cameron (1968) and The Minstrel of Cranberry Lane (1969). A contract with Balmur Ltd. produced Get There by Dawn (1972) and Lord of the Dance (1973). Beginning in 1975, Cameron has frequently performed with the Cape Breton Symphony, comprised of accordionist/pianist Bobby Brown and fiddlers Winston Fitzgerald, Wilfred Gillen and John Donald Cameron. Other albums include Weddings, Wakes & Other Things (1976), Fiddle (1978), Freeborn Man (1979), Good Times (1987), Wind Willow (1991) and two volumes of Classic John Allan (1992).

Canadians enjoyed the nationally televised John Allan Cameron Show between 1975 and 1981, and he continues to please audiences with his numerous concerts and albums, including his most recent release Glencoe Station (1997). His lifetime of music and commmitment to the arts render John Allan Cameron a national treasure. He has toured the world and released more than ten albums in a career that’s spanned over thirty years.

"...took over the audience in a way seldom seen in these islands...he proved to be the complete all-round entertainer..he had all the talents. As we know it's not easy to get an Orkney audience to participate, but when this man took over they were joining in without being invited...As the lady said, "it was a magic evening".
The Orcadian - Jan.97.

Since 1985, the Fergus Scottish Festival & Highland Games was honoured to have John Allan Cameron as their Chieftain of the Games. The "John Allan & Friends" tent was where new and budding musicians had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to share the stage with the Godfather of Celtic music in Canada!


Glencoe Station (1997) - "I left Glencoe on a wing and a prayer." says John Allan, whose dedication to the music of Cape legendary. This CD reveals again his love of the island and its people.

11 tracks: Getting Dark Again; The Parlour Session; Saban The Woodfitter; My Cape Breton Shore; Emigrant Eyes; Islanders; The Miner's Song; Roving Gypsy Boy; Heading for Halifax; Evangeline; The Kitchen Session.

From Cape Breton - John Allan Cameron (vocals, guitar) with Natalie MacMaster (fiddle), Ashley MacIsaac (fiddle, stepdancing), J P Cormier (fiddle, mandolin, banjo, guitar), Seumas MacNeil (piano), Tom Roach (drums), Al Bennett (bass), Gordie Samson (guitars), Stewart MacNeill (accordion) and Declan O'Doherty (keyboards).

Pardon my French-Canadian but what a s**t hot song to open an album with! And it seems to get better with each track. Super album and so nice to see a traditional artist coming up with a nice concept and not just stringing a few tracks together. Mike Ganley - Easy-FM

A nicely honed album...John himself proves to be no mean 'bow scraper' and a fine vocalist as well. Needless to say, this album comes highly recommended. Pete Fyfe - Steppin' Out - May,1997.

Lord Of The Dance (1973) Columbia Records. Catalog Number: ELS-383

Tracks: 1. Lord Of The Dance; 2. Trip To Mabou Ridge; 3. Elizabeth Lindsey Meets Ronald MacDonald; 4. Streets Of London; 5. The Patriot Game; 6. I Can't Tell You; 7. Glasgow Police Pipers/Donald Willie And His Dog; 8. Dirty Old Man; 9. Mist Covered Mountains; 10. Robbie's Song For Jesus

Personnel: Aileen Ahern, Brian Ahern, Trish Ahern, Micky Andrews, Bonnie Backlash, Jesse Ann Beaton, Skip Beckwith, Lenny Breau (guitar), Linn Carrol, Cathy Cassel, Andy Cree, Barry Ewen, Paul Grady, Tommy Graham, Ben Keith, Pat Riccio Jr., Bill Speer, Brent Titcomb.

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