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Source: University College of Cape Breton

Sounds of Preserving Culture Loud and Clear

October 11, 2006

Sounds of
Preserving Culture Loud and Clear
Celebration Today for New Centre for Cape Breton Studies

(Sydney, NS) – Today, the new Centre for Cape Breton Studies and the quest
to preserve cultural traditions for future generations took centre stage.
The $500k, 3,300 square foot facility, located at Cape Breton University, is
the only one of its kind in Atlantic Canada. The facility encompasses a
state-of-the-art performance room, digitization lab, seminar and research
space and the aspirations of current and future young scholars.

A special collection from Celtic music Godfather John Allan Cameron is even
part of the mix.

The celebration, entitled ‘Sustaining Tradition’, signaled a milestone for
Tier 1 Canada Research Chair, Dr. Richard MacKinnon. His passion is
intangible cultural heritage - a term often referred to as "living cultural
heritage". Today, culture and tradition through music, word and spirit
certainly came alive at Cape Breton University.

"We are excited to share this Centre and our love of culture and Cape Breton
with others," notes Dr. Richard MacKinnon. "Not only will our work and our
resources reach into our community but also extend into national and
international arenas through visiting scholars, research, workshops, and
programs of study including our new offering in Ethnomusicology."

Invited guests viewed the close-to-completion Centre and were treated to
musical performances by Tony Aucoin of the Men of the Deeps Chorale, Gaelic
singer Neil MacPhee, fiddlers Kyle MacNeil, Stan Chapman, Carl MacKenzie and
pianist Doug MacPhee and visiting scholar in residence Dr. Margaret Bennett
of Scotland. She is at Cape Breton University as part of the Celtic
Colours/Cape Breton Lecture Series. A group of 27 mixed media portraits of
Cape Breton Gaels called the Finlay Walker Memorial Collection were part of
the cultural tour. The portraits were painted by Sydney native Ellison

Community partnership played an important role in the Centre’s fruition,
especially in the establishment of the music performance room within the
centre itself. As a 100th Anniversary Project celebrating Rotary
International, The Rotary Club of Sydney donated $25,000 and through a
formal application process and support from Enterprise Cape Breton Centre
raised the overall project contribution value to $75,000

"To see the Rotary Club of Sydney’s contribution come to life today at Cape
Breton University is very special to our members," said Dr. Lynn Ellis,
President, Rotary Club of Sydney. "Connecting with the community through
music and the works of the Centre for Cape Breton Studies is something that
will last a lifetime."

The state-of-the-art Rotary Music Performance Room will constitute a
research facility for the study of performance of intangible cultural
heritage, including performances of oral narrative, theatre, and dance, but
with a special emphasis on music. When combined with Cape Breton University
programming, it will provide students and researchers with a unique and
enriching way to understand Cape Breton’s distinctive music traditions.

The multi-functional space will record music and other performances for both
research and archival purposes; playback audiovisual recordings in a
sound-proofed, high-quality acoustical space for the analysis of sound,
movement, and other aspects of performance; serve as a community rehearsal
and performance venue; and provide an appropriate venue for disseminating
research to the local, national and international communities.

Numerous partners funded the overall Centre including the Canada Research
Chair Secretariat; Canada Foundation for Innovation; Canadian Foundation for
Innovation Leader’s Opportunity Fund; and Nova Scotia Research Innovation
Trust Fund.

Exciting additions to the Centre include the newly acquired John Allan
Cameron Papers collection and a Baby Grand Piano.

The Beaton Institute – a close partner of the Centre – received the special
papers collection recently from the Cameron family. This collection adds to
the Beaton Institute’s growing Canadian Celtic Music Collection and
reaffirms its position as a leading institute in sustaining tradition. The
collection consists of a variety of materials such as diaries,
correspondence, news clippings, concert programs, promotional materials and
awards from the beginning of John Allan’s career until the present. Of note
are Cameron’s yearly planners which list his performances and song lyrics,
all in his own hand. Today was the first time the collection was on display

The MacCoy family of Sydney, NS were acknowledged for their donation to the
Centre -- a 75 year-old Baby Grand Piano (Heintzmen) -- in memory of their
parents W. Ritchie and Hazel. When the family became aware of the Centre
they felt the sounds of this family treasure would live on through student
works and special performances.

Under the guidance of Dr. Richard MacKinnon and his team, the Centre will
also grow the program offerings including the Folklore and Ethnomusicology
programs, and encourage and support research on or about Cape Breton Island.

"I commend Dr. Richard MacKinnon, his team, our university and our partners
for making the Centre for Cape Breton Studies a reality," said President
John Harker. "Today we continue to recognize culture and heritage as a major
pillar of the university’s commitment to teaching and research as well as
community service."

MacKinnon is also Managing Editor of the national cultural publication
Material Culture Review, produced by the CBU Press, and is distributed to
more than 250 universities, research institutes, museums and libraries in 30

The partnership between Celtic Colours International Festival and CBU was
also acknowledged. Ten years worth of Celtic Colours music is being archived
and will be housed at the university – a priceless collection that will draw
national and international researchers and fans alike.

Today’s celebration is part of a series of events designed to celebrate
‘Culture and Community’. Visit


Kelly Rose
Communications Officer
Tel: (902) 563-1638

Dr. Richard MacKinnon
Tier 1 Canada Research Chair
Tel: (902) 563-1284

Did you know?

· Cape Breton Island is the only area in the world, outside Britain and
Brittany, to retain a Celtic community with its own language and traditions

· Cape Breton University is the only Maritime university to offer a program
in Folklore, and one of only a small handful of Canadian universities to do

· Intangible cultural heritage encompasses folklore, oral traditions,
performing arts, social practices, rituals and craftsmanship. With
significant economic changes in communities throughout the world, there are
many cultural traditions that are now endangered. Dr. MacKinnon’s work will
record, study and preserve these for future generations. This research will
aim to lead to publications and inventories of such endangered traditions
and the development of new media tools and policies for safe guarding a rich
cultural heritage.

· Cape Breton University offers a Major in Folklore, Minors in both Folklore
and Ethnomusicology, and Certificates in both Ethnomusicology and Heritage
and Culture

· Cape Breton University offers one of the few opportunities to take a Minor
in Ethnomusicology anywhere in Canada



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