John allan cameron

John allan cameron DEFAULT

John Allan Cameron trained to be a priest but instead became a musical missionary spreading the gospel of Scottish music long before Ashley MacIsaac, Natalie MacMaster (a distant cousin), the Rankin Family and the Barra MacNeils became chart-busting musicians.

"He was the heartbeat of the renaissance of Gaelic music in Cape Breton," said former politician Flora MacDonald, who comes from the same part of the rugged island as Mr. Cameron. "He was the progenitor of all the others who came after. He was the one whom they all looked to, all the rest who have played fiddle and danced -- that was John Allan Cameron," she said.

Called the godfather of Celtic music in Canada, he was as generous as he was fun loving and just as likely to play half the night for free as for money, according to his older brother John Donald Cameron. Flora Macdonald can remember being in Fredericton and attending one of his concerts on her 50th birthday in 1978, when Mr. Cameron and another good friend, the late Richard Hatfield, arranged to have 50 yellow roses delivered to her at her seat in the middle of the performance. And when Ms. MacDonald ran for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party in 1976, Mr. Cameron was the lead entertainer at her delegates party the night before the balloting began.

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Anne Murray, who is on tour in California, said that Mr. Cameron "had a burning desire" to do music. "He had to do it. I know what that passion feels like and he had it, too," she said. "We knew what Celtic music was because it was part of our heritage, but he brought it to the forefront when nobody else was doing it. And he did it so brazenly with the kilt and the Gaelic," she said.

"When he travelled to the East Coast to do concerts or to visit his mother, he always made a point of going across the street to visit my parents," said Raylene Rankin of the family singing group. The families became connected after John Allan and John Donald built a house in the 1960s for their widowed mother in Mabou, right across the street from the Rankins. "He was always very good to us and did whatever he could to get our music out to the public," she said. By taking traditional music and making it contemporary, he influenced "what we ended up doing with our music."

The second of five sons and two daughters of Daniel Cameron, a farmer and fisherman, and his wife, Katie Ann MacDonald, John Allan Cameron was born to the music. He grew up singing the old songs that had come from the Highlands of Scotland with his ancestors five generations earlier, and listening to his uncle, the composer Dan R. (Rory) Macdonald play the fiddle. "He was a hero to me and inspired me to learn music," Mr. Cameron told an interviewer in 2003.

The Camerons didn't own instruments until their father brought home a fiddle at Easter in 1951. His mother, a fluent Gaelic speaker, tuned it up and John Donald, the eldest child, quickly taught himself to play. The next year, Mr. Cameron came home with a guitar and John Allan (always pronounced as a single word) glommed onto it. The two boys, who were a year apart in age, were playing the fiddle and the guitar at local dances by the time John Allan was 12. By 1955, he had saved enough money to buy himself a Gibson.

Nobody knows precisely why John Allan decided to become a priest, but his older brother says that it was probably partly because John Allan "had it within himself to help people" and partly because "priests had a lot of respect" at that time in the rural community where they lived. "In Cape Breton when my dad was growing up it was either the fiddle player or the priest who held court," his son Stuart Cameron said yesterday. "They were the important people in the community, but I always say that I'm glad he got out of the priesthood."

Mr. Cameron entered an Oblate Seminary in Ottawa to study for the priesthood when he was 17. He stayed for seven years and took his final vows of poverty, chastity and obedience in 1963. His passion to make music was at least as strong as his religious vocation, so he applied for, and received, a handwritten note from the Vatican giving him papal dispensation to allow him to perform music outside the church. Even so, he decided against being ordained and joked to his classmates that "I'll be a father before you are."

The following year he went to St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S., to complete his bachelor's degree. By that time he had become well known locally as a performer. One of his professors at SFX had given him a 12-string guitar, which he loved because of its versatility in allowing him to play bagpipe and fiddle arrangements. He also joined a folk group called the Cavaliers, which played in coffee houses in Antigonish. From SFX, he went to Dalhousie University in Halifax to acquire his teaching credentials in 1967 and he continued to perform, appearing a few times on Don Messer's Jubilee on CBC television and doing guest spots on Singalong Jubilee, its summer replacement. That's where he met Anne Murray, who was a regular on the show.

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"He and Edith Butler and I all ended up on Singalong the same year," she recalled. "I was so taken by the fact that he actually wore a kilt and he played the 12-string guitar. I had never known anybody who played the 12-string guitar."

Ms. Murray said he "used to speak fluent Latin to us and there were enough of us Catholics who did the mass in Latin, that we had a great time." Later, the two Maritimers often appeared on the same concert stage. "As an opening act, believe me, he always had the audience warm by the time I got out there," she said.

Mr. Cameron moved to Ontario to take up a teaching position at London Central High School in 1968, when he got a call from the CBC offering him the chance of regular work. He said later that he had "a 1964 Pontiac and $75 in the bank," enough money to pay for gas to get him back to the Maritimes.

He released Here Comes . . . John Allan Cameron, the first of his 10 albums in 1968. About this time, he met Angela Broley. She was visiting her grandmother's people in Big Pond, N.S., while there to perform. They married in 1969. Their son Stuart was born on Sept. 28, 1972, between the first and second periods of the final game of the Russia-Canada hockey series, or so the family story goes.

Mr. Cameron, who was a passionate hockey fan, was allegedly torn between the game and the urgency of his wife's labour pains. Wisely, he opted to go to the hospital, but became so "weak" that a nurse gave him a pill and sent him home, according to his older brother. "My father's love of music was equalled by his love of sports," said his son Stuart, who is also a musician and who began playing with his father when he was four.

Although he was mainly a concert performer and a recording artist -- his credits include the Mariposa and Winnipeg Folk festivals and an appearance at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville -- he also hosted such TV programs as The Ceilidh Show broadcast from the CBC in Halifax in 1973, TheJohn Allan Cameron Show that aired on CTV from 1975 to 1976, and The John Allan Cameron Show, out of Halifax, that was broadcast by CBC from 1979 to 1981. He also produced and performed shows at Canadian military bases in Germany and the Middle East.

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He was diagnosed with bone-marrow cancer, a rare form of leukemia, in January of 2005. "He hadn't been really feeling that well for over a year," his wife Angela told the Halifax Chronicle at the time. They had trouble getting an accurate diagnosis until finally a doctor, who was a friend of the family and therefore could see how Mr. Cameron was failing, insisted on doing more tests. At least two musical tributes were held to help raise money for his medical expenses. There is also a documentary in the works, Celtic Soul: The Life and Music of John Allan Cameron, which is scheduled to air on Bravo early in the new year.

Although Mr. Cameron made an appearance in a wheelchair at a benefit this past autumn, he had been in the hospital for the past 13 months. "My mother was there every single day with him," said Stuart Cameron, who was also a faithful visitor and who was with his father yesterday morning when he "passed very peacefully."

John Allan Cameron was born

on Dec. 16, 1938, in Glencoe

Station, Inverness County, N.S.

He died of bone-marrow cancer

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and leukemia in hospital in

Toronto on Wednesday, Nov. 22,

2006. He is survived by his wife,

Angela, his son, Stuart, six

siblings and his extended family.

The funeral is Monday at 10:30

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a.m. at St. Isaac Jogues Catholic

Church in Pickering, Ont.


John Allan Cameron

Canadian musician

Musical artist

John Allan Cameron, CM (16 December 1938 – 22 November 2006) was a Canadianfolk singer, "The Godfather of Celtic Music" in Canada.[1] Noted for performing traditional music on his twelve string guitar, he released his first album in 1969. He released 10 albums during his lifetime and was featured on national television. He was a recipient of the East Coast Music Award's Lifetime Achievement Award and the Order of Canada, conferred in 2003.[2]


Cameron was born in Inverness County, Nova Scotia[3][4] to Dan L. Cameron and Catherine Anne (Katie Anne) MacDonald. Katie Anne (1914–1983) was the only sibling of renowned Cape Breton fiddler and composer Dan Rory MacDonald. In 1957 John Allan moved to Ottawa, Ontario where he studied to be a Roman Catholicpriest through the Order of the Oblate Fathers. In 1964, a few months before ordination, Cameron obtained a dispensation from the church to pursue studies in education at St. Francis Xavier University, and eventually a career in music.[4][5]

He was a regular on Singalong Jubilee in the 1960s and he was later host of two Canadian television series. The first was the Montreal-produced John Allan Cameron on CTV from 1975 to 1976.[6] Guests included Stan Rogers, Edith Butler, The Good Brothers, Stringband, Colleen Peterson, Adam Mitchell, Michael Cooney, Shirley Eikhard, Liam Clancy, Tommy Makem, Nancy White, Steve Goodman, and Rhythm Pals. Cameron would return to national television on CBC with the Halifax-produced The John Allan Cameron Show which ran from 1979 to 1981.[4][7] He was also a guest star on Sharon, Lois & Bram's The Elephant Show in 1986. John Allan Cameron also was the host of Super Variety Tonight, a CBC television special that aired on Sunday, April 4, 1982 featuring several guests including Sharon, Lois & Bram.

Besides his numerous television and concert appearances, he performed at the Grand Ole Opry in 1970.[4]

In January 2005, Cameron was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome. Several benefit projects such as concerts and a tribute CD were produced to support costs resulting from his treatment of this cancer.[3]

On 22 November 2006, Cameron died in Toronto.[8]

Cameron's son, Stuart Cameron is also an accomplished musician.



Year Album CAN
1969 Here Comes John Allan Cameron
1969 The Minstrel of Cranberry Lane
1972 Get There by Dawn75
1972 Lord of the Dance
1976 Weddings, Wakes and Other Things78
1978 Fiddle
1979 Freeborn Man(reissued in 1991 as Classic John Allan Vol. 1)
1981 Song For The Mira
1987 Good Times
1991 Wind Willow
1996 Glencoe Station


Year Album
1982 The Best of John Allan Cameron
1992 Classic John Allan, vol 2
1996 Classic John Allan, vol 3


Year Single Chart Positions Album
1972 "Streets of London" 4 single only
"Get There by Dawn" 11 Get There by Dawn
1973 "I Can't Tell You" 28 Lord of the Dance
1976 "Tie Me Down" 33 Weddings, Wakes and Other Things
1982 "Overnight Success" 15 single only
1996 "Getting Dark Again" Glencoe Station


External links[edit]

  1. Danganronpa death sound
  2. Minecraft mob spawning
  3. 5 tier corner bookcase
  4. Uefi mode

Here Comes John Allan Cameron

1969 studio album by John Allan Cameron

Here Comes John Allan Cameron is the debut album from Canadian singer/songwriter John Allan Cameron. It was recorded at the RCA recording studios in Montreal, Quebec, using the same studio John Lennon used to record Give Peace A Chance. The album is notable as being the first professional multi-track recording by a Cape Breton artist. The album helped launch Cameron's career abroad, leading to performances at the Newport Folk Festival and Mariposa Folk Festival.[1]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "There Was An Old Woman From Mabou"
  2. "The Banks Of Sicily"
  3. "Air Fal Al Al O"
  4. "Medley - Scots Guards Farewell to South Africa, Macneil of Ugadale, Bonawe Highlanders"
  5. "Medley - Mrs Hamilton Of Pencaitland, Jean MacKenzie, The Mabou Jig, Mrs Ronald MacDonald"
  6. "The Four Marys"
  7. "Medley - Ballindalloch Castle, The Atholl Highlanders, Farewell To The Creeks"
  8. "Medley - Fear An Dhuin Mhois, Null Thar Nan Eileanan, Sleepy Maggie"
  9. "Medley - Lamentation for James Moray of Abercarney, Dr. MacDonald's Compliments to Mr. James Scott Skinner, Joe MacInnis"
  10. "Peggy Gordon"
  11. "I Am A Little Beggarman"


  • John Allan Cameron - Vocals, guitars and step dancing
  • Jessie Cameron - Piano and celeste
  • John Donald Cameron - Fiddle
  • Freddie McKenna - Bass
  • Donald Gordon - Gaelic vocals on "Air Fal Al Al O"


The album was re-mastered in 2012 using the original multi-track session tapes, because the original stereo master could not be found. The re-issue includes a 28-page booklet, featuring the original liner notes and artwork, along with additional photos and writings.[1]

  • Richard L. Hess - Tape Transfers
  • Paul MacDonald - Audio Restoration
  • Stuart Cameron, Allie Bennett, Paul MacDonald - Editing
  • Jamie Foulds, Soundpark Studios - Mixing and Mastering
  • Stephen MacDonald - Project Director
  • Stuart Cameron - Executive Producer
  • Paul MacDonald - Research and Liner Notes


John Allan Cameron - Tie Me Down (1991)

John Allan Cameron was born in 1938 in Canada and came from a very musical family. 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 and Lord of the Dance in 1972 and 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. His 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). ~ John Bush


Cameron john allan

Fifty years after his debut album, Cape Breton artist John Allan Cameron still credited for paving the way for East Coast musicians

SYDNEY, N.S. — Here Comes John Allan Cameron

It’s an iconic image that haunts you when you think about the late John Allan Cameron.

Here Comes John Allan Cameron

It comes from the cover of his first album. It shows the man often described as the godfather of Celtic music smiling as he stands among the weeds, clad in a kilt, armed with his trusty 12-string guitar.

Fifty years ago, John Allan unleashed that album, “Here Comes John Allan Cameron,” onto an unsuspecting world. It would be the first multi-track recording done by a Cape Bretoner and it was recorded in the fall of 1968 in Montreal.

Little did John Allan know then that he would help popularize an entire genre of music devoted to Celtic songs and tunes familiar to this region and that he would inspire hundreds, if not thousands, to follow in his footsteps.

Or maybe he did.

Maybe that’s why he’s got that big grin on his face.

The Minstrel of Cranberry Lane

“We wore that album out.”

Heather Rankin knows a thing or two about Celtic music in Cape Breton. A member of the Rankin Family and now an established solo act, she’s been singing professionally for her entire adult life and has toured around the world many times. She’s just returned from an Asian tour, performing in Indonesia and Malaysia. She credits being able to do all that to John Allan. 

The Minstrel of Cranberry Lane was one of Cameron’s 10 albums.

“When he had a record, it was unheard of to be able to record a record,” says Rankin. “He was somebody who was so proud of his culture and the music that came out of where he grew up and he wore it, he literally wore his culture. I don’t think we realized it at the time but, looking back, he was definitely a huge influence.”

When she was growing up in Mabou as a child, the Rankins lived across the street from John Allan’s mother. Rankin remembers sneaking over to watch “The Edge of Night,” a popular soap opera at the time, on a floor model colour TV that the singer had bought for his mom.

Rankin says she realizes now just how great a contribution John Allan made, at a time when it was nearly impossible for a local musician to receive international recognition.

“He made us realize that we could sing our music even though it may have been considered regional music - that it had a market outside us, our community. It even made us realize that we could eventually make a record if we really wanted.

“If John Allan could come out of Glencoe Station and come from nothing and go and make a living doing his music, maybe we could too.

“He was a superstar in our eyes for sure.”

Get There By Dawn

John Allan was born Dec. 16, 1938, in Glencoe Station, Inverness County. He was the second of five sons and two daughters of Daniel Cameron and his wife Katie Ann MacDonald.

His father was a farmer and a fisherman and his mother spoke Gaelic fluently. His uncle was the noted composer Dan R. (Rory) Macdonald but the family didn’t own any instruments until the father came home with a fiddle in 1951. Brother John Donald taught himself how to play and eventually became known as one of the great Cape Breton fiddlers. John Allan (usually pronounced as one word, “JnAlln”) grabbed the guitar when his father arrived home with one a year later. The two brothers were soon playing as a fiddle and guitar duo at the local dances. By 1955, John Allan had managed to save enough money to buy himself a Gibson, a better quality instrument.

When he was 17, John Allan headed to Ottawa where he entered an Oblate Seminary to study for the priesthood. He remained there for seven years and had even taken his vows of poverty, chastity and obedience in 1963.

But his love of music had never left him. He received a special dispensation from the Vatican so he could perform music outside of the church. But just months before he was to be ordained, he decided against becoming a priest.

About the Artist
WHO: John Allan Cameron
BORN: Dec.16, 1938 in Glencoe Station, Inverness County
LIVED: Ontario
FAMILY: Wife Angela and son Stuart.
DIED: Nov. 22, 2006 in Toronto
SPECIAL NOTES: Recipient of the Order of Canada in 2003 and the East Coast Music Award’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Performed on the Grand Ole Opry in 1970.

He went to St. Francis Xavier University to complete his bachelor’s degree and there, he received a 12-string guitar that would become his signature instrument. It allowed him more freedom in playing bagpipe and fiddle music, something that would be showcased on that first album. Many believe he was the first to do that on guitar.

“He was so original because he took traditional Scottish tunes and music that would have been written in Cape Breton and he played it on the 12-string guitar and I don’t know of anyone else who was doing that,” says Heather Rankin. “He was a real trailblazer.”

Before the album came out, John Allan went to Dalhousie University for his teaching degree. Along the way, he performed regularly in coffee houses and even appeared a few times on Don Messer’s Jubilee and Singalong Jubilee.

John Allan moved to London, Ontario in 1968 to teach at London Central High School but CBC soon called, offering regular work and the opportunity to keep performing. With more gigs lined up, John Allan began thinking that having an album might not be such a bad idea.

He was becoming better known. He was a good guitarist and he had a distinctive voice that set him apart. And there was something else, something more about John Allan that was apparent to everyone who ever saw him perform.

“First and foremost he was an entertainer,” remembers singer and multi-instrumentalist Allie Bennett, a Sydney Mines native who now lives in Dartmouth. “He would be the first person to tell you he wasn’t the world’s greatest singer but he could sing on pitch and he had his own style.”

Style, he had. The moment he opened his mouth, you knew it was John Allan. You also knew he wasn’t going to blend into the background anywhere.

“He had the music, he had the talent, he had the charisma, he was developing the audience, but he had nothing to sell, nothing for the people to bring home,” says Cape Breton Post music columnist Dan MacDonald, who knew John Allan well and was his agent for three years.

““Here Comes John Allan Cameron” solved that problem. When it came out, the LP was a staple in almost every home around.” 

John Allan Cameron

Recorded in a single day, “Here Comes John Allan Cameron” featured folk tunes, instrumentals and Gaelic songs – not exactly chart-topping stuff. But it was a hit at home. Cape Bretoners couldn’t get enough of it and the rest of Canada soon followed.

“I seem to remember as a kid seeing more “Here Comes John Allan” albums than Beatles albums in living rooms across Cape Breton,” says Stewart MacNeil of the Barra MacNeils. “He caught on like wildfire with that album because it had all the elements of a good house party including sing along songs, fiddle music, puirt a beul and a bit of goofiness. He was an entertainer from the old school who used all his talents instead of focusing on just one thing.

“The album really set the tone for his exceptional career.”

Freeborn Man

“My father’s biggest fear was that people were going to forget him.”

Even though it’s a phone interview, you can imagine guitarist and producer Stuart Cameron smiling at his father’s unfounded concern. After all, to this day, the elder Cameron remains a beloved figure in Canadian music.

“So now it’s been 12 and a half years that he’s been gone and I still on average … every two weeks on Facebook, I’ll get a call or a message from somebody telling me stories about my father. They share it and it’s beautiful. It’s absolutely wonderful.” 

John Allan Cameron shares a tender moment with his son Stuart when he was away from the road.

Stuart had just finished a rigorous 10 day-10 concert tour through the American South with the Crash Test Dummies, a band his father had introduced to him when he was a child.

“I remember my father driving me to school after he was away at the Winnipeg Folk Festival – he was driving me to school on a Monday morning – he said I want you to listen to this band – this guy’s voice is really interesting. It was the first recording of “Superman’s Song” – it was the initial recording of it before even their first record. And it was on the B side of this white cassette. It was a compilation of a bunch of artists who were playing at the Winnipeg Folk Festival and the Crash Test Dummies happened to be one of them. He actually introduced me to the band.”

Ironically, John Allan’s last recording in a recording studio was on a Crash Test Dummies song that Stuart produced back in 2003. Not surprisingly, being back with the band on the road unleashed a flood of memories for Stuart.

“He's been on my mind like crazy the past week. I had to stop myself from telling so many stories.”

Although he was born three years after its release, Stuart knows much of the lore surrounding the album.

“He had no idea you could go back and hear the playback,” says Stuart. “So the first time that he heard the record was when it was released. And there are mistakes all over the place on that thing. But his manager at the time was too cheap to buy new reel-to-reel tapes so they just used “used” tapes.

“Interestingly enough, the four-track machine that the record was recorded on was the exact same machine that recorded John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s “Give Peace A Chance.”

“And it was recorded live off the floor, one take, bam! Pretty amazing.”

Pretty amazing indeed.

Lord of the Dance

The album opens with “There Was An Old Woman From Mabou,” a lively takeoff of the Irish folk tune, “The Old Woman of Wexford.” It’s a ditty about a marriage gone sour, a seemingly odd choice for someone fresh out of the priesthood to select as the first song on his first album.

There was an old woman from Mabou,

In Mabou she did well

She loved her husband dearly,

But another man twice as well

With me right fol lid-der-al ar-yl,

And me right fol low-rel le.e

But musically it worked, thanks to John Allan’s lilt. Picking the best music for his distinctive voice was a knack that he had, says Allie Bennett, who began playing with John Allan when he was 13-years-old.

John Allan Cameron performed often in the early days of the Celtic Colours International Festival, usually with his son Stuart, left, and long-time friend and associate Allie Bennett, left.

“He had a tremendous ability to search out song material that was suitable for him,” says Bennett. “He was the first person to introduce John Prine’s music to Canada by recording a couple of his songs. He was also the very first person to record “Song For The Mira.””

Bennett says John Allan was proud of his roots and refused to bow to those who might try to diminish East Coast culture.

“The biggest thing I learned from him is to, whatever you’re doing, just do it to the best of your ability,” said Bennett. “Another key thing I learned from him is to never apologize onstage. He was always very proud of his roots and proud of his music.”

Weddings, Wakes and Other Things

For John Allan, it was about the music, but it was also about family and giving back to others.

In the late 1960s, John Allan met his wife Angela at the Big Pond outdoor concert.

“My cousin and I were serving the tea in the tent … and he asked me to ‘save me a square set’ because we had a dance afterwards. And I did and I’m glad that I did,” she said in a phone interview from her home in Ajax, Ontario.

Known as Lala to her Cape Breton family and friends, the Sydney native married John Allan in Scarborough, Ontario in 1969, where she was living at the time. He was the ideal husband, she says.

“He was very kind and generous and he was like that our whole married life,” she said. “He just loved to share his music with everyone ... I think that was kind of automatic. He was a trailblazer.”

Son Stuart was born in 1972 and he soon followed in his father’s footsteps, often performing with his father on stage. According to Lala, there was never a doubt that their son would become a musician.

“I think that was kind of automatic.”

John Allan died in 2006 of bone marrow cancer, a type of leukemia, at the age of 67. Lala, 69, is sure John Allan would still be performing today if he had lived.

“He would have been 80 in December which would have been hard to believe,” she said. “I’m sure he would have been playing his music and doing everything the same.”

Good Times

Stuart remembers his father often leaving to go on the road, even at Christmas. Yet he has no resentment about his father not being at home all the time.

“There were a couple of Christmases that he travelled to the Middle East to perform for the troops and he would sit me down and explain to me why he wasn’t going to be around for Christmas that year and talk to me like an adult. He said, look, all of these men and women are giving up being with their families for Christmas. They’re making a sacrifice and life is about charity and giving back. So what your father is doing is bringing a little bit of joy and Christmas to people that may not enjoy it because they’re missing their loved ones.” 

John Allan Cameron is shown in a formal family portrait with son Stuart, centre and wife Angela. CONTRIBUTED FROM ANGELA CAMERON

The fact his father took the time to explain the importance of what he was doing and how it was helping others meant a lot to the young child. John Allan asked his son to take care of his mother when he was away, something that he’s never forgotten.

“I still talk to my mother every single day – it was his dying wish that I would take care of my mother – that she would be taken care of and he gave me that when I was a kid.”

Mother and son remain close to this very day.

Glencoe Station

In a career that spanned about 40 years, John Allan recorded 11 albums and three compilations, hosted his own television variety shows, became a member of the Order of Canada in 2003 and performed at the Grand Old Opry. He played for the troops, performed in Las Vegas (and yes, he wore a kilt) and had recording contracts in the U.S. Yet, despite the fame, he never lost his downhome touch, says MacDonald.

“And through it all, he was just someone from Glencoe Station, someone who opened doors, smashed down barriers, and opened the eyes of so many,” said Dan MacDonald. “The Cape Breton Celtic Culture, something that was looked down upon by so many, was suddenly popular.”

Songs on the original recording, “Here Comes John Allan Cameron”

  • 1. There Was An Old Woman From Mabou 
  • 2. Banks Of Sicily 
  • 3. Air Fal Al Al O 
  • 4. Medley - Scots Guards Farewell to South Africa, MacNeil of Ugadale, Bonawe Highlanders (Instrumental)
  • 5. Betsy Go Home
  • 6. Medley – Mrs. Hamilton Of Pencaitland, Jean MacKenzie, The Mabou Jig, Ronald MacDonald’s Reel (Instrumental)
  • 7. The Four Marys 
  • 8. Medley – Ballin Dallach Castle, The Athole Highlanders, Farewell To The Creeks 
  • 9. Medley - Fear An Duin Mhois, Null Thar Nan Eileanan 
  • 10. Medley – Neil Gow’s Lamentation for James Moray ESQ. of Abercarney, Gromonie Castle, Joe MacInnis Reel (Instrumental)
  • 11. Peggy Gordon 
  • 12. I Am A Little Beggarman 

Other musicians on the recording:

  • On piano - John Allan’s sister Jessie
  • On fiddle - John Allan’s brother John Donald
  • On bass - Freddie McKenna, one of the stars of “Sing Along Jubilee” 
  • Heard on “Air Fal Al Al O,” Mr. Donald Gordon of Antigonish, N.S., a longtime friend of John Allan’s. 
  • Produced by Marvin Burke at RCA Recording Studios, Montreal - Apex Records - 1969
  • Photo - Wambolt-Waterfield Photography

“Here Comes John Allan Cameron” is the album most East Coast musicians cite as a powerful influencer over the past five decades of East Coast music and there’s little doubt why. Fiddler Natalie MacMaster, a relative of John Allan, still listens to the album regularly and says “Banks of Sicily” is one of her favourite cuts. 

Natalie MacMaster

“It sounds really patriotic. It’s that time signature, it’s in three so you feel like raising your fist in the air and charging forward in whatever it is that I’m doing,” said MacMaster from her home in Ontario.

She’s used the album to get songs for her six children to sing. MacMaster’s children with her husband, fellow fiddler Donnell Leahy are budding performers who have appeared on stages across North America with their parents.

“John Allan is a good person to listen to,” she says. “John Allan did all sorts of things that paved the way. He was fun. He was always cheerful and upbeat - a real musician in that he carried an air of a child-like nature with him.”

Now she’s passing on his music on to her children, keeping it alive for another generation of performers.

“Great musicians usually have a lighthearted childlike way to them - and John Allan was absolutely that. He was just lighthearted about life and he pulled that out of other people through humour and his personality - he was so spirited.”

John Allan Cameron’s Discography

  • 1969 – Here Comes John Allan Cameron
  • 1969 – The Minstrel of Cranberry Lane
  • 1972 – Get There By Dawn
  • 1972 – Lord of The Dance
  • 1976 – Weddings, Wakes and Other Things
  • 1978 – Fiddle
  • 1979 – Freeborn Man
  • 1981 – Song For The Mira
  • 1982 – The Best of John Allan Cameron
  • 1987 – Good Times
  • 1991 – Wind Willow
  • 1992 – Classic John Allan, Vol 1-2
  • 1996 – Classic John Allan, Vol 3
  • 1996 – Glencoe Station

Fred Lavery who runs Lakewind Studio in Point Aconi remembers a man who liked to help younger musicians. At one time John Allan had a record company called Glencoe Records and he offered Lavery and his band at the time, Road, a record deal.

“We had Paul Mills, Stan Roger’s producer, produce the album along with the now famous Daniel Lanois as engineer at his studio in Hamilton, Ontario,” says Lavery. “It was an amazing opportunity for me and it really took my career to the next level.”

John Allan Cameron is shown performing at the Mariposa Folk Festival in 1969.

Eventually, Lavery and Road began working with John Allan as his band and got to meet many of this country’s top performers and up-and-coming artists.

“John Allan was a real champion in bringing new talent to light, whether it was up and coming singer songwriters like Stan Rogers or young stars like Natalie MacMaster or Gordie Sampson. One of the many gems I remember him quoting as he introduced a new talent was, “talent does what it can, genius does what it must.” He was a really generous guy and helped a lot of folks along the way. That was important to him.”

Singer songwriter Buddy MacDonald had the good fortune to have one of his songs recorded by John Allan.

“He did record and did a CMT video of “Getting Dark Again” which definitely popularized it,” says MacDonald. “He also performed other songs of mine live and always with such kind praise and credit.”

More importantly to MacDonald, John Allan made him realize he could make a living as an east coast performer.

“He was the first person to make me realize that it was possible to create a job that would support me in doing what I loved to do,” said MacDonald. “(He was) always genuine and fun to share a stage with and always giving of his time to other artists.”

If nothing else, that first album showed that it doesn’t always take a lot of money or polish to make an impression.

simply made recording, done in a day, and using the backing of friends and family, opened the doors for the Rankin Family, The Barra MacNeils, Natalie MacMaster, Ashley MacIsaac, and so many more,” says Dan MacDonald.

“Here Comes John Allan Cameron” was the basis of so much of the revival of Celtic culture in Cape Breton.

“It should be remembered and honoured.”

John Allan Cameron - Little Beggerman - Canadian TV 1990


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