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Fowke Tales a toe-tapping history lesson

Storyteller Janet Kellough stars in Fowke Tales with Trinity (Kim Inch, Renie Thompson and Jeanette Arsenault)

Allan Kirby

December 30 – Fowke Tales Revisited at Mount Tabor Playhouse – 7:30 – 10:30 pm in Milford. A toe-tappin’, hand-clappin’ look at Edith Fowke’s search for Ontario folk music starring Allan Kirby, Janet Kellough, Jim Yates and Trinity (Jeanette Arsenault, Kim Inch & Renie Thompson). Sound by Through the Cedars Music. Tickets: Adults $20, Youth (ages 5-12) $10, available at Scott’s Store, Picton; Hicks’ Store, Milford; call 613-476-3988 or email, and at the door!

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SEPTEMBER 2011 – The historic Macaulay Heritage Park Museum was the ideal setting for toe-tapping history lesson.
A full house enjoyed a dress rehearsal of the incarnation of ‘Fowke Tales’ – the story of Edith Fowke’s search for Ontario’s folk heritage. It provides the distinct flavour of original songs that reflect local history – logging songs, ballads, children’s songs – seamlessly intertwined in a heartwarming package of stories and even some dancing. ‘Fowke Tales’ recalls a time when folks gathered in the kitchen to make their own music and tell their own tales.
Edith Fowke was host of the weekly CBC radio program ‘Folk Song Time’ in the 1950s – a time it was thought traditional music existed only in the Maritimes and Quebec with very little west of the Ottawa Valley.
Fowke proved the view wrong when, in 1956, she made one of the richest discoveries of Canadian folk music in Peterborough County’s Douro Township. Not only did Mary Towns, of Douro, and her father Michael Cleary, provide Edith with a wealth of traditional music, they also helped point her in the direction of many other area singers. Fowke was astounded to discover these singers knew songs that dated back to the 16th century British Isles and also had created hundreds of newer songs that told about life in the New World.

Jim Yates

The songs Fowke collected were transcribed into books and the recordings released on albums by Folkways Records. Among others they now reside in Canadian university archives and the Smithsonian Institute.
Her work to popularize Canada’s musical heritage is finely crafted in the show, written by Prince Edward County storyteller Janet Kellough, the late Zeke Mazurek and Peterborough’s Allan Kirby, who had written his dissertation ‘Edith Fowke: Collecting traditional folk-songs in rural Ontario’.

Original cast members Kirby, Kellough and Yates knew they could never re-create the rich contributions by master violinist Mazurek, but decided the show was too important to shelve and instead, re-worked it to include more vocal music performed by ‘Trinity’ (Jeanette Arsenault, Kim Inch and Renie Thompson).
The special sneak preview at Macaulay was held before the show goes to performance at Lang Pioneer Village in Keene on Fri. Sept. 16th at 7 p.m., Sat. 17th, at 7 p.m. and Sun. 18th at 2 p.m. For tickets call Lang at 705-295-6694 or toll-free 1-866-289-5264.
The show will return to The County in December at Mount Tabor.

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  1. Janet Kellough says:

    Absolutely awesome pictures!!!!! Thank you!!!!!
    (The one of the four of us looks like a cartoon! – Teehee)

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