The Order of Canada is the centrepiece of Canada’s honours system and recognizes a lifetime of outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation.
Cape Breton songwriter, musician and author Allister MacGillivray was recently named to the Order by Governor General David Johnston. Allister was appointed “for his contributions as a musician and composer whose songs are widely known for their depictions of Cape Breton and its people.”
I guess so!! They sure got that one right. Allister’s “Song for the Mira” is a campfire staple that has been recorded by over 100 artists. Some of his other great songs are “Coal Town Road”, “Tie Me Down” and “Sea People”.
These are songs that help to define who we are as a people and even provide some humour. I remember meeting a nice American lady at a festival one time who asked me who this Mira person was that so many people were singing about.
Allister’s dedication to the collection and publishing of many aspects of Cape Breton traditional culture is also quite remarkable. His books such as “The Cape Breton Fiddler”, “A Cape Breton Ceilidh” and “Diamonds in the Rough” make an enormous contribution to the recorded cultural history of Cape Breton Island.
Allister is an unassuming man. Although he is a wonderful guitar player and singer/songwriter, he chooses not to perform in public. Instead, he lets his body of work do the talking for him and what an amazing story he has to tell. Congratulations Allister!