Through the Years...

Upon the demolition of the old Cornwall School, Kam Valley was forced to seek new rehearsal facilities The nineteen nineties was a decade of rapid growth both in terms of new and young fiddlers, and the level of performance. This was due, in part, to the appearance on the scene of Don Pettigrew, who transferred to Thunder Bay with the OPP. He was very effective in tutoring a few of the more serious youngsters and they rapidly developed extensive and delightful repertoires.

It was also during this era that we were invited to rehearse in the new music wing at Westgate High School. Rob Randle took time to work with the students, teaching them traditional Scottish and Irish tunes, and also some of his own compositions. Many fine young string musicians became  strong performers through the nineties.  Some of these young musicians competed successfully  in fiddle contests in Ontario,  Minnesota and Wisconsin. Our talented fiddlers were much in demand to entertain at seniors' homes, weddings, banquets, and  at Fort William  Hisotrical Park.                                                             .                                                                                                                        

Cornwall School Days

Since its inception in 1976, the "Kam Valley Symphony" – a group of adult musicians – performed around town and in the district at seniors homes, fiddle contests and other events. The emphasis was on being true to the art form of fiddling, especially Canadian style fiddling applied to the traditional Scottish and Irish dance music. Some of the early members were fiddlers RAY KOENIG, JACK YOUNG, JACK HILL, JIM HAUKKANEN (Red Rock), pianist ART GAGNON, and guitarist DAVE KIMPTON.

Directions changed in the late 1980's with the addition of two younger talents  baraely  in their teens – CAILIN NELSON and GRAHAM FORSHAW. They both sought out more challenging music and about this time DON PETTIGREW and ROB RANDLE became closely involved with the group as teachers, composers and performers. In the early 1990's, other youth came aboard – DAWN WALTERS, THOMAS MATHEWS and ANDREW BRYAN. Formal rehearsals under Rob Randle's leadership started in the old Cornwall School on Algoma Street, and the "youth movement" took off. With the demise of Cornwall School,  Kam Valley Fiddlers has been fortunate  to be able to call Westgate High School 's Music Department home for over twenty-five years. 

Cape Breton

In the summer of 2004 five of the Kam Valley youth along with Rob, Dave and George Holborn were asked to perform at the Trout Forest Music Festival and as a result of the girls' dynamic stage presentations, they were invited to Cape Breton by Jennifer Roland, a top-notch east coast professional musician. The group put on several fund-raising concerts in Thunder Bay before Westjetting to Halifax and motoring on to Cape Breton the last week of June 2005. Another group toured and performed a few years later.

Jennifer was an outstanding hostess - arranging for accommodations at the Gaelic College, concerts on the Cape and a jam session with local musicians at Rollie's Wharf. The group took part in workshops at the College and also spent a few hours chasing whales on the high seas. A highlight - aside from a traditional lobster dinner - was a concert with Jenn at the restored Louisburg Playhouse.