Sheila LeRoy, a member of the Vankleek Hill Fiddlers for 45 years, shares the joy she has received in playing with the volunteer group in this special article for The Review.

Old violins have often been passed down in families, never to be used, stored away and forgotten. With the passing of my dad, I also inherited his violin. I had taken piano lessons and often chorded for my father’s violin performances.

Life intervenes and it was only when Bobby Lalonde was attending Vankleek Hill Collegiate Institute (VCI) as a student in 1974, that an adult education class was offered for people to learn to play the violin – taught by Bobby. I don’t remember how many were in the class, but I do know that three very shy adults showed up for those first lessons – myself, Helen Howes and Sonny Touchette.

Not long after, we were joined by Edna Moran, who stood out from the rest of the group immediately. We all had cases for our old fiddles – Edna had hers in a paper bag!

Helping this group start was our own noted Vankleek Hill baker and fiddler Ambrose Pilon, as well as Bobby’s uncle, Ray Couture of Fournier. Forty-five years later, this group – with many welcomed additions over the years – has continued to play at many events in and around the surrounding communities.

Practices began at the LeRoy home. We also have fond memories of being invited to practice at the home of Sadie Stephens – Garnie’s mom. With the opening of the Heritage Lodge, the group began practicing there, much to the enjoyment of the residents.

Recently, Samme Putzel of Excellent Events, submitted this comment to The Ontario Volunteer Service Awards Committee.

“Excellent Events is very pleased to pay tribute to this wonderful group of generous fiddlers, who have shared their love of music with our community for forty-five years.”

Nominees who were honoured to receive the award certificate and pin were: Helen Howes, Sheila LeRoy, Edna Moran, Roger Ouimet, Doreen Howes and Denise Cadieux.

Always remember: “ A violin sings, but a fiddle dances” (Author Unknown)