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Sask. fiddle legend continues his legacy as Hometown Hero
The sound of new melodies fill the air at John Arcand's acreage outside Saskatoon.
Arcand continues to do the thing he loves most, playing the fiddle. His talent has earned him a reputation across western Canada. Each day Arcand continues the legacy left by a family of musicians and he hasn't missed a beat.
“All my uncles, my dad and my grandfather, everybody played the fiddle,” said Arcand. “When you don't have any TV or radio to speak of, you sort of entertain yourself by playing music.”
Arcand’s lifetime of making music has earned him a nomination as a CTV Hometown Hero.
Arcand is self-taught and learned by ear. After decades of stage performances, Arcand started teaching in northern Saskatchewan communities.
“It was something for me to do to keep occupied in the music industry,” said Arcand. “That became kind of a way of life for me. Learning to read music is the biggest thing, and lots of practice. The students that I'm teaching now, they want to play it right away, which doesn’t happen.”
Arcand's musical influence has reached far from Saskatoon. Winnipeg musician and radio host Ray St. Germain has played Arcand’s music for 21 years on FM radio. St. Germain says Arcand brings a name recognition across western Canada.
“John Arcand, as soon as you say the name you know 'yeah fiddle player, Metis fiddle player',” St. Germain said. “John Arcand is hugely popular, we get a lot of requests for his stuff and I'll tell you everyone has a favorite fiddle tune of John Arcand, that John Arcand plays. A fiddle is a very hard to play and John Arcand is a master at it.”
In addition to his annual fiddle fest every August, Arcand stays busy by making and selling fiddles. Using broadleaf maple from Ontario, Arcand says one fiddle can take up to 250 hours to build.
“All these kids that were learning how to play music, there wasn’t any place for them to gather to play, so that’s how I decided to come up with the idea for the festival,” said Arcand. “That's basically all I do that involves music all the way through. Regardless if it’s interviews or selling fiddles or talking about music.”
With over 400 compositions to his name, The Order of Canada and countless achievements across the Prairies, Arcand said he'll continue to play and teach in order to inspire future generations.