adventures in enamelling, stories, music and travel
It was over 20 years ago that I first discovered Angelo Dornan. It was one of those old floppy record albums that were sometimes included in the front sleeve of Collections that had more esoteric than popular interest.
Angelo Dornan was born of Irish parents in Elgin, New Brunswick. Both of his parents were noted (amateur) singers and often hosted singing parties in their home – so he grew up surrounded by song. When he was 13 or 14 he moved to Alberta to work on a farm. He stayed there most of his life, married and settled down. But when he retired, he had a hankering for his original home, and moved back to New Brunswick. Being back in the atmosphere of his youth, and again surrounded by music, he remembered 125 songs that his parents used to sing, though he hadn’t sung a note his whole life. (at least not consciously – his wife revealed that he used to sing in his sleep!)
I was fascinated by his story, but it was 15 years later before I went to the archives in Ottawa, and listened to all the fantastic recordings of this great singer. At the time I was not only allowed to make copies of the recordings, but I was given all the equipment to do it!
I went back a few years later and was told that recording was no longer allowed since people had been using them for unauthorized purposes. I puzzled over this for a minute – trying to imagine what an “unauthorized use” of field recordings of traditional singers might be. When I asked – I was told “They are using them in schools”
This was such a epic example of bureaucratic madness that I was momentarily silenced.
Later – I thought of a great “unauthorized” use of my recordings: I would put them up on the Internet so that they would be available to for all!
So, I have put together a collection of traditional songs from the collections of Helen Creighton. You can listen to them all by clicking this link. I hope that you will be able to think of other unauthorized purposes that you can put them to: like singing them!
I am trying to find out all I can about Mr Dornan. I have fallen in love with his singing and am very interested in finding out more about him.
Your soundcloud link doesn’t take me to any sound files. Can you email me so we can discuss further? Thanks
Get Helen Creighton’s Folksongs of New Brunswick for a start – she has a great intro about him. I will get back to you when I have time. When I first posted this his great grandson, who lives in Ottawa, contacted me! Try this direct link, then you should be able to find the others. You need to be signed in I think https://soundcloud.com/catherinecrowe/17-stormy-winds-of-winter
Thank you for introducing me to Angelo Dornan’s music at Sean-nos Milwaukee back 10 or so years ago. I have been in love with his singing, and in search of other “north woods” singers like him, ever since! I think Norah contacted you to let you know she’s releasing an album soon with four Dornan songs on it. Very exciting.
One question regarding his bio, Creighton wrote that he lived most of his life as a farmer in Alberta but you have Saskatchewan here. Is that something you learned from talking to family members? Wonder why Creighton said Alberta.
I am sure the mistake is mine, Brian. Somehow over the years of talking about him, I must have gotten Saskatchewan and Alberta mixed up (so much for my grasp of my country’s geography! lol). I think it’s just because I associate Saskatchewan more with farming than Alberta…
It had been a goal of mine to do more research on Mr Dornan, but I simply don’t have the time. I hope Norah is able to find out more! I gave her the e-mail address of the grandson in Ottawa – probably he would be a good source. I am delighted that you are still singing the songs!
Thanks so much Catherine!
Also, do you know his birth and death dates? Working on liner notes for Norah’s album here! Thanks Catherine!