Gatherings with entertainment in the dining room, living room, and the Barn have been a part of the Normaway Inn since the 1940's. Films were a nightly event for many years hosted by my cousins, the Hart's, featuring the many National Film Board productions which focused on our region, including the local Chair maker and the Margaree People by George Thomas, as well as, the perennial favourite Song of Season by Grant Crabtree.
Forty years later, around 1984, a singer by the name of Bernadette Goth approached me saying that I should have live music in the living room nightly. She started something special. The films were great but only the audience and the presenter had a live pulse. Bernadette's love of Cape Breton Island. and its music was infectious. Over the many years since, we have been fortunate to have a great number of special people share our musical culture. Following Bernadette performers have included singers Lisa Cameron, Matthew MacLennan, Joanne Rankin and Raylene Rankin. Fiddlers, piano players, and guitarists such as Michel and Jacynthe Aucoin, Hilda Chiasson Cormier, Robert Deveaux, Glen Graham, Rodney MacDonald our former Premier, Wendy MacIsaac, Donald MacLennan, Mary Elizabeth MacMaster, the Tremblay Family and Tara Lynn Touesnard. Some nights we have had specials guests in the living room such as Arthur Aucoin, JP Cormier, Ranni MacLellan, Buddy MacMaster, Natalie MacMaster, Scott MacMillan, and some of the The Barra Mac Neills all of whom have left an indelible memory.
Some of the greatest nights in the living room included readings by noted Inverness County author Allister MacLeod and playright Robbie O'Neill. We look forward to the one and only Frank MacDonald reading from A Forest for Calum.
Recent regular performers in the living room include Derrick and Melody Cameron, guitar, fiddle, and stepdance, Chrissy Crowley on fiddle, Louis Arsenault on vocals and guitar, Rachel Davis on fiddle, and Douglas and Laurence Cameron fiddle and piano. Kristen and Kelly Shaw father and daughter fiddlers, one who stepdances and the other plays guitar.
Music has been a part of the Normaway on almost a daily basis since 1984. Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia's Celtic heartland renowned around the Celtic worlds as a hotspot of Celtic music owes its sense of place to these standard bearers and many more across this idyllic island that we call home.
Innkeeper and fan of all things Cape Breton.