The name “Cape Breton”

The name “Cape Breton”

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The name “Cape Breton”

Some years ago, playing 5-banjo, I came across fiddle music from PEI documented Ken Perlmann in the book The Fiddle Music of Prince Edward Island. By pure coincidence, around that time I also bought a cd on which Buddy MacMaster played. Looking back to it, this was really the turning point to get involved in this music. Beside the very strong and character of the music I became and still am intrigue by the name of Cape Breton, as being the name of an area of an island at the east of Canada. Until that moment Breton (Fr. ‘le Breton’ or‘Bretagne’) referred to me only as the name of an area in the western part of France (Europe) called Brittany. Also the word ‘breton’refers to the language spoken in Brittany (France). Knowing that the descendants of Cape Breton are very much related to Schotland, this was very surprising and make me curious.

CAPE BRETON – Canada
BRITTANY or BRETAGNE – France

Looking at the map of Cape Breton another question emerges immediately – why this name, with clearly a French origin, has survived surrounded by areas with an English names. Of course, all this is very much related to history of the French and English colonization policy in the 16e and 17e century to the Americas – to me, this was adding up to urge me to find out. To understand better its history and cultural backgrounds I have started to read a book ‘After The Hector’ , written by historian Lucille H. Campey in 2004. This book describes the immegration out of mainly Schotland toward the Cape Breton island during the period 1780 – 1850. I will keep you posted on my readings. But the third and last point is the most important one to get me on this journey and is, of course, related to the cape breton music. If you take the time to listen to it, it will become immediately very clear that it is embedded in celtic origins. But in comparison to irish and scottish music, cape breton music has to me a much a very distinct and vibrant character but I cannot yet lay hands on it what really defines this character. All this, of course, is definitely, at the inner core of my musical journey towards Cape Breton. Hereby a link to page that explains more on the music as played in Britanny. Celtic Music of Brittany and Cornwall The Amazing Music of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

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