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Glenbuchat Heritage

27 Alexander Walker Day July 2018
The Glenbuchat Image Library
27 Alexander Walker Day July 2018

Alexander Walker Day

On 15th July 2018 a celebration was made of the life and works of Alexander Walker, Gardner of Newe and Fiddler and Composer.

Click for details of his life

In conjunction with the North Atlantic Fiddle Convention, The Elphinstone Institute, and Glenbuchat Eclectic events a day was organised based at Glenbuchat Hall.

We were delighted that three members from the Cape Breton Fiddlers attended and played for us but we were even more delighted when Mary LaCasse from near Boston Massachusetts joined us, as she is Alexander Walkers great granddaughter.

The pictures above show

1. Paul Anderson (2nd right) with three Cape Breton Fiddlers at the Peter Milne Memorial in Tarland where they played a few tunes in remembrance of him.

2. L to R. Jonny Hardie, Mary LaCasse, Kym Hardie on the steps in front of the site of Castle Newe
Click to see picture of Castle Newe with the steps on the lower right of the picture.

3. Jonny Hardie and Cape Breton Fiddlers playing for Mary at the door of Alexander Walkers Cottage at Castle Newe

4. Jonny Hardie with Mary LaCasse looking at the original publication of Alexander Walker collection of Fiddle tunes.

5. Jonny Hardie and Paul Anderson playing at the Alexander Walker Concert

The day started with a Fiddle Bus leaving from The Lemon Tree in Aberdeen. The fiddle guide was Paul Anderson and three Cape Breton Fiddlers were also present. The bus went up Deeside, across to Tarland then on to Strathdon and Glenbuchat. The history of the area and the stories behind the Walker tunes were presented and stops were made at Dinnet, Tarland and Migvie Church.

At Dinnet we had coffee and scones at the Loch Kinord Hotel and Paul played some Scott Skinner tunes. At Tarland we celebrated the like of Peter Mine with some of his tunes at his memorial and at Migvie Church we appreciated the acoustics of the building with some more fiddle tunes.

After lunch at Glenbuchat Hall, as well as fiddle workshops there were two walks accompanied by fiddlers. One was up Ben Newe and another around the policies of the now demolished Castle Newe.

The Castle walk was led by Jonny Hardie accompanied by three Cape Breton Fiddlers. At various places we stopped and played Alexander walker tunes relevant to that place. The most memorable place was playing outside the cottage previously occupied by Alexander Walker. Jonny and Kym then kindly invited us into House of Newe to inspect the original publication of the collection of Alexander Walker’s tunes and other related artefacts. Finally, after a walk through the woods and the family graveyard we had a final rendition of Walker tunes.

Back to the hall for tea, we had a presentation of Alexander’s life, and a final concert with Jonny Hardie, Paul Anderson, three Cape Breton Fiddlers and two budding violinists.

Many thanks to all who took part in the day

A great day was had remembering the life and works of Alexander walker.

Tammy Fortin, Alexander Walker's Great Great Granddaughter sent some words of welcome which were read ot at the concert:

"Some words from the family of Alexander Walker
From New England & California to Glenbuchat, Scotland

On behalf of my family in Williamstown and North Adams, Massachusetts, and La Honda, California, I would like to thank the University of Aberdeen, North Atlantic Fiddle Convention and Elphinstone Institute for organizing a day in honor of my great, great, great grandfather, Alexander Walker, who as many of you know, wrote 200 tunes in homage to the most special places of his homeland. I’d also like to extend our utmost thanks and gratitude to Peter Duffus, the Cape Breton Fiddlers and Paul Cranford for keeping Alexander’s memory alive and well.

As a young girl, I was told many stories about my grandmother’s grandfather. How he played the fiddle for the queen of England and came to America and settled here. It was by chance that I happened upon the Glenbuchat heritage site just over a year ago, and thereby learned the entire story of our family patriarch. Alexander was known as a musician and composer, but he was also known for his curiosity and knowledge of the sciences, such as archaeology, engineering and of course the natural world and environment, being a long-time steward of the land as gardener at Castle Newe. As I read more and more about his life, I sensed that he was well loved by his employer, by his fellow musicians, his fellow gardeners, family and friends. Subsequently, his emigration to America was seen as a loss to the community. But Alexander kept in touch, sending letters back home to the local newspaper, giving updates about his new life in Massachusetts.

Alexander came to Williamstown and surveyed the entire village. His map of Williamstown from 1889 (in his own hand) sits above our family mantle. The original of this map is housed in the special collections in the library at Williams College. Alexander also surveyed Mount Greylock—the highest point in Massachusetts. We, as a family, have all grown up under the wing of this mountain, and it has significance as both a landmark and as what can only be described as a place of sacred beauty. Alexander’s daughter, Margaret Walker Brookman wrote in poetry that Greylock was to her, the “proud chieftain of the clan.” And as Ben Newe played muse to Alexander’s Scottish days, Greylock was his American inspiration, and he was known to wander around the Berkshire hills with fiddle, playing his songs. We know via his letters that he composed many new tunes while living here in America, but this collection seems to have been lost. It is our hope that someday we will come upon this treasure. In the meantime, we take heart in the many tunes that live on that are being played today in concert in the hills of Alexander’s homeland.

To learn that you are descended from such a good and esteemed man, gives you a sense of pride in your family that is honestly, unmatched by anything I can think of. It is a gift to know Alexander and to call him one of our own. We are with you in spirit today, as we celebrate a person who represents what is truly good in this world. And in times such as this, let us live by Alexander Walker’s honorable example.

All best wishes for a fine day of music and celebration.
With great thanks,

Tammy Fortin
And the rest of the clan…."

Picture added on 17 July 2018 at 16:54
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17 Alexander Walker

34  Alexander Walker Autobiography 1898  Comment33  Alexander Walker Autobiography 1898  Pt 632  Alexander Walker Autobiography 1898 Pt 531  Alexander Walker Autobiography 1898 Pt 4 30 Alexander Walker Autobiography 1898 Pt 329 Alexander Walker Autobiography 1898 Pt 228 Alexander Walker Autobiography 1898 Pt 126 Lonach Higlanders 186326 The Rhynie Loop23 New Forest 2.  – Home of Alexander Walker