Rankin, Fr. John Angus

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Rankin, Fr. John Angus

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1918-1995

History

Fr. John Angus Rankin has become synonymous with the revival and preservation of the Cape Breton culture and is spoken of with the utmost respect whenever his name is mentioned. He was born in Inverness, Cape Breton to Danny and Sarah (Beaton) Rankin. His life has revolved around Cape Breton and Nova Scotia as he attended St. Francis Xavier University (Antigonish, NS) for his Arts degree and was later an employee there as Dean of Men from 1953 – 1959. He later moved to Glendale parish, where he was also in charge of the Waycobah parish. This move began his 35 years spent there and forever shaped one of the most crucial eras in the history of Cape Breton fiddle.

Fr. John Angus was a very educated man, and was known to perform mass in any of the following languages: English, Latin, Gaelic and Mi’kmaq. It was he, who had a fire lit under him when the Vanishing Cape Breton Fiddler documentary (1971) was first released, claiming only two fiddlers of the young generation were following the culture of the original pioneers. Fr. John Angus coordinated the creation of the Cape Breton Fiddlers Association and was instrumental in creating a core group of members that coordinated the first of many Glendale Festivals, where in 1973, its first concert, over 100 fiddlers played in unison on stage in response to the documentary. His presence was a visual one for the many years to follow that first initial Glendale concert. He was always seen directing the Cape Breton Fiddlers wherever they played, and would MC many concerts with his good friend and supporter, Archie Neil Chisholm, at all the key concerts and festivals Cape Breton had to offer. To commemorate all that Fr. John Angus did for Glendale and the Cape Breton culture, the former glebe house in Glendale was named the Fr. John Angus Cultural Centre and on October 2, 1983, Father Rankin was one of four people to receive his Doctorate of Laws Degree from St. Francis Xavier University.

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