Winston “Scotty” Fitzgerald (1914-1987) was a renowned Cape Breton fiddler. He was a pioneer in recorded performances of the music, and has heavily influenced the style and repertoire of later generations of players.
Fitzgerald was born on February 16, 1914 at White Point, Victoria County, Nova Scotia, a remote fishing village on the northeastern tip of Cape Breton Island. His parents were of Irish-French descent. Both his father and older brother played the violin, and Winston began to take an interest in playing at age eight. His first public performance was at a picnic at age twelve. The Fitzgeralds worked as fishermen in the summer, and in the 1930s Winston also worked at the shipyards in Halifax in the winter. During this time, Winston played radio shows and tours with Hank Snow for about two and a half years.
Winston served a stint in the army during World War II, then settled in Sydney after the war. He took a correspondence course from the U.S. School of Music, learning a lot of useful bowing techniques. In 1947, he formed a group called the “Radio Entertainers” with Beattie Wallace (piano) and Estwood Davidson (guitar). The group recorded numerous 78s, as well as four LPs. As he became better known, Winston also got exposure playing on the “Cliff MacKay” and “Don Messer” shows. Later, he played as part of the Cape Breton Symphony on The John Allan Cameron Show. Never a full-time musician, he worked at a variety of jobs, including cooking, carpentry, and aluminum work.
Many of Winston’s recordings are out of print, but a selection culled from his albums has been reissued as Classic Cuts by Breton Books & Music. A significant portion of his repertoire has been preserved in a book called Winston Fitzgerald: A Collection of Fiddle Tunes, issued by Cranford Publications.
Mildred Leadbeater & Winston-Sydney Early 1950’s
Estwood Davidson and Winston “Scotty” Fitzgerald taken in the early 1960’s at a house party