These fiddles were donated by Nanaimo, B.C. man Tim von Boetticher to Lewis Beck, co-founder of the Kole Crook Fiddle Association. Beck’s fixing them up to send them to Wrigley. Photo courtesy of Lewis Beck
By Tim Edwards
Northern News Services Ltd.
February 5, 2018
WRIGLEY, Northwest Territories—The original home of the Kole Crook Fiddle Association almost lost its link with the instrument after local youth couldn’t find fiddles, until one day help came from Nanaimo, B.C.
Last month, association co-founder Lewis Beck was told by the current president, Gerda Hazenberg, about the plight of the instrument in his former home, and he got to work. “His heart is with the kids,” said Hazenberg.
As soon as he started looking, said Beck, the fiddles materialized.
“I got busy and I approached Enbridge Pipelines who were generous enough to donate $2,500,” said Beck, who lives in Nanaimo, B.C. with his wife. “I’m just in the process now of buying them from Long and McQuade (Musical Instruments) here in Nanaimo.”
That same day, a friend named Tim von Boetticher phoned Beck up and told him he had eight fiddles he’d come across years back that he didn’t know what to do with.
When News/North phoned Beck, he was getting ready to purchase eight or nine fiddles with the Enbridge donation, plus spare strings, tuners and cases. He was also working on fixing up the fiddles from von Boetticher.
“I’ve got one of them on my knee right now,” he said.
When he lived in Wrigley, he was friends with Kole Crook and his girlfriend Stella Pellissey. Crook was a talented and well-loved Metis fiddler from Hay River who travelled across the territory with his instrument. After his tragic death in a plane crash in 2001, Beck and Pellissey kept his memory alive by carrying on his musical legacy in Wrigley.
Through teaching the fiddle to local youth in Wrigley and then around the NWT, the Kole Crook Fiddle Association was born.
The association now brings in fiddling instructors from across the country to teach throughout the North. Order of Canada member, Gord Stobbe, will be up in March to teach in Wekweeti and Fort Providence.
The association also hosts an annual jamboree in Fort Simpson, the 14th iteration of which just took place from Jan. 12 to 14.
Beck says he plans to travel to Wrigley with his wife this summer, bringing with them the new gear.
He wants to take the opportunity to meet up with the fiddlers he taught when he lived there, who have been keeping each other in practice, and train them to teach the next generation.
“They’re young adults now but they can still play,” he said.