Justin Bertrand ready for the Pembroke Old Time Fiddling and Step Dancing competition

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Local fiddler, Justin Bertrand, is preparing for the 2023 Pembroke Old Time Fiddling and Step Dancing competition.

Peter L. Smith

FORT COULONGE –  Justin Bertrand, a native of Ile-du-Grand-Calumet, is practising hard for his debut in the Open Fiddle class at the 2023 Pembroke Old Time Fiddling and Step Dancing competition Labour Day weekend. The competition will be held at Festival Hall Centre for the Performing Arts in Pembroke, September 1 and 2.  Riverside Park will once again be re-branded Fiddle Park for the week as it echoes with the sounds of music, laughter, and campers starting to arrive sometime next week.

Bertrand has 4 fiddles from which to choose, each with its own particular use. He has a special violin just for performing as a member of the Pembroke Symphony Orchestra.

Justin also released his first CD last year entitled Old Time Memories, a compilation of traditional Canadian fiddle tunes in the Ottawa Valley fiddle style. He also competed last year in the 31st Canadian Grand Masters Fiddle Championship, stating, “It was a real honour.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would compete in the Canadian Grand Masters,” commented Justin. “I enjoy attending contests whenever possible because I love the atmosphere of the fiddle contests. When I play in the contests I don’t feel like I’m in a win at all costs atmosphere, I’m in an atmosphere where the goal is sharing the joy of fiddle music,” he emphasized.

Justin credits his love of music to his grandfather, Alex Bertrand, who played old Ward Allen  tapes and taught Justin to step dance. He was also encouraged to take up the fiddle as he got older.

“From learning to play several instruments by ear as a child, to singing in choirs, to playing spoons in the kitchen, music has always been with me,” reminisced Justin. “It just kept growing!”

Justin also teaches fiddle lessons to those interested. His CDs are available by contacting him on Facebook or by phone – 1-873-864-8804.