The Donald Angus Beaton Project
Donald Angus Beaton was born into a family with a tradition of music that can be traced back for over 200 years. His ancestors came from Lochaber and Skye, areas of Scotland well-known for its fiddlers. His father, Angus Ronald Beaton from McKinnon`s Brook, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada, was a fiddler and a piper. His mother was Annie Bell Campbell of nearby Black River, Cape Breton.
Donald Angus Beaton married Elizabeth MacEachen who became his partner in music during their life together. On this site, Elizabeth talks about the dances and their playing in these video clips. They had nine children, many of whom are musical. A number of his grandchildren are also musical performers. One of the most well-known of these is The Honourable Rodney MacDonald who is Premier of Nova Scotia and a Cape Breton fiddler.
Donald Angus took an interest in the fiddle around the age of 7 and he practiced on his father`s fiddle while Angus Ronald Beaton was out working in the blacksmith shop. At age 12 he made his first public performance at a picnic in Glencoe Mills, Inv. Co., N. S. His interest grew and he learned to read music from Allan Gillis of Minnesota-Cape Breton and picked up many traditional tunes from his uncle, fiddler, Johnny Ronald Beaton. Donald Angus became proficient in the Mabou Coal Mines style of music. Details of his interpretations of traditional tunes are found in the Dungreen Collection, parts of which are shown on this site.
In Cape Breton, though the musician has an established place of honour in the community, not many were able to make a living by only performing. Mr. Beaton was a blacksmith, taxi driver and mail carrier (listen to Mailman’s Jig.) He played for countless dances, weddings and community events.
His timeless compositions have now become standards in the Cape Breton repertoire. Fifty-one of his tunes were first published in 1987 in Donald Angus Beaton’s Cape Breton Scottish Violin Music and again in 2000 in The Beaton Collection and they are played in many countries where Celtic music is studied and enjoyed.