ROMA McMILLAN (2003 Inductee)

At the age of 92, Roma McMillan’s career as a fiddler has spanned an amazing 85 years. Influenced by her parents, who were both musically-inclined, Roma began taking violin lessons in Lachine, Quebec, at the age of seven. Through the years, she played with many orchestras in Montreal. In 1935, she moved with her husband, Hugh, to Ontario. She formed her first dance orchestra of western music in 1939 and played for dances until the death of her husband in 1974.

In 1978, she moved to Ottawa, continued to play, and recorded "Capital City Fiddle Tunes" the following year. Roma began teaching violin at the Ottawa Folklore Centre in 1980, retiring in 1988. In 1981, she recorded a second fiddle album, "Seaway Valley Fiddle Tunes" and, the same year, formed a group composed of her students called "Roma and Friends", later changed to "Bytown Bow Benders". In 1982, a second group, "Red Wing Fiddlers", was formed and, in 1983, a junior student group, "Junior Bow Benders", also known as "Roma’s Kids". A book of 75 waltzes, entitled "Roma’s Favourite Valley Waltzes" followed in 1983, and a second book, "Roma McMillan’s Favourite Valley Fiddle Tunes" was published in 1998.

Roma’s honours are almost too numerous to mention. To date, she has captured 175 trophies and many other awards and has received an Honorary Life Membership in Loisiers Folklore du Quebec. In 1984, she was inducted into the North American Fiddlers Hall of Fame in New York State, and, in 1988, she received the "Most Entertaining Fiddler" award at the Canadian Open Championships in Shelburne. She was also awarded the Canadian Grand Masters Fiddle Championship Lifetime Award for volunteering with this organization, the most prestigious event of its kind in Canada. In June 1999, Roma’s current group, "Mostly Bows" received a citation from 410 RCAF Wing in appreciation of the years of entertainment afforded the Veterans.

Roma was instrumental in the formation of the first fiddlers club in Ottawa, the "Ottawa and District Old Tyme Fiddlers Association", of which she was President for 1974-75. She is still an active member in the Metcalfe Fiddlers Association, the Chesterville Fiddlers Association, the Barrhaven Fiddlers Association, the Black River Fiddlers Association, and the Loisiers Folklore du Quebec.

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