John Arcand

Jean-Baptiste "John" Arcand, CM (born July 19, 1942 in Jackson Lake, Saskatchewan) is a Canadian fiddler, composer, teacher, and luthier. Arcand has been writing and performing since childhood, having learned the traditional Red River Métis tunes from his father Victor and his grandfather Jean-Baptiste. He has said "I knew from childhood I would be a fiddler," he said. "I love the constant challenge because you cannot ever master the fiddle."[1] He is known for the impeccable sense of timing in his music, a skill that is necessary when guiding dancers.[2]

John Arcand
Jean-Baptiste Arcand

(1942-07-19) July 19, 1942
ResidenceSaskatoon, Saskatchewan
AwardsOrder of Canada

Arcand has been recognized by the Métis community for ensuring that this important tradition survives.[3] Along with a busy performing schedule, John is active as a guest artist and judge at fiddle contests, is in demand as an instructor at many fiddle camps and with private students, and also makes and repairs fiddles.[4]


Jean Baptiste Arcand was born to a long line of musicians, which can be traced back nine generations. His family roots come from Métis communities of Red River and Batoche. John was one of 14 children born to parents Victor Arcand and Emma Loyie. He grew up in an environment with dancing and fiddle music. While neither John's father or grandfather composed music, they played tradition Métis Red River tunes such as jigs and reels for dancing. By the age of 12, John was playing for dances in people's homes or at school.[5] Much of childhood was spent working on his family’s farm, chopping wood and milking cows. He began working in logging camps at 16, which helped to pay for his first fiddle.[2]


Arcand worked as a project coordinator at the Gabriel Dumont Institute in Saskatoon, SK. During that time, he planned and facilitated a collaboration of well-known and respected fiddle players from across Westerns Canada to gather and preserve their traditional tunes. This led to the CDs and book called Drops of Brandy and other Traditional Métis Tunes. This is a four CD set, containing over 150 fiddle tunes performed by 12 master Metis fiddlers including Gilbert Anderson, Trent Bruner, Richard Callihoo, Henry Gardipy, Emile Lavallee, Albert 'Hap' Boyer, Garry Lapine, John Arcand, Mel Bedard, Richard Lafferty, Homer Poitras and Ed Lafferty. An accompanying book was also released, with sheet music for every song in the compilation, as well as biographies of the performers, and a detailed look at the history and cultural importance of Metis fiddling.[6][7]

John has been a mentor to many Canadian fiddlers over a long career. On March 28, 2003, The National Aboriginal Achievement Award for Arts and Culture was presented to Arcand at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. He was recognized for his contributions and his commitment to the preservation of Métis fiddling.

The Canadian Grand Masters Fiddling Championship awarded him a lifetime achievement award in 2003. He performed at the launch of Canada's first web-based Métis radio station.[8]

On May 3, 2007, Arcand became a member of the Order of Canada. He was invested as a member to the order on April 11, 2008.[9][10]


Arcand has recorded many albums including an album of Métis fiddle tunes with Calvin Vollrath. With Vollrath, he established the Emma Lake Fiddle Camp, run by the Saskatchewan Cultural Exchange Society.[11] Famous fiddlers Richard Wood and Patti Kusturok Lamoreux were also teachers at Emma Lake.[12]

The John Arcand Fiddle Fest, held each August on his acreage south of Saskatoon, is attended by fans of fiddle music from around the globe.[13][14] In 2017 it had its 20th anniversary.[15][16]


Arcand’s compositions and musical style have been influenced by Andy DeJarlis. The influence on his compositions can be seen in his recording of several DeJarlis’s tunes over the years, as well as his inclusion of a DeJarlis fiddle tune contest at his Fiddle Fest in 2005. Many of Arcand’s compositions have a similar sound to DeJarlis’s tunes in their use of minors and related rhythmic patterns.[17]


Arcand has composed close to 400 tunes. Many of these are written for individuals or to honour places he has been.[5] A selected list of tunes by John Arcand:

  • Big Bear
  • Bill Kalyn’s Two Step
  • The Chicken Reel
  • Cutknife Hill
  • Dennis Weber Reel
  • Don Kurmey’s Polka
  • Emma’s Memorial Waltz
  • Fay MacKenzie Two step
  • Fiddle Fest Reel
  • Fort Pit Reel
  • Fred Muir’s Polka
  • Gerald White's Memorial Duck Dance
  • Gerry Dore Reel
  • Harry Daniels
  • January Jig
  • Lionel’s Jig
  • Medric (Mederic) McDougall's First Change
  • Mel Bedard's First Change
  • Memories of Emma Lake
  • Old Bone Trail
  • Poinsettia Waltz
  • Reel de Claquette
  • Sugar Hill Road
  • Turtle Lake Swing
  • Victor Rose’s Jig
  • Yvon Dumont
  • Windy Acres Two Step



  • A Tribute to Andy Dejarlis (2011)
  • Dedications (2009)
  • Traditionally Yours (2008)
  • Meeyashin (2007)
  • Les Michif (2006)
  • Vicki and Me...and some of our favorites (2005)
  • Thru the Years (2005)
  • Original and Traditional (2004)
  • Celebrating Tradition (2003)
  • Echoes of the Prairie (Recorded 1994 - Re-Released 2002)
  • Whoa-Ha-Gee (2000)
  • Sugar Hill Road (1999)
  • The Tunes of the Red River (1998)
  • Echoes of the Prairie (1994)
  • La Celebration '92 (1992)
  • The Road to Batoche, Centennial (1985)

Sheet Music

  • Some of my Original Tunes
  • Drops of Brandy and other Traditional Métis Tunes


  • Burton, W., Troupe, C., Arcand, J., & Arcand, V. (2017). Master of the Métis fiddle: John Arcand, the man, the music, the festival.[18][19]


  • Meeches, L., Arcand, J., Vollrath, C., Howe, D., & Meeches Video Productions, Inc. (2005). Crooked music: John Arcand, the master of the Métis fiddle. Winnipeg, Man.: Meeches Video Productions.[20]
  • John Arcand and His Métis Fiddle, Métis Fiddlers Series.[21]


See also


  1. "John Arcand plays music to preserve culture | Windspeaker - AMMSA". Retrieved 2018-03-02.
  2. "Bridges cover: John Arcand, Saskatchewan's master of the Metis fiddle". Saskatoon StarPhoenix. 2018-03-09. Retrieved 2018-03-09.
  3. "Indspire | John Arcand". Retrieved 2018-03-02.
  4. Week, Aboriginal Music. "John Arcand". Aboriginal Music Week. Retrieved 2018-03-02.
  5. Burton, Wilfred (2017). Master of the Metis Fiddle. Gabriel Dumont Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-926795-83-6.
  6. "Drops of Brandy project caps big year for Gabriel Dumont Institute | Windspeaker - AMMSA". Retrieved 2018-03-06.
  7. "The Virtual Museum of Métis History and Culture". Retrieved 2018-03-06.
  8. "Metis radio station launches online". CBC News. 11 March 2005.
  9. The Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean (9 February 2008). "Vol. 142, No. 6 — February 9, 2008" (PDF). Gazette du Canada. Ottawa: Governor General of Canada. Canada Gazette. Government House. p. 4 (254 Canada Gazette). Retrieved 20 January 2012.
  10. "Jean-Baptiste (John) Arcand, C.M." Office of the Secretary to the Governor General. 3 May 2007.
  11. "Musical Traditions: Award Winning Métis Fiddler John Arcand". First Nations Drum Newspaper. 2009-03-24. Retrieved 2018-03-03.
  12. THE GREAT WHITE NORTH. "John Arcand- Master of the Metis Fiddle". Hammerson Meters.
  13. "John Arcand Fiddle Fest Inc. - Saskatoon, SK S7K 0K1". Retrieved 2018-03-02.
  14. "The Virtual Museum of Métis History and Culture". Retrieved 2018-03-03.
  15. "20th annual John Arcand Fiddle Fest keeps tradition alive". Global News. Retrieved 2018-03-02.
  16. "Fiddlers and so much more at John Arcand Fiddle Fest: August 11 – 14". Alberta Native News. 2016-07-26. Retrieved 2018-03-02.
  17. Quick, Sarah (2010). "Two models in the world of Métis fiddling: John Arcand and Andy DeJarlis". Crossing Over: Fiddle and Dance Studies from around the North Atlantic 3. The Elphinstone Institute, University of Aberdeen. p. 121. ISBN 0-9545682-6-5.
  18. Burton, Wilfred; Troupe, Cheryl; Arcand, John; Arcand, Vicki (2017). Master of the Métis fiddle: John Arcand, the man, the music, the festival. ISBN 9781926795836.
  19. "John Arcand Fiddle Fest marks 20th year with book about its founder". CBC News. Retrieved 2018-03-02.
  20. Meeches, Lisa; Arcand, John; Vollrath, Calvin; Howe, Doug; Meeches Video Productions, Inc (2005). Crooked music: John Arcand, the master of the Métis fiddle. Winnipeg, Man.: Meeches Video Productions.
  21., Gabriel Dumont Institute –. "Métis Fiddlers Series | Gabriel Dumont Institute". Retrieved 2018-03-03.
  22. User, Super. "2004 Lieutenant Governor's Arts Awards". Retrieved 2018-03-03.
  23. General, The Office of the Secretary to the Governor. "The Governor General of Canada". Retrieved 2018-03-02.
  24. User, Super. "Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal". Retrieved 2018-03-03.
  25. "57 Residents Receive The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal « Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan". Retrieved 2018-03-03.
  26. "Cumulative list of winners" (PDF). Molson Prizes, Canada Council for the Arts.
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