Focus on folklore: CBU professor releasing book on Cape Breton folklore
including Cape Breton piano style, cockfighting, log architecture, nicknames and company houses.
“ The field of folklore is a wide, encompassing field. People have this stereotyped notion that folklore is old stories and beliefs and I think I show in the book that it includes everything from our language and our music and our song, right through to our architecture,” he said. “Folklore is really the study of tradition, that’s what it’s all about so traditions can be found, whether you’re building a house or playing music.”
MacKinnon said compiling Discovering Cape Breton Folklore required lots of research.
“I think in Cape Breton we’re in a unique position because first of all, the university here has a wonderful archive, the Beaton Institute archive,” said MacKinnon, noting that CBU is also home to one of the best folklore libraries in the Maritimes having recently secured a massive 10,000 volume collection of folklore books from Memorial University professor Gerald Pocius.
Equally as important as research in the study of folklore, is doing fieldwork, according to MacKinnon.
“If I’m studying buildings I don’t just sit here and read books about Canadian architecture and what other people have written about it, and certainly that’s part of it and you have to do that, but then you’ve got to get out and move away from your office and actually get out in the field and look with your own eyes, take photo- graphs, and measure buildings and if there’s not a floor plan available, make one available, make your own.”
All are welcome to attend Friday’s book launch. MacKinnon said he’s looking forward to the launch event, which will also include a ceilidh featuring some of Cape Breton University’s finest student musicians.
“Getting a book out is kinda like having a new baby; you want to celebrate as much as you can, so that’s what we’re hoping to do,” he said.