Dance teacher inducted into CHOF
The Glengarry Celtic Music Hall of Fame holds its induction ceremony Friday, May 25, at the Bonnie Glen Pavilion in Alexandria. Dance teacher Ellen Cameron Maloney, fiddler Gerry O’Neill, the late promoter Duncan Alexander Macdonell and the late Gaelic singer Duncan Donald MacSweyn will be honoured this year. This is the first of a series of inductee biographies submitted by the Hall of Fame.
Ellen Cameron Maloney
Ellen Cameron became interested in Highland dancing when she was very young. Her first teacher, Mary Saunders, immediately saw her potential. Once she had mastered the basics, Ellen began competing in local competitions where she won numerous local awards.
At the age of nine, she wanted to compete on the provincial and national levels. In order to develop the necessary skills, she began monthly travels to Toronto in order to learn from the pros. It soon paid off and Ellen began to make her dancing abilities known well beyond the Stormont- Dundas-Glengarry borders. She competed until the age of 16, winning Ontario, Canadian and British Overseas championships among many other titles.
When Ellen graduated from high school, she decided that she would like to pursue her passion for dance teaching, a career begun at the age of 13 under the supervision of her then teacher, Gladys Forrester. Her first school of dancing was established in Cornwall at the start, but soon moved to St. Andrews where her studio is still located.
Ellen has taught hundreds of children throughout 46 years of teaching. Her students span two generations from near and far; they have learned the Fling, the Sword, the Sean Truibhas, the Reel, the nationals, and many more.
Not your average teacher
Whether you are a beginner, a novice or premier, Ellen gives the same attention, the same encouragement. Should one not have sufficient funds to pay for lessons, she will forego the payment until later or, in some cases, forego it completely. Should a student be unable to afford the brand new outfits necessary for competition, she will look far and wide for second hand costumes. She’s also been known to arrange for transportation to practices and competitions.
Ellen is also known for providing dance talent for community fundraisers. She doesn’t just teach dance steps, she also teaches selfdiscipline, determination, respect, camaraderie, and other characteristics necessary to succeed in life. In turn, she receives loyalty, dedication, and admiration from her students, many of whom still remain in touch through Facebook long after the lessons have ended.
Throughout all these years, Ellen has perpetuated the Celtic music tradition to all who have had the privilege of being taught by her. She teaches dance steps but also teaches the origin and history behind them. Her dancers have become ambassadors of the Celtic culture in Maxville, Montreal, Toronto, the US or in Scotland. They have spread the word that Celtic culture in Glengarry and surrounding area is very much alive. Some of her students have even opened their own studios – Kathy Coleman Spink, Colleen Murray St. Onge, Marielle L’Esperance to name but a few.
Ellen loved Celtic music so much, that in her spare time, she and her brother, Glen Cameron, formed a Celtic band named “The Tartans” which included Ron Bissonette as drummer and Bill Vipond as the lead singer. When the latter passed away, Hughie MacDonell, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame last year, replaced him. Their band would be featured at such halls as the Green Valley Pavilion, The Bonnie Glen Pavilion as well as in Rivière Beaudette.
Throughout all these years, Ellen has produced world champions five times, national champions 17 times, provincial champions in excess of 30 times, as well as countless local and regional champions. On three different occasions, her peers recognized her as being the best teacher in Ontario.
She has been invited to provide workshops or speak to professional dancing associations in Canada, United States, Scotland, Australia, and next year in South Africa.
After receiving all of these accolades, Ellen has remained humble, always ready to share her talents, her wisdom and her generosity.
ELLEN CAMERON MALONEY