“It ain't good because it's old - it's old because it's good”

Welcome to the ONTRAD LIBRARY Mk II

Since the late 1970s I have been seeking out, learning, performing and teaching the grassroots music of my home province of Ontario, Canada. I have continued this work up to the present, and while not conducted in any systematic manner my collecting has over the years created a sizeable private database. It includes recordings of, and written music for traditional/historical songs, instrumental music, written dance instructions, and many early references to music performances and dance taken from published and private journals, diaries, posters, playbills, newspaper articles, and other writings. This collection is by no means comprehensive, or representative of anything beyond my own interests and musical abilities. Some has survived in the oral tradition, some in printed sources. It is largely English language and for the most part comes from Ontario’s settler Scots, Irish, English and African-American traditions. It also includes a small amount French and Gaelic material. Some of it was acquired through personal contact and interaction with tradition-bearers, some was found in print and other published sources. It is what it is - and there is quite a lot of it. Over the last four decades countless people have come up to me at my performances and handed me things which they (rightly) thought might interest me – instruments, books, binders of sheet music, song manuscripts, cassettes, 78s, and lists of songs their grandmother knew. More recently these offerings have included PDFs and other digital gifts. The ONTRAD Library is intended to make this material easily available to anyone who might be interested in learning about or performing these songs and tunes from Ontario’s past. It is loosely based on a similar website about the folk music of Gloucestershire, UK that was pointed out to me some years ago by Brad McEwan. Thanks to them and him for the inspiration! The ONTRAD Library was originally launched on Groundhog Day 2017. In late 2022 it was ruthlessly attacked by internet pirates and sank with all hands. It has been rebuilt and was launched again with the generous assistance of David Bowen in January 2024. If there is any material in this collection on which feel you have some personal claim, and which you would rather not be included in the library, please contact me by e-mail. Likewise for any errors or omissions you may notice. Thanks!

Ian Bell - Paris, Ontario January 2024

Many thanks to the following people for music and text transcriptions and audio recordings of tunes and songs.

Albert Alexander
Anne Lederman
Bill Nesbitt
Brad McEwan
Cathy and Clara Schubilske
Duncan Cameron
Ian Robb
Judy Moore
Robin Harrison
Saskia Tomkins
Solomon Foster
Teilhard Frost

The original version of this site was launched in 2017, with the help of a Kickstarter campaign supported by these generous friends.


Ali Eisenhammer
Alice Benson
Alison Bell
Allison Lupton
Another Bloody Folk Club
April Verch
Arnie Naiman
Ben Rousseau
Bev Nicol
Bill Nesbitt
Bob Biderman
Bob Bossin
Bob Owings
Brad Forwell
Brian Dalton
Brian Eng
Bruce Milner
The Wood House Band
in memory of
Bill Ledgerwood

Charlene Roberts
Christine Setari
Colin Henein
Dave Ruch
Dave Webster
David Baril
David Harvey
David Kemp
David Shilman
David Warren
David Woodhead
Deborah Morris
Denis Rondeau

Donna McMillan
Doug Isherwood
Eleanor and June Chithalen
Erika Alexander
Eve Goldberg
Fiddlefern Country Dancers
Funktoast
Glen Martin
Glenn McFarlane
Graham McDonald
Greg Murphy
Howard Kaplan
Ian Morrison
Ian Robb
Jack Cole
James Gordon
James McShane
James Stephens
James Turnbull
Jane Conlon
Janet Hogg
Janice Ketchen
Jeff Bird for Trio CaBiKi
Jeff McClintock
Jim Dolmage
Joan Weed
Joan Wyatt
John Jackson
John Lafferty
John Mayberry
Karen Kaplan
Kylie Howsam
Laurel Swinden
Lynn Post
Lynn Westerhout
Mac Swackhammer
Marilyn Connelly
Mary Baruth
Mary Humphreys
Maureen Keating
Michael Ruehle
Murray Smith
Myra Hirschberg
Neil Stoneman
Noel Roberts
Paulette Kirkey
Robert Hope
Robert Shipley
Robert Watt
Robin Harrison
Ruth Storey
Sarah Louise Gardiner
ShariAnn Kuiper
Shelley Therrien
Sherry
Sol Foster
Stephen Cooper
Steven Kilbridge
Stephen Holowitz
Steve London
Stuart and Jennifer Budd
Sue Megs
Taras Konstantinov
The Schotts
Vincent Casaubon
Wendy Kemp
Wil Macaulay
Wilfred Gaube
Yeng Chang

Woman on the side of the road in Harrington

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