Erskine Morris (1913 – 1997)

Erskine Morris (1913 – 1997)

Who Was Erskine Morris? - By Brian Morris

Erskine Morris was an old time fiddler who was born in Douglastown Gaspe, Qc in 1913. Erskine was the second child and first boy in a family of six girls and four boys. Being from a large family, Erskine had to leave school at a young age to help support the family. He worked with his father for a number of years as a fisherman in summer and lumber camps in the fall and winter.

At the age of 13, he started playing the fiddle after hearing his mother singing tunes while clogging. She was his biggest influence at that time, because he could imitate her melodies while he was learning to play. He learned to play his first tune, Fat Molasses, from his mother’s singing. She also taught him the footwork which would become a very important part of his playing. He also learned tunes from local fiddlers Joe and Charlie Drody. Joe in particular was a big influence because he knew many French Canadian tunes.

By the age of 16 he was already playing in public. Because he developed such a highly syncopated and driving playing style, he was highly sought after for parties and dances. For the next 13 years he played many dances, before enlisting in army. At that time, he left Douglastown for good only to return occasionally for vacations and family reunions.

After the war, they settled in Montreal where he continued to play the fiddle for family, friends, and relatives. He spent many hours learning new tunes and developing variations to old tunes. He had a repertoire of approximately four to five hundred tunes.