Douglas Lloyd MacCuaig

2017 Jun

A native of Glen Sandfield, Ontario, Lloyd was born to Roddie and Edna MacCuaig (nee MacMillan) on Jan 12th 1935. Lloyd died on Jan 13th 2016. His mother Edna was a very accomplished pianist and influenced his style and choice of Scottish Music.

His parent’s farm was south east of Glen Sandfield and across the road from the farm was a very musical lady, Mrs Blais who gave music lessons on the piano. Lloyd took lessons from her for three years when he was about 13 years old. His mother played Scottish Music and gave him the inspiration, but Mrs Blais gave him the basics to play the piano.

When he was in high school the girls often pestered him to play the piano at lunch time so they could dance. During his teens, if he heard a new piece at a dance he would practice it in the early morning hours when he was supposed to be helping his father with the morning milking.

After high school, he taught elementary school at Brodie before moving  to the Niagara area to teach for eight years. After this, he came home and took up flower arranging. He apprenticed at two different flower shops in Ottawa. Then he joined Mrs Claire and built up a flourishing flower and gift shop in Vankleek Hill. He promoted Glengarry Scottish Music at his flower and gift shop selling many local records and tapes.

The Glengarry Historical Society sponsored fiddle and piano contests in the 1960s and 1970s. Lloyd won the piano contest three years in a row. He was a perfectionist;  he would not play a tune in public until he got it right.  He played the piano and organ in many of the local churches and was the organist at St Columba Presbyterian Church at Kirk Hill for quite a number of years.

He also played at Bob’s Hotel at Dalhousie as a piano player sparing off Viola MacCuaig. Over the years he accompanied such fiddlers as Wilfred Gillis, Malcolm Dewar, Little Jack MacDonald, and Lucien Ranger.

Lloyd’s greatest attribute was that he was a great chorder which was a musical gift. He could switch from playing the melody to chording instantaneously making him in demand by all the fiddlers.

His largest contribution was in the 1980’s. The Lochiel Strings were formed in 1983. They contributed greatly to Scottish Music in Glengarry and it is a fair statement to say that Lloyd MacCuaig was the musical director for the group.  They participated in a variety of events. In 1985, they performed with other Glengarry musicians at the National Art Centre in Ottawa. From dances to fund raisers, to church ceremonies and weddings and funerals to nursing homes and hospitals they were active participants in the Glengarry Celtic Music scene. As a member of the Lochiel Strings Lloyd played once a week at nursing homes in Alexandria, Maxville and L’Original and the hospital in Alexandria and many senior events in the South Plantagenet Hall – all with volunteer time and talent.

The Lochiel Strings could not have operated without Lloyd as he was the musical leader and their mentor. He would give them an intro and let them go as he switched to chording. When he retired so did they!

In later years, he took violin lessons from Donald Joseph MacPhee, but would accompany the class on the piano if needed. He played some pieces on the violin, but his main instrument was the piano. His contributions to Celtic Music in Glengarry were many and were ongoing.

Lloyd liked Scottish Marches. Among his favorite tunes were marches such as The Road to the Isles, Glendaruel Highlanders and the Atholl Highlanders. For solo performances, he particularly liked March, Strathspey and Reel combinations.

Scottish Music was his first love and he contributed to it over a lifetime from the late 1940s to 2010 and even into retirement. At his retirement residence, he often accompanied Coral Young who played the violin – much to the delight of the other residents.

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