Métis fiddler Angus Beaulieu remembered as a bona fide legend


Tributes are pouring in for Master Métis fiddler Angus Beaulieu of Fort Resolution, who passed away on the weekend.

He was 89 years old.

The Northwest Territories Métis Nation posted this photo of Angus and his unique fiddle on social media.

Former MLA for the region, Tom Beaulieu, knew Angus as his uncle, as he was his dad’s second cousin.

Tom remembers Angus giving an impromptu concert when visiting his uncle’s house, which was crammed with memorabilia from his decades of touring through the North.

“He recognizes that I’m not a musician, (but he) would set up this little organ with pedals on it and he got on the fiddle and Auntie Dorothy would use the spoons. And they played music for me and my wife,” says Tom.

“I probably have the last recording of him on his fiddle … during the evacuation, I was evacuated to Fort Res because I happened to be in Hay River working and during one of my visits, he was playing the fiddle and I recorded it.”

Angus was born in 1934 and spent his life on the land, visiting his trapline by dog sled, or pulling nets out of Great Slave Lake. He was interested in local history and kept his family tree memorized – something he would share later in life with his nephew.

Metis Annual Assembly in Fort Norman (Tulita). Dorothy Beaulieu (centre left), Angus Beaulieu (centre) NWT Archives/Native Communications Society fonds – Native Press photograph collection/N-2018-010: 03119

Tom noted his uncle was a jack of all trades and even built his own motel a few decades ago, which was named Beaulieu Motel. It was recently sold.

“He could do electrical, he could do plumbing, he was an oil burner mechanic and he could do carpentry, said Tom. “He got some help here and there, but for the most part, he would build it himself).”

The Kole Crook Fiddle Association remembers the great Metis Master Fiddler as being a beautiful person, an amazing Fiddler and a “bona fide legend” n in the North.

“He (and his Band “The Native Cousins”) entertained and thrilled audiences for over fifty years and there will never be another like him,” read a social media post.

Former CBC Trailbreaker host Loren McGinnis knew Angus well.

“Rest in Peace dear Angus.  You were a wonderful gift to all of us in the fiddle world.”

“Wherever we go when we’re done here, they just got a great fiddle (player) in the band. “

The Northwest Territories Métis Nation posted on social media that the members of the organization, “are deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Angus Beaulieu.”

The Northwest Territories Métis Nation posted this photo of Angus and Dorothy on social media.

“A master Métis fiddler and an inspiration to many, Angus has blessed the North with entertainment for over 50 years, and he will be missed,” stated the organization, posting a photo with Angus playing his one-of-a-kind fiddle emblazoned with the Métis flag.

The Métis Nation also posted a photo of Angus later in life, with his wife Dorothy at his side.

Angus’s grandfather essentially raised him and had a fiddle at home, which became the object of the youth’s desire.

Angus told interviewer Pat Braden in one of the Musicians of the Midnight Sun podcasts how his first square dance performance went:

“Everybody got on the floor and I started playing a square dance and everybody started dancing. I didn’t realize how long the dances were, even though I’ve been at many dances I didn’t get very far and my arms were tired and slowing down. Finally, I couldn’t go any further, so I stopped.

Angus Beaulieu playing the fiddle in the 1980s with Native Cousins. Photo by Tom Ross. NWT Archives/Native Communications Society fonds – Native Press photograph collection/N-2018-010: 5278

“They told me it’s not over yet and wanted some more, some more. I tried. I couldn’t. I got so embarrassed. Everybody’s looking at me, so I put the fiddle down and ran home. I was embarrassed. I felt like crying and I just I thought I’m never going to touch that fiddle again. All kinds of things went through my mind and the next day.”

But he persisted and his musical skills blossomed.

Angus has mentored many generations of musicians in the North. This despite not reading music and being essentially illiterate, as he did not have much of an education.

One story Angus loves to took place in the summer of 1966, when he had a wedding performance booked in Hay River.

That’s when he had to walk to Hay River from Fort Res, as there was no road in those days. The gear was piled into a wagon with large spoked wooden wheels and they trekked along for some 100 kms.

They arrived in time for the wedding.

Native Cousins band playing for a dance during the Dene National Assembly held in Fort Resolution September 1983. Left to right: Allen Cardinal, Tony Buggins, unidentified drummer, Cecil Lafferty, and Angus Beaulieu (fiddler). Photo by Lee Selleck. NWT Archives/Native Communications Society fonds – Native Press photograph collection/N-2018-010: 11707




Feature photo: Angus Beaulieu & Cecil Lafferty. Photo taken by Tessa Macintosh. NWT Archives/Northwest Territories. Department of Public Works and Services fonds/G-1995-001: 3246

About the Author

James O'Connor
James O’Connor joined CKLB 101.9 FM at the start of 2024, after working as a journalist, photo editor and managing editor at newspapers in Manitoba and the Northwest Territories. James also has experience in politics, arts, service clubs and the NWT’s non-profit sector. At this point in his lengthy career, James is thrilled to be working at such a unique media outlet and always welcomes notes from listeners at: james.oconnor@cklbradio.com.