Hockley Valley Music Camp   

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Camp Information

Fiddle Camp History

The Hockley Valley Music Camp was the inspiration of Willis McNeilly, a tireless supporter of old time fiddle music. His dream was to open the first fiddle and step dance camp east of Sasketchewan.  Originally named the Ontario Academy of Old Tyme Music, the first camp was held in 1995 at the Ecology Retreat Center. 

Willis McNeilly
Willis G. McNeilly

The camp has since operated every year at the same location in Ontario's beautiful Hockley Valley, and over the years has developed a family type atmosphere. Camp registration is limited so that the atmosphere remains friendly and relaxed.  In 1999 with the passing of Graham Townsend, a noted Canadian fiddler and composer, Willis changed the name of the camp to the "Graham Townsend Memorial Fiddle, Piano & Step-Dance Camp". 

Every morning at 7:00 am Uncle Willis would start the camp day off with his own piano session playing his extensive repertoire of beautiful dance melodies from the 40's and 50's. Phil would be allowed to join in on mandolin. 

Always present at the camp was Willis' brother Ray, also a tireless supporter of Canadian fiddle music and a founder of the annual fiddle contest held in Bobcaygeon, Ontario. Ray loved the sessions, and at every lull in the playing delighted in calling out the tunes he wished the fiddlers to play - especially "Walking Up Town!" 

Ray McNeilly
Ray McNeilly
May 29, 1925 -Dec 10,2005

After the 2004 camp Willis decided that it was time to step down and turned operation of the camp over to Phil Howes and Debbie Herriot-Howes, both of whom had been instructors at the camp since 1999. In the fall of 2004 the camp was renamed the Hockley Valley Music Camp. 

The Hockley Valley Music Camp is a special place, very friendly and family oriented. The limited registration and class sizes assure everyone of an enjoyable learning experience and renewing of old friendships and development of new friendships every year. 

 

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