The Scottish Studies "Oor Club" is held each month at noon at the Duke of York pub in Toronto (steps from the St. George subway station). Guests are invited to give presentations on a variety of topics of interest to members of the Scottish Studies Foundation and others interested in the things that Scots in Canada and overseas are getting up to. The presentations usually lasts about an hour (pronounced "oor" in Scots), hence the name. Everyone is invited to attend as the meetings are open to all.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Transatlantic Connections with Margaret Christl

Folk Music of Scotland, Canada and the USA

Margaret Christl was born in Scotland, the daughter of a coal miner, and came to Canada in 1966. She has lived and performed in North America ever since. Strong traces of her Scottish background are evident in her powerful singing, and in the folk songs and working-class anthems that she loves to perform.

Her talent was recognized when Maggie was a child, and she has continued her singing ever since. When you hear Maggie you are immediately aware that you are in the company of a truly great singer. Maggie's exquisite singing can move people through nuances of emotion with a beauty and honesty that makes them feel enriched by having heard her. You leave a Margaret Christl concert knowing that you have been with one of the finest singers of our time.

Maggie's repertoire encompasses a wide range of material from traditional songs, such as Child Ballads, to her own compositions. Her songs bring tears to your eyes. They give hope, make you smile or tap your feet; they give you a sense of poignancy of our common humanity.

Margaret has stood under a single spotlight alone on a stage, singing to thousands of people, and she has sat in cozy living rooms performing at house concerts. In whatever venue, she brings trust and commitment to the integrity of the songs and a spirit of warmth and friendliness to her audience.

She has spent more than 30 years singing the traditional music of Scotland and Canada. She has performed at every major folk festival in Canada and the United States. She has sung in Toronto's Massey Hall, represented Canada in Brisbane Australia at the World's Fair, and performed many times with the late Peter Gzowski.

In the tradition of the teachers of the old songs, Maggie Christl carries the torch with grace, power and clarity. Margaret has 5 albums to her credit. Her latest CDs, House of Song and The Picture In My Mind include five and three original compositions respectively.

In December 2007 Margaret Christl was inducted into the Porcupine Awards Hall of Fame, and received the Golden Porcupine for Lifetime Achievement. The Porcupines, given out by Steve Fruitman of CIUT-FM, were introduced in 1990 as a way to shine light on those who deserve to be noted for their work at enshrining Canadian folklore.

Margaret Christl and Michael Johnston

Margaret will be joined by her husband Michael Johnston and Scots folk legend Jim Strickland. Michael has a has a BA in English and, as well as being a published short story writer, has mastered the difficult task of playing Scottish fiddle tunes in standard tuning on the guitar. He has toured extensively with Margaret as her accompanist and is proud of his Scottish ancestry: his family were evicted from Islay and made the journey to Canada in 1800s and still operate an 11 sections farm in Saskatchewan.

Jim Strickland is a true interpreter of Scottish folk songs, having learnt the oral traditions of such distinguished artists as Norman Kennedy and Jeannie Robertson, MBE - herself recorded by the School of Scottish Studies in Scotland. For 10 years he was instrumental in the running of the Fiddler's Green folk club in Toronto which exposed the talents of many folk song artists here in Canada, including such great singers as Enoch Kent; this will be a rare appearance by this knowledgeable singer.

The cost to attend Oor Club is by way of a $5 donation to the Scottish Studies Foundation. Wide selections of pub lunches are available, typically costing between $5 and $15. The gathering begins at about 11.30 am and usually ends by about 2 pm. Everyone is welcome and pleased be assured that you do not have to be Scottish to attend!

For more information you can telephone Pearl Grieve-Nixon at 416-926-7233. or you can email the Foundation at

The Duke of York, 39 Prince Arthur Avenue,
near the St. George subway station
(Bedford Road exit)
in the heart of downtown Toronto.

Map showing the location of the "Duke of York"