1970 The Andrew Huggett Family  jennifer



January:  Children still at school, Margaret reading everything that relates to early music. Leslie taking seriously the part of manager.

May:  Family together and separately perform in the Ottawa Kiwanis Music Festival.  Ian wins grand prize in the recorder category.

MAY: Family is awarded $10,000 (about 70K in 2022 dollars) Canada Council grant to study early music in U.K.

September: National Arts Centre Studio, Ottawa.  5 performances – renaissance music and our folksongs.

October:  Tour of Saskatchewan – small prairie towns and wonderful people.

Rented a Winnibago bus with room for everything including eating and sleeping.

November: Flew to New York, with all concert paraphernalia and Jen's cello in a cardboard box. Sailed on a Yugolinian freighter to Rijeka.

December: Orient Express from Venice to London.  Met by Margaret's brother Bill with Huggett's newly purchased VW bus.

December: Royal Festival Hall, South Bank, London. Concert of early music and all Huggett Family new folk songs. 

The Andrew Huggett Family Ian drawing
The Andrew Huggett Family Ian Bass Recorder

The 1970 Kiwanis Music Festival

Playing "Bonnie Sweet Robin" on the tenor recorder, Ian overcomes a bungling Kiwanis Festival-supplied accompanist who took three runs at the piece's intro! Unfazed by the other's nerves, Ian executed the piece flawlessly and was awarded an exemplary 96, the year's highest overall score in the recorder category, by adjudicator Mario Duschenes.

Ian Huggett




The Yugolinian freighters' 60  passengers were diverse in age and background, and the 45-day sailing allowed plenty of time for all to get acquainted.  Leslie, who had a facile gift for words, was inspired to write several observational poems, which Andrew turned into songs he arranged for the family to play.  

"Miami Beach" was one such collaboration, here sung by Leslie, back-up vocals by Margaret, Ian on  harmonica, Andrew on guitars, Margareton  bass krummhorn, Jennifer on cello, Fiona on percussion. The family was joined by drummer Kenny Clare; drummer to Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, and Cleo Lane on this London recording.



The last 4 months of 1970 saw many long-term changes in the Huggetts lifestyle.  Parents Leslie and Margaret quit their day jobs as community music teachers and decided to homeschool their children to free up more time for family music.  Leslie had spent much of the year's first 8 months in Huggett Family manager mode.  On the 20th of September, after completing a week of shows at the NAC in Ottawa, the Huggetts flew to the province of Saskatchewan for a month's tour, performing a grand total of 49 concerts under the sponsorship of Barbara Cass-Beggs and The Saskatchewan Junior Concert Society.  


On the day the family was to leave for Saskatchewan, the Huggetts were calmly eating lunch on the back picnic table when they received a call from Air Canada saying their flight would be leaving two hours earlier than scheduled.  A mad dash to the airport ensued.  Upon arrival, they were informed the plane was already taxiing for take-off.  After a brief discussion with the check-in crew, during which Leslie may have raised his voice a notch, the plane was ordered to return to the terminal, and the Huggetts and their 25 pieces of luggage and instruments were boarded.

When the Huggetts got off the plane in Regina, they were met by Saskatchewan Junior Concert organizers.  Margaret remembers them looking skeptically at the group, the youngest of whom was nine, dressed in scruffy hippie attire with their instruments wrapped in cardboard and packing tape.  Perhaps they were having second thoughts about employing a young family of six for a 49 concert tour.  

The Andrew Huggett Family Winnebago 1970

The Winnebago. Technology was still in its early stages.

The SJC hosted the Huggetts for lunch the next day at one of Regina's better restaurants.  Seeking to put the kids at ease, the host assured the children that, should they wish, it was perfectly fine to order a hot dog from the 25-cent kid's menu. One can only imagine the bemused thoughts that must have crossed their minds when 11-year-old Ian, in a clear, confident voice, politely responded with, "No, thank you.  I'll have lobster, seven bucks."

However, any preliminary doubts were soon dispelled the next day when The Huggett Family performed two school shows and an evening concert to a delighted and sold-out audience.

This was the Huggett Family's first concert tour and it became the blueprint for all future tours.   The schedule involved reaching a town in time to do one or two afternoon school concerts and an 8:00 PM show at the local theatre, town hall or community center.  Then to bed and up the following day, early enough to drive to the next town and do the same.

They rented a Winnebago and overnighted at the local campground, occasional schoolyard, or organizer's driveway. In 1970 The Partridge Family TV Show was all the rage, and though not a school bus like in the show, the Winnebago always commanded a certain respect from the younger members of the audience.  Unfortunately, Winnebago technology was still in its early stages, and several warm days were spent with food in the broken refrigerator heating up.  At the same time, the Huggetts had to reach for extra blankets when the propane heater failed to keep up with the cool November nights.  

In Neepawa, the Winnebago's sewage tank froze. In Cabri, the entire town and people from surrounding farms turned out for the show.  In Prince Albert, Margaret came back from the supermarket with the most delicious steak, not bettered to this day, which she fried up on the Winnebago propane stove.  Lost on their way to Prelate during a snowstorm, the Huggetts were rescued by the hitch-hiking and well lubricated Mr. Peterson, who sat in the door-well of the Winnebago, and with a gift for seamless repetition, brought them up to speed on all things local. In Kamsack the Huggett Family were treated to a breakfast of potato latkes and sour cream by their Ukrainian hosts.

The Huggetts were warmly and graciously received by the people of Saskatchewan. One could not have asked for a more positive first of many concert tours.

Video Scot Dunlop

The Huggetts assisted by friends, the Dunlops, at Ottawa Airport, 1970.             

A last minute dash for the train or plane was to become a regular occurrence in the lives of the Huggetts, though this was the only time a plane was turned back for them.

The Andrew Huggett Family Sask Tour 1 1970.jpg

Top left, clockwise. Ian, Andrew, Fiona & Jennifer Sask. 1970

Scot Dunlop



Following Saskatchewan, the Huggetts flew to New York and booked berths on a Yugoslav freighter. In this less litigious time and before insurance costs sky-rocketed, it was common for commercial freighters to augment their service by carrying a few passengers. On October 21st, The Huggett Family, with their 25 pieces of baggage and Jens cello (now having survived two flights in its cardboard box) boarded the Jugolinia Line's  S.S. Tuhobic in New York. After spending a month in a Winnebago, this was a real treat! Accommodation and food were comparatively luxurious, and in this time, before container ships, you could spend up to a week, more if the dockers were on strike, in a single port which allowed for some serious sightseeing. In 1970, the adult fare was under $400. Children were half price. The trip took 39 days, calling at Philadelphia, Norfolk, Savannah, Lisbon, Tangier, Gibraltar, Malaga, Cagliari, Naples (where Ian's violin playing was coached by two Italian dock workers), Messina, Venice, and Rijeka. A bargain even by 1970 prices.

For Leslie, this trip became an unexpected time for personal reflection, prompting a once-in-his-lifetime outpouring of poems, both personal and observational. These Andrew turned into the songs, which became one of the critical factors leading to a recording contract with George Martin a couple of years later.

The Andrew Huggett Family Yugolsav  freighter

The Yugoslav Tuhobic. Home for 45 days and backdrop for Andrew and Leslie's first son writing efforts.

The Andrew Huggett Family Savana

Loading logs in Savana, Georgia.

The Andrew Huggett Family Jennifer cello

The cello travelled in a cardboard box.

The Andrew Huggett Family Margret

Working out a new song, apparently a bit of a sleeper.

The Andrew Huggett Family Dinner on the Tuhobic

Surprisingly good food and service.

The Andrew Huggett Family Ian on Freighter

Ian watches as the tugboats corral a fellow freighter

The Andrew Huggett Family Jennifer Huggett Leslie on the Tuhobic

Leslie Huggett, lyricist.

The Andrew Huggett Family in Venice

Ashore in Venice.

The Andrew Huggett Family Jennifer Huggett

Jennifer Huggett. Day one of the voyage.

The Andrew Huggett Family Jennifer knitting

Jennifer passing time at sea.

The Andrew Huggett Family Ian violin Naples

Naples dock workers do a little music coaching.

Dad & Andrew Frieghter 1970.jpg

Taller than Dad?

The Andrew Huggett Family Margaret freighter

Definitely taller than Mom!

The Andrew Huggett Family kaftan

Andrew's outfit purchased in Tangiers.

The Andrew Huggett Family Jennifer
The Andrew Huggett Family Tuhobic

Enroute for Rijeka. Boats were a lot smaller in 1970.

The Andrew Huggett Family pigeons in Venice
The Andrew Huggett Family Margaret guitar

More music in the ships lounge.

The Andrew Huggett Family in Savana Georgia 1970

More hard work in Savana, Georgia.

The Andrew Huggett Family Tuhobic Cabin

Nice big cabins!


Jennifer, day 44.  "Are we there yet?"

Ian, Jennifer and Fiona. San Marco Square, Venice.

Fiona. Early December in Venice.

Upon reaching Rijeka, the Huggetts hired a van to take them to Venice where they caught the Orient Express to London. Counter to popular belief, the Orient Express is not a train but several routes connecting various points in Europe with Istanbul. This particular train was not of the Agatha Christie, Hollywood variety. Border officials at Trieste insisted on inspecting all 25 pieces of luggage and checked inside every instrument.  The Huggett's arrived in Venice with no time to spare. Leslie, frugal by nature, did not favour porters who expected to be tipped so as seasoned travellers, the Huggett's had developed a relay system for getting their baggage from one place to another. In this case, Fiona was left to "guard" the bags at the drop-off while the others, except for Leslie, ran them through the station and along the platform.  Upon reaching rail-car 34 they handed them up to Leslie, who was hanging out of the train window. In London, the family was  met by Margaret's brother Bill, in their newly purchased canary yellow VW bus.

The Andrew Huggett Family VW Bus
The Andrew Huggett Family Jennifer sketch

Jennifer Huggett


Leslie hired a London publicity firm to promote the Huggett's Royal Festival Hall concert. When the family arrived in London, interviews had been arranged with many of the major newspapers. On December 17th, the Huggett Family played to a sold-out crowd in the Purcell Room of The Royal Festival Hall in London's prestigious South Bank.

London Festival Hall Program The Andrew Huggett Family pg 1 1970.jpg

The London Evening Standard


December 11, 1970

Guardian Angels of the happy family
The Andrew Huggett Family Evening Standard

Photograph: Chris DJOCANOVIC

by  Fiona MacCarthy

NOT MANY golden-headed little girls of 9 can play A baroque instrument. Fiona Huggett can play several. Her sister and two brothers, and mother and father, are taking part in an extraordinary program of Baroque, Renaissance and folk music, and poetry in the Purcell Room at the Festival Hall tomorrow night. The Huggett family players are phenomenal. They come from Canada, where they are very famous. Among other things, they play the spinet, the Baroque oboe, the Renaissance recorder, the Baroque bassoon, the rankett, and the krumhorn. The Oxford Dictionary, sounding baffled, calls the krumhorn "an obsolete wind instrument of curved form." They gave their first family concert in New York four years ago at the suggestion of an eccentric stockbroker with a Greek Amphitheater standing vacant. This is the sort of thing that happens to the Huggetts. The Ensemble was an astonishing success. Leslie and Margaret Huggett, both of whom in fact are English, worked as professional musicians in

London before they emigrated to Canada in 1954, and trained the children on their own. It takes time to play the krumhorn. The children began music lessons at the age of 6. The Huggetts are a very happy, self-sufficient family. They need to be, for often, they get up and go on travels to study and compose. They spent a year in Greece, and for the last five weeks, they have been traveling to England on a Yugoslav Freighter. Very slow and picturesque. Their resourcefulness rivals the Swiss Family Robinson's. As well as making their own music, they are busy composing their own poetry and baking their own bread. Margaret makes the robes and tunics they wear for their concerts in good rich Baroque colours. The Huggett Family are successful as musicians and also successful just because they are a family. In the fragmentation of modern society, they see themselves as Guardians, even symbols, of the family. They tentatively say that their way of life may demonstrate to others undreamed of possibilities in family living. Indeed it does. 

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