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January - Studies at Trinity College, Guild Hall and Royal College, London.

January - Record Andrew's Olympic Song for competition, Tooting, London.

February - Margaret creates new costumes for the upcoming season.

April - Rent the London home out to the Split Enz.
May - Return to Aylmer, Qubec to prepare for  1976 concerts.

July - Play the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, Quebec.
August - 7 shows at the National Arts Center, Ottawa.

September - Orillia, Vancouver, Comox,Powell River, Kamloops, 100 Mile House, Williams Lake, Prince George, Smithers, Terrace, Kitimat, Prince Rupert, Skeena River, Sudbury.
October - TVO taping, Toronto.
November - 19 school shows, Ottawa.
December - Stephenville, Cornerbrook, Grand Falls, Gander, Marystown, St. Johns.

December - CBC TV Christmas Show,Ottawa.

December - Fly to London.

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In the summer of 1976, all eyes were on the Montreal Summer Olympics. The Huggett Family represented Canadians in the cultural program at Place des Arts.

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Over the years, the Huggett Family acquired an extensive repertoire of holliday songs and music. The Gloucestershire Wassail is a traditional English Christmas carol from the county of Gloucestershire in England and was a perennial family favorite. The song's first historical references appear around 1790 though the song may well be much older. 



Wassailing. One of Jennifer's many sketches in period style.

Traditional. Arranged by Andrew Huggett

Leslie, vocals, recorder, krumhorn; Margaret, vocals, tenor viol, recorder, krumhorn; Andrew, vocals, violoni, recorder, krumhorn; Jennifer, vocals, bass viol, recorder, krumhorn; Fiona, vocals, violin, recorder. With the Cathedral singers and Ed Honeywell, lute.


The Huggetts were now spending considerable time studying early music with some of the foremost experts in London. Their London home was large with three floors and lots of rooms so that everyone could practice at the same time individually. 

In May, Leslie was approached by a gentleman named Michael Gudinski, who'd been given Leslie's name by somebody at Air Studios. Gudinski, Australian, thin, mid-20s, and wearing an expensive suit, explained that he was looking to rent a house for himself and colleagues who had come to London to make a recording. 

He arrived carrying a briefcase which, having made his purpose clear, he opened. It was full of cash. He explained that they needed somewhere where they could all practice and that the Huggett's home seemed perfect. Further, they needed it precisely for the same time the Huggetts would be in Canada. Strangely, Leslie didn't ask where the cash came from, and a deal was struck. 

Gudinski deftly never said who his colleagues were, but his bespoke manner suggested they were most respectable. His musicians moved in at the beginning of May while the Huggetts were on a two-week holiday in their old stomping ground, Dorset, before their planned return to Canada. On their way to Heathrow, they stopped by the house to pick up their musical instruments, which they'd left in the attic, to find that the musicians in question were not, as they'd naively thought, an up-and-coming New Zealand string quartet but members of the band Split Enz. 

This was a time when it was not uncommon to read about hotel rooms left trashed by transient rockers. As Tim Finn's girlfriend said to Margaret, "Right, well, Michael always pays cash, so when people find out they've rented their place to a rock band, they can't kick us out." However, Split Enz turned out to be model tenants, and in hindsight, the Huggetts were happy to have been able to support them as their career unfolded.

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The Huggett's London home. It had many rooms for practicing and well-suited musicians of all musical genres.


Split Enz, not a New Zealand string quartet, were perfect tenants.

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Michael Gudinski looked most bespoke in a three piece suit carrying a briefcase full of cash.


Nineteen seventy-six was a significant year in the province of Quebec. The City of Montreal would play host to the Games of the XXI Olympiad, as it was officially called, and fall provincial elections would see Rene Levesque and the Partie Quebecois take power. Separatist sentiment ran high throughout the province, including in Montreal. 


The Montreal Olympic Committee ran a competition in search of an original Olympic song after the original Olympic theme song, "Bienvenue à Montréal," recorded by teen sensation René Simard, was boycotted by radio stations who called it unimaginative and over-promotional. Andrew Huggett eagerly, though perhaps somewhat naively, given the prevailing nationalistic sentiment of the time, nonetheless responded to the request for entries with "Canada's First Olympic Games," written in English with French lyrics by Odette Legault. The Huggett Family recorded it in January in London, England. The song, sung by Andrew in both English and French, was not successful. The winning song was 'Je t'aime' by Christian St-Roch and Jean Robitaille, and was recorded by Estelle Sainte-Croix.


On July 17, the Montreal 1976 Summer Olympics opened. Montreal became the second French-speaking city to host the Summer Olympics after Paris, over the bids of Moscow and Los Angeles— and it was the first, and so far, only Summer Olympic Games to be held in Canada. 


The Huggetts, however, hot on the tail of their Grands Ballets Montreal success, were more successful in a bid to perform two concerts at Place Des Arts on July 30th and 31st, as part of the International Olympic Committee and the Canadian Government's official cultural program. In preparations and at the last minute, Leslie decided Margaret should add a brand new song to the program's second half as he felt it was too short - a challenging proposition. To add to Margaret's pressures, a two-week electricity blackout with no running water immediately preceding the Montreal dates made all household routines more difficult. 


The Huggetts arrived in Montreal on July 29th with extra song in hand, looking forward to their hotel's hot showers.


Blackouts were common in Quebec. Two weeks without power or water and the last-minute addition of a new song to the program made preparations for the Montreal show particularly challenging for Margaret Huggett.

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Though their Olympic show was in English only, all Huggetts were working on their french and would soon start touring concerts in both languages.

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Given the political realities in Quebec at the time, the Huggetts considered their engagement as one of 540 international artists to be chosen for the Olympic cultural program to be a huge compliment.

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Nostalgia shows through in a very English way 

Perhaps one of the explanations for the success of the Huggett Family is that most of us secretly wish we were members... not performing in public, of course, but just picking up a songbook or bowing a viol in a casual sort of way for the sheer enjoyment of the thing. It is a nostalgic yearning for our lost amateur status, for the days when most people played or sang, even without formal musical education. 

As for the Huggett Family's success, it is incontestable. In a

cultural festival where anything more than a half-filled theatre has been regarded as a triumph, the Huggetts managed to pack Place Des the Arts on Saturday, the last night of Olympic organizer's month-long program devoted to the arts in Canada. All the Huggetts were there: Leslie and Margaret (the father and mother), Andrew (who plays the lute and works on the folksong arrangements), Jennifer, Ian, and Fiona, all of whom sing and play a variety of instruments that were common in England at the timeof Shakespeare: a chest of

viols, various percussion instruments, recorders, crumhorns, a harpsichord which passed for virginals, a violin which passed for a fiddle — which Leslie must know is not at all the same thing — and, of course, Andrew's lute. All were dressed in modified Elizabethan costumes (although the men's tunics would have been more appropriate to fieldwork than to a musical soiree), and each of their numbers was introduced by Leslie, who also read appropriate atmospheric bits from 16th and 17th-century writers. It was not a


bilingual presentation; in fact, it was very English, which is not surprising considering — the Huggetts moved from England to Ottawa less than ten years ago.In the first half, we were offered a wide selection of instrumental and vocal music by such composers as Dowland, Holborne, Munday, and John Farmer, and even a couple of dances — a galliard and a pavane — executed by the senior Huggetts. For the second part, the Huggetts changed into informal 20th-century costume and performed a number of folksongs, some of them true folksongs, others modern works composed in the folk tradition. All of them were arranged in a very up-to-date manner by Andrew Huggett.lf the Huggetts make us feel we would like to join in, it is because there is no intimidating professionalism in their work. They are not the Dometsch's on a determined quest for authenticity, They all sing and play a number of instruments, and their principal asset is a kind of familiar and easy charm that springs from their love of this repertoire. When they pick up a recorder or take part in a madrigal, the listener's reaction might be: "Why, I could do that!" And if they could persuade some of their audience to do exactly that, their whole career would be justified.

The Huggett Family - Fiona, Ian, Leslie, Margaret, Andrew, Jennifer.

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Once again The Huggett Family returns to the NAC in August of 1976 or a week of concerts.



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Promotional flyer by Jennifer Huggett.


Each year the Huggett Family would take on several one-off concerts as run-outs from the Aylmer Cottage.

In 1976 the Huggetts played the Northern Lights Festival Boréal, an annual music festival in Greater Sudbury, Ontario and one of Canada's oldest music festivals in continuous operation, held every year since 1972 until being shuttered by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Another run-out was Bishops University in Lennoxville, Quebec, once affiliated with the University of Oxford in England. Here Margaret was delighted to find the lighting man was Warrick Ashley, one of her former Orff students from the pre-Huggett Family days. 

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Margaret, Jennifer and Fiona at Bishops University.


Jeunesses Musicales du Canada, 1949-84 was a non-profit organization created to encourage the pursuit of music among Canada's young people and to help talented performers and composers develop their careers in Canada and abroad. 

In British Columbia, JMC was run under the banner of The Festival Concert Society by a man who made an outstanding life-long  contribution to the arts and young people in Canada: one-time banker, composer, pianist, and lifelong businessman for the arts, J. J. Johannesen.

As with many successful people, J.J. Johannesson was of a very energetic and colorful personality. He was a banker from 1956-9 in the Belgian Congo, where he met and married the Canadian pianist Audrey Johnston Johannesen and initiated the Congo's first concert series through the Jeunesses Musicales movement.

More memorable to the younger Huggetts was his story, recounted over shabu-shabu and sake in a Vancouver restaurant, about his single-handed rescue of an entire Congolese village from an onslaught of ferocious army ants. The story ends at sunrise. The village is abandoned except for J.J., clad in his black motorcycle leathers, standing victorious in the village square. He is surrounded by the corpses of thousands of dead army ants, burnt to a crisp. Throughout the night, J. J. had successfully beaten them back by repeatedly igniting petrol from his motorcycle's jerry can as they relentlessly surrounded and attacked him!

The Huggett Family fit the mandate of JMC to a tee. Under Festival Concert's sponsorship, the Huggetts were engaged to play two one-hour school and full evening concerts in Vancouver, Comox, Powell River, Kamloops, 100 Mile House, Williams Lake, Prince George, Smithers, Terrace, Kitimat, Prince Rupert, and Skeena River, British Columbia.

While the tour was not as eventful as J.J.'s encounter with the army ants, it was nonetheless full of many memorable moments. The Huggetts drove from one town to the next. The mountains were magnificent, and the people were generous and welcoming. In Kitimat, the Huggetts were invited to the local sponsor's home for Thanksgiving dinner. In Prince George, where the Family had a few days off, local sponsor Sandy Edgar traded recipes with Margaret (who still has them in her recipe book today)  while her husband took the Huggett children to the family cottage to allow Margaret and Leslie some "adult" time. When the Family arrived early by ferry in Comox, Vancouver Island, there was nowhere open for breakfast. Feeling sorry for them, one of the locals gave them a large frozen salmon instead, which they cooked in their motel's efficiency suite when they got to Powell River later that same day. And, in Williams Lake, 1,500 students turned out for a single afternoon school concert at the local hockey areana, much to the delight of concert organizers.

When the tour was over, the Huggetts flew back to Vancouver from  the Prince Rupert airport, leaving at 5 a.m. This airport is on Digby Island and was accessible only by ferry under a brilliant star-studded pre-dawn sky. The flight was spectacular, flying up the Skeena River bed with the snow-capped Rocky Mountain peaks towering high on both sides of the plane as the sun came up.


Heading for Comox on the ferry - the only breakfast on offer is a frozen salmon.


A pit stop at the Dairy Queen en route to the next town. 


J.J. Johanenesen's sponsorship of the Huggett Family in British Columbia was made possible by additional funds from the Touring Office of the Canada Council.


The Rocky Mountains offered a spectacular backdrop for the B.C. tour, which ran from mid-September to mid-October. 


An afternoon under the cathedral canopy of Stanely Park in Vancouver. Despite its reputation for rain, Vancouver always greeted the Huggetts, who played here numerous times,  with sunny weather.


Audiences were always intrigued by the lute's "broken" neck. The peg board on guitars, mandolins, banjos, and violins do this too so that the strings are pulled down against the nut (otherwise, they would buzz). The lute has a more extreme angle to accommodate its many strings without getting absurdly long and to accommodate performers who often played in cramped spaces. 


In December, the Huggett Family plays Stephenville, Cornerbrook, Grandfalls, Gander, Marystown, and St. Johns. Each community has fine little theatres built during the Centennial celebrations of 1976. 

Again the Family enjoys a warm welcome, but the weather is fridgid and windy. In Marystown, the venue is changed at the last minute when the roof blows off the original location.

On approaching  Stephenville by air, there are some moments of tension when the undercarriage of the DC 8 fails to deploy. The runway is foamed in preparation for a belly landing, which was avoided at the last minute when the crew pulled up the passenger floorboards and hand-cranked the wheels down.

Newfoundland. Wonderful people, frigid winds.



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The above pictures are from a 1976 article published in the British Columbian Northern Times 

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Jan Gordon from Trillium Road Senior Public School, and Arts Critic in the making, offers an excellent account of the Huggett's visit to her school


The Huggetts were received with rapped attention and jaw-dropped awe - much as if they were from another planet, for indeed, everything about them and their performance was like nothing these young audiences had ever seen before.

Canada is a country of vast rural spaces occasionally interrupted by small and modest-sized towns. Its very geography makes access to the arts in any form a challenge. Organizations like Jeunesses Musicales, The Festival Concerts Society, and Overture Concerts, with the assistance of the Canada Council and the Touring Office of the Canada Council, worked hard to bring artists of all disciplines to parts of Canada that would otherwise have been economically unreachable.

Exposing young people to performances that would otherwise be available only to those in large urban centers was crucial to building future audiences and broadening the Canadian experience in general.

Over the years, the Huggett Family performed hundreds of school concerts. With few exceptions, the Huggetts were received with rapped attention and jaw-dropping awe - much as if they were from another planet, for indeed, everything about them and their performance was like nothing these young audiences had ever seen before.

Much like the Huggett's evening performances, these shows included stories, explanations, and humor, with the added bonus of questions and answers. A favorite quote told at both school and evening shows was a description of Elizabeth the First by the Spanish Ambassador of the day, after meeting the Queen for the first time. The quote, delivered by Leslie in a portentous, deliberate voice, and a straight face, went like this:

"Whatever the Queen does, she does well and with gusto. 

She is a brilliant liar.

A penny pincher of great talent 
and an egoist of Royal magnitude.

She enjoys lusty gossip
as well as intellectual discussion.

And has been heard on many a festive occasion
to fart."

This quote always drew large laughs from audiences of all ages. In the early days, the Family often didn't know what Leslie was going to say, and when he used the quote for the first time, the Huggett kids were just as affected as the audience and had great difficulty getting through the next number.

The only audience that didn't react to the quote with laughter was high school students, who uniformly responded with an uncomfortable stir and straight faces as if to say they were above such low-brow humor.


TV Ontario is a commercial-free station primarily funded by the Ontario Government. Initially run by the CBC, it became an independent broadcaster in 1973 and was still finding its feet when the Huggett family recorded a music special for them in the fall of 1976.

Much of the equipment used on this occasion was rented and unfamiliar to the crew. The taping went well into the night with lots of stops and starts due to technical challenges. After 18 long hours, the show's final segment, a dance called La Volta in which the man hurls the girl into the air, went into the can at 5 am.

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Dancing La Volta at 5 am in the morning.


The Huggett's last gig of the year is the tapping of a Holiday special from historic Maplelawn House in Ottawa. The CBC's Paul Gaffney produces the show, which features many traditional carols that Andrew has arranged for the Family.

Deck The Halls With Boughs Of Holly at Maplelawn House in Ottawa, an ideal location for a fireside Holiday broadcast.

The Holly And The Ivy

The Wexford Carol

What Child Is  This

In Dulci Jubilo

Lula Lullaby

Green Grows The Holly

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen



Margaret, sewing needle in hand, puts the finishing touches on a new costume.


Ian and his cousin Simon boating at Aylmer on the Ottawa River.


Ian looking forward to a trek in the wilderness.


At the London home. A coaching session with friend and teacher  Trevor Pinnock (back to camera).


Jennifer engrossed in her book.  All the Huggetts were avid readers.


Leslie was a passionate photographer and is responsible for 98% of the pictures on this site. His favorite subject was Margaret, seen here overseeing Jennifer as she plays the cello.


"Margaret. Go and stand behind Andrew! Ahh! Much better! Now that's a picture!"


En route to the next show, the Family stops for lunch at this beautiful picnic spot along highway 97 in British Columbia.


"Not now, Leslie. I'm trying to practice!"


Leslie, happy to revisit Dorset before returning to Canada.


It's hard to imagine a better team.  Leslie, a motivated visionary unafraid to push the envelope in all directions at once, and Margaret, the consummate organizer, bookkeeper and homemaker.

To 1977