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  • January - Lessons, research and costume making, London.

  • May - Relocate to Niagara-On-The-LakeCanada.

  • July - Nine shows at the Shaw Festival, Niagara-On-The-Lake.

  • September - Record lute solos for My Lute Awake record album, Ottawa.

  • October - Ste. Perpétu, La Pocatière, Ste. Pascal, Rivierè-du-Loup, Edmunston, Bathhurst, Sydney, Saint Pierre Miquelon, Lunenburg, Church Point, Shediac, Dieppe, Moncton, Campellton, Carleton, Chandler, Îles de la Madeleine, Gaspé, Ste. Anne des Monts, Amqui, Rimouski, Cap Rouge, Ste. Georges de Beauce and Quebec City. 

  • November - Record Michelle, Ottawa.

  • November -  John's Hopkins University, Baltimore. 

  • December - Toronto, Whitby, Meaford, Chatham, Guelph, Niagara-On-The-Lake, and St. Catherines.


The Huggett Family take up residence in Niagara- On-The-Lake as Artists in Residence at the Shaw Festival. 



Leslie, krumhorn; Margaret, percussion; Andrew, krumhorn; Jennifer, krumhorn; Fiona, percussion.; Ian, krumhorn.


The Huggett's first half theme for the year is "At The Field of the Cloth of Gold." It's based on the magnificent meeting between Henry the eighth of England and Francis the first of France in 1521. Typical of the times, one-upmanship between the Kings was the order of the day. This is a ceremonial Basse Dance by the French composer and music publisher Pierre Attaingnant. It captures the pomp and ceremony characteristic of such occasions.


The Field Of The Cloth Of Gold, 1521. The two kings can be seen wrestling in the gold tent, upper left.


Andrew remains in Canada to take a part-time teaching position at Ottawa University. The rest of the Family return to the London house for five months of music lessons and ensemble coaching. Traditionally, the first half of a Huggett Family show revolves around an historical theme. This year's theme is "At The Field of the Cloth of Gold," based on the magnificent meeting between Henry the eighth  and Francis the first to negotiate peace in Europe in 1521. The event was held in Calais, the cloth-of-gold referring to the material used for the Royal Pavilions.

Margaret writes the show using quotes from sixteenth-century first-hand observers. For the first time, all family members will participate in delivering commentary. Given the subject matter, the show is also produced in French. Margaret acquires material at places like John Lewis on Oxford Street for the making of new costumes. This year she purchases some gold-colored brocade that she will dye into shades of bronze in the washing machines of the Shaw Festival costume department.

In Canada, Andrew embellishes the first half period music and arranges new folk songs for the concert's second half. 


Margaret's new costumes for At The Field Of The Cloth OF Gold. Richer textures but still travelable.

When the Huggett Family first started performing, it was often necessary to search the libraries of English universities for new period music. This was very time-consuming, but with interest in Early Music swiftly on the rise, newly discovered material is continuously being published by universities and music publishers. Now, finding music for the shows is much easier. The Family returns to Canada in May with a treasure trove of new material, settling once again in the cottage in Aylmer, Quebec, where they start final rehearsals of "At The Field of the Cloth of Gold." 

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As the 1970s progressed, interest in early music grew by leaps and bounds. By 1978 there were many new music publications every year, including these, which were researched and edited by Edgar Hunt, one of the Huggett's principal teachers at Trinity College.


Margaret's 1978 costume and music accounts kept for tax purposes. In 1969, when the Huggetts first started traveling to England, the Canadian dollar's purchasing power was twice that of the British pound. This made it easy for the Huggetts to buy instruments, music, and costume materials. 


The situation had reversed entirely by the time the Huggetts left England permanently in 1982. Due to British inflation, the Canadian dollar's purchasing power had shrunk by 75%, making everything in England twice as expensive as in Canada.



The Shaw Festival was founded in 1962 by lawyer/playwright/producer Brian Doherty. It is the only theater festival in the world devoted to producing plays by George Bernard Shaw and his contemporaries.


The festival's music program complements its theatre season. In the 70s, it featured artists like Oscar Peterson, Liona Boyd, Maureen Forrester, and Dinah Christie. At the end of June, the Huggetts move to Niagara-On-The-Lake and rent a fine house on Gate Street just down the road from the Oban Inn. During July, they perform Sunday and Wednesday matinees at the Courthouse Theatre. 


Jennifer recounts, "The house was a large three-story building with plenty of rooms for practicing. Our next-door neighbor was the captain of the Maid of The Mist, the tour boat that ventures right up to Niagara Falls, and we could easily walk to all the restaurants and theatres in town, including the Courthouse Theatre, where we did our shows.


For trips further afield, we had our bicycles on which we spent many hours exploring the beautiful surroundings. The area was generally very peaceful except for one occasion when the Festival  Doctor's pink Cadillac exploded a couple of blocks away. The good doctor had a reputation with the ladies, and speculation was that a disgruntled husband was responsible for the explosion! We were also able to take in all of the other Shaw productions, which was a real treat. For us kids this was our first introduction to theater of such a high standard."


Top billing at the Shaw Festival. The York Winds, Oscar Peterson, Anna Russell, and Leona Boyd made solo appearances that year. 


The Shaw Festival's Courthouse Theatre - two shows a week on Sundays and Wednesdays.


Jennifer playing the cello on stage during the second half of the show at the Courthouse Theatre.


On Gate Street en route to the Courthouse. Every thing was walking distance from the house.

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Do see these charmers

If you go to one of the concerts of The Huggett Family at the Shaw Festival, Niagara-on-the Lake, you will feel the genes of your ancestors stirring inside you.

This engaging mother and father, with their two handsome sons and two beautiful daughters, specialize in performing the songs and dances of 15th and 16th century France and England.

And even though they accompany themselves on the half-forgotten instruments of those days, the lute, flute, recorder, viol, and virginal, their music sounds vaguely familiar. We feel we have heard it all before, long, long ago. The melodies, soft and sweet, prick memories we have inherited. Some of them brought tears to my eyes. This is very atavistic

By chance or design, The Huggetts program also encourages a spirit of Canadian unity by revealing how close are people of English and French descent in cultural expressions.

Many of their songs are in English, and many in French, and some seem to be in a mixture of the two languages.

Judging by their accents, the parents, Leslie and Margaret Huggett are southern English

immigrants. The children, Andrew, Jenifer, Ian, and Fiona, ranging in age from 25 to 17, speak with Canadian accents. Living in Ottawa has helped them all to become bilingual. They sing in flawless French.

Before each song, one or another of the Family, in a delightfully whimsical manner, tells an anecdote related to the lyric or score or describes the setting in which it first was sung.

A major part of the program, for example, consists of ballads sung at The Field Of The Cloth Of Gold, the site near Calais of a great pageant at which the courts of Henry VIII of England and Francis I of France celebrated their friendship in 1520.

It was the biggest party ever held. The guests from England alone numbered more than 5,000.

The lyrics and melodies of four of the songs, HelasMadame, En Vray Amotr, Taunder Naken, and Pastime With Good Company, were composed by Henry VIII.
The Huggetts explain that Henry always composed his love songs in French and his drinking songs in English. The first are tenderly beautiful, and the second hearty and lusty. Clearly, Henry was not only a gallant soldier and ardent lover but a musician of outstanding quality.

Leslie Huggett, the head of the Family, performs stately court dances, sometimes with his wife Margaret and sometimes with his daughter Jennifer, explaining the steps and telling the audience how and why they originated.

Partner dancing began primarily to give couples a chance to gossip or make illicit love to each other out of earshot of other guests. The choreography of every dance is authentic. Every step is based on records studied in France by Mrs. Huggett.|

In the second half of the program, the Huggetts sing old English and French ballads, plus folk songs composed by their elder son Andrew: and his sweetheart, Odette Legault.

One of the loveliest items is The Oak And The Ash, sung by the entire Family while each member plays an ancient instrument. Most schoolchildren know the first lines:

"A North Country maid up to London had strayed. Although, with her nature, it did not agree..."

Another is Searching For Lambs, a love song about the sons and

daughters of shepherds meeting and falling in love while looking for lost sheep. These songs are full of fascinating sidelights on social history during the Renaissance.

The contemporary folk songs composed by Andrew Huggett and Odette Legault cleave in sentiment and melody to classical English and French styles with undertones of modern harmonies and breaks into syncopated

A French song, Michelle, is in the contemporary cafe chantant style and would make an excellent number for Charles Aznavour. Andrew Huggett sings it solo while accompanying him-
self on a modern guitar.

The Huggett Family provides a charming example of how talented parents and children, working together, can devise a smash hit show. They have packed houses in London and Paris and have played coast to coast in Canada.

They may be seen at the Court House Theatre in Niagara-On-The-Lake every Wednesday and Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. throughout July. Don't miss them.

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October finds the Huggetts touring again. This time under the auspices of the Quebec chapter of Jeunesses Musicales. They fly to Quebec City and are met by the tour organizer, who has arranged a rental van that they will self-drive from town to town.


Margaret remembers, "The organizer met us with the van, but there were no seat belts! When we said we needed them, she said, "No problem," and handed us a handful of loose belts. Two days later, after playing the first two shows, the van's sliding door fell off. We are told to prop it up as best we can until the sponsor can arrange a replacement vehicle. 

The tour itinerary includes more crossing of routes than is ideal because of the restrictive topography and our sponsors, who had timetables of their own to consider. 27 shows in 30 days.

We pick up the new vehicle in Rivière-du-Loup. It not only has a functioning door but all its seatbelts too! 


We set off with new confidence and play Edmunston, Sussex, and Sydney, from where we fly to Saint Pierre et Miquelon, which is close to the shore of Newfoundland. It is a French protectorate, and everything from cars to cheese is imported from France. 

On stepping off the little plane, we immediately feel like we are in Europe. The food is beyond excellent. We have the finest coffee and croissant for breakfast and smoked pheasant and salmon for lunch. For supper, as guests of the local sponsor, it's coquilles St Jacque with the plumpest juiciest of scallops and fine french wine. 


Road signs and automobiles also come from France. It's a Saturday evening, and we sit in a cafe on the street corner, watching the Citroens drive by. Within 10 minutes, the same cars drive by again. And again, 10 minutes after that! The sponsor explains that there is only 1 mile of drivable road on the island! 


Jennifer and Fiona quickly become friends with a young lady who's an intern at the local radio station, which is on strike (thereby completing the illusion that one is indeed in France), and letters pass back and forth between the three for some time afterward.


This could have been a foggy time of year, but we are blessed with fine weather for our return flight to Canada's mainland. This is fortunate as we have a long drive to Lunenburg and arrive just in time for our next performance. Sadly we can't control the timetable. It would have been nice to spend more time in this picturesque town which boasts the reconstructed Bluenose II racing schooner.


The tour itinerary includes more crisscrossing routes than is ideal because of local topography and the needs of our sponsors, who have timetables of their own to consider.


The next concert is at a Seminary near Digby, where the priest in charge is hugely enthusiastic. He reminds us of Edgar Hunt, our dear recorder and viol coach at Trinity College in London. Then, in keeping with the mandate of Jeunesses Musicales, we're on to Bathurst for four days of school concerts. In charge is a very enlightened head of music.


Next, we play in Chandler, after which a small boat takes us 120km out into the Gulf of St. Lawrence to Îlse de Madeline, which seems to be formed out of long strips of sand dunes that rise out of the ocean. Despite our short stay, our hosts are fine people who want us to see everything the town offers. Their town tour includes stops for hearty seafood meals served in the only restaurant in town where we enjoy sitting down with the locals to hearty local cuisine.


The following day we are taken back to the mainland and drive to the scenic town of Gaspé. From here, we work our way along the south shore of the St Lawrence River, playing in Ste. Anne des Monts, Amique, and Rimouski. Then we cross over the St Lawrence River to historic Quebec City. We are not strangers to Quebec City, having visited the year before with Romeo and Juliet, and we are welcomed as returning friends. After two days in Quebec City, we return to Ottawa with 27 performances in 30 days under our belts."


Margaret in Quebec City. The Huggetts flew to Quebec City, where they picked up a rental van for the tour. 


Margaret, Jennifer, and Fiona. Traveling the 120 km to Ilse de Madeline on a small charter.

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Margaret and Fiona in Lunenburg. Unfortunately the Huggetts weren't there long enough to enjoy all it's beautiful sites.


In November, the Huggett Family fly via Pittsburgh to Baltimore and perform for the students and faculty of the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University. To this day, Johns Hopkins and the Peabody Institute are leading edge proponents of Early Music in the United States. The Peabody Renaissance Ensemble was founded in 1988 by Mark Cudek, ten years after the Huggett's visit. The Peabody Institute continues to research and offer graduate studies in many areas of Early Music. 

Andrew recalls, "There is much red tape and hoop jumping required before we are allowed into the states. US Customs think we will sell our instruments in the US without paying import duties, which is, of course, ridiculous. Prior to leaving, Mom spends many hours getting all the documentation in order. However, it still takes an excessive amount of time to get through customs. But the effort is worth it. We are warmly welcomed by our US sponsor. We are billeted in the apartment used by Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald in the thirties, a spacious venue with an oversized kitchen for catering wild parties! After the concert, Jennifer and I are taken by our sponsor to see a newly-made electron microscope, frozen to absolute zero to reduce vibration and still under development, through which we can see a single atom." 

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Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald's apartment where Fitzgerald wrote the Great Gatsby and the Huggett Family was billeted.


A cryo-electron microscope and the polaroid (inset) of the atom Jennifer and Andrew saw at Johns Hopkins.


In December, the Huggetts return to Niagara-On-The-Lake. Here they perform a week of Christmas concerts at the Shaw Festival Theatre. These are followed by shows in Toronto, Whitby, Guelph, and Meaford. Tight scheduling requires they skip the reception planned by the Meaford sponsors so they can be up again at 3 am to drive 350km to Chatham for an 8:30 school show.


A  Huggett Family show was musically eclectic. The combination of madrigals, old and new folk songs, stories and jokes, and accessible music performed on period instruments by a real family, made for a show that appealed to a broad demographic.

However, in a time before music videos, it was hard to capture the charm and musical variety of a Huggett Family show on record. The first album, released in 1973, had secured substantial airplay and moderate sales. But, from a pop perspective, George and Leslie's attempt to create a more commercial sound hadn't attracted a substantially greater pop audience. The second album, being all Renaissance, was a complete non sequitur. It failed to build on the limited ground swell established by the first album and made getting radio airplay, a key component in driving sales, difficult. By 1978 the Huggett Family and George Martin had amicably parted company. 

Andrew:  "On the heels of his success with the Beatles, George was going through a period of personal growth, taking on projects based on his personal interests. We were lucky to be one of those projects. I think it's fair to say that both George and the Family learned a lot from working together. Of course, we couldn't teach him anything about the pop world. But, I think he learned much about Early Music, and I believe he enjoyed the experience. As for us, we gained invaluable studio experience and came out with two first-rate albums. For me, working with George was an apprenticeship that no amount of money could have bought and laid the foundation for the studio career I pursued when the Family finished. In hindsight, perhaps we should have included music from all musical genres on every record rather than making records that were either just Renaissance or Folk. To do so would have been to ignore all industry norms. Still, it would have been a better musical reflection of who we were; and who knows, we might have sold more records. While we all would have been delighted if the records had sold millions, I think it's fair to say the relationship with George was positive on both sides, and George and family members stayed in touch until his passing."  

In the fall of 1978, the Family started to self-produce their third album, My Lute Awake. It featured Andrew playing Lute repertoire from the late 16th and early 17th centuries interspersed with period music for viols and voices.


Ian Huggett

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Andrew Huggett recording lute solos for My Lute Awake at Marc Productions in Ottawa. The following year, the whole Family returned to the studio to complete the rest of the album.

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Dowland The Earl of Essex Galliard

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Gregorio Huwet Lute Fantasia

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Dowland Lady Chifton's Spirit

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Dowland Lute Fantasia

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Anon. Basse Dance

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Lawrencini Fantasia

00:00 / 00:54

Dowland Mrs Winter's Jump



Fiona, Margaret, and Jennifer. Niagara-On-The-Lake is surrounded by southern Ontario's fruit farms.


Jennnifer on the Cottage steps.


Fiona, Jennifer and Margaret.  Tea nn the steps of the Aylmer Cottage.


Jennifer, Ian, Andrew and Fiona auditioning some new string music at the Gate Street house.


Jennifer working on her math.  All the kids did a couple of ours of school a day.


Fiona plants some colour at the Cottage.


Ian, Jennifer, Margaret, and Fiona. Which way to the beach?


Jennifer, Margaret, and Fiona keep up with world events.


Fiona, Jennifer, and Margaret. Picking fruit along the Niagara Parkway.

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A Huggett Family concert is promoted on the cover of a local community magazine.


Margaret, Jennifer, and Fiona check out a local vendor's fruit.

To 1979