This site will look much better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device.

The American Morris Newsletter

July, 2007 -- Volume 27, Number 2


Canada, 1929: The English Folk Dance and Song Society Tour

Daniel Stone

Morris dancers seldom read about themselves in the newspapers let alone find headlines like this: "MORRIS DANCERS IN NOVEL TREAT," with the sub-headline: "Charm Large Audiences . . . With Simple But Artistic Interpretation." These words appeared on page nineteen of a Winnipeg newspaper, rather than on the front page, but my team would be delighted with it and yours probably would be, too. Unfortunately for us, the article appeared in 1929 and it reported a performance by the English Folk Dance Society in our best theatre - not our 2007 show in a church basement. But Morris dancers should still be pleased to learn about this performance and others like it because they give us our own past and make us part of a long dance tradition.

In Fall 1929, fourteen English dancers (seven men and seven women) performed in Toronto, Regina, Yorkton, Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, and Montreal after stopping in several United States cities. Visits to Ottawa, Halifax, and Edmonton had to be cancelled for lack of time. Led by Douglas Kennedy, President of the English Folk Dance Society [EFDS] from 1925 to 1961 (now the English Folk Dance and Song Society) and the Morris Ring from 1938 to1947, the EFDS "headquarters team" included luminaries such as Joan Sharp, daughter of the recently deceased Cecil Sharp, founder of the English Folk Dance Society; Maud Karpeles, Sharp's closest collaborator and literary executor; her sister Helen Karpeles Kennedy, wife of Douglas Kennedy; May Gadd, National Director of EFDS's American counterpart, the Country Dance and Song Society. and its predecessors from 1927 until1972; and Imogen Holst, daughter of composer, Gustav Holst.1

Three musicians also came on the tour. May Hobbs played piano and Elsie Avril played violin, generally with piano and sometimes unaccompanied, while Clive Carey sang folk songs by themselves and, sometimes, along with the dances. Carey was a well-known opera singer who had toured Canada in 1928 as Macheath in The Beggar's Opera and returned in later years to sing folk songs. Before World War I, he collected and published both folk songs and Morris dances, organizing musical activities for Mary Neal's Esperance Girls' Club. Clive's participation shows that the bitter rivalry was ending between Mary Neal and the Esperance Club, on the one hand, and Cecil Sharp and EFDS, on the other. Two dancers added to the music. Joan Sharp played pipe and tabor for Morris jigs and Imogen Holst played piano solos.2

The tour was organized by the National Council of Education (NCE), a Winnipeg-based group that hoped to create national standards of education uniting the ten Canadian provinces and two territories. A group of public-spirited citizens headed by businessman W.J. Bulman, President of the Winnipeg School Board, started to organize in 1917 to achieve a clearer sense of Canadian national identity, higher educational standards, to inculcate "a sense of humanism" based on Christian principles. The NCE wanted to help students from the working classes and immigrant groups get good access to schooling and even proposed medical and dental programs for school children to help them The national conference finally convened in Winnipeg in February 1920 after the end of World War I and Winnipeg's important 1919 General Strike. The stature of the organization was indicated in its convenor, the Duke of Devonshire, Governor-General of Canada, and influential delegates from across the country. Nevertheless, the NCE's ambitious plans foundered on the rock of provincial autonomy and were abandoned after a few years. The NCE then concentrated on moral education, which included musical training.3

In that spirit, Frederick J. Ney, the executive secretary of the NCE, invited the English Folk Dance Society for the cross-Canada tour that eventually took place in 1929. Ney, an English school teacher taught in Cyprus and Egypt before coming to the small town of Russell, Manitoba as principal. He became the provincial government's expert on teacher exchanges with Great Britain and established a "Hands Across the Seas" program that arranged trips to England for Manitoba teachers "in order to strengthen the bonds of Empire and Imperial fraternity," later expanding it to other Canadian provinces and other parts of the British Empire. Volunteering to fight in World War I, Major Ney served three years in France before he came back to Canada as a decorated and seriously wounded hero, and became General Secretary of the NCE in Winnipeg.4

Ney's ties to the English Folk Dance Revival are unknown; he may have taken folk dance courses when he was training to become a teacher, since folk dance had been introduced in English teachers' colleges in 1908 due largely to Cecil Sharp's influence. Sharp thought that schools were important places to teach folk songs and dances. He wrote an early booklet entitled Folk Dancing in the Schools and served as an inspector of folk-song and folk dance in teacher training colleges after World War I. Whatever the origin, Ney broached the idea of a Canadian tour to Sharp before World War I and reiterated it in 1919.5

The tour finally took place in 1929, five years after Sharp died, as a "lectureship" for Douglas Kennedy. The chief sponsors were the NCE and the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), which provided transportation across the Atlantic and within Canada. Prominent Winnipeg businessman and NCE president, James Richardson, and Prime Minister Robert B. Russell provided additional financial support.6 The donors' interest was political and national, as well as artistic. The NCE and Richardson saw the occasion as an opportunity to develop British-ness and Canadian-ness as one and the same. Other Anglo-Canadian elites, however, saw British folklore as only one, if the most important, element in what a CPR publicist termed the "Canadian mosaic." In that spirit, French-Canadian folk songs were collected and presented on cross-Canada tours in the late 1920s and the CPR provided opportunities for cultural expression by newer immigrants, especially Slavs, by sponsoring tours and festivals, such as a festival of song, dance, and handicrafts in Winnipeg in 1930.7

The EFDS tour also followed in the wake of a growing interest in the United States about English dance. The English folk revivalist, Mary Neal, visited the United States before World War I, and Cecil Sharp soon followed. Sharp's English Folk Dance Society created affiliates in New York, Boston, and several other cities that later became an independent organization. the Country Dance and Song Society (CDSS).8 Its long-time national director was the English-raised and trained May Gadd. Douglas Kennedy organized and ran a Vacation Dance School in Amherst, Massachusetts in summer 1928, and Maude Karpeles ran the 1929 school with assistance from May Gadd and Marjory Sinclair.9 These vacation schools eventually developed into the CDSS camp at Pinewoods, Massachusetts. The rest of the EFDS demonstration team joined this "advance party" a few weeks later in Boston, having sailing to Montreal and travelled south. They all performed in Boston, New Haven, New York City, Plainfield NY, Rochester, and Cleveland before coming to Canada with the same program and performance style.10

The United States tour was a great success, judging by the New York Times review of the Carnegie Hall concert. A headline exclaimed: "FOLK DANCERS DELIGHT AUDIENCE" and the E.F.D.S. News thought that "if there were a method by which enthusiasm could be accurately registered, a higher reckoning than this was never reached." The Times reported that:

From the moment when the fourteen dancers trouped on in the 'Helston Furry' until they 'Morrised off' to 'Green Garters,' there was never an instant when one could seriously question the propriety of introducing such dancing as this into the concert field.

The reporter found the Earsdon rapper sword dance, with "its intricate and difficult pattern" to be one of the highlights of the show. Another was the Morris jig, I'll Go and Enlist for a Soldier, "danced in canon by two men with superb skill and beautiful figurations . . . accompanied by the ancient pipe and tabor." The Running Set that Sharp collected in Kentucky, was a third.11

This review provides specific details of an EFDS performance style that had been perfected over more than fifteen years' practice following its first stage performance in December 1912 at the Savoy Theatre, London. We learn that the EFDS troupe cultivated an informal atmosphere, even while they performed with "precision . . . spirit, [and] style." Members of the group sat on the edge of the stage watching the other performers and applauded their efforts while not themselves taking part. Douglas Kennedy stepped forward "from time to time" to make "informal and illuminating remarks." Most of the dancing was accompanied by piano and violin, while pipe and tabor played for Morris jigs. Movie theatres introduce sound systems in 1928, but the "legitimate theatres" where EFDS performed did not, and one can only speculate how well these instruments filled the Carnegie Hall (2800 seats). Winnipeg's Walker Theatre (2,000 seats), and Montreal's His Majesty's Theatre (1,750 seats). The sound must have carried well enough since the press did not complain.12

In Carnegie Hall and presumably throughout the Canadian tour, Morris dances were performed by both men and women, dancing as separate sides. The New York Times reviewer, who had observed EFDS/CDSS performances at local folk festivals, remarked that "it may have been something of a shock for those more familiar with folk practices to see a women's side perform a group of Morris dances which are, strictly speaking, the sole property of the men." Shocking or not, Cecil Sharp had said that "only a pedant" could object to women dancing Morris, even if it was traditionally a man's dance. Nevertheless, Sharp firmly rejected Morris dancing by mixed sides of men and women, and advised women to "avoid essentially masculine movements" such as the galley. The EFDS schools that Sharp organized taught Morris to women, and women quickly became the majority of the teachers. A "decisive repudiation of women's participation in Morris and sword dance" developed from other sources in the 1930s.13


Women, dancing the Morris,  from the
Vacation Dance School at Amherst MA in 1928 or 1929.

Courtesy of CDSS collection, Milne Special Collections,
University of  New Hampshire Library.

The Canadian tour started in Toronto, where the group performed at a three-day English Music Festival presenting "1,000 Years of Music in Six Days; Over 300 singers and dancers," as an advertisement in the Toronto Globe and Mail declared. Two English groups, the EFDS team and The English Singers, a madrigal ensemble, brought additional authenticity to the mostly Canadian festival performers. The newspaper printed a picture of Douglas Kennedy in kit, passing a single short stick under one leg as in Fool's Jig, next to the ad. Performances took place in the newly-opened Royal York Hotel's elegant Concert Hall, which held about 700 seats. EFDS performed at two "Afternoon Musical Teas" and two evening concerts to appreciative audiences. The Globe and Mail headlined that the "FOLK-MUSIC TEA CHARMS AUDIENCE" and reported that,

Interspersed with groups of old English songs were charming dances presented by the English folk dancers. Country dances, accompanied by merry violin melody and the pipe and tabor, fascinated the audience. The sword dance from Northumberland, picturesque and cleverly executed by the dancers, won generous applause. 


Douglas Kennedy, performing the Fool's Jig. Caption reads:
"Director of English Folk Dance Society, who will give a dance
concert at Carnegie Hall on Saturday evening."

The program included Lads-a-Bunchum and Step Back.14

The evening concert was also a "triumph". The newspaper reported that "The English folk dancers made another great hit with the audience and were thoroughly delightful in the rhythmic grace of their steps and actions." The program included the Earsdon sword dance which, the reporter observed with a rare note of criticism, "did not go quite as smoothly as one might have wished." However, "Joan Sharp's management of the pipe and tabor was most engaging, . . . while many of the hops, skips, and jumps, whether in jigs, handkerchief dances or 'Leap Frog' kept the audience in very happy spirits."15 The Abbots Bromley horn dance was "performed on a darkened stage to simulate the traditional twilight that marked the return of the huntsmen." The troupe added some "comic relief" to the solemn atmosphere in the form of a "yeoman in hobby-horse costume prancing grotesquely in the path of the antlered dancers and making life dangerous for a woman carrying an umbrella."16 This interpretation of the horn dance as primeval ritual is almost certainly unhistorical. In modern times, and probably in the past, the dance is done in Abbots Bromley village during daylight hours, often to lively music.17

The next stop, Regina, capital of Saskatchewan, gave "the Morris Dancers" a warm welcome, as a headline proclaimed - and probably the rest of the EFDS demonstration team, too. Premier J.T.M. Anderson greeted them in person and hosted a luncheon at the elegant Hotel Saskatchewan attended by some of Regina's leading citizens. A second reception followed the next day. In a lecture later that day, Joan Sharp called English folk music "democratic" because, she reported, upper and lower classes mixed comfortably at demonstrations in English parks, creating a "village green" atmosphere. The Coldstream Guards Band sometimes accompanied the dancers. The Regina Leader provided a well-informed account of Morris and country dancing.18

The performance at the newly constructed F. N. Darke Building for Music and the Arts, the home of the Regina Symphony (650 seats) was "charmingly presented" and "it was remarked by many that the young dancers themselves appeared to take a high degree of pleasure in executing their numbers." The reviewer found the sword dances particularly noteworthy. The program included: country dances: (Furry Dance, Apley House, Gathering Peascods, Pop Goes the Weasel, Jenny Pluck Pears, Argeers, Mr. Beveridge's Maggot, and Old Mole), Morris: (Laudnum Bunches, Old Black Joe, London Pride, Trunkles, Green Garters), and sword; (Earsdon, Winlaton, Ampleforth). The Morris jig, I'll Go Enlist for a Soldier, was performed to pipe and tabor accompaniment. Clive Carey sang an accompaniment to several country dances (Newcastle, Parson's Farewell, Nonesuch) and Morris dances (Processional, Flowers of Edinburgh, and Leap Frog). EFDS made a side trip to the small town of Yorkton SK, where a small audience of English immigrants in this predominately Slavic region wept openly on having contact once again with their childhood home. On a free day, Maud Karpeles collected folk songs.19

The next stop was British Columbia, where EFDS received its most enthusiastic reception. The Vancouver Sun published a front page article, centre position, nine days before the concert advising that: "FOLK DANCING TO BE GIVEN HERE" and describing Morris dancing. After seeing the show in the Avenue Theatre, the Vancouver Sun called the performers "artists of outstanding ability" who were "perfect in their performance of traditional folk dance." It also mentioned that the performers were "English gentle folk, who give their time and talent absolutely free of charge." The performance dates coincided with a conference on education and leisure, and the Vancouver newspaper stressed the educational purpose of the tour.20

Audience reception was also very favourable in Victoria and the Lieutenant-Governor hosted two members of the E.F.D.S. team at breakfast EFDS gave two shows, an afternoon show for 800 schoolchildren and an evening show. An advance article in the Victoria Daily Times' woman's page reported that the EFDS team would perform the following week in the Shrine Auditorium. Saying nothing more about English folk dancing, the headline announced that "DAUGHTER OF COMPOSER IS WITH DANCERS." It described Imogen Holst as twenty-one years of age and an accomplished conductor, composer, and pianist, with extensive ballet training, as well. Several male dancers were reported by name, listing their educational and professional achievements. There is no indication as to why these dancers were singled out for mention while folk dance revival leaders such as Maud Karpeles, Douglas Kennedy, and Joan Sharp were ignored.21

After the performance, the Victoria Daily Times reported that "FOLK DANCERS' ART DELIGHTS BIG AUDIENCE - English Team in Graceful Demonstration." The reviewer was "impressed with the enthusiasm of the dancers as they skipped through the quaint evolutions of those delightful and bucolic measures which are being revived throughout England" and praised "the very gifted team." The program included country dances (Gathering Peascods, the Furry Dance, Newcastle, Phoenix, and Step Stately, The Triumph), the Earsdon rapper sword dance, and the Morris stick dance, Lads a-Bunchum, danced with "Canadian maple staves" instead of the usual "willow wands." A solo jig, Ladies Pleasure, was danced to pipe and tabor.

The Victoria Daily Times provided the only description of what the dancers wore. In the country dances, women wore "graceful, full-skirted frocks of a soft blue banded at the hem with gay-colored ribbons" and the men wore "tight-fitting knee-breeches of black, with white shirts, and a bracer-like effect of ribbons and rosettes." For Morris, they wore "garters and anklets with tiny bells which jingled pleasantly as they danced." A grainy newspaper photograph taken on the grounds of the British Columbia Legislative Assembly shows a somewhat different kit. The men wore white pants and shirts, simple baldrics, and bell-pads. One man wore what looks like suspenders with ribbons and rosettes. The women were dressed in light-coloured, mid-calf length skirts and light-coloured high socks22.


The EFDS demonstration team. Caption reads: "Here are the members of the English
folk dance team who will appear at the Shrine Auditorium, View Street, on
Tuesday evening at 8:15 under the auspices of the National Council of Education. They
will also give a special performance in the afternoon for school children only. Tickets
for the affair may be obtained at Fletcher Bros., the Times and Colonist. The
dancers appear under the direction of Douglas Kennedy, a nephew of Mrs. Kennedy Fraser,
noted exponent of Hebridean songs."

Similarly, the Victoria Daily Colonist headlined: "BIG AUDIENCE ENTHRALLED BY FOLK DANCING" and the reporter added that "there were very few dances . . . which were not continually applauded after the stepping of the first few measures." Victoria audiences were not in the habit of requesting encores, "yet 'encore' seemed to be a catchword . . . last night." The list of dances performed included the following country dances (Furry Dance, 29th of May, Gathering Peascods, The Triumph, The Boatman, St. Martin's, Kentucky Running Set) Morris dances (Highland Mary, Hunt the Squirrel); Morris Jig (Ladies Pleasure); and Sword dances (Earsdon, Winlaton, Ampleforth). Clive Carey sang country dance songs (Newcastle, Phoenix, Step Stately, Dick's Maggot, The Old Mole) and Morris dance songs (Processional, The Rose, Step Back, Lads-a-Bunchum, Gallant Hussar, Green Garters).23 In his performances, Carey tried to strike a balance between operatic and traditional styles by singing some songs with piano and others unaccompanied.24

The Calgary visit was the least satisfactory on the tour because EFDS was booked into a Calgary high school gymnasium where the team gave two performances to small audiences. However, the newspaper review was very enthusiastic, writing that "it would have been a thousand pities to have missed [this] most spontaneous demonstration of country and morris dancing." In addition to the performance, the pianist, May Hobbs led a lecture-demonstration at the Normal School (teachers' college).25

The host city, Winnipeg provided a much better reception. The Winnipeg Tribune published an advance article, alerting the public that the appearance of this "all-star team, world famous for their presentation of English Folk and Country dances will be an event of major importance" while, also as advance publicity, the Manitoba Free Press showed photographs of singer Clive Carey, and dancer Reginald Wylam, who displayed the good looks of a suave movie star.26

While no concert program has survived, the newspapers provided a detailed account of the afternoon and evening programs, which varied only slightly. EFDS performed seven country dances, two Morris dances, three sword dances, and one Morris jig in each show. In addition, there were ten songs in each show, five from the country dance repertoire and five Morris dances, some of which accompanied the dances. The texts for these songs are unknown.

The Morris dances were: Processional (unspecified, perhaps Winster), [Bonny] Green Garters, Leap Frog, Flowers of Edinborough, London Pride, Trunkles, and Old Black Joe. Clive Carey sang: the Processional, the Rose, Step Back, Green Garters, Lads-a-Bunchum, and the Gallant Hussar. One unspecified jig was performed. The Earsdon sword dance and two other sword dancers were performed. The Country Dance program consisted of the Helston Furry Dance, Gathering Peascods, Apley House, Pop Goes the Weasel, Jenny Pluck Pears, Argeers, and the Kentucky Running Set. Clive Carey sang: Newcastle, Parson's Farewell, Nonesuch, Mr. Beveridge's Maggot, The Old Mole, Oranges and Lemons, Phoenix, Step Lively, Dick's Maggot. Douglas Kennedy gave a short lecture on the history of English folk dance.27

The Winnipeg newspapers, like their counterparts throughout the tour, hailed the performances as an artistic triumph. The Tribune trumpeted: "DANCES, SONGS OF OLD ENGLAND AT THEIR BEST" while the Free Press headlined: "MORRIS DANCERS IN NOVEL TREAT." The Free Press's reviewer found that the two best offerings on a bill that had nothing but good things in it, were a sword dance and a dance in which sticks were used with strenuous spirit. This last brought such a burst of cheering and applause as surely never sounded before so loudly in the confines of the Walker theatre."28 This was no idle compliment, since Charlie Chaplin and the Marx Brothers had played the Walker Theatre before World War I, and Nelly McClung staged a satirical mock parliament in 1914 before a packed house to advocate women's suffrage.29

Not to be outdone, the Winnipeg Tribune introduced subsections of its review with phrases such as: "Immemorial Dances," "Gentle as Ripe Wisdom," and "Dramatic Power." The newspaper understood the origin of the English folk dances to lie in ancient rituals and ceremonies, explaining that:

The peasant knows life in its simple grandeur. . . . When one sees a dance that was danced when the columns at Stonehenge were being reared, a dance that needs must be danced lest the New Year fail to follow the old, one experiences a lifting of the spirit, a sense of timelessness as if one had known intimately generation upon generation of these kindly country folk.30 

This was how EFDS explained folk dance, following Cecil Sharp, who called Morris dancing "one of the seasonal pagan observances prevalent amongst primitive communities, and associated with the fertilization of all living things, animal and vegetable." Modern dance historians discount primitive ritual as an explanation and rely instead on written and pictorial records that begin in the fifteenth century, to uncover the origins of folk dance and its evolution over time.31

While in Winnipeg, the English dancers were taken to see the Polish Sokol Folk Dance Troupe in the immigrant North End district. The Polish-language newspaper, Czas (The Polish Times), reported that the English dancers expressed enthusiasm for their confreres and noted the presence in the audience of miljoner (millionaire) James Richardson, then President of the National Council of Education. Like EFDS, the Polish dancers performed at the Walker Theatre in 1929 and appeared in Regina and Calgary sponsored by the Canadian National Railway.32

The EFDS team finished its tour at His Majesty's Theatre (now Her Majesty's Theatre) in Montreal, before a packed house of children brought by their schools. As usual, the reviewer praised the performers' "wholehearted zest," and observed that the dancers were "unbelievably light and nimble." While the program was "uniformly good," the Earsdon rapper dance was the crowd favourite. The reviewer, however, preferred the "haunting tunes" played by Imogen Holst and Elsie Avril, and "one unforgettable number" played on pipe and tabor by Joan Sharp. Douglas Kennedy told the audience that many of the dances were more than two thousand years old, an interpretation that modern historians no longer accept.33

The English dancers and musicians boarded the Canadian Pacific liner, The Duchess of Atholl, the next day in Saint John, New Brunswick to return home, leaving Maude Karpeles behind to collect songs and dances in Newfoundland.34 Not counting travel to New York and other United States cities, EFDS had given seventeen performances in eight Canadian cities in twenty-four days. During this time, the troupe covered 6500 miles by train. It performed in some of Canada's best theatres to large audiences and received reviews that are convincing in their enthusiasm despite their obvious reliance on information supplied by EFDS. Afternoon performances in several cities, and perhaps in all, were been attended by several thousand school children in line with the educational aims of the NCE and EFDS.

Part of the reason for their good reception was that the ground had been well prepared. Folk dancing entered school systems in North America and Britain in the first years of the twentieth century. New York City was probably the first public school system in North America to add folk dancing to the physical education curriculum in about 1905.35 The earliest date of teaching folk dance in Winnipeg and throughout Manitoba has not been established, but by 1928 it had found a place in the curriculum. Schools devoted three periods per week to physical education, one for "physiology" lectures and two for physical activity, Physical education teachers could choose folk dancing from a list of options that included various forms of organized games and free play. The situation remained unchanged for the next decade. Teachers were urged to take advantage this innovation, reassured that it is not a mistake to give part of the time usually devoted to physical training to folk-dancing [because] this is valuable physically, aesthetically, socially. . . . It creates a joyous and wholesome spirit. It helps children to overcome shyness and awkwardness. It makes school a happy place.

The Department of Education told teachers to buy the following books to use for the primary grades (although the titles were given incorrectly): Ward-Crampton, Books I and II; Elizabeth T. Bell, Character Dances (50); and Cecil J. Sharp, Country Dances Books I.II.III. For the senior grades, Sharp's: Morris Dances, Handkerchief and Stick Dances, North Country Sword Dances were added.36

Further details on folk dance appear in the SYLLABUS OF PHYSICAL EDUCATION. MUSIC FOR DANCE, by Robert Jarman, Director of Physical Education for the Province of Manitoba and Winnipeg School Division. This syllabus was used in the schools and in Manitoba Normal School classes (School of Education). Jarman was himself an Englishman who left Leeds in 1928 on a short term contract to set up the physical education program in Manitoba and remained to direct it.37 Following English practice, Jarman included folk dancing in Manitoba's curriculum. His list of dances encompassed many nationalities, but English dancing stood out. Dances for both primary and secondary grades included country dances (Parson's Farewell, Picking up Sticks, Newcastle, Hunsdon House. Black Nag, and Rufty Tufty, for example) and Morris dances (Glorishears. Old Woman Tossed Up, Shepherd's Hey, and the Flamborough Sword Dance). Swedish, Polish, Hungarian and other dances also appeared. Jarman's books provided music only, without dance instructions.38

It seems likely that this kind of school program provided the enthusiastic and knowledgeable audiences that the E.F.D.S demonstration team encountered when it came to Winnipeg and other Canadian cities. The performers' skill and enthusiasm must have inspired teachers and students alike to do more country and Morris dances at school. Of course, documentation only shows what was available, not what was actually taught.

Despite what would seem to be favourable conditions, Douglas Kennedy's wish that the EFDS performances would produce "the establishment of the nucleus of a folk dance society" did not come true.39 English dance failed to strike deep roots in Canada and the inspiration provided by the 1929 tour faded quickly. For example, a 1940 provincial manual on physical education, which coexisted in the curriculum package with Jarman's books, dropped all English dances and substituted square dances and tap dancing.40 No EFDS affiliate was ever created in Canada, no Morris teams formed outside of gym classes, and there is no record of any recreational English country dance group.

Some English dances were taught in Manitoba schools along with other international and American dances throughout the 1940s and 1950s. Instructors at the Manitoba Normal School taught Gathering Peascods, Haymarket, Herefordshire Lasses, and Sir Roger de Coverly, as well as some Morris dances. Two physical education supervisors, women, were "keen English country dancers and had an interest in Morris dancing." Dance festivals for schoolchildren sprang up (or were re-created) around 1960 and they continue to be popular to this day although the participants rarely join folk dance groups in their adult years. Teachers enjoyed financial support from the provincial education department to run summer dance workshops in the beginning and they formed the Manitoba International Folk Dance Association (MIFDA) in 1963 to practice throughout the year. In the mid-1970s, MIFDA cut its ties with the schools and turned into a recreational club like international folk dance groups in other cities, with a very modest English component in a large and varied repertory.41

Morris dance and English country dance returned to Manitoba in 1974 when two Scottish country dance teachers discovered them at the CDSS camp at Pinewoods, Massachusetts and brought them home, establishing the Village Green Morris Men and the Village Green English Country Dance Society. This experience is typical of the way in which English folk dancing spread across Canada (and the United States) in the 1970s. In addition to Winnipeg's groups, three other Morris sides are known to have formed in Canada in the 1970s: Holly Tree Morris (Vancouver, c. 1975), Green Fiddle Morris (Toronto 1977), and Forest City Morris and Sword (London ON 1978), and at least thirteen more exist today, including a women's side in Winnipeg. English country dance is promoted and practiced in Canada by ten CDSS affiliates including Winnipeg's Village green English Country Dance society that was founded at the same time as the Morris side.42 The United States origins of English dance in contemporary Canada should come as no surprise, however. After all, Mary Neal and Cecil Sharp visited the United States before World War I, not Canada. Sharp established EFDS affiliates in the United States, not Canada. The EFDS team came to Canada from the United States in and the E.F.D.S. News reported their visit as "The Tour of the English Folk Dance Society in America."43 And this article is appearing in the American Morris Newsletter.

Regardless of where English folk dance came from and how long it took to get here, its development as a recreational activity in Winnipeg and across Canada would have pleased Douglas Kennedy, who said that one aim of the tour was "to encourage people in this country to dance" English Folk dances and encouraged an enthusiastic Victoria audience to form a folk dance society.44 Decades later, these efforts bore fruit. English folk dance has become a small part of Canadian life but, as the 1970s revival of the early twentieth century revival, it needs time to put down firm roots. Morris and English Country dance teaching put great stress on tradition and it is reassuring to know that Canada has one. The knowledge that the best English dancers came here gives us a real starting point. When we dance out or meet in clubs, we are continuing today where Douglas Kennedy, Maude Karpeles, Joan Sharp and the rest of the English Folk Dance Society demonstration team left off in 1929.  

The EFDS Demonstration Team performs in England


APPENDIX I: Dance Repertory for the E.F.D.S. 1929 Tour45

Country Dances

Apley House Argeers
Dick's Maggot Gathering Peascods
Green Garters Helston Furry Dance
Jenny Pluck Pears,
Kentucky Running Set
Mr. Beveridge's Maggot
Newcastle Nonesuch
Parson's Farewell Phoenix
Pop Goes the Weasel St. Martin's
Step Stately The Boatman
The Old Mole The Triumph
The 29th of May  

Morris Set Dances

Abbots Bromley Horn Dance Flowers of Edinburgh
Gallant Hussar (Bledington) (Bonnie) Green Garters (Bampton)
Highland Mary (Bampton) Hunt the Squirrel (Headington)
Lads-a-Bunchum (Adderbury) Laudnum Bunches
Leap Frog (Field Town) London Pride
Old Black Joe (Badby) Processional (Wheatley)
Step Back (Field Town) The Rose (Field Town)
Trunkles Morris Jigs
I'll Go Enlist for a Soldier Ladies Pleasure (Bledington)
Sword Dances Ampleforth (Yorkshire) Earsdon (Northumberland)
Winlaton (Durham)  

APPENDIX II. Dance songs46

Country Dance Songs

 Dick's Maggot Mr. Beveridge's Maggot
Newcastle Nonesuch
Oranges and Lemons Parson's Farewell
Phoenix Step Lively
Step Stately The Old Mole

Morris Dance Songs

Gallant Hussar Green Garters
Lads~A~Bunchum Processional
Step Back The Rose

APPENDIX III: Members of the EFDS Demonstration Team47

Female Dancers

May Gadd Imogen Holst
Maud Karpeles Helen Kennedy
Joan Sharp Marjory Sinclair
Amy Stoddart  

Male Dancers

 Douglas Kennedy Charles Bardswell
William Ganiford James La Touche
Spencer Ranger Henry Trefusis
Reginald Wylam  


 Elsie Avril Clive Carey
May Hobbs  


1. The Tour of the English Folk Dance Society in America, E.F.D.S News #22 (January 1930), pp. 243-8.
2. Vancouver Sun, November 26, 1929, p. 9; Montreal Gazette, December 6, 1929, p. 5; "Carey, [Francis] Clive [Saville]," Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. See Roy Judge, Mary Neal and the Espérance Morris, American Morris Newsletter, Reprint Series, #2 (1992:2), especially pp. 33-34 [American Morris Newsletter].
3. John Edwards Lyons, In Pursuit of an Ideal. A History of the National Conference of Education, Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation, University of Alberta, 1980, pp. 1-100, and Alf Chaiton, The History of the National Council on Education, unpublished M.A. thesis, University of Toronto, 1974 pp. 1-38 ff.
4. Lyons, pp. 109-111 and Chaiton, p. 39. Chaiton identifies Ney as teaching in Treherne MB.
5. EFDS News, p. 243; A. H. Fox Strangways with Maud Karpeles, Cecil Sharp (London, 1933), pp. 67-8, 180-83, 218-20; Vic Gammon, 'Many Useful Lessons', Cecil Sharp, Education and the Folk Dance Revival, 1899-1924, in press.
6. E.F.D.S. News, pp. 241, 248; Lyons, pp. 271-2.
7. Lyons, pp. 269-271. John Murray Gibbon, Canadian Mosaic. The Making of a Northern Nation (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1938.) Gibbon was a life-long public relations agent for Canadian Pacific, as well as a prolific author.
8. James Brickwedde, Morris in North America. A Brief Account. The Introduction of Morris into North America, American Morris Newsletter 10:3 (November/December 1986), pp. 6-12 (also available online).
9. E.F.D.S. News, p. 249. My thanks to Roland Goodbody, Special Collections Librarian at the University of New Hampshire, kindly provided additional information on the Vacation School from the CDSS archive. Before the school started in August 1929, Maud Karpeles collected songs dances Ontario and New England: David Gregory, Before Newfoundland. Maude Karpeles in Canada, Canadian Folk Music / Bulletin de Musique Folklorique Canadienne 37:1 (Spring 2003), pp. 1-5.
10. E.F.D.S. News, p. 243, 249; New York Times, November 3, 1929.
11. New York Times, 10 November1929, p. 24; E.F.D.S. News, p. 244.
12. Fox Strangways, Cecil Sharp, p. 112. The piano was commonly used to accompany Morris dances in the 1920s incidental source references indicate, Georgina Boyes, The Imagined Village. Culture Ideology and the English Folk Revival (Manchester, Manchester UP, 1993), pp. 176-77;; The E.F.D.S. News gives Carnegie Hall's capacity as 4000 seats, p. 244.
13. New York Times, 1 September 1929, p. X9, 10 November 1929, p. 24; Cecil J. Sharp and Herbert C. Macilwaine, The Morris Book, Parts I, II, & III (London, 1974 [1912])., p. 42; Georgina Boyes, The Imagined Village. Culture Ideology and the English Folk Revival (Manchester, Manchester UP, 1993), pp. 167-8.
14. Globe and Mail, November 15, 1929, p. 6. Alternatively, EFDS might have performed in the somewhat smaller Imperial Room,
15. Toronto Globe and Mail, 15 November1929, p. 6.
16. New York Times, 15 November1929, p. 33. 
17. Elaine Bradtke, Abbots Bromley Horn Dance American Morris Newsletter, March-April 1994 (18:1), pp. 5-8.
18. Regina Leader, 16 November1929, p. 11 and 18 November 1929, p. 6.
19. Regina Leader, 16 November1929, p. 11 and 19 November 1929, p. 2.; E.F.D.S. News, p. 245; Gregory, p. 6.
20. Vancouver Sun, 16 November 1929, p.1, and 26 November 1929, p. 9.  E.F.D.S. News, p. 244; Calgary Herald, November 26, 1929, p. 11.
21. E.F.D.S. News, p. 246-7. Victoria Daily Times, 23 November 1929. My thanks to Sarah Kell of Island Thyme Morris (Victoria, B.C.) for locating and sending me material from the Daily Times.
22. Victoria Daily Times, 23 November and 27 November 1929.
23. Victoria Daily Colonist, 27 November 1929, p. 13. The newspaper may have reported both programs together as if they were one. Ticket prices were $1 (reserved) and $0.75 (general admission): Victoria Daily Colonist, November 26, 1929, p. 10.
24. Gregory, p. 6. Sometimes he accompanied himself and at others, Imogen Holst played.
25. E.F.D.S. News, p. 247; Calgary Herald, November 26, 1929, p. 11; November 29, 1929, p. 36; November 30, 1929, p. 26.
26. Winnipeg Tribune, 30 November 1929, pp. 20 and Manitoba Free Press, 30 November1929, p. 30.
27. Winnipeg Tribune, 20 November 1929, p. 27.
28. Manitoba Free Press, 2 December 1929, p. 19.
29. Barry McCarten, History and Live Theatre in Winnipeg, Manitoba History 16 (Autumn 1988),; The Women's Parliament:
30. Winnipeg Tribune, 2 December1929, p. 16.
31. Sharp and MacIlwaine, The Morris Book, p. 11. In contrast, see: John Forrest, The History of Morris Dancing 1458-1750 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1999), pp. 3-27; Keith Chandler, Ribbons, Bells and Squeaking Fiddles. The Social History of Morris Dancing in the English South Midlands, 1660-1900 (London: Hisarlik Press, 1993), pp. 41-53; and Stephen D. Corrsin, Sword Dancing in Europe: A History (London: Hisarlik Press, 1997).
32. Czas, 4 December1929, p. 8; Alexandra Sosnowski and Stanislaw L Lemanski, Winnipeg's Falcons. The History of the Polish Gymnastic Association Sokol, Nest No. 1, unpublished manuscript (Winnipeg, 1991) p. 32.
33. Montreal Gazette, 6 December1929, p.5.
34. E.F.D.S. News, pp. 248-9.
35. Terese M. Volk, Folk Musics and Increasing Diversity in American Music Education: 1900-1916, Journal of Research in Music Education 42, 4 (Winter, 1994), pp. 290-91, 294-96; Rhett Krause, Morris Dance and America Prior to 1913, American Morris Newsletter 15:2 (July/August 1991), pp. 27-35. 36 SCHOOL CURRICULUM AND TEACHERS' GUIDE GRADES I. - VI Province of Manitoba 1928, p.
36. Repeated in 1931, 1933, 1935, 1937, and 1938 editions. The probable titles were:.Sharp and MacIlwaine, The Morris Book (see above, note 13); Cecil Sharp, The sword dances of northern England, Together With the Horn Dance of Abbots Bromley (London: Novello, 1912-1913; C. Ward Carmpton, The Folk Dance Book for Elementary Schools, Class Room, Playground and Gymnasium (1920), Elizabeth Turner Bell, Fifty Figure And Character Dances With Music For Fifty Figure And Character Dances (1921). Crampton's book included Morris dances.
37. School Curriculum and Teachers' Guide. Grades I.-VI. Province of Manitoba (1928) ), p. 336. See also books with the same title for 1931, 1933, 1935, 1937, and 1938. On Jarman, see Max Wyman, The Royal Winnipeg Ballet. The First Forty Years (Toronto: Doubleday, 1978), pp. 15-16.
38. SYLLABUS OF PHYSICAL EDUCATION. MUSIC FOR DANCE. GRADES X, XI. Robert Jarman. Director. Province of Manitoba [n.d.]. mimeographed. [c.1938], On Jarman, see Max Wyman, The Royal Winnipeg Ballet : the First Forty Years (Toronto : Doubleday Canada, 1978), pp. 15-16.
39. Victoria Daily Times, 27 November1929.
40. PHYSICAL EDUCATION. Dominion-Provincial Youth Training. Province of Manitoba. [1940]
41. Jeremy Hull, "Notes on the History of MIFDA," Unpublished manuscript; Personal communication from Jim Belford, physical education teacher and MIFDA founder.
42. American Morris Newsletter December 2005;
43. E.F.D.S. News, p. 243.
44. Montreal Gazette, 6 December1929, p. 5; Victoria Daily Colonist, 27 November 1929, p. 13.
45. The dance repertory is compiled from the newspaper reports listed above. Morris traditions come solely from the only newspaper article mentioning them: the Victoria Daily Colonist, November 27, 1929, p. 13
46. The dance song repertory is compiled for the newspaper reports listed above.
47. E.F.D.S. News, p. 248.