Jim Magill and His Northern Ramblers

Jim (James Creighton) Magill. Fiddler, composer, b. Northern Ireland 1902, d. Toronto 28 Jan 1954. He moved to Toronto in the early 1930s and worked in the CNR's telegraph department for 20 years. A skilful and admired oldtime fiddler, Magill performed with his band, the Northern Ramblers, for square dances in Toronto and was heard 1946-54 on radio station CFRB every Saturday night. He made nineteen 78s, maybe more, for the London label. They appeared on both the Green and blue labels. 9 of his records had square dance calls by Fred Waller. Fred Townsend, Graham’s father, also called dances for Magill. His most popular pieces were Saskatoon Breakdown and The Crooked Stovepipe. A folio of his square dance tunes was published by Harry Jarman in 1952. He was a contemporary of Don Messer and they exchanged tunes. He worked for the CNR (railroad) along with his hrother Joe, who was the a stand up bass player with the Ramblers. They played in dance halls all around Toronto including Palace Pier and the Labour Lyceum Hall. Some of his recordings were re-released on two 10” London lps, as shown below, and two 45ep’s in England.