It’s been a while since I wrote an historical note, and today’s event isn’t so old as to be what is usually considered history. It did happen eight years ago, and there are people in the world for whom this is still a pivotal, life-altering event.
Today in 2000, John Morris Rankin swerved to miss a pile of road salt on Route 219 near Margaree Harbour, Cape Breton Island, NS. His SUV tumbled down the 25 meter embankment into the Atlantic Ocean. Three teenage boys, including his son Michael, escaped and climbed back up the cliff and were rescued by passersby. Rankin was found dead in the partially submerged vehicle, presumably from the impact of the crash.
One of 12 children born in the small Canadian province of Nova Scotia, Rankin was a songwriter, instrumentalist and a loving family man. His family group, the Rankins, was made up of some of his sisters and a brother. Although they never made much noise on the American music scene, they were absolutely huge in Canada, in both the folk-rock and traditional Celtic genres. After his death, John Morris Rankin’s daughter Molly joined the group for a reunion tour, taking her father’s place as fiddler on an emotional comeback in 2007.
I didn’t know him, just his beautiful songs and his recordings. I’m listening to the album Endless Seasons today. It’s a nice collection of nice people singing lovely songs. Here's a performance clip I think you'll like.