Abbott, O.J.

O.J. (Oliver John) Abbott. Folksinger, b Enfield, England, 1872, d Hull, Que, 3 Mar 1962. He worked on several farms in an Irish community in the Ottawa Valley and in lumber camps in northern Ontario and Quebec before settling in Hull. Between 1957 and his death he recorded some 120 songs for Edith Fowke, most of them learned in the 1880s and 1890s from the Irish farm families and shantyboys. Some of his recordings appear on LPs issued by Folkways, including his own Irish and British Songs from the Ottawa Valley (Folk 4051, released in 1961), and songs from his repertoire have been performed by singers in North America and Great Britain. In his late 80s, Abbott sang in 1958 at the National Museum of Man, in 1959 with Pete Seeger in Ottawa, in 1960 on the CBC and with Seeger at the Newport Folk Festival, and in 1961 at the Mariposa Folk Festival and before the IFMC in Quebec City. Writing of the Folkways LP, D.K. Wilgus noted: "Abbott is a great singer, in quantity and quality. He sings in a beautiful old Irish style, often with declamando endings" (J of American Folklore 1962).