Cockburn talks of the three guitars he has donated
by Cashbox Canada

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May 9, 2013 - Bruce Cockburn, one of Canada’s best loved musicians and composers, has donated his archives to McMaster, including his notebooks, musical arrangements, gold records, letters, scrapbooks, nearly 1,000 recordings, and even three guitars.

“These are my tools, my rough drafts, my mementoes and my trophies. Together, they form the roadmap of my working life,” says Cockburn. “I’m pleased they will have a safe and permanent home in a place where they may be useful to others.”

The collection includes 32 of Cockburn’s notebooks from 1969 to 2002. Through their pages, one can trace the development of individual songs, sometimes from single thoughts to finished lyrics, all set randomly among pages of sketches, observations, budgets, set lists and other notes. The notebooks offer a real window into the artist and activist’s imagination, creative process and his life as a working musician rising to international prominence.

Cockburn talks of the three guitars he has donated:

A Guild 12-string, model F212-NT, serial 51968, 1971
“That is on a couple of albums, You’ve Never Seen Everything (2003), for sure, and I think it’s on Breakfast at New Orleans, Dinner in Timbuktu (1999) … We had trouble amplifying that one for live shows. It didn’t come with a built-in pickup. I replaced it with a 12-string Manzer.”

A Manzer, serial 10228
“This one is a Linda Manzer guitar. I hold her in great esteem as a luthier, and I’ve been very much associated with her for decades. I thought it would be good to have something of hers in there and I had enough of them that I could spare one.”

A Martin & Co., Little Martin LX1E, serial MG 18964
“A Little Martin travel guitar that I took to Nepal with me. That guitar is in a documentary we made about that trip to Nepal (the film is also part of the collection) so I thought it would be nice to be able to see it on film and have it there.”

“Bruce Cockburn is an iconic and respected figure in Canadian and international culture,” says McMaster Provost and vice-president (academic) David Wilkinson. “For him to choose McMaster as the recipient of this collection, while he is still contributing to our culture, is a true honour. We are grateful for his gift, which will impact generations of students and other researchers across multiple disciplines, including those involved with McMaster’s highly regarded music program.”

Among the papers Cockburn has donated is correspondence from notable figures such as Adrienne Clarkson, Lloyd Axworthy, David Suzuki, Vanessa Redgrave, Anne Murray and John Crosbie. There are fan letters, photos and more in a collection that requires 64 pages just to list all the items that will be available to researchers at McMaster’s William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections.

“We are delighted to receive such a rich resource that will benefit students, faculty members and other researchers studying not only music and poetry, but social activism, politics and the creative process itself,” says McMaster’s acting University Librarian Vivian Lewis.

Cockburn was the recipient of an honorary doctorate from McMaster in 2009.Cockburn was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 1982 and was promoted to Officer in 2002. In 2001, he was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame at the 30th Annual Juno Awards, in 2002 The Canadian Association of Broadcasters inducted him into the Canadian Broadcast Hall of Fame at the 76th Annual Gold Ribbon Awards Gala, In 2007 he received three honorary doctorates, the fourth, fifth and sixth of his career. In early May he received an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity from Queens University in Kingston, Ontario,and later in the month he received an Honorary Doctor of Letters at the convocation of Memorial University of Newfoundland for his lifelong contributions to Canadian music, culture and social activism. He was then awarded an Honourary Doctorate from the University of Victoria in Victoria, British Columbia. Cockburn previously received honorary doctorates from York University in Toronto, Berklee College of Music, and St. Thomas University in New Brunswick.

Cockburn was the recipient of an honorary doctorate from McMaster University in 2009. Cockburn received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012.

The University’s archives also include personal collections from such notable thinkers and artists as philosopher Bertrand Russell, authors Pierre Berton, Margaret Laurence and Farley Mowat.

Cashbox Canada

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This page is part of The Cockburn Project, a unique website that exists to document the work of Canadian singer-songwriter and musician Bruce Cockburn. The Project archives self-commentary by Cockburn on his songs and music, and supplements this core part of the website with news, tour dates, and other current information.