Musical pioneer Wilf Doyle remembered

Published on June 12, 2012
Wilf Doyle

Wilf Doyle’s life was recognized Monday in the way he had always wanted it to be — with music.

Doyle was laid to rest in St. Anne’s cemetery in Conception Harbour, accompanied by his beloved accordion music.

“He had a true love of Newfoundland music, of promoting Newfoundland music and he wanted people to enjoy it,” Doyle’s daughter, Brenda Cornick, told The Telegram. “He was never happier than when people were dancing or singing to his music.”

Doyle died last Friday at age 86, after a short illness.

Born in Conception Harbour, Doyle grew up listening to Irish and Newfoundland tunes played by his parents on the accordion and piano; he picked up the accordion himself and started playing at local events at age nine. Ten years later, he put together his first orchestra.

Wilf Doyle and his Orchestra — including his first wife, Christina Barron, as the singer, fiddler and guitarist — toured the province, playing shows and dances with a repertoire that included popular and traditional tunes.

Through the years, he was a regular on radio and TV broadcasts, and he went on to make 11 records, his first in 1956.

He was also featured as a guest on other musicians’ albums.

Doyle was widely recognized as a pioneer of accordion music in this province.

He was presented with the Stompin’ Tom Award at the 2002 East Coast Music Awards, and the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.

Though his last public performance was three years ago, Cornick said her father continued, until recently, playing for friends and visitors at Woodford’s Comfort Manor, where he lived.

Family, friends and musicians past and present attended his funeral, with friend Ray Johnson of Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers performing a tribute to Doyle on the accordion.

“There were a lot of wonderful memories shared,” Cornick said.

Doyle, predeceased by wives Christina (1980) and Geraldine (2004), leaves three children, six grandchildren, one great-grandchild and a number of special nieces.

telegram@thetelegram.com