Dwight Peters –
Canada and the St. Lawrence Neighbourhood lost one of their musical icons with the recent passing of Sid Dolgay.While most associated with his unique mandocello and the band The Travellers, Dolgay’s musical influence was much, much greater.
Born in Winnipeg’s gritty north end, Dolgay was raised in Toronto. He soon became involved with Camp Naivelt, an incubator of progressive thought and traditional folk music in the 1930’s and 40’s which continues to this day. Here he was introduced to two life-long loves. The first, to the mandocello led to the second, his introduction to Ida, his wife of 72 years, in a mandolin orchestra.
It was also here that Dolgay met his lifelong friend Peter Seeger and where The Travellers were formed in the mid-1950’s. The band would be the driving force on Canada’s emerging folk music scene that would spawn future artists like Ian & Sylvia and Gordon Lightfoot.
After leaving the group in the mid- 60’s, Dolgay’s attention shifted to his family and raising his children, Martin and Myra, with Ida. He kept a hand in the music scene as a director of the Mariposa Folk Festival and as a manager of emerging artists like Three’s A Crowd.
Dolgay and Ida retired to the St Lawrence Neighbourhood’s Performing Arts Lodge (PAL) and became part of the local artistic community. His annual Hootenany at PAL brought together some of Canada’s best folkies past and present. He also became a fixture at the St. Lawrence Neighbourhood’s annual Canada Day celebration as music director. His performance of The Travellers hit This Land became a second national anthem.
Dolgay continued to work with emerging musicians and unselfishly shared his wisdom and influence. His sometimes gruff exterior belied an immense loyalty and compassion to family, friends and Canada. Perhaps his’s passion can be summed up best by a line from his favorite Ed McCurdy song…”last night I had the strangest dream, I dreamed the world had all agreed to put end to war”.
Sid “Mitzie” Dolgay passed away on December 25, 2014. He will be greatly missed.