Mayor’s City Builder Award – Catherine Burns
July 9, 2014 – Mayor Jim Watson and Councillor Katherine Hobbs presented the Mayor’s City Builder Award to Catherine Burns today for her outstanding contribution to culture in Ottawa through her work as a founder and builder of the traditional-song and contra dance community over the past 25 years.
As a founder and tireless volunteer with the Old Sod Society and Ottawa Contra Dance, Catherine has been instrumental in building a vibrant community of musicians, singers, callers and dancers who enjoy affordable dances, concerts and workshops year-round.
Aided by other volunteers, she runs approximately 50 community song-and-dance events a year for the Old Sod Society. She has recently founded a family dance series for parents and children, as well as a monthly community dance series, and provides training for volunteer local callers through the Ottawa Callers’ Collective.
She has been a volunteer caller for contra dances at Winterlude, the Ottawa Folk Festival, the Grassroots Festival and Westfest, among other community events. She has recently expanded her calling to dances she has designed for local adults with disabilities.
Contra dance refers to several partnered folk dances and has its origins in English, French and Irish country dance styles of the 17th century. The dance is designed and led by a caller. The music for contra dances includes Irish, Scottish and French-Canadian folk songs. The fiddle is the key instrument, but guitar, mandolin and other acoustic instruments are also used.