Recently I had the privilege to listen to Jowi Taylor tell the story of the Six String Nation Guitar, a truly unique piece of Canadiana.
Nicknamed Voyageur, the guitar is a symbol of national unity, the idea came to broadcaster and writer Jowi Taylor on the eve of the 1995 Quebec Referendum that threatened to tear the country apart. Whilst thinking about how the conversation was English vs French giving little thought to everyone else.
Over the course of the next 11 years, Taylor collected pieces and stories from all around the country to become part of the guitar. From a piece of the Bluenose II from Nova Scotia to one of Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s favourite canoe paddles, part of Rocket Richard’s Montreal Canadien 1955 Stanley Cup Ring, or Nancy Greene’s Olympic winning ski and a sliver of the original Fan Tan Alley sign in Victoria from BC. The 64 pieces of wood, metal, bone, mineral and fabric were integrated into the guitar as it was hand-built by luthier George Rizsanyi. The 64 pieces and their stories are detailed in the book Six String Nation and the pieces of Canadiana continue to grow and be included into the Voyageur’s case.
Since it’s debut at Parliament Hill Canada Day celebrations, played first by Stephen Fearing then all other guitarists on the day, Taylor has taken the Six String Nation Guitar and its story on the road to help unite the nation. Everyday Canadians and personalities related to the Voyageur are photographed and documented in the project.
Follow Jowi Taylor and learn more about the Six String Nation Guitar online at sixstringnation.com