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by Iain Fraser

  • Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

    CD comes in a 6 panel full colour sleeve with 12 page booklet insert. Front and back cover images are of Achmelvich and Waipu beaches. 'Engagingly melodic suite' **** review, Jim Gilchrist, The Scotsman.

    Includes unlimited streaming of Kōterana via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
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  • Digital Album
    Streaming + Download

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    **** Jim Gilchrist The Scotsman
    'Highly developed, beautiful music drawing deeply and understandingly on Scottish and Scottish Gaelic traditions…’ RootsWorld

    ‘Fine fiddle fare following a Caledonian vein from Ullapool to Waipu, by way of Cape Breton and Australia; a chamber-folk celebration.’ At The Barrier

    ‘…the feast of fiddles, cellos, pipes, and more, is one to be savoured. The Gaelic song is both substantial and beautifully decorative. This is what champions of traditional culture do. If they do it well, it’s evocative, intense and historically significant.’ RnR Magazine

    Album of the week on Celtic Music Radio & Caithream Ciùil, BBC Radio nan Gàidheal...

    When the Rev. Norman McLeod set sail from Ullapool heading to Cape Breton in 1817, he couldn’t have known that he would end his long life in New Zealand having led one of the nineteenth century’s largest privately organised emigrations. I came across his story while visiting the town of Waipu on New Zealand’s north island and was struck not only by the scale of the endeavour but also by the commitment of this Gaelic speaking community of some 800 people. They had already spent 33 years in Cape Breton when they invested immense time and money building 6 ships to follow McLeod to New Zealand. The full story of the journey and the eventual settlement of the community in Waipu is full of adventure and some tragedy. For me, seeing the objects and artefacts that came with them such as a pair of moccasins, or a Gaelic Hymn book, left a lasting impression and a thirst to learn more about the people, their lives and their culture.
    The 150th anniversary of the death of McLeod was reached in 2016 and I started work on a new piece of music inspired by the story and the sense of place evoked by each of the main communities and countries he and his congregation lived in. Working with the Auckland Scottish Fiddle Club, we performed this new piece, named Kōterana, in Waipu in December 2016 and in 2018 it was also performed at the North Atlantic Fiddle Convention in Aberdeen, in partnership with the Scottish Culture and Traditions organisation. Fast forward to now, and thanks to some very welcome financial support from Creative Scotland, I’ve been able to extend the original piece and record it with an amazing group of musicians based here in Scotland as well as in Canada and New Zealand.
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Canvas Town 03:42
Nuair dh’fhàg mi Albainn thuathach Le cabhlach luath nan crannagan Chaidh sinn tre theas is fuachd A bha uamhasach ri tachairt orr' ’S ge b’ iomadh tonn a bhuail sinn, A bhagair falach cuain oirnn, Thug Dia na throcair bhuan sinn A-steach on chuan don chala seo. Gur mòr an t-adhbhar smaointinn Na daoine caomh bha maille rium, Bha uasal, fialaidh, faoilidh, Gur gann tha aon ra fhàgail dhiubh; Chaidh iomadh aon gu bàs dhiubh, Is sgapadh cuid ’s gach ceàrn dhiubh, ’S na tallachan bha blàth ac’ Tha ‘n-diugh nan làraich fhalamh iad. Tha sinn am port Dhùn Éidinn, ’N Otago ann an acarsaid, Is chì mi sealladh ceutach, Air coill’ is slèibh is gleannanaibh; Is ged nach faic mi sràidean Le caisteil, is stìopaill àrda, Tha coill’ is tìr fo bhlàth ann ’Am bheachd-s’ an àill’ toirt barrachd orr'. Thoir soraidh uam san uair seo Gu Albainn thuath nam breacanan – Gu bràithrean ’s càirdean suairce Rin robh e cruaidh leam dealachadh; ’S ge mór an t-astar cuain A ta eadrainn air an uair seo, Mo cheangal riu chan fhuasgail Gus ’m bris an uaigh na bannaibh ud When I left northerly Scotland With the swift fleet of the masts We went through heat and cold That was terrible to encounter And although many waves beat on us That threatened to hide us under the seas God in his mercy saved us From the ocean to this harbour. It is a cause for contemplation, That the kind people who had lived with me Who were noble, generous, and hospitable: Hardly one of them is left behind (on the land); Many of them have died And some of them have been scattered to every corner, And the halls that they had kept warm Are today empty ruins. We are in Port Dunedin In Otago in a harbour And I see a lovely sight Of forest and mountain and wee glens; And although I cannot see streets With a castle and high steeples There is a blooming forest and landscape That excels it in beauty, in my opinion. Take my greetings at this time To northernly Scotland of the tartans – To beloved brothers and kin With whom parting was difficult; Although the ocean’s distance Between us is great at this time, My connection to them cannot be undone Until the grave breaks the bonds


The McLeod Story in Summary
Norman McLeod was disaffected by the Church in Scotland and left, sailing from Ullapool to Pictou, Nova Scotia, Canada in 1817. After 3 years, he moved to St Ann’s and built a large congregation over a period of 30 years. By many reports, he was a man who was both respected and feared and some commentators draw a comparison with a typical clan chief of the time. He grew increasingly disappointed by what he saw as liberal tendencies moving into the area and, having received word from one of his sons that the prospects in Australia or New Zealand might be more suitable for his congregation, he suggested to them that they should move to a new land en masse. Ships were built and they set sail from St Ann’s in 1851, arriving in Adelaide after spending 164 days at sea. Unfortunately, their arrival in Australia coincided with the gold rush and they were forced to live in tents in an area of Melbourne known as Canvas Town due to the sudden dramatic increase in the city’s population. After a period of 2 years in crowded Australia, they eventually obtained land in New Zealand and settled in Waipu in 1854.
Gaelic continued to be spoken in the town as a mother tongue until the late 1950’s and obvious cultural connections with Cape Breton and Scotland are still celebrated there; whether it’s the annual Highland Games held on New Year’s Day, the welcoming ‘Ceud Mile Failte’ signs as you drive into the town or the local museum where many artefacts are displayed, brought with the settlers both from Canada and Scotland.
For further information, a good place to start is www.waipumuseum.com


released April 14, 2023

Tune Credits
All compositions by Iain Fraser except Chagair, Chagair, Chagair a’ Ghruagach found in the Patrick McDonald Collection of Highland Vocal Airs, Sandy Cameron, My Brother’s Letter: Traditional, Australian Ladies by William Fergusson, Aotearoa by Jimmy Young, Annie Aitken, Willie McBride: Traditional, and the Kiwi Reel by Willie Hunter.

I’m very thankful to my family for putting up with me as I waxed lyrical about this story, for the support of Creative Scotland without which this album would not have been possible. Also, many thanks to Anne-Marie Forsyth and the Auckland Scottish Fiddle Club for supporting this project at the very beginning, to Barry Reid @rosecroftstudio and to all the musicians involved in the recording.

Recorded and mixed by Barry Reid at Gorbals Sound, GloWorm and Rosecroft Studios, Scotland. Additional recording by James Stephens in Quebec, Canada and Noah Page at Depot Sound, Devonport, New Zealand. Mastered by Gordon Gunn. Design and print by Birnam CD.

Thanks to the following musicians who appear on the album

Emilia Bartellas
Gillian Boucher
Pete Clark
Doug Dorward
Iain Fraser
Gordon Gunn
Sarah Wilson

Anne-Marie Forsyth
Bernadette Kellerman

Seylan Baxter
Wendy Weatherby

Signy Jakobsdottir: Percussion
Donald Knox: Guitar
Lorne MacDougall: Pipes
Calum Alex Macmillan: Gaelic Song
Freya Rae: Flute & Whistles
James Ross: Piano
Scot Wilson: Bass


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Iain Fraser Scotland, UK

Iain Fraser & Donald Knox
Click on links below for performances...

Iain Fraser is fascinated by the fiddle’s rhythmic and emotional capabilities and draws his material from 18th Century Scottish tunes to new self-penned compositions and from the multiple regional music styles of the British Isles to those of North America and Europe.
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