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'Most Canadian' guitar making stops in midwestern Ontario

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The sweet sounds of ‘Canada's guitar’ echo through the gymnasium at F.E. Madill Secondary School in Wingham.

"This is Voyageur, the six-string nation guitar. It's made of 64 different pieces of history and heritage from communities and cultures and characters from every province and territory of Canada," said Jowi Taylor, the man behind the creation of Voyageur, the six string nation guitar.

Voyageur is more a piece of art, than musical instrument. Over the course of several years, Taylor brought together pieces of Canadiana, popular and painful, to create the steel string guitar.

A piece of Paul Henderson's 1972 Summit Series stick, a nugget of Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard's Stanley Cup Ring, a slice of fabric from a seat at Massey Hall, even a piece of wood from a Residential School, make up the guitar.

"It's a fantastic blend of culture and music and storytelling that's just a very unique opportunity from a very uniquely Canadian instrument," said Madill music teacher, Eric Varillas.

Designed as a unifying piece of history, Taylor has been touring across Canada with Voyageur since its creation in 2006.

Musical stars like Gordon Lightfoot and Geddy Lee have played it, but now, so to have three aspiring high school musicians from Wingham.

“Voyageur,” a six-string guitar, made up of 64 pieces of “Canadiana” visits FE Madill Secondary School in Wingham. (Scott Miller/CTV News London)

"It's an absolute honour to be able to play this. I've seen it a couple of times online and actually being able to get my hands on such a piece of Canadian history is truly an honour. And knowing that all of these pieces can be from somewhere local here, or somewhere all the way across the country is absolutely mind boggling to know that this is as probably about as unified as Canada's been in the past," said Grade 10 Madill musician, Jakob Schiestel.

"Having all these parts come from all across Canada and Canadian culture, it's just it's really interesting," said Brady Cranston, who got to play Voyageur.

"Not many people around the country will be able to say that they held this guitar and played songs. And this guitar, it's something that I can see in 50, 100 years, it's in a museum somewhere, and it's a wonderful Canadian historical piece of art," said Varillas.

Following stops at highs chools in Wingham and Exeter, Taylor and Voyageur will be part of the Huron Waves Music Festival this Father's Day.

"It connects us all, and it's meant to, make everybody feel that their story matters, that their story is part of a larger story — and that's why it's important to go across the country as much as possible and put it in the hands of people," said Taylor. 

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