Merril Bruce

  • 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award, African Nova Scotian Music Association Award Show (ANSMA)

Born at East Green Harbour, Shelburne County, Mr. Bruce sought work on schooners engaged in the West Indies trade. Two years later he gave up his seafaring career to dance professionally at the Gayety Theatre in Halifax.

Merril Bruce was a renowned step dancer, who performed with some of the most famous country and western stars in the Maritimes, including Hank Snow, Wilf Carter, and Don Landry. He also appeared on many occasions on Don Messer’s Jubilee and the Uncle Mel Radio Show. In fact, he performed his talented routines on the dance floor right up to his passing in 1974.

Mr. Bruce also made an album. This is not as strange as it sounds. Stepdancing is usually accompanied by fiddle music and the shoes have metallic clickers attached to the toe and heel. The dance is often performed on a hard surface so that the sound of the shoes can be clearly heard accompanying the music. Without visuals, stepdancing can be considered another form of percussion. The album could be viewed as a precursor to groups like “Stomp”. Merril was known to dance on chairs, and even in roller skates. “He was the first one to perform this”.

Merril won many awards for his dancing, including the Maritime Buck and Wing Dance Championship. He danced alone as well as with partners. One of his regular partners was Georgie Adams with whom Bruce danced for sixteen years. Among the shows the two men put on were shows for the Armed Forces at Halifax’s Capital Theater and for patients at Camp Hill Hospital.

Merril was nominated but not inducted in the Nova Scotia Country Music Hall of Fame in 2007.