Guitars, Ukuleles and Violins

A matched set of a guitar and a ukulele donated to the Galt Museum & Archives.

A matched set of a guitar and a ukulele donated to the Galt Museum & Archives.

Ruth Hill visited the Museum in January 2018 to donate her father’s matching guitar and ukulele. Sydney James Womack (1895–1998) lived with his family in Kipp, Alberta during the 1930s.

Hill claims her father was born in England but developed his musical talent while resident in the United States. He acquired a violin and learned to play it in an outhouse as his mother would not allow him to play inside the house.

The donated set, was “bought in Lethbridge” in the early 1920s. Unlike the guitar she had no memory of her father playing the ukulele but recalled, “He got that because he loved Hawaiian music… He was always going to Hawaii and never did… He bought [the set] because [it] was a matching pair. Later on when he had some more money, he went and got [the ukulele] for [my brother] Lorne.”

Hill reminisced that “my dad used to play me to sleep… every night with that guitar. It never went back in [its case] at all, just stood in the corner because [he] played it every day, every night. He was self-taught. He taught himself to play the violin and [the guitar].”

The violin was Womack’s greatest love which he used to play waltzes at community events like school house dances. Womack also played the guitar at these events, but it was the violin—and his ability to play it fast—that Hill remembered most. “Sure he was good, you betcha,” said Hill of her father. “That one room in the school would be loaded as soon as he started playing [and] they would all be up all night and nobody left until two in the morning… They got home in time to milk cows otherwise they wouldn’t have quit at all.”

You can find out more about the objects and stories the Galt preserves at