Rita MacNeil

May 28, 1944April 16, 2013

Rita MacNeil 68 – Big Pond

It is with great sadness that we the family announce the passing of Cape Breton’s first lady of song, Rita MacNeil, on Tuesday, April 16, 2013.

A gentle soul with a heart of gold and the voice of an angel, Rita’s music spoke of her love of home and family, the courage to rise above life’s challenges and the hardworking men and women that tie this country together. “Working Man”, “Flying on Your Own”, “Reason to Believe”, “I’ll Accept The Rose Tonight” and “Home I’ll Be”, are just a few of the songs that endeared Rita to fans in Canada, the U.K. and Australia. With determination and a passion for writing songs and singing, Rita pushed beyond a profound shyness and found her way to the world stage.

Born in Big Pond, Cape Breton on May 28, 1944 to the late Neil and Catherine “Rene” MacNeil, Rita was one of eight children. A mother to Laura (Dana) and Wade (Lori), a grandmother to Aden, Rachel, Anthony and Zoe, a dear friend, and a sister, Rita was a Canadian icon-a woman who had a dream that became a reality – who brought joy and inspiration to so many. She is survived by her dearest friend Rose and precious pups, Joy-Joy and Abbey, siblings Roseanne, Malcolm (Ruth), Mary (John), Cathy (Don), Neil (Elizabeth), Anne, Clem and by numerous nieces, nephews and cousins. Rita is also survived by her former husband and good friend David.

Rita was predeceased by 2 brothers-in-law David and Gerald and a nephew Shawn.

As per Rita’s request, cremation has taken place. Friends of Rita and family can gather at T.W.Curry Parkview Chapel, 755 George Street, Sydney on Saturday, April 20 from 4 – 8 pm. Funeral service to celebrate Rita’s life will be held on Monday, April 22 at 2 pm at St. Mary’s Church, Big Pond with Rev. Joe Gillis officiating. Rita would have wished if donations were to be made in her memory, that they be made to one’s choice of a Cape Breton charity. Online condolences to

And you never let the hard times Take away your soul And you stopped the tears from falling As you watched the young ones go

You’re as peaceful as a clear day You’re as rugged as the seas I caress you, oh, Cape Breton, in my dreams.

Home I’ll Be – Rita MacNeil


  • Visitation Saturday, April 20, 2013
  • Funeral Service Monday, April 22, 2013

Rita MacNeil

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Cathrina Mugford

August 3, 2016

I just found this online and am not sure if I ever signed it and wanted to make sure that I did.
She was a lovely woman both in song and heart. I am sure that your hearts have been filled with sorrow but know that she has left a huge legacy! RIP sweet angel

Erma Siteman

April 20, 2014

Locked Diary

When you loose a loved one
the Diary is neglected
You forgot what it contained
awhile ago
The Mystery is ,where is the key
perhaps in Spirts keeping
Shall we leave it there
put it all to rest
Will then our strength be whole?

Erma Siteman/Addison

Florence Kerr

April 19, 2014

You were one in a million, in so many ways, to so many people...a legend in your time here on Earth. Rest in peace Dear Rita. For you we will keep the candle burning 'til we all meet again on that beautiful shore.

October 3, 2013

Rita what a wonderful entertainer you were. You made your homeland of Cape Breton come alive to people far away like myself in Sydney Australia. Your music brought me joy, happiness and peace and I was so happy to actually see the Tea Rooms when we travelled through Canada. God bless you, peace always rest in peace - your music is a joy the words bring Cape Breton and Canada alive - there will never be anyone else like you - God rest in peace Julie Waller Sydney Australia


August 7, 2013

Rest in peace Rita i will always remember you from the letters i received
from you the lovely music and your gorgeous voice,just reading your
tributes as i was on your website looking for cd's and read about your death
i can't believe it. You will always be in my heart and i will always play your music.You will always be the best angel.
Rest in Peace Rita. Jennie Gore. Great Malvern. Worc's. UK

Carol MacLean

June 16, 2013

May has passed, I should have been wishing you a Happy Mother's Day, and yes, a big Happy Birthday. I should be looking forward to your shows, but that is only a thought now.

Today is two months, you are missed. This is for you, my dear friend.

"Her Way"

She set the stage
She wrote her thoughts
She sang a song

She made you laugh
She made you listen
She made you cry

She had the last word
She had the last laugh
She had the last invite

This was Classic Rita
This was Intimate Rita
This was Loved Rita

Cape Breton's Lady
A gifted Lady
A gracious Lady

"She Did it Her Way"

penned the day after Rita's funeral.....April 23, 2013 by Carol MacLean

John King

May 26, 2013

your music will live on forever in our hearts and souls. The songs you made will be played and sung for all of time Rita dear. Rest In Peace sweet , sweet Rita darling, i will keep you in my heart until my dying day and will meet you on the other side. God Bless You...........John and Eileen King, Goderich ,Ontario, Cape Bretoners.

Ruth Jeffeerson

May 25, 2013

Rest in Peace Rita, your music will live forever in the hearts of many Canadians. Our condolences to the family. M&R Jefferson, Innisfail AB

Rob McAleer

May 21, 2013

God needed another angels voice for his choir and chose you Rita. Your beautiful voice will play on here on earth through all your wonderful songs.


May 17, 2013

Rest in Peace Rita. Your voice will enhance the Angel's Choir