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Today there would be many who would say, that the first Fife Fancy Canaries may have originally been small borders, but the breed has come a long way since then. http://members.madasafish.com/~grahamwhite/fife/fife.html
(The 'Original' Border Canary)
The origins of the Fife Fancy Canary go back to 1951, when a group of Scottish Border Canary fanciers took a historic stand; they refused to 'go along with' the endless demand for bigger and bulkier Borders which made a mockery of the Ideal Model Standard. These breeders believed that the Border Canary should be held to the original ideal, of a small, compact bird, not more than 4.5 inches in length, with a lively action and a jaunty style.
The original enthusiasts from the county of Fife in Scotland were seen as 'voices crying in the wilderness'; the political and financial centre of gravity of the Border Fancy had long ago moved south into England, and the trend was for bigger, bulkier, heavily feathered birds. So it took courage to stand against the tides of fashion and assert that in the case of the Border Canary 'Small is Beautiful'. The following information was kindly provided by David Lumsden - son and exhibition partner of Walter Lumsden:
"The first meeting of the Fife Fancy was held in the Fuers Hall at Kirkcaldy, Fife, in 1952. An advert was placed in the Cage Birds by my father. Five Fanciers turned up to the inaugural meeting of the Fife Fancy Canary Club.
Walter Lumsden - of Dysart, James Reid - of Buckhaven, John Taylor - of Mountwannie, John Heggie - from Coaltown of Balgonie and James Lister - of Leslie
Officers elected: President. - W. Lumsden. Vice President - J. Heggie. Secretary - J. Reid."
END QUOTE .
During the 1950s and '60s the birds could only be exhibited as 'Miniature Border Canaries' in the 'Any Other Variety' class. This was understandable because they were 'the original Border Canary', as it was before the 'size-madness' took hold among Border breeders. The original Border Canary was a small bird, affectionately known as 'the wee gem', in its homeland on the England-Scotland border.
All of the Standard Models recorded from the 1890s to the 1960s confirmed the defining qualities of the Border canary: small, pert, jaunty, lively in action, tight-feathered, smoothly-rounded in head and body. But it was the corruption and abandonment of this Standard by the advocates of the 'Big Border' that led to the 'creation' of the Fife, by those few Scottish fanciers who treasured the qualities of the original classic. In this sense, they did not really 'create' a new variety of canary at all; they simply preserved and protected, 'the original Border canary'.
In 1975 Walter Lumsden showing in partnership with his son David Lumsden, won the UK National Show, with a Self Fawn Cock, which judge George.C. Lynch awarded Best Canary in Show - ahead of all the Borders, Yorkshires, Norwich, Glosters and other varieties. Up to this point, 'Fife' Canaries could only been exhibited as "Any Other Variety of Canary", but after the Lumsden Partnership's historic victory, the breed was finally acknowledged as the Fife Fancy Canary.
Today Fifes increasingly constitute the largest canary classes at most UK shows, displacing the Border Canary. The reasons for this are that in stark contrast to the Border Canary, the Fife remains: A small, agile, jaunty bird, Highly fertile, a good parent and breeds freely. Inexpensive birds cost as little as £8 /$15 and a Champion can be had for £30/£60 and are Healthy and trouble free.
The Fife in Australia was developed by somewhat more dubious methods, not the least was to cross with Lizard and Gloster Canaries along with small Borders. It could easily be described as a bitser (bits of this and bits of that).
Breeding practices today in the most part are more acceptable and very seldom is a Gloster or Border used.
The free exchange of quality birds between all states has meant that the overall quality has improved and access to birds has become easier. Senior breeders are now passing on their skills and birds to a new generation of enthusiast.
The Fife Fancy Canary has become the largest class at most mixed shows and with this comes the responsibility to assist existing and new breeders that wish to enter the Fife Fancy. If you sell the enthusiast below standard (crappy) birds it will ultimately turn away the Breeder or provide the Show Bench with birds that lack the qualities of a good Fife. Encourage new members, by assisting and providing birds that you would be happy to breed with.