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DATES - October 20-29, 2024

VENUE -Margaree Valley, Cape Breton (Normaway Inn)

MUSIC & CULTURE LEADERS - Màiri Britton, Mary Jane Lamond, Eamag Dhòmhnullach and Ian McKinnon (more teachers TBA)

ORGANIZERS and SUPPORT TEAM - Erinn Doncaster, Karla Mundy and Ali Romanow (Note Karla Mundy will not be attending the camp in person)

COST - $2995 CAD + $150 Registration Fee + GST (Based on double occupancy)

WHO - This trip is open to anyone who loves to sing. Music reading is not essential. 


SongRoutes - Cape Breton


Join us for 10 days of intensive singing and cultural learning in beautiful Cape Breton, Nova Scotia!  

Reaching eastward from the mainland into the Atlantic Ocean, Cape Breton Island is a hotspot of rich history, culture, and natural beauty.  During the Highland Clearances, and especially the first half of the 19th century, many thousands of immigrants who were pushed out of the Scottish highlands and islands found their way to a new home on Cape Breton Island.  Those immigrants and their descendants held close to their language, music, culture, and way of life for many generations; now, thanks to them, Cape Breton is a cultural center for all things Gàidhlig.  Over the course of 10 days, we will be immersed in many forms of Gàidhlig singing - waulking (milling) songs, puirt à beul (mouth music), laments, lullabies, and more! - and we will also have ample opportunities to experience the depth and breadth of Celtic culture that Cape Breton has to offer (think stepdancing and square dancing, local musicians, ceilidhs, language class…).  

For your convenience, we have timed this event to coincide with the internationally acclaimed Celtic Colours festival!  Celtic Colours runs from October 11-19th, 2024, and we begin on October 20th - we imagine that some of our keener students (and staff!) will want to travel to Nova Scotia early to catch some of the best Celtic musicians from all over the world as an inspiring prequel to our trip.  (Note that during Celtic Colours, accommodations all over Cape Breton book waaaayyyyy in advance, so if you’re interested, it’s in your best interest to make those plans sooner rather than later.)

VENUE - Normaway Inn - Margaree Valley

At the end of an allee of Scotch Pines, tucked into 250 acres of woodlands and fields in the Margaree Valley, The Normaway Inn will be our home for the duration of the event.  Originally the site of the MacPherson homestead and farm, the Normaway is steeped in local culture.  From the wooden floorboards and rafters of The Barn (converted years ago into a beloved venue for local music and square dances), to the airy and natural light-filled dining room, to the stone fireplace in the Inn lounge, to the pastoral view from the cabins’ porch swings, The Normaway’s character harkens back to the era of those early Scottish settlers, while also providing every modern comfort and convenience.  Most of the accommodations will be double occupancy (cabins and suites), with some single availability as well for a surcharge (private rooms in the main Inn building).  The bulk of our time together will be spent learning and singing together in The Barn, and every morning, noon, and dinner time, we will gather for our meals at the Inn Dining Room.  In between, there will be plenty of opportunity to explore the Normaway grounds, hear local musicians, try your hand at square dancing, and explore the wider community.


Cape Breton has an incredibly rich Celtic music culture and this trip will be a wonderful introduction to this thriving tradition. A typical day at this camp will consist of a morning session with our core teacher Màiri Britton, an afternoon workshop with a guest instructor and an evening jam, concert or dance.
  • daily workshops with our core teacher Màiri Britton
  • afternoon workshop with guest artists will cover many kinds Gàidhlig singing - waulking (milling) songs, puirt à beul (mouth music), laments, lullabies, and more!
  • we will be introduced to the Gàidhlig language.
  • we will learn some footwork and get to participate in some social dancing
  • a guided history walk out to McKinnon's Brook
  • the evenings will be filled with concerts, music/dance activities and lots of time for us to relax and jam together as a group.


Cost includes

  • full course tuition
  • evening musical activities
  • Accommodations at the Normaway Inn
  • ALL meals at the Normaway (we may have one or two meals out in the community - these will be at your cost. Otherwise, all meals are provided.)
  • Transportation to & from Halifax!

Cost is based on double occupancy. There are some single rooms available for an extra cost of $540 + GST.

What's Not Included?

Flights to and from Halifax.


Màiri Britton

Màiri is an educator, musician and cultural project manager who has nurtured a life-long love and appreciation for the Gaelic language and culture. Originally from Scotland, her interest in Gaelic was sparked at the age of five through attending her local Féis (Gaelic children’s music festival), and she has since learned the language to fluency with the support of generous teachers and mentors on both sides of the Atlantic.


After completing undergraduate and postgraduate Masters degrees in Celtic Studies from the University of Edinburgh, Màiri moved to Nova Scotia in 2016 and now gratefully lives in Unama’ki | Cape Breton, the ancestral land of the Mi’kmaq First Nation. She works as Project Coordinator for Cainnt is Ceathramhan, an initiative cataloguing, transcribing and improving access to the Gaelic folklore of Nova Scotia. She has also taught Gaelic language and culture courses for seven years at St Francis Xavier University and is a regular tutor and mentor for language and music programs at Colaisde na Gàidhlig | Gaelic College and the Office of Gaelic Affairs.  She is a founding member of the Freumh is Fàs Gaelic intentional community project and has worked for a number of other cultural organisations such as the Gaelic Narrative Project and Highland Village Museum.

As a Gaelic singer, step dancer and harpist, Màiri has been lucky to teach, perform and record with different projects in Europe and North America, including as lead vocalist with the Gaelic trad group Fàrsan. She has performed at festivals such as Blas Fest, PEI Festival of Small Halls, KitchenFest! and Celtic Colours. Màiri loves nothing more than attending dances and milling frolics to be in community and share in the wealth of music and cultural wisdom that has been passed down from our ancestors. One of her proudest musical moments to date was leading an ensemble of singers in a special concert at Celtic Colours in 2023, celebrating the tradition-bearers and archive material of the Cainnt is Ceathramhan project, alongside her colleague Mary Jane Lamond.

Mary Jane Lamond

Mary Jane Lamond is a sharer of songs, stories and spirit. This sharing has garnered her numerous JUNO and East Coast Music award nominations, critical acclaim, and a worldwide audience.  Her desire to preserve Scottish Gaelic songs has taken her back to Scotland time and again to share the Nova Scotia tradition through performance and workshops and her involvement in her community in Cape Breton is firmly rooted in the preservation of the Gaelic language.

In Eastern Nova Scotia , the rich heritage of the region’s Scottish Gaelic settlers was kept alive through song and stories. It was in Nova Scotia, visiting her grandparents throughout her youth, that Mary Jane Lamond fell in love with Scottish Gaelic traditions While enrolled in Saint Francis Xavier University’s Celtic Studies programme, Lamond released her first album, Bho Thir Nan Craobh, a collection of traditional material that introduced her unique singing voice and a then unknown fiddler named Ashley MacIsaac. The two talented Maritimers then collaborated on the award-winning radio smash “Sleepy Maggie”.

As a part of the 150 Celebrations of Canada, Mary Jane and Laurel developed, produced and presented a second Patchwork Project.  “She Sings As She Flies” brought together five women from the Mi’kmaq, Acadian, African Nova Scotian, English and Gaelic traditions to explore the work of folklore collector Helen Creighton.

Eamag Dhòmhnullach  

Emily MacDonald | Eamag is as rooted as one can be in Gleann nam Màgan “Glen of the Frogs” | Ainslie Glen, Inverness County, with a MacKinnon and MacLellan heritage going back to the Isle of Muck and Morar. She was drawn in her youth to Gàidhlig language and culture and has taken advantage of every opportunity since to explore, learn and share. She has a Celtic Studies and Bachelor of Education Degree from St. Francis Xavier University and has focused on community-based education. As a Gàidhlig singer and teacher, Emily has done a tremendous amount of work for Gàidhlig Nova Scotia.

A hard-working, well-organized self-starter, Emily began the Na Gaisgich Òga program at Colaisde na Gàidhlig and was the founding teacher at Taigh Sgoile na Drochaide. She was language consultant in the youth musical production Brìgh, fieldworker for the An Drochaid Eadarainn website, and was instrumental in getting Gaelic playgroups established in Inverness County. She co-organized community events, such as Finlay MacLeod’s Total Immersion Plus (TIP) training and A’ Togail na Gàidhlig, a monthlong Gaelic immersion program for adults. She owes her language and cultural fluency to time spent in the community and social-learning programs such as Gàidhlig aig Baile immersion classes and the Bun is Bàrr mentorship program.

Emily comes from a long line of Gàidhlig singers on both sides. Her maternal grandmother, Rhodena MacLellan, can be found in the St. Francis Xavier’s Cape Breton Gaelic Folklore collection, her paternal great grandfather, Hector MacKinnon (Eachann Nìll Lodaidh) was a precentor of presbyterian psalm singing, and her paternal great grandmother, Nellie (MacKenzie) MacKinnon was also considered a notable Gàidhlig singer. Emily enjoys visiting with friends, sharing songs, and spending time in nature.

Ian McKinnon

Ian McKinnon is one of the most acclaimed Highland bagpipers of the Scottish diaspora. In an award-winning career spanning four decades, Ian has piped across the globe as an innovator in modern Celtic music, from solo to symphonic work, and as a co-founder of the Celtic Rock band, Rawlins Cross.
Also proficient on lowland pipes, tin whistle and bodhran (Celtic drum), Ian has competed at the Open Class (Professional) level and been honoured by his peers with a dozen East Coast Music Awards, Nova Scotia Music Awards and two Juno Award nominations. Ian has performed on stages in North and South America, Europe and Asia. Rawlins Cross continues to perform and record, releasing its 11th studio album in 2022.
Ian's Celtic symphony MacKinnon’s Brook Suite is an award-winning orchestral original work that he’s performed with symphonies across Canada and which was also developed into a national CBC-TV production.
Ian has deep ancestral roots in the Gaelic and French speaking settlers dispersed to the new world and scattered about the islands and river valleys of the Gulf of St Lawrence centuries ago. Ian’s appreciation for his roots were deepened by a scholarly focus, earning a Masters degree in Folklore from Newfounland’s Memorial University. Ian lives with his family in Halifax and spends his summers in beautiful Broad Cove, Inverness County, Nova Scotia.

Joanne MacIntyre

Joanne MacIntyre comes from Mabou Coal Mines, Inverness County where she was raised in a culture rich environment of Scotch music, dance and Gaelic language. She has sung on stages around Cape Breton since her teen years, bringing the island’s distinct style and “swing” to appreciative listening audiences.

For five years, Joanne was a regular performer at Highland Village as a Gaelic singer, step dancer and story interpreter.

She now teaches Gaelic language and Gaelic Studies at Dalbrae Academy in Mabou, passing on her knowledge and passion for the language and it’s attendant culture to younger generations.

A Lochaber descendant, Joanne continues to expand her repertoire of songs from the Cape Breton and Inverness County Gaelic tradition.

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