Ottawa Cape Breton Session

Pub Sessions

Sun. Apr. 2 - Pub Session - 2pm to 5pm.  Celebrate Tartan Day (April 6) with a  jam session at the Barley Mow, 1541 Merivale Rd.  Everyone is welcome to join us for some down home Scottish, and Cape Breton music. Wear your tartans and kilts, and bring your bagpipes along to join the fun or just stop by to listen and chat with the friendly folk at the pub.  

Sun. Apr. 16 - Pub Session - 2pm to 5pm. Open jam session at the Barley Mow, 1541 Merivale Rd. Everyone is welcome to join us for some down home Scottish, Irish and Cape Breton music. Fiddlers, guitarists, piano players, whatever - or just stop by to listen and chat with the friendly folk at the pub. A great way to make new friends who enjoy traditional music.

Sun. Apr. 30 - Pub Session - 1pm to 4pm. Since there are 5 Sundays in April, and we missed so many sessions due to Covid we've added an extra special east end session for April! Moose Mcguire's Orleans has invited us to ceilidh Cape Breton-style starting at 1pm, ahead of the Sunday open mic which starts at 5. That's a full day of local live music! Come early and have some lunch, check out the menu. 4025 Innes Rd. Orleans, across from the Esso station.  Everyone welcome, bring your fiddles, guitars, mandolins, whistles, accordions and good cheer. 

Sun. May 7- Pub Session - 2pm to 5pm. Open jam session at the Barley Mow, 1541 Merivale Rd. Everyone is welcome to join us for some down home Scottish, Irish and Cape Breton music. Fiddlers, guitarists, piano players, whatever - or just stop by to listen and chat with the friendly folk at the pub. A great way to make new friends who enjoy traditional music.

Other Events

April 23 - Glengarry Strathspey and Reel Society Annual Workshop. The Glengarry Strathspey and Reel Society invites all fiddlers to the annual workshop on Sunday, April 23, 2023 from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Alexandria Curling Club, 138 Main St. N, Alexandria, Ontario. The  guest this year is Paddy Kelly, a man of many talents and an Inductee into the Glengarry Celtic Music Hall of Fame. There will be a small admission charge of $10.00 to help cover the cost of the afternoon. Students will be admitted free. Sheet music for all sets will be available at the workshop or can be downloaded from  For additional information contact:

April 29 - 1pm - 3pm Fiddle Workshop with Dara Smith-MacDonald. Details TBA. To reserve your spot email Dara and Adam Young (piano) may also be available for private lessons that weekend, contact them directly to arrange.  

April 29 - 7pm - 9pm House Concert -  Cape Breton artists Dara Smith-MacDonald on fiddle and ECMA award winner Adam Young on piano.

July 14-15 - Fiddles on the Rideau Festival - Concerts, workshops and more at Manotick United Church. 

July 16 - 1pm - 3:30 pm - Fiddles on the Rideau Flotilla Mahogany Harbour 1:00-1:45pm and Long Island Locks 2:30-3:30pm. Looking for pontoon boat owners and drivers, as well as musicians. 


Join our Facebook community to find links to online videos, music resources and other Cape Breton goodness. We also share news via Twitter. To see videos from past sessions check out our YouTube channel. 

Sign up to receive occasional notices about Ottawa Cape Breton Session events, as well as other events involving Cape Breton music and culture in the National Capital. A newsletter goes out approximately once a month, more often if there are last minute events, or a significant change to a planned event.  Past newsletters are here if you want to get an idea of what to expect or catch up on what you missed.

We NEVER share our list with other groups, we may occasionally pass along relevant information from another local group but rest assured that we won't give your email address to anyone else!

Scenes from some of our past pub sessions - always a great time!


Ottawa Cape Breton Session provides an opportunity to play tunes and sets that are part of the Cape Breton traditional repertoire. 

Pub Sessions

Sunday afternoon pub sessions are generally at a pretty fast pace. It is mostly group/session playing with occasional songs or solos.  Everyone is welcome to join, with fiddle, guitar, mandolin, accordion or even a cello! Sessions  are led by Aylene, or sometimes other folks. Let her, or the pianist Ellen know if you have something special to share with the group.   

If you don't play, but love to hear Maritime and Cape Breton music live you're more than welcome to come down to the pub sessions and have some fun. It's always a big and friendly group of folks, a great place to meet old friends and make new ones too. You'll meet lots of other Maritimers in the crowd. Jam ouverte avec concentration sur le pieces de l’ile du Cap Breton, de l’Écosse et de Glengarry. Apportez un instrument ou venez partager une chanson avec nous. Ou, venez savourez la musique et notre plaisir. On ne sait jamais qui s’y présentera, mais c’est certainement toujours un groupe avec un accueil amical avec qui passer l’après-midi.

House sessions and slow jams were cancelled during the pandemic, we will re-evaluate the public health situation and decide whether there is enough interest in gathering in smaller spaces to start these practice sessions again. 

House Sessions

House sessions are are great way to learn new tunes and meet new people.  To get familiar with the Cape Breton repertoire we have house sessions every other Sunday from 2-5pm at various locations. The pace at house sessions varies, new tunes are learned mostly from sheet music. Players take turns hosting house sessions, or sometimes they are hosted by folks who just love to hear the music. Session à vitesse moyennement accéléré où apprender de nouveau ‘sets’ de pieces, généralement  à partir de feuilles de musique mais aussi ‘à l’oreil’. Lieu idéal pour faire l’essaie d’une  nouvelle chanson, ou pratiquer de nouvelles pieces avant de les jouer à la session au pub. C’est aussi un bon temps pour faire du ‘social’ avec des gens forts sympatiques et pour savourer des grignotines délicieuses.

Reel Slooow Jams

These house sessions play at a more moderate tempo for learning, great if you are new to your instrument or are nervous playing with a group. You won't find a more welcoming and encouraging group anywhere else.  Slow jams are hosted by players, usually alternating between Kanata and other locations. On vise les débutant(e)s au violon (ou piano ou guitar) qui désirent apprendre le pieces de l’Isle du Cap Breton dans un millieux amical et sans pression. Plusieurs aires et valses lentes ainsi que des jigues et des reels à partir du repertoire régulier, mais à une vitesse plus lente; ceci donnera plus de temps à ceux et celles qui ne savent pas lire la musique a apprendre à l’oreil. Vérifier la page “Tunes” pour la liste le plus souvent joué au Slow Jam (“jam lent”).

Cape Breton fiddle music is best learned by ear. Although detailed sheet music and sound files are provided here for learning the basics of a tune , be aware that the tune may sound different when played live. The sheet music provides the melody of a tune, and while some common ornamentation such as a 'cut' may be occasionally notated, in general the fiddler is encouraged to add to the sound with their own selection of ornamentation. In addition the rhythm pattern played may be slightly different than the dotted notes in the sheet music would have you believe. The best way to really learn these tunes is to come out and play along with us at either a house or pub session. You would be more than welcome! The Tunes page contains tunes and sets you are likely to hear at one of our sessions. 

Cape Breton fiddlers occasionally come and present workshops on fiddle, step dancing and piano here in the National Capital region. We'll make sure that any such events are communicated via our email list, website and social media accounts. There are a few Ottawa-area fiddle teachers who include Cape Breton tunes and stylings in their lessons.     More...