Chéticamp Brigadoon: Tangled Music Traditions in Cape Breton

Photo of Harbour Range Front Lighthouse, Chéticamp

Harbour Range Front Lighthouse, Chéticamp

The story of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia is one of determination in the face of overwhelming adversity, immigrant settlers expelled from their homeland, struggling to tame an often unforgiving land; two very different cultures tossed together by fate and forced by nature to coexist.

But what if those cultures weren’t so different or unrelated after all?

Cultural traditions are not always as they seem and their origins are often more complicated than we imagine. So it is with the Acadians and Scots of Nova Scotia, whose unlikely convergence on Cape Breton helped preserve traditions that first traveled to the island with their ancestors many generations earlier.

“Chéticamp Brigadoon,” just published in Wild Musette Journal, reveals the intimate relationship the Scots and French have enjoyed over many centuries. Wild Musette Journal is a wonderful mix of music, dance, and mythology with a focus on Celtic culture. The print edition is a work of art.

Through the windows of the Doryman Pub, I watched the storm batter the coast, the same deluge that had raged since early morning and showed no sign of waning. Wind-driven breakers clawed at the ragged scarp of Chéticamp Island, an oblong stretch of offshore land that was both the town’s namesake and it’s only shield against the Gulf of St. Lawrence. My wife, Chris, and I had come to Cape Breton for several reasons. There was the sheer beauty of the place: unspoiled beaches, dense forests, and crags that shot skyward only to plunge abruptly into the sea. But we’d also come for the island’s varied culture: the Scots with their legendary fiddlers, and the Acadians, their francophone neighbors.

Read the full story here.

Cover of Wild Musette Journal #1702

Thoughts, questions, or comments?