Fiddles On The Rideau Raises Awareness, Funds For Youth Services Bureau

Special to the Messenger

On the weekend of July 14-16th, fiddlers from across Canada coupled with local musicians gathered together at the Manotick United Church to play variety concerts and to teach fiddle, dance and singing workshops.  Due to the rain forecast on Sunday July 16th, the flotilla planned for the Rideau River was cancelled but everyone quickly came back to the Manotick United Church to participate in a jam session that lasted three hours. The square and round dancing never stopped as locals joined in the jam with their accordions, banjos, bodhrans, etc.  Fiddle enthusiasts, young and old, as well as many new Canadians assembled to celebrate Canadian culture, and to raise awareness and financial support for the Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa (YSB). 

Just as the culture in Canada is diverse, so is the music.  Each year the festival highlights the differences in fiddle styles between provinces.  This year, the festival showcased: Métis fiddle phenom, Alex Kusturok from Edmonton, AB; East-Coast award fiddler, Troy MacGillivray from Antigonish, NS; the Bb Sisters -Kimberley Holmes, Carrolls Corner, NS and Sherryl Fitzpatrick, Ottawa,ON;  along with members of the “Fiddles On The Rideau” board namely: Chad Wolfe, Sherryl Fitzpatrick and Nicole Bouvier.  Our special guests for the weekend event were pianist Mark Allen and Entertainer of the Year, Gail Gavan as Emcee.  Encouraging the younger generation is important to the festival and we were able to award three youth scholarships to local fiddlers, Portia Campbell, Aiden Campbell and Noah Jeaurond.

Founded by Ottawa-area musician-educator-composer Sherryl Fitzpatrick, the FOTR event is part of a larger vision to familiarize all Canadians with the traditional and contemporary importance of fiddling to Canadian Heritage. It is also a fundraising initiative to bring awareness and support to mental health.  This is the third year for the FOTR event but the first year for the Youth Services Bureau (YSB). In addition, it is a three-day music festival.  RBC and Portfolio Manager, Janice Domaratzki was enthusiastic to get on board to support the festival.

“To see how the Manotick business community has embraced us and has supported such a great cause is humbling and encouraging” says Fitzpatrick. To date, FOTR has raised close to $10,000 for mental health organizations in Ottawa.  This year, they were successful in surpassing their fundraising goal and raised $2,108.00 for the Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa (  Rachel Lessard who is the Events and Community Engagement Specialist at the Youth Services Bureau Foundation says, “At $2108.00, your fundraiser can provide over 45 youth with 1-hour mental health sessions.” 

Music is incredibly special and important to human life.  It is meant to lift the spirits of musicians and bystanders alike. “The global pandemic decimated live music. It created a separation among musicians, socially, emotionally, and musically.  It also left a void of that special positive human connection that takes place between musicians and audience. To have live music again in such an intimate setting created a sense of community and gave us an opportunity to make those connections again”, says Fitzpatrick. “We can’t wait until next year to bring this live event to the Manotick and surrounding area on the weekend of June 21-23, 2024. 

Visit or follow us on Facebook and/or Instagram and watch for detailed announcements next year. Hope to see you there!

(Photo by Sylvia Sturm/