*This program is suspended until further notice. 

McDougall Cottage Historic Site offers an annual, year long (January to December) residency to support and promote the efforts of local, professional or emerging traditional* musicians. Preference is given to residents of the Region of Waterloo.

Over the course of the year the Musician-in-Residence hosts a series of in-person and virtual concerts and/or events. The goals of the program are to:

  1. Create an awareness of, and an appreciation for, the importance of traditional music and its preservation;
  2. Provide opportunities for musicians to engage with the community and showcase their musical talents and knowledge of this genre;
  3. Broaden the local community’s experience and understanding of the arts; and
  4. Showcase the diversity of the music and cultures within the Region of Waterloo.

*While music contains a vast array of deep meanings both socially and personally and the definitions of traditional music vary widely.  For the purposes of McDougall’s Musician-in-Residence (MIR) Program, traditional music will be defined as:

“Music that is often passed down through families and other small social groups. This music, whether instrumental, vocal or both, highlights the traditions and history of a family, ethnicity or culture in which it was derived.”

Interesting in being a future Musician-in-Residence? 

McDougall Cottage Historic Site is now accepting applications for the 2022 Musician-in-Residence Program. Applications for the 2022 Residency must be received by no later than September 30, 2021.

Download Application

Current Residency:

Program suspended in 2021 due to COVID-19

Tyler Bridge holding a pipe

Alicia Blore holding a violin

Past Musicians-in-Residence

Initiated in 2011, the Musician-in-Residence Program is designed to support the efforts of local folk musicians and to celebrate the diverse folk music traditions of the Region.

During the course of the year the folk musician hosts workshops, performing concerts, and presenting lectures or demonstrations.

2011 Musician-in-Residence, Robin Aggus

 Robin Aggus, Piper, 2011

2012 Musician-in-Residence, Bob MacLean

Bob MacLean holding a guitarA native of Glace Bay, Cape Breton, NS, Bob first started playing the guitar when he was 12 years old.

While his musical ambitions have taken numerous directions over the years, (rock ‘n roll, blues, classical, folk) it was not until the mid-1990’s that he was bitten by the “Celtic bug”  It was at a traditional music workshop with the Barra McNeils in Fergus, that he discovered a whole new musical direction; Celtic guitar music. “I was on the edge of my seat the whole time…the McNeil family inspired me and I’ve not looked back since.”

From there, Bob began seeking out songs and tunes from the British Isles, Canada, USA and other Celtic-based cultures.  In time, it became clear that his university training as a classical guitarist would begin to pay off.  “My guitar teacher at McGill, Stephen Fentok, always assured me that good classical guitar training would provide a strong base for any style of guitar music.  He was right.  Studying the music of Sor, Bach, Carcassi and Villa Lobos have proved invaluable in my performing, arranging and composing.”

Since then, Bob has explored many facets of Celtic guitar; solo fingerstyle, accompanying Celtic players and singers, playing at traditional sessions, tune/song arranging, altered tunings and composition.  He performs in Celtic duos and in bands and sessions across Ontario and occasionally in the Maritimes.  He has recorded/performed with Allison Lupton, Juanita Williams, Mary Anderson, Randy Jackiw, Loreena McKennitt and Patricia Murray and numerous others.

Bob is currently working on a third solo Celtic guitar CD.  He has also taught at the Riverside Celtic College, is currently teaching at Folkway Music in Guelph and is the Founder/Artistic Director of the Waterloo/Wellington Guitar Summit.

Visit www.bobmaclean.ca for more information.

2013 Musician-in-Residence, Dan MacDonald

Dan MacDonald holding a fiddleDan MacDonald is from a family of musicians from the small village of Ironville, Cape Breton and began playing fiddle at a very early age. His fiddle education came mostly from his father, Lloyd MacDonald, who is a well-known and respected Cape Breton fiddler, and from the surrounding musical culture of Cape Breton Island.

Cape Breton Fiddler's Association practices in Baddeck, the Gaelic Maud in St. Ann's, playing for dances in Glencoe and playing for Highland dance and Cape Breton stepdance groups formed the basis for his music. The big Cape Breton concerts: Big Pond, Cheticamp, Highland Village day, Broad Cove and many others were the backdrop of his childhood.

In the late 1980s, MacDonald, and his family formed Scumalash, a traditional Cape Breton band, with whom he toured throughout the United Kingdom between 1988 and 1992, culminating in the release of a self-titled album. Scumalash recently returned from a reunion tour of England.

In 2001 MacDonald moved to Bowling Green, Ohio where he began playing with a traditional Irish group, Toraigh. Toraigh toured the Celtic festivals of the Midwest, including the Cincinnati Celtic Festival, Dayton Celtic Festival, and the Newport Irish Festival. During this time period MacDonald was also able to compete twice in the Midwest Fleadh (regional Irish Music competition) in the senior fiddle and ceilidh band competitions with a band involving some of Detroit's foremost Irish musicians, placing second in both categories.

MacDonald moved to Toronto in 2003, where he became a co-host at the Irish music session at Dora Keogh Irish pub and later became a member of the traditional Irish group, Spraoi. Spraoi has played to sold out audiences at the Tranzac, Hugh's Room and the Brampton Folk Festival. In 2006, MacDonald became music director of The Magic of Ireland, an Irish dance and music show, with which he toured the UK, Canada, the USA and Europe.

In recent years, MacDonald has been a mainstay at the Irish music session at Dora Keogh and Ceili Cottage Irish pub in Toronto as well as producing an Irish/Scottish dance and music show called "Brogue", which plays at folk clubs and festivals and theatres all over Ontario and the United States. 

MacDonald still tours with his brothers Paul and Shawn and his father Lloyd, playing at several festivals and school performances in Ireland over the last two years and most recently playing several shows for the Celtic Colours festival in Cape Breton. MacDonald's newest project is North Atlantic Drift, a Toronto based trio including himself on fiddle, Brian Taheny on guitar, banjo, mandolin and fiddle and Ross Griffiths on Scottish pipes, Irish pipes and whistle. This group features the blending of Scottish, Irish and Cape Breton in many different combinations of instruments, having released a self titled CD and performing at festivals and other events in Ontario and the United States.

2014 Musician-in-Residence, Allison Lupton

Allison Lupton holding a fluteVinyl Café Host, Stuart McLean once described Allison as having a “beautiful clear singing voice….and the ability to tell a story with her flute”.

Her interest in music began in the rural Ontario community of West Zorra Township where she learned to sing harmony in her church choir.

Her interest in music lead her to complete a Bachelor of Music at the University of Toronto and a few years later, a Masters of Music at the University of Calgary.

Allison became a music teacher for the Waterloo Region District School Board over 20 years ago and she has had the good fortune to teach at several Cambridge, Ontario schools including her current placement at Tait Street Public School.

She got her start playing folk music with the band Killiecrankie that was regularly featured on CBC Radio’s legendary Max Ferguson Show.

Allison’s musical highlights include performing at the Cecil Sharpe House in London, England, opening for Fairport Convention at the Palace Theatre and a feature on CBC Radio’s Vinyl Café.

In 2008, Allison was honoured with a nomination in the “Traditional Singer of the Year” category by the Canadian Folk Music Awards.

Allison’s band delights listeners with beautiful renditions of traditional and original songs and tunes.  The group features exquisite, three-part vocal harmonies and captivating arrangements highlighting flute, fiddle guitar, mandolin, banjo and acoustic bass.

For more information, visit: www.allisonlupton.com

2015 Musician-in-Residence, Dave Neigh

 Dave Neigh, Fiddler, 2015

2016 Musician-in-Residence, NUA

 James Law, Fiddler, Graeme McGillivray, Guitarist, Jacob McCauley, Bodhrán, 2016 See website. 

2017 Musician-in-Residence, Ruth Sutherland

Ruth Sutherland playing a celtic harpCeltic harper/singer/songwriter Ruth Sutherland is a rare gem – she’s both a great harper AND a beautiful singer. Canadian born, of Scottish parentage, Ruth has a University Degree in vocal performance, and moved to Hamilton in the 80’s to sing jingles and work as a backup musician at Hamilton’s famed Grant Avenue Studio.

Ruth released her latest recording, “A Canadian Christmas”, to rave reviews, receiving 4 Hamilton Music awards nominations, and Established Artist of the year nomination, by the City of Hamilton Arts Council.  As one reviewer put it:

"Ruth’s great Christmas CD is true Canadian music - a remarkable fusion of Celtic and roots, traditional and original, old and new."

Ruth’s solo third CD, “bones & runes”, won critical acclaim, also garnering 4 Hamilton Music Award nominations in 2007. This CD features Ruth’s original songs, traditional harp music, her exquisite interpretations of some classic folk songs, and a couple of Robbie Burns songs. Recorded in the sanctuary of a 19th century church in Hamilton, the sound of the CD is very clean and true to the experience of a live concert in your living room.

Locally, Ruth has been highlighted many times in the Boris Brott Summer Concert series, where she performs sold-out shows to great reviews. She also successfully returned from Lorient France where she achieved (alongside harpers from Brittany, Ireland and Wales,) rave reviews at the world’s largest Celtic festival, Festival Interceltique, and also led the harp master class. As member of the Canadian Celtic super group, Scantily Plaid, she has had the opportunity to perform around the world, including Uruguay, Britain, France, Germany and across Canada and the U.S.

Ruth is not only known for her haunting vocal interpretations of both Gaelic and traditional songs, but for her poignant original songs and harp tunes. The beauty and purity of Ruth Sutherland’s voice, accompanied by her harp, is magical. She covers the world, and brings it home to Canada.

For more information, visit:

Ruth Sutherland's website

2018 Musician-in-Residence, Tyler Bridge

Tyler Bridge holding pipesTyler is an accomplished multi-instrumentalist whose main instrument is the highland bagpipe. He also plays guitar and drums and is a graduate of the University of Guelph Music Program where his area of concentration was Jazz guitar. 

Tyler has been teaching guitar and bagpipes in Guelph for the past twelve years and is currently one of the managers at JamSchool, a performance based music school with 600 students in Guelph and the surrounding area. 

In September of 2013 Tyler took over as Pipe Major of the Guelph Pipe Band and now instructs and leads the band in competitions and performances throughout the year. Tyler was also a member of the 48th Highlanders of Canada from 2008-2015 and has performed with them throughout North America and in Scotland. 

Tyler is an active competitive solo piper and placed first overall at the top level of amateur piping in Ontario in 2014 and 2015. This earned him invitations to two of the top amateur piping competitions in North America, the Nicol Brown Competition in Albany NY, and the George Sherriff Memorial Competition in Hamilton ON. See Tyler competing at the Sherriff Invitational in 2014. 

After two years in the top amateur circuit, Tyler was promoted to the professional competition level. He won the overall B grade Piobaireachd category in 2016 during his first professional competitive season. This moved him into the A grade piobaireachd and puts him in the top level in Ontario. 

Tyler's piping students have also had great competitive success. Some of their achievements include winning the B Division Strathspey/Reel at the Toronto Piper's Society Knockout contest in 2013 as well as making it to the finals of that same knockout series. Three of Tyler's students have also placed first in their respective grades after a successful competition season in the Ontario Highland Games circuit this past summer. One of them qualified for the same top amateur piping competitions (Nicol Brown and George Sherriff contests) that Tyler competed at in 2014 and 2015. 

Between managing the music school, teaching, running the Guelph Pipe Band, and competing in the solo piping circuit, Tyler also plays in two folk ensembles called The Final Nine (with Dave Neigh and Mark Fletcher of the Steel City Rovers) and Stringymajig (with Fiona McCairley who is director of the Guelph Celtic Orchestra). In these ensembles, Tyler usually plays Scottish Border Pipes. This instrument is similar in sound and technique to the Highland bagpipe but is operated through use of a bellows under the right arm instead of blowing into the instrument. 

Combining border pipes with other instruments and musicians, Tyler draws on influences from artists such as Hamish Moore, Alan McDonald, Angus McDonald, Kenneth and Angus Mackenzie, Daihm, Breabach, and Seudan to combine Cape Breton, Ontario, and Scottish piping styles in an upbeat Ceilidh atmosphere.

2019 Musician-in-Residence, John Harris

John Harris holding a guitarBorn in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, John had an early start in music, beginning with the saxophone at age 5. During his childhood, he became fascinated with his father’s record collection, and absorbed a wide variety of musical styles ranging from Dixieland jazz, Classical, American and Canadian folk music, and began singing at local school and community functions.

During this time, he also discovered the guitar, and began his exploration of that instrument. A career in documentary film put John in touch with the world of film music, and gave him the opportunity to work with such noted Canadian composers and musicians as Moe Koffman, Hagood Hardy, Al Cherny, and Bruce Cockburn.

This led him to pursue a program of education in music composition at Carleton University in Ottawa. He has subsequently written numerous scores for both documentaries and animated features. He also has had an active career in education, teaching music and conducting workshops for Carleton University, the Ottawa Folklore Centre, Mohawk College, and the Brantford Music Centre.

Since leaving Nova Scotia in his childhood, John has come full circle as an active member of several Celtic ensembles, and enjoys a busy career performing and teaching

2020 Musician-in-Residence, Alicia Blore

Alicia Blore holding a violinMcDougall Cottage is pleased to welcome Métis fiddler, Alicia Blore, as the 2020 Musician-in-Residence. Join Alicia and her guests for a great line-up of events throughout the year!

Born and raised in Toronto, Alicia has never forgotten her Manitoba Métis roots. Alicia's great-grandfather, Philip Zastre, was a well-known Métis fiddler from St. Rose du Lac, Manitoba.


In 2008, Alicia was asked to join the Fiddle Stories: Elder Youth Legacy Project, which was a performing group of Indigenous Elders (Lawrence ‘Teddy Boy’ Houle, James Cheechoo, John Arcand, Colin Adjun) and youth from across Canada. Alicia traveled with the Fiddle Stories group to Newfoundland to participate in the North Atlantic Fiddle Convention in 2008, as well as Aberdeen, Scotland in 2010 and 2018. She has performed and provided workshops at schools, festivals, powwows, and rendezvous locally, provincially, nationally, and internationally.


Some of her performances include the Indian Residential School Survivors Legacy Celebration, Louis Riel Day at Queen`s Park in Toronto, and she was a performer in the Cirque de Soleil’s production of the Pan Am Games Opening Ceremony in Toronto in 2015.