Minstrel of Marine Atlantic: Folk-singing ferry performer sings of love and loss

If you are journeying by ferry between North Sydney, N.S. and Argentia, N.L., over the next week or so, you may find yourself serenaded by travelling minstrel Michael Averill.

Michael Averill, walking cross-country since 2013, now singing on North Sydney-Argentia route

Michael Averill will sing and play on the Marine Atlantic ferry between North Sydney, N.S., and Argentia, N.L., until July 13. (Yvonne LeBlanc-Smith/CBC)

If you are journeying by ferry between North Sydney, N.S., and Argentia, N.L., over the next week or so you may find yourself serenaded by a travelling minstrel.

Michael Averill, a Kelowna, B.C., folk-roots musician, has been travelling across Canada on foot since 2013 and sharing songs along the way.

The 33-year-old told CBC's Mainstreet Cape Breton this week that his album project I'd Rather Walk was inspired by his late singer-songwriter father, Garry Averill, who was an avid walker.

Encouraging conversations about life and loss

It's meant to encourage conversation around the country regarding life, loss and wellness, he said.

"I found through the loss of a family member that a conversation around death is a difficult thing," he said. "So I just thought sharing some songs about that and having an open space to provide a bit of an atmosphere for people to even listen about it.

"It just helps with the acceptance process but also just to have healthy dialogue about it."

Averill will be playing music on the Marine Atlantic ferry until July 13.

From there, he will make his way to Quebec.

Natural storytellers

Averill said his journey has enabled him to gain a deep connection to the land and the people he has met along the way.

"Everyone I meet is a phenomenal storyteller; it's just in the genes," he said. "I got to perform in the [Festival of Small Halls] in P.E.I.

"Two of the nights that I played were storytellers circles. It was such a treat. I think everything I love about this region is how connected to sharing stories it is," he said.

Averill is now fundraising to complete a new album titled All We Ever Need.

"The albums that I have recorded to this point have been ones that I have done on my own. Over the last few years I've had a lot of mentorship and people have helped me learn about songwriting.

"This is a bigger step in terms of getting it out on a broader scale and having it be a bit more accessible in many
new forms," said Averill.

With files from Mainstreet Cape Breton