News / Ottawa

Busking across Europe for an engagement ring

For local musicians Kaitlin Milroy and Alex Millaire, of Moonfruits, their story is one of love tempered by song.

Husband and wife duo Kaitlin Milroy and Alex Millaire of Moonfruits. Millaire proposed in Europe after raising money for a ring by busking.

Adam Kveton / Metro Order this photo

Husband and wife duo Kaitlin Milroy and Alex Millaire of Moonfruits. Millaire proposed in Europe after raising money for a ring by busking.

If you’re looking for a Valentine’s Day pick-me-up, this story might just do the trick.

It’s the love story of Kaitlin Milroy and Alex Millaire, local musicians whose music and romance have been intertwined since they first met in 2012.

It begins at a now-defunct bar formerly located at the Ottawa Jail Hostel. The joint had a great open mic, recalls Millaire.

“I distinctly remember walking into that courtyard and seeing Kaitlin and one of her friends doing an a capella number, and wondering who that was,” he said.

Soon they were jamming together, though something else was going on as well, and Milroy wasn’t immediately keen on it.

Fleetwood Mac’s famous romantic saga between Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham was Milroy’s only model of musical relationships, she said, making her a tad nervous to embark on one herself. But, she said, “my heart was clearly making other plans.”

Millaire took a busking trip to Europe that year, but his return cemented the budding romance. They became a couple — and a proper band, under the name Moonfruits.

It was a tough go, with their day-job schedules leaving midnight to 3 a.m. the only time to practise.

Despite the hard work, Moonfruits wouldn’t be in Ottawa for the summer high season. Millaire had already arranged to head back to Europe and continue busking.

Milroy decided to join this time, meeting Millaire several weeks after he’d already arrived.

The gap provided Millaire with just enough time to exact his plan.

“I was more broke than I had ever been in my life,” he said. “But I really wanted to ask for Kait’s hand.” So he decided to busk for the money.

He played in England, France, Spain, Italy, Germany and the Czech Republic, he said.

By the time the pair met up in Paris, Millaire had earned enough money. He proposed and they were engaged.

They both admit it was sudden and a bit cheesy, but Milroy said playing together for people in the streets of Europe really was beautiful.

The pair continue to play as Moonfruits, and are playing at Bistro le Forain in Gatineau on Valentine’s Day, starting at 6 p.m.

Milroy said working together isn’t always easy, but added, “It’s pretty amazing to be able to work with my best friend and make music together.”

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