Caledonian societies in the Antipodes

Caledonian societies emerged as the primary driver of Scottish ethnic associationalism in the Antipodes, especially so in New Zealand, where the promotion of Caledonian Games was their very raison d’être —many societies were effectively born on the sports ground. Ultimately, the hosting of Games was to exert so significant an influence in colonial New Zealand that they became an integral part of the annual events calendar of many communities, and aided the development of athletics—no mean feat, and a factor that effectively safeguarded not only Scottish culture throughout the country, but also facilitated its very wide permeation. For although pipers clad in Highland costume who played Scottish tunes undoubtedly delighted ‘spectators hailing from the Land o’ Cakes’, Caledonian Games had a much wider appeal and, therefore, emerge as the second …

Sporting Saint Andrew

screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-14-36-39As Scots all over the world come together to celebrate St Andrew’s Day it’s worth remembering how strong and diverse a tradtion it has been for centuries. Scottish migrants took it with them in their cultural baggage when making home around the globe – from San Francisco in the US to Invercargill in New Zealand.

Yet while balls and dinners were the most common, St Andrew’s Day celebrations have also long since been connected with sporting events. In Singapore and Malaysia, these usually took the form of rugby matches, played between Scottish teams and a tem comprised of players from diverse national backgrounds – thus often a team called “The Rest of the World”.

In Singapore, in 1932, the match took place at the Singapore Cricket Club, when “The Rest …

Celebrating Halloween in New Zealand

screen-shot-2016-10-31-at-15-15-23It’s that time of the year again when people all over the world celebrate Halloween – a good moment to remember that Halloween has long since been one of the many cultural traditions Scots took with them to places all around the world where they settled. This included New Zealand, where Scottish communities in both the North and South Islands made Halloween celebrations a central part in their annual events calendar.

In Wellington, in 1908, a Scottish festival was held in Burns Hall. The event was advertised as ‘a night of Scottish song and story’, and there was also a lecture entitled ‘The Love Songs of Scotland’, which was delivered by the Rev. J. Aitken (see advertisement). The musical programme had a number of contributors, including a Mrs Dempster who …

Forwards and backwards

Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 06.39.27In July 1909 the love story of Gabriel R. Gibson of Kilsyth – a small town halfway between Stirling and Glasgow – and Myrtle MacIntyre made headlines in the San Francisco Call. Gibson had fallen in love with MacIntyre and ‘wooed his sweetheart’ during his school days in Kilsyth. But, in 1903, Gibson left for the United States, seeking to make a better life for himself in Berkeley, California. His departure from Scotland did not put an end, however, to his love for Myrtle: the two kept in touch, corresponding regularly by sending many a letter across the Atlantic Ocean. But ‘[s]ix years of correspondence’ eventually ‘proved unsatisfactory to Gabriel . . . and he left for his native land . . . to wed Miss Myrtle MacInyre, the woman …