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 …

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 …

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 …

The Scottish Horse

Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 06.01.54A very specific politicization of Scottish ethnic associational activity is worth pausing over as we continue to remember the First World War: in that war the Scottish Horse played an important role. The regiment’s roots, however, lay in the South African War over a decade earlier, and were in no small way a direct expression of a strong sense of duty many Scots felt towards Empire. This is most immediately seen in one particular activity several Scottish ethnic associations in Africa pursued: the idea to form Scottish units in support of the war effort. The Johannesburg Caledonian Society, for instance, supported the formation of a unit to be known as Scottish Horse, a cavalry regiment that was raised in Cape Town, Pietermaritzburg and Johannesburg under the leadership of Lord Tullibardine.…