Waipu and its Scottish heritage

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 11.51.15A few days ago the Waipu Caledonian Society in New Zealand held its 145th annual Highland Games – Games the Society has thus organised since its foundation in 1870, though the first Caledonian sports meet in Waipu took place even earlier than that. This does not make the Waipu Society New Zealand’s oldest Caledonian Society, but the Games are among the longest-running Highland Games in the country. While the 145th Games were marred by poor weather, the tradition is still going strong (let’s just ignore that hurling of a hairy haggis … or even of a whole haggis family).

What makes the Scottish heritage in Waipu even more interesting than its long-standing Highland Games, however, is how Scots came to settle in Waipu in the first place. While …

Celebrating John A. Macdonald

Screen-Shot-2015-01-11-at-13.53.35John Alexander Macdonald was born in Glasgow on this day, 11 January, 200 years ago. An opportune moment to celebrate his achievements and role in the making of the Canada we know today. John spent the first few years of his life in Scotland, but then emigrated to Kingston in what was then Upper Canada when he was five years old. His father, Hugh, had been a merchant in Glasgow and continued in the profession, opening up a number of shops in Kingston and beyond. Like many Scots, Hugh greatly valued education and was keen for John to be well-educated. Consequently, John first attended Midland District Grammar School, as well as a private co-educational school. In 1830, aged 15, John commenced working for a lawyer in, George Mackenzie, and soon …

New Book: Clubbing Together

clubbingI am delighted to announce that my new book, Clubbing Together: Ethnicity, Civility and Formal Sociability in the Scottish Diaspora to 1930, has been published by Liverpool University Press. I have accumulated a host of debts throughout the preparation and writing of this book, so I’d like to take the opportunity and thank a few people and organizations here.

A few ‘thank yous’:

First, I’d like to acknowledge the British Academy for the support I have received through the Small Research Grant scheme (SG100441). I am also grateful to the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, which has funded some of my research in Australia related to ethnic associations. The Humanities Research Centre at the Australian National University also deserves my recognition for giving me the opportunity to be a …

Manitoba’s Young Hero

mcleoad-300x288Alan Arnett McLeoad was born at the end of April 1899 in Stonewall, Manitoba, establishing his heroic credentials at an early age. As is noted in his biography, he was only nine years old when he ‘removed a trap from the foot of a stray dog, but did not seem to understand why others fussed over his exploit’, exhibiting ‘the same courage, kindness, and modesty that he would later display as a pilot with the Royal Flying Corps.’ To this he came via militia training with the 34th (Fort Garry) Horse, which he joined four years after the incident with the dog. So keen was McLeod to support his country in the First World War that a sought to enlist immediately when the war broke out – his age, of …