The Scots and St George

Today is St George’s Day and many English around the world will come together to celebrate England’s saint day. Despite its focus on celebrating English culture and traditions, express Englishness, however, St George’s Day often brought together migrants from both England and Scotland – and so did St Andrew’s Day. Some of the more recent unease displayed in Scotland towards the celebration of St George’s Day is not evident in the history of the Scottish diaspora abroad.

It was common, for example, that members from St Andrew’s societies would attend St George’s Day banquets, while members of St George’s societies could be found toasting the Scottish patron saint on St Andrew’s Day. In Toronto in 1910, at the 75th Annual Dinner of the St George’s Society, several Scots were certainly …

Scottish Parades in New York

Scott Centenary Parade, New York, 1871Last Saturday saw New York’s annual Tartan Day parade make its way along 6th Avenue. The unrivalled culmination of a week of Scottish celebrations in the Big Apple, Tartan Day has now been celebrated for over two decades and attracts many a visitor to the streets of central Manhattan. With similar events held throughout North America, Scottish expats and the descendants of Scottish migrants who arrived many years ago have established a new tradition to celebrate their Scottish heritage in the Diaspora.

Such public displays of Scottishness in New York, featuring kilted pipers, tartan trews and the Saltire waving in the breeze, are, however, by no means a late twentieth-century invention. One of the earliest celebrations that saw a large assemblage of Scots parading through central New York was …

Happy Easter – Scottish Style

easterAt the end of April 1905,  self-proclaimed Traveller wrote a letter to the editor of the Manawatu Standard, commenting on the Caledonian Games that had been held in Palmerston North, New Zealand, on Easter Monday. ‘Having a spare day here on my tour through the Colony’, Traveller wrote, ‘I sauntered down to your athletic meeting on the Sports’ grounds. … With the continual skirl of the pipes in my ears I went among the crowd to look at the young men preparing for the athletic contests. Visions of the past came into my brain’. Such sentiments of reconnecting to the past were not unusual at Caledonian Games, kilted pipers and caber-tossing providing suitable reminders to awaken the memory of the old home among the spectators of Scottish descent. …

Scottish Connections with Japan

JapanIn nineteenth-century Japan Scots were at the vanguard of European arrivals, with Thomas Blake Glover providing the most prominent example of the close ties that subsequently developed between Japan and Scotland. Glover arrived in Nagasaki in 1859 to manage the local office of Hong Kong-based Jardine Matheson, but soon set up his own trading company. He sold arms, developed coal mines and was fundamental in establishing a shipyard in Nagasaki that would later become the Mitsubishi Corporation of Japan, importing the required technology directly from the Clyde. Glover was the purveyor of the Japanese industrialisation. Of great significance too was Neil Gordon Munro, the director of Yokohama’s General Hospital and one of the first Westerners to study the Ainu people of Hokkaido. Yet while the history of Scots like …