Happy St. Andrew's Day Vancouver 2006
St. Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland.
The British Consulate of Vancouver held a reception to mark the occasion of the visit to Vancouver of
the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament, The Rt Hon George Reid MSP
and to celebrate
I was fortunate to recieve an invitation to this event. held at the Vancouver Club.
Which kilt should I wear? The invitation said “business
casual.” I asked my Scottish friends, and they agreed that the
Maple Leaf Tartan would be appropriate. But alas… one of our
dragon boat paddlers still has it after a Kilt Night at Doolin's Irish
Pub… so I wore the Ancient Fraser of Lovat tartan. It is the
first kilt that I ever wore – pure wool – and perfect for a wintry
Vancouver night. Definitely helped to keep my bum warm on Tuesday
night when I went to the Vancouver Opera performance of Macbeth… but
my knees sure were c-c-c-cold.
I walked up the steps to the third floor of the Vancouver Club. I
could hear bagpipes playing. One of the Burns Club of Vancouver
members Strachan recognized me, and introduced me to Donald and Wilma
Paton. Both had heard about me and Gung Haggis Fat Choy. It
just happens that Wilma is a wonderful singer of Scottish song… I
offered to feature her for next year's (2008) Gung Haggis Fat
Choy World Poetry Night at Vancouver Public Library, as the January
2007 program is pretty well set.
It's great to meet so many people who work hard to keep Scottish
culture alive in the Americas. I met Michael Corish of Scottish
Development Internationa, based in Toronto. It
was great to see my friends from the Burns Club of Vancouver: Robert
Barr, Tony Breen, Harry McGrath and Strachan. Tony was there with
his wife Lori (who is Chinese-Canadian).
I met James Baron, of Friends of Scotland, while based in Saratoga CA, told me about the Dressed to Kilt
event that they host in New York. James was very interested in
the concept of Gung Haggis Fat Choy, and was very excited to tell me
about Sean Connery's participation in Dressed to Kilt.
Harry McGrath gave a good introduction about Scottish history in
Vancouver and BC. I first met Harry at a Burns Club of Vancouver
meeting. While he researched his doctrate on Scottish history of
BC, he also worked as coordinator of Scottish Studies program at Simon
The Hon. George Reid gave a very good address about the role that
Scotland plays. He talked about how important Scotland's
inventors and explorers have been, but also how important contemporary
Scotland is for Health Research and academic scholorship – as well as
it's oil rich reserves. The Scottish diaspora is important in the
continuation of Scottish culture on a global scale, and Canada,
particularly BC, does very well, with it's annual BC Highland Games and
many other activities.
When I was able to introduce myself to Mr. Reid, and said that I
organized Gung Haggis Fat Choy, his eyes lit up as he said, “I've heard
of you! You are getting well known in Scotland.”
It turns out that Harry McGrath has been telling everybody back home in
Scotland about Gung Haggis Fat Choy – even if they didn't hear me on
BBC Radio Scotland last year, when I was interviewed for St. Andrew's
But if Scotland can embrace haggis wontons, and a character known as
Toddish McWong, while at the same time celebrate their status as a
“nation” within a United Kingdon – then there should easily be hope for
both Quebec and to be recognized as a “nation within a United Canada,”
as recognized in the Conservative government's recently passed
motion. Hmmm…. but could BC also be recognized as a “nation
within a United Canada?” Afterall… the two solitudes of BC, are
not so much English and French, but more likely Scottish and
Chinese…. and First Nations!