Informal gathering celebrates the 250th Anniversary of poet Robbie Burns birth, at Stanley Park statue
Our group of Burns celebrants included bagpipers Trish and Allan McMordie (very rear), members of the Burns Club of Vancouver, members of the Centre for Scottish Studies at Simon Fraser University, some visitors from Scotland, and lots of Vancouverites included myself.
I had never before attended a “wreath laying” at the Robbie Burns statue. In fact, I had never before visited the the Robbie Burns statue on Robbie Burns Day. Often, I simply passed it, as I drove along Georgia Street enroute to the Stanley Park Causeway and Lion’s Gate Bridge.
But this year was different. It was the 250th Anniversary of Robert Burns, and I had contacted a few organizations back in December. Dr. Leith Davis of the Centre for Scottish Studies at Simon Fraser University, had committed to contacting Burns Clubs and Scottish organizations around the world whose cities also had statues of Robert Burns
When I arrived just before 12 noon, there were already some bagpipers playing tunes in front of the statue. Surprise! It was Trish and Allan McMordie, of the JP Fell Pipe Band from North Vancouver. It was exactly one year ago on Robbie Burns Day, when Allan and I first met at the Rock 101 Bro’ Jake show. Allan also came to Vancouver City Hall, when I received the City Proclamation for Tartan Day, and we created a photo op with then Mayor Sam Sullivan, and councilors Heather Deal, George Chow, Tim Stevenson, BC Lee, Kim Capri. See: Tartan Day (April 6) proclaimed in City of Vancouver, April 3.
My friend Stuart Mackinnon, newly elected Parks Commissioner, was there with his doggy companion Kiku. Stuart was dressed in his kilt and sweater ensemble. To see Stuart this past week, at the VDLC and Gung Haggis Fat Choy Burns suppers, you would think he’s been wearing kilts all his life – but it’s not true. He only started wearing kilts less than 2 years ago, after he joined the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team.
Also attending, were some members of the Burns Club of Vancouver, and from the Centre for Scottish Studies at Simon Fraser University. Some onlookers came up to ask if they could take our pictures – especially with the bagpipers, as Trish and Allan McMordie were wearing their “dress whites.”
Ray Eagle sang “My Luv is Like a Red Red Rose” and I put a red rose into his hand, to the delight of the crowd.
Robert Barr of the Burns Club of Vancouver, talked about how when the Robbie Burns statue was put up in 1929, it was the first statue in Vancouver, and a thousand people came to watch the statue unveiling by J. Ramsay MacDonald, Prime Minister of Britain, on 25th August, 1928.
Dr. Leith Davis, director for the Centre for Scottish Studies at Simon Fraser University, talked about her new virtual project of setting up a wreath laying and Burns statue in Second Life. She only arrived back in Vancouver the night before after having spent 2 weeks in Scotland for Homecoming Scotland activities. We took a group picture, that Leith then sent to other Burns statues ceremony groups around the world. With the television cameras on us, I led spontaneous singings of “Happy Birthday Dear Rabbie” and “Auld Lang Syne.”To close our ceremonies, I performed the immortal Burns poem, “Address to a Haggis” with audience participation repeating the last line of each verse. Both Leith and the Burns Club members complimented my performance as one of the best they’ve seen. I have definitely improved over my last year’s reading of “Address to the Haggis” at last year’s Burns Club Vancouver Burns Supper. I actually know the entire thing by heart now
Here’s the bottle! It was auctioned off that evening at the Gung Haggis Fat Choy: Robbie Burns Chinese New Year’s Eve Dinner for $750 CDN. Half of the funds will stay in Vancouver, and half will go to Scotland’s National Trust to help sponsor the Chinese punch bowl that Robbie Burns used at his brother Gilbert’s wedding.
Here are previous articles I wrote about the George Lawson statue of Robert Burns:
Robert Burns Statue in Vancouver’s Stanley Park\
on Tue 09 Dec 2008 Burns statue in Stanley Park
SFU’s Leith Davis is creating a world wide Burns Statue recognition both in the real and the virtual world
statue of Robert
on Wed 10 Dec 2008
Check out the rest of my pictures on Flickr.