Ron MacLeod report: Harry McGrath and Scots in Canada – Roger Emerson lecture for “Scottish Enlightenment”

Greetings, with the annual haggis hunt at an end, the time has come to 
look forward into the future as our politicians are so fond of
reminding us. Here is a report from harried Harry and a note regarding
the February 16th lecture. Regards, the other Ron.
PS for the uninitiated, there is a piobaireachd club meeting Friday
evening, February 10th; contact me if you are interested in hearing the
classical music of the great Gaelic bagpipe.

From Harry McGrath.

Hello everyone and belated Burn’s Day greetings. The end of Robert
Burns week seems like to good time to update you on what has just
happened under the auspices of the Centre for Scottish Studies and what
is about to happen.

A big thank you to everyone who turned out to hear Professor Tom Devine
on the subject of “Scotland in 1773: The Dynamics of Emigration.” It
was very heartening to see such a big crowd for the talk and for the
reception afterwards. Professor Devine also spoke at lunchtime
colloquia at UBC and at SFU Burnaby campus – three different topics in
two days without a note or a prompt of any description. This, of
course, makes it impossible to post the lecture notes to our website,
as many of you have requested, but, for those who could not make the
lectures I would recommend his latest book “Scotland’s Empire” from
which the heart of all three talks was drawn.

Burns week began with my delivering the Immortal Memory to the
inaugural “Over the Sea to Sky Highway Burns Supper” in Pemberton and
ended with an IM to the Vancouver Club/St. Andrew’s and Caledonian
Burns Supper. In between there were addresses of one kind or another to
the Burn’s Club of Vancouver, the History Grad Society of SFU and the
78th Fraser Highlanders. I also appeared on the Fanny Kiefer Show and
took young Alexander Janzen from the Robert Malcolm Memorial Pipe Band
with me. Needless to say, Alexander’s piping delighted Fanny and her
entire crew.

Kenny MacAskill MSP will be in Vancouver from 9-16 February to conduct
research for the book he is writing with ex-First Minister Henry
McLeish on Scottish societies overseas. Thank you to everyone who
contacted me offering their individual stories to Messrs MacAskill and
McLeish but my understanding is that the focus of the book is Scottish
societies, present and past, and those who have been, or are, involved
in them.

I have just delivered my own study on “The Scots in Canada” to a
cross-party committee in the Scottish government. Over 4 million
Canadians identified themselves as being of Scottish origin in the 2001
Canadian census – a matter of considerable interest in Scotland where
the population is expected to fall below 5 million in the next few
years. I also contributed a piece entitled “Simon Fraser – About Whom
Too Little Is Known” to the January edition of Orders of the Day: The
Publication of the Association of Former MLAs of British Columbia.

Finally, the third lecture in our “Scottish Enlightenment and
Emigration” series is on February 16. There is a biography of the
speaker and a description of his subject below provided by our own
Professor Ian Ross.


The “Scottish Enlightenment and Emigration” lecture series sponsored by
the Centre for Scottish Studies at Simon Fraser University continues in
February with a visit by Roger Emerson, Professor Emeritus of History,
University of Western Ontario. Roger Emerson was educated at Dartmouth
College, then Brown and Brandeis Universities. His doctorate in the
History of Ideas at Brandeis was awarded ‘with Distinction.’ He taught
at Western Ontario from 1964, and is a Canadian citizen. He
specializes in the intellectual and social history of Britain,
especially Scotland, in the period 1660 to 1810, and is noted for
outstanding contributions to conferences of learned societies,
resulting in many publications, focused on religious thought, history
of science and medicine, patronage and politics, university
organization, clubs and societies, historiography, cultural change, and
the nature of the Enlightenment movement. The figures to whom he has
devoted special attention include the 3rd Duke of Argyll, statesman,
scientist, and improver, whom some regard as the true father of the
Scottish Enlightenment; Lord Kames, jurist, critic, and patron of Adam
Smith, Thomas Reid, and James Boswell; and David Hume, innovative
philosopher, political economist, and historian.

Lecture at 8 pm on Thursday, 16 February 2006, at SFU Harbour Centre
Campus –
David Hume: ‘Our Excellent and Never To Be Forgotten Friend’
Hume (1711 – 76) is now regarded as one of the outstanding philosophers
of the Western world. Some claim that his skeptical enquiries into the
nature of human understanding, also his claim that emotions are the
basis of our value systems, changed fundamentally our way of thinking
about the self and the world. The lecture will focus on what Hume
accomplished, and how and why this did not seem to his age something it
could applaud. This will involve asking why neither the philosophes of
Paris, not the English men of letters, nor the Enlightened Scots
(except perhaps Adam Smith) could accept what he wanted to tell them
about philosophy, history, politics, economics, religion, or even art.
To be sure, in 1865 a frustrated Scottish follower of Hegel, James
Hutchison Stirling, complained that ‘Hume is our Politics, Hume is our
Trade, Hume is our Philosophy, Hume is our Religion,’ but Hume’s
philosophical reputation did sink under attacks from Idealist attacks,
only to rise to new heights in the twentieth century. These
fluctuations demand investigation of what Hume actually wrote, what his
contemporaries made of it, and why they rejected him.

Professor Emerson’s lecture is the third in a series established to
celebrate SFU’s fortieth anniversary. The lecture is free but to
register please call 604 291 5100.

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