What a difference a week makes!

If you believe winter comes to Canada on December 21, you haven't been paying attention! It hits different regions at different times. In Ottawa, we can expect a blast around Remembrance Day on November 11. This year, the skies were bright and clear, and so was the ice forming on the Rideau Canal.

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Eight days later, the first snows arrive and we know it won't be long until we'll be skating.

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The stairways and changing sheds have been set up and are ready for skaters.

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Paterson Creek, a quiet little byway on the Skateway, is even more quiet in anticipation of the skating season.

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The temperatures remain cold but the wind chill increases.

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Winter may arrive in Ottawa in mid-November, but there's no guarantee it won't take a break for a week or two just when we were counting most on hard ice and brisk temperatures.  So I always keep a close watch on the Aberdeen Pavilion.

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In past years, it has served as the back-up when warm weather prevented the Ottawa Sir John A's Great Canadian Kilt Skate from being held on the Rideau Canal Skateway.  The refrigerator coils and the water have not yet been laid down on the basketball court that, each winter, turns into the Skating Court at Lansdowne Park.

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But while we wait for the skating season to begin, we find other ways to enjoy the winter weather.

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Hosting Kilt Skates for 2018

Winter is coming! And plans are underway for what is expected to be the biggest and best kilt skate season ever.  The events will be more tightly organized this year, with new requirements for those partners who will receive funding to help organize kilt skates in their cities.

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Once again the Scottish Society of Ottawa has approached the Scottish Government for sponsorship to support kilt skates across Canada in celebration of Scotland's contribution to Canada, and the birthday of Sir John A. Macdonald.

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The Scottish Government was very generous in its support for the kilt skate last year.  With its help, kilt skates were organized in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Saskatoon and Calgary.  

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While the specific terms of this year's funding are being worked out, it became clear in discussions over the summer that certain expectations should be met in return for the money.

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As a result, the amount of funding from the Scottish Government and other sponsors will depend on the size of the event and the opportunity it provides to showcase the sponsors.  For 2018, there will be three different categories of participation in Sir John A's Great Canadian Kilt Skate.

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Tier A cities will receive the most funding.  The sponsorship will support the organization of opening ceremonies that feature local dignitaries, who can deliver messages from the Prime Minister, the Premier, the Mayor, and so on, as well as a spokesperson from the Scottish Government or from Visit Scotland.  

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Those who attended the kilt skates in Ottawa and Toronto last year will recall how the opening ceremonies added to the festive atmosphere of the event.  

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Tier B cities will receive enough funding to support a birthday party for Sir John A. -- complete with birthday cake, hot chocolate, and lots of bunting and swag courtesy of the Scottish Government. The Tier A cities will also host this kind of party.

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Tier C cities will be those who will receive support from the organizers of the event, but no sponsorship funding. After all, anyone can celebrate Scottish heritage by wearing tartan and strapping on a pair of skates! 

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If you want to host a kilt skate in your city, let us know.  We'll promote your event on this website.  Last year, for example, Lloydminster organized a kilt skate inspired by the events in nearby Saskatoon.  When we heard about it, we helped them celebrate!

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Each of the societies that hosts a Tier A or B kilt skates will sign a memorandum of understanding with the Scottish Society of Ottawa and the national organizers of the event, who will be responsible for administering the funds. The "national organizers" are Don Cummer and Sue MacGregor, who will be familiar to our kilt skate partners from previous years. 

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That's us in the picture, along with the Scottish Government's Chris Maskell.  Watch for more details about sponsorship funding in the near future.

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Sir John A.: Hero or Villain?

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Is Sir John A. Macdonald a hero or a villain?  Should his statues be toppled and his name removed from schools?  Or should we make his birthday a national holiday – and celebrate it with bare knees and ice?

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Glengarry Highland Games

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Winter is Coming

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The middle of summer may seem a strange time to be thinking about skating, bare knees, and ice. But the plans are under way to organize the Fourth Annual Sir John A's Great Canadian Kilt Skate.

In fact, there's a flurry of activity as we prepare for upcoming Scottish events where we'll raise the hockey stick saltire.

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Winterlude

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Ottawa: a perfect afternoon at Lansdowne

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Statistically, the bridge between January and February is the coldest week of the year, but when unseasonably warm temperatures closed the Rideau Canal Skateway, the Scottish Society of Ottawa moved Sir John A's Great Canadian Kilt Skate to Lansdowne Park Skating Court. If you pipe it, they will come! And we had three pipers -- all on skates.

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Saskatoon: Wi' a hundred skaters, an' a', an' a'

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Last year, Saskatoon was declared "Kilt Skate Capital of Canada." For the Third Annual Sir John A's Great Canadian Kilt Skate -- and the celebration of Canada150 -- the Saskatoon Highland Dancing Association redoubled its efforts and drew over a hundred kilted skaters among the 300 who gathered at Cameco Meesawin Skating Rink on a Saturday afternoon perfect for skating.

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Ottawa Changes Venue -- and a crack team goes into action

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When it comes to organizing outdoor kilt skates, Mother Nature always has the last word. And so, with last week's warm spell continuing into the weekend across Eastern Canada, the Third Annual Sir John A's Great Canadian Kilt Skate had to be moved off the Rideau Canal. We're moving it to the Lansdowne Park Skating Court, where we held it last year.  It's a great place for a kilt skate: refrigeration coils to keep the ice from melting; Zamboni service to keep the ice smooth; changing rooms to keep skaters warm; electrical outlets to keep our costs down.

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Toronto's first Sir John A Skate brings out the Scots

Toronto's first Sir John A Skate brings out the Scots

alk about making a big entrance in the big smoke! Toronto's first-ever Sir John A's Great Canadian Kilt Skate took over one of Canada's most famous skating rinks at Nathan Phillips Square. It was an unseasonably warm afternoon.  The refrigeration coils and the Zamboni maintained an ice surface that was fine for skating.

 

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Montreal launches the 2017 season

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The morning of Saturday, January 14 dawned windy and cold.  Certainly cold enough to put colour to the cheeks -- both upper and nether. Nevertheless, some hundred people braved the winter weather to launch the 2017 kilt skate season at Montreal's Old Port for the Third Annual Sir John A's Great Canadian Kilt Skate in that city.

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