"Today's the day you see the man with as many heads as the days of the year."

That's an old riddle that my Scottish grandmother used to tell us every Hogmanay. "Have you seen that man yet?" she'd ask. Those who had figured out would smile knowingly; the rest of us would rack our brains in frustration.

The Sir John A Party of 2013 brought out some hardy skaters -- and one maintained the tradition of skating in a kilt.

The Sir John A Party of 2013 brought out some hardy skaters -- and one maintained the tradition of skating in a kilt.

Big celebrations today in Scotland and in Ottawa. In Edinburgh, the Hogmanay festival of December 31, 1996, holds the record for the biggest New Year's party according to the Guinness Book of World Records -- some 400,000 revelers.  Tonight at Lansdowne Park we expect to exceed last year's 10,000 people who came to bring in the New Year in Scottish style.

Getting ready for the kilt skate in January 2013 -- one of the coldest Sir John A house parties.  

Getting ready for the kilt skate in January 2013 -- one of the coldest Sir John A house parties.

 

Hogmanay is a time to look forward and look back. It's the perfect time to launch a web site and blog dedicated to kilt skating. When I came to Ottawa many years ago, I was immediately taken by the way in which the Rideau Canal serves as a spine for many of the city's recreational activities throughout the year.

My favourite season was winter. The National Capital Commission had only recently opened the canal for skating, and I found skating down the canal not only a great recreation, but an effective way to get to Carleton University, to go to work downtown, or to the National Arts Centre for a concert, or to meet friends in the Byward Market.

Skating up, january 2014

Skating up, january 2014

When I bought a home near the canal, we began the tradition of the annual skating party to celebrate Sir John A. Macdonald's birthday -- and mine. In 2014, the Scottish Society of Ottawa approached me to ask whether we could turn my modest house party into a festival to celebrate the bicentennial of our first Prime Minister. On January 31, 2015, the First Annual Sir John A's Great Canadian Kilt Skate was launched in five cities.

In eighteen days, we'll take to the ice again. And looking forward to Canada's 150th birthday in 2017, I foresee a future for kilt skating in Ottawa and anywhere where people are proud of our Scottish heritage.

Lang may your lum reek!

Yours, aye,

Don Cummer

Skater-in-Chief

The kilt skates began as a house party. In 2013 we combined Sir John A's birthday with robbie Burns commemorations. Greg MacIsaac toasts the haggis.

The kilt skates began as a house party. In 2013 we combined Sir John A's birthday with robbie Burns commemorations. Greg MacIsaac toasts the haggis.