Preparing for Kilt Skate 2017

Today the Chair of the Scottish Society of Ottawa wrote to potential partners in Scottish organizations across the country. We're looking for communities who want to help us celebrate Canada's 150th birthday with the biggest and best kilt skate yet.  Here's the text of Kevin MacLeod's letter:

On behalf of the Scottish Society of Ottawa, I am writing to solicit both your interest in and, hopefully, your support for a uniquely Canadian event that, in the past two years, has already captured much attention across Canada. 

Our goal is to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday by hosting the Third Annual Sir John A’s Great Canadian Kilt Skate in cities across the country, including your community. I hope your organization will undertake a leadership role. The Scottish Society of Ottawa would like to help you prepare the event, and we will be writing to your mayor to highlight the opportunity your community has to participate in a nation-wide sesquicentennial event.

Sir John A’s Great Canadian Kilt Skate originated in 2015 to celebrate the bicentennial of our first Prime Minister’s birth. It has grown to become an annual tradition that is both uniquely Canadian and undeniably Scottish. It highlights Canada’s nordicity in a way similar to the New Year’s Day polar bear dips in some communities. While it pays tribute to Canada’s Scottish roots with the kilts and tartans, it nevertheless speaks to the broader range of citizenry about being Canadian, active citizenship and, above all, having fun in embracing our northern climate.

More than five million Canadians claim Scottish heritage. The mission of the Scottish Society of Ottawa is to promote awareness and appreciation of Scottish culture, and its contribution to the fabric of Canadian society and identity. We do this by engaging many Canadians of all backgrounds. The kilt skate is not just for people of Scottish descent. We want everyone to join in, and we’re greatly inspired that Canadians of a wide range of ethnic backgrounds wear tartan in their scarves, shirts and hats.  So we will encourage Canadians to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday by wearing Canada’s favourite colour – tartan!

In the past two years, with the support of strong local organizations such as yours, kilt skates have been held in five cities:

·         Montreal, through the St. Andrew’s Society of Montreal;

·         Ottawa, through the Scottish Society of Ottawa;

·         Winnipeg, through the Scottish Heritage Council of Manitoba;

·         Saskatoon, through the Saskatoon Highland Dancing Association; and

·         Calgary, through the Optimist Clubs of Calgary and High River.

The event has generated good-natured competition among cities. We all worked hard to see which city would have bragging rights and, earlier this year, Saskatoon was declared the “Kilt Skate Capital of Canada.”

For Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017, we want to expand the kilt skate to many more cities and hope to have government support to do that. The original 2015 event was made possible with contributions from the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Scottish Government.  The partner cities used this sponsorship to provide signage, souvenirs, insurance, posters, a giant birthday card, hot chocolate, birthday cake and many other elements that helped bring the general public out to enjoy the kilt skate.  For 2017, we have once again approached government sponsors and hope to have news in the coming weeks.

For a flavour of how the kilt skates have helped animate winter fun in the partner cities, please check  If you want more information or would like to get involved in the planning of the 2017 event, please contact the Scottish Society of Ottawa’s “Skater-in-Chief,” Don Cummer at

We hope that you will partner with us to help make the 2017 Sir John A’s Great Canadian Kilt Skate the biggest, most inclusive and colourful one ever – all to help celebrate 150 years of achievement since Confederation.

Yours sincerely,

Kevin MacLeod

Chair, Scottish Society of Ottaw