Then there were 7: Lloydminster joins kilt skate family

Another city has stepped forward to host Sir John A's Great Canadian Kilt Skate, bringing the total across Canada to seven -- the highest number yet seen in a growing winter tradition.

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Lloydminster is a city of 30,000 that straddles the Alberta-Saskatchewan border. The kilt skate will be held at Bud Miller All-Seasons Park.  "The City of Lloydminster clears the ice on the lake for outdoor skating," says Kendra Jones McGrath, who owns and operates the Jones Studio of Pilates and Highland Dance. "There is also an indoor spot with a fireplace to warm up." 

Kendra was inspired to host a kilt skate by her colleagues in the Highland dancing community. "I first heard all about Saskatoon's kilt skate through the girls I grew up Highland dancing with," she says.  Among those friends was Rachelle Hollman who is hosting Saskatoon's Third Annual Sir John A's Great Canadian Kilt Skate through the Saskatoon Highland Dancing Association

"I had heard about the kilt skate when they first started doing it and all my old pals have been taking their wee ones out," says Kendra. "I have been a little envious of their Facebook pictures." Last year, Saskatoon earned pride of place as "the kiltskate capital of Canada," thanks to the great turnout and the impressive media coverage -- and those terrific pictures on Facebook.

When officials at the City of Lloydminster approached Kendra last month to help organize an event for Canada's 150th birthday, she saw this as a perfect opportunity to take the "hieland coo" by the horns and host a kilt skate in Lloydminster. She contacted the Scottish Society of Ottawa on January 7 with plans to hold a skate at Bud Miller All-Season Park on January 14.

The website helped inspire her to take the plunge. "Knowing the Scottish Society of Ottawa and organizations around Canada are taking part in this convinced me it was a great way to kick-start celebrations for Canada150."

We asked her whether she required any of the support provided by the Government of Scotland.  "Maybe next year," she said. "This year, let's keep it simple!" After all, it doesn't take much to create a kilt skate. "Wear a kilt or something tartan or just something Canadian -- like your skates!" she wrote to her Highland dancing students. "Join us for some simple fun.  Bring your own hot chocolate!" 

Kendra says that she's thinking of bringing a birthday cake for Sir John A. to the event -- or maybe a giant birthday card.

"The great thing about the kilt skate is it combines many of my dance families favourite things -- Highland dance and hockey. Many of my dancers play hockey competitively, and so do their siblings, moms and dads. I'm specifically inviting as many people in the hockey community as possible.  I'm hoping everyone will come out."

The home of the Alberta Junior Hockey League Bobcats, Lloydminster is a hockey town. Over the years, it has sent many players to the NHL, including Wade Redden who played for the Ottawa Senators. 

Kendra is making a point of sending out personal invitations -- a big incentive in a town like Lloydminster. "Of course, everyone is welcome, but people tend to respond better to a personal invitation.  And those invitations are important, given that this is our first year and people aren't watching for the event each year, like they are in the other kilt skate cities."

"I'm a physiotherapist, and my motiviation is spurred because it's important to keep people active and to be inclusive.  This is so Canadian!"


Kendra also wants to help motivate her dancers as they prepare for the Canadian Highland Dancing Competition that will be held June 29 to July 3 in Charlottetown, PEI. The championship is part of the ScotDance Canada Championship Series

"Think about it: we're going to be in the Home of Confederation for Canada's 150th birthday! We want to honour Canada's first Prime Minister and I want my dancers to get excited about being Canadian."