This winter has been one of the coldest in memory — one of the snowiest as well. Nowhere is the cold more biting than on the cities of the plains. On Sunday, February 10, both Saskatoon and Calgary celebrated their fifth annual Great Canadian Kilt Skate. Not necessarily with “bare knees and ice” — not this year. But with customary Scottish fortitude and sense of fun.
With the difference in the time zones, the events in Saskatoon and Calgary began simultaneously. The conditions were similar in both cities — temperatures in the mid-twenties (that’s minus mid-twenties!) But with the wind chill taken into account, skaters were experiencing the equivalent of minus-40 degrees.
For our American friends and the veterans of the Tartan Kilt Skate NYC who may be unfamiliar with the Celsius thermometer, it doesn’t matter: minus-40 is the same in both Celsius and Fahrenheit. It’s cold!
In both Saskatoon and Calgary, the Scottish pride was evident. In Saskatoon, they flew the “hockey stick saltire” — the symbol of the kilt skate as a uniquely Canadian way to celebrate Scottish heritage.
The Royal Stuart banner was also in evidence in Saskatoon.
In Calgary, the temperatures proved too cold this year for the pipers and Highland dancers, who had to cancel, but the Gaelic choir was in full voice, singing “O Canada” in English and Gaelic before a small but appreciative audience.
The Calgary Sun was on hand to report that David Aftergood, the organizer of the Calgary event, welcomed the skaters.
And the St. Andrew’s-Caledonian Society of Calgary made sure there were lots of saltires to give Calgary’s Olympic Plaza a Scottish flare.
Calgarians were invited to enjoy the cake, coffee and hot chocolate.
It was much appreciated by a kilted skater…
…before he took to the ice…
...joining a few other brave souls — kids, mostly.
One of the strengths of Saskatoon’s kilt skate is the youth and enthusiasm of the skaters.
And in fact, it’s fun for the whole family. Here’s the Saskatoon Highland Dancing Association President, Cathryn W. and her daughter, Jessie.
Once again this year, skaters in Saskatoon were treated to cookies and hot chocolate. Congrats to Rachelle L. and her team at the Saskatoon Highland Dancing Association. Here is Rachelle with her daughter, Morgan.
Under very cold conditions, once again the Scottish Canadian communities in Calgary and Saskatoon demonstrated their fortitude and perseverance. Some might say their pig-headed determination to do something totally unreasonable — thrawn is the Scots word for it! But we sure do have a good time.
And we hope everyone will be back again next year — when hopefully the temperature won’t test our thrawn.