A Tale of Cold Cities

A Tale of Cold Cities

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.

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Montreal rescheduled -- for a second year

Montreal rescheduled -- for a second year

Hosting a kilt skate outdoors leaves it vulnerable to the vagaries of weather. For the second year in a row, extreme weather warnings in Montreal have forced the St. Andrew’s Society to postpone for a week. The Great Canadian Kilt Skate is rescheduled for Saturday, January 26, 2-4 p.m.

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Winnipeg: early reports on a great skate date

Winnipeg: early reports on a great skate date

It’s estimated that 40-50 kilted skaters joined in the fun. The day’s entertainment included a skating piper and the Kids in Kilts Highland dance troupe. The event was covered by CBC Radio, CTV, City TV, and Global News — all of which augers well for future kilt skates as more Manitobans learn about this uniquely Canadian way to celebrate Scottish heritage.

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Niagara-on-the-Lake -- heritage skating

Niagara-on-the-Lake -- heritage skating

An outdoor ice rink at Fort George makes an ideal location for a kilt skate, and the suggestion was put to the Friends of Fort George. The mandate of the Friends and of Parks Canada doesn’t encompass celebrating Scotland’s contribution to Canada with bare knees and ice, but they have certainly come forward with a wonderful event, to be inaugurated on January 5, 2019: a Regency Skating Party.

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Kilt Skate Goes to the Big Apple

Kilt Skate Goes to the Big Apple

The kilt skate phenomenon has made a quantum leap with the announcement that the event has migrated beyond Canada’s borders. The first annual “Tartan Kilt Skate NYC” will be held in Manhattan’s Bryant Park on Saturday, February 2, 2019.

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National Organizers Stepping Down

National Organizers Stepping Down

Don Cummer and Sue MacGregor have announced to the Scottish Society of Ottawa that they are stepping down as national organizers of Sir John A's Great Canadian Kilt Skate.  Cummer, who began the tradition of kilt skating to celebrate the birthday of Canada's first Prime Minister, helped organize the first national kilt skate in 2015 and has been the event's public face ever since.  MacGregor volunteered in hosting the 2016 Ottawa event when she and her husband had returned from diplomatic postings, and organized the operations of the national events in 2017 and 2018.

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Report to the Scottish Society of Ottawa Annual General Meeting

Report to the Scottish Society of Ottawa Annual General Meeting

The national event was the most successful yet in the four years of Sir John A’s Great Canadian Kilt Skate. With $15,000 in funding from the Scottish Government, sponsored events were held in seven cities (two more than last year), and the attendance numbers in most of the cities increased significantly from the previous year.

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Irish Month has a Scottish flair

Irish Month has a Scottish flair

The City of Ottawa has declared January to be Scottish Month, but surely the month of March belongs to the Irish.  St. Patrick's Day is still a week away, but already the stores and pubs across town are filled with Irish themes.  And when Beau's Brewery decides to host a St. Patrick's party on March 10 rather than the 17th, well who are we to refuse an invitation to enjoy a good time? Especially when a group of former hockey parents haven't seen one another in a while.

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Family Day on Bowness Lagoon

Family Day on Bowness Lagoon

In 1990, the province of Alberta proclaimed the first "Family Day" holiday in Canada -- a chance to get together and, hopefully, get outside with the family for a mid-winter break. In Calgary, a good place to get together is Bowness Park.  In summer months, it's an amusement park where you can rent canoes, go for a ride on a miniature railway, or enjoy the kiddy rides.  In winter the lagoon of the Bow River is maintained as a skating rink.


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Kilt skating the Rockies

Kilt skating the Rockies

We've celebrated the last of the official kilt skates, but the joy of skating in the kilt lives on. And when the Rocky Mountains beckon, why not don the kilt, pack the skates and the saltire, and head west out of Calgary. 

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Winnipeg: kilt skating at 30-below

Winnipeg: kilt skating at 30-below

The temperatures in Western Canada on the morning of Sunday, February 11, dropped to the minus-20 range. In Calgary, the skaters were sheltered somewhat by the tall buildings. The Riley Family Duck Pond in Assiniboine Park, on the other hand, has little to shelter it from winds that sweep down from the Arctic.  Wind chill made the temperature feel like it was 30-below.

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North Glengarry shows us a different way

North Glengarry shows us a different way

Weather in the Ottawa Valley has not been kind to plans for kilt skates. When they first envisioned a kilt skate for North Glengarry, the Clan Donald Society imagined kilted skaters on the Alexandria Mill Pond.  But the deep freezes and the rapid thaws and occasional rains of the past weeks made a pond skate impractical.  So they decided to do something different.

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