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Scottish Clan Displays at Highland Games
By Carole Rattray Nickels


It’s a cold snowy day in the middle of winter, not the bright sunny afternoon you attend a Scottish Highland Game in southern Ontario.  The schedules and information about the Highland Games are not fully available and posted on all the websites for all the events  to be held in the next few months.  Pipe bands are holding regular practices, dancers are attending classes and getting their outfits ready for competition and Scottish clan representatives are planning their displays for the Avenue of Clans.  The  early posting of the schedule of the annual Highland Games allows clan representative to plan which games they will be able to attend in the months ahead.

Family history has become very popular over the last few years and the interest has greatly increased with the assistance of the internet.   The Clan Societies were formed in the early 1990’s to bring together people of Scottish heritage for social activities.

Most clans have a website that shows the history of the clan,  tartan, crest, original location in Scotland and membership information.  This information has been made accessible by Alastair McIntyre and  his website, Electricscotland.com  With the interest in clans and Scottish history, many people go to the Highland Games looking to find their clan.  The best place to successfully find your clan is the Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games where over fifty clan displays can be found in the Avenue of the Clans.  Other Highland Games also feature clan displays and offer helpful advice on locating your clan.  Clans are able to participate in the games by contacting the individual games Clan organizer and registering your clan.  Registration usually starts late March or early April to allow games officials to begin sending out notices and receive replies.

SAMPLE OF SCHEDULE OF 2006 HIGHLAND GAMES IN ONTARIO

April 30 Toronto Police Service Tattoo Exhibition Place, CNE
And Pageant Toronto

May 16-17 Celtfest Callandar Legion Branch 445,
Callandar

May 16-17 Celtic Arts Celebration Waterfront, North Bay

June 1-4 Glasgow Kentucky Highland Games Glasgow, Kentucky

June 10 Georgetown Highland Games Georgetown

June 10-11 Hamilton International Tattoo Copps Coliseum, Hamilton

June 19-10 Brockville Celtic Festival Brockville

June 24 Windsor Celtic Festival Civic Terrace, Windsor

June 18-19 Loch Sloy Highland Games Fort Erie

June 24 Hamilton Highland Games Ancaster Fairgrounds

June 23-24 Cobourg Highland Game Festival Donegan Park, Cobourg

July   1        Zorra Caledonia Highland Games Community Center, Embro

July 1 Kincardine Scottish Festival Victoria Park, Kincardine

July 8 Tartan Sertoma Chatham-Kent Tecumseh Park, Chatham
Supreme Highland Games

July 8 Haliburton Highland Games Head Lake Park Haliburton

July 15 Cambridge Highland Games Cambridge

July 15 Orillia Scottish Festival Orillia

July 22 Highlands of Durham: A Celtic Uxbridge
Celebration

July 23-24 Kingston Heritage Tattoo Kingston

Aug 4-5 Glengarry Highland Games Maxville

Aug 5-7 Celtic Roots Festival Goderich

Aug 11-13 Fergus Highland Games Fergus

Aug 19 Sarnia Supreme Highland Games Sarnia

Aug 19 North Lanark Highland Games Almonte

Sept 9 Trenton Scottish/Irish Festival Bayshore Park, Trenton

Sept 16 Owen Sound Celtic Festival Owen Sound

Early registration allows Clan Organizer at Games and Clan Representative make commitments for the busy schedule

 
Sign at Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games showing all participating clans in the Avenue of the Clans.

The main purpose of setting up a Clan display is to promote the clans and  make visitors aware clans are an important part of Scottish history.

The early years of setting up a clan display are a learning and challenging time.  The display should include clan banner, pictures of the clan chief, clan castle (if one is still owned by the clan in Scotland), clan history books, sample of the clan tartan, clan member wearing a kilt or other Scottish wear and other items to attract visitors. Ask other members in your clan to donate or loan items for your display.  Items can be slowly added to your display over time. Other items required are a portable gazebo which can be easily transported and set up, folding tables and chairs. Some games such as Fergus will supply the tent and table for a small fee.


Some of the items on display at the Clan Elliot tent


The Rules of Golf by John Rattray  are on display at Clan Rattray

The clans are invited to march in the opening ceremonies parade at the games and allows people to recognize the clans for their participation.

Shown waiting for the Opening Ceremonies parade to begin are Clan Rattray, Clan Wallace and Clan Elliot.


Joan Arrand of Clan Rattray greeting Cathy and Bruce Elder of Clan MacIntosh


Clan Elliot display at Chatham


Joan Arrand in Chatham promoting Clan Rattray


Alastair McIntyre visiting Dorothy Knight at Clan Wallace display in Chatham


Visitors stroll down the Avenue of Clans in Fergus


John K. Campbell of Fergus in the Avenue of Clans

Clan members travel to the games over the summer months and it is a very exciting time. Sometimes traveling might require getting up at 4:00 am in the morning to arrive at a game for set up at 8:00 am and leaving the park late in the afternoon. It is amazing how much minivans can carry and how quickly they can be unloaded and loaded in a short time.

The planning and traveling to the games is worth the effort to meet people at the displays  and share Scottish heritage. The friendships formed among the Avenue of the Clans last forever.

Carole Rattray Nickels
Clan Rattray

Note: You can see a photo shoot on the Fergus Highland Games, Ontario, Canada, 2005 where you can see lots pictures of clan tents.