Greetings from the Chair

Warm greetings fellow Canadian Gregor.

It’s early December 2022 and hard to believe another year has almost gone by. And what a year it’s been! While no one knows how history will ultimately record the effects of a global pandemic and the widespread unrest of the past several years, one thing is certain; the joy of opening up and lifting of restrictions has been welcomed in earnest. Nowhere has this been more apparent than in Highland Games and Clan gatherings held in towns and cities throughout our country during 2022. Here in Canada the Scottish diaspora turned out in record numbers. And these were most welcome and joyful occasions!

Clan Gregor Canada was well represented in a number of games and festivals this summer. We experienced firsthand what amounts to a revival. There was a noticeable sense of awakening as people turned out in record numbers. Largely the result of a protracted period of isolation when folks had time to fully explore family and roots, many came with questions and a yearning to understand. It’s as if Canada is at long last willing to openly embrace its distinct brand of Scottishness. Some came longing to hear the sound of the pipes once again. Some to take in the dancers, heavy athletics or enjoy a bite of haggis or a meat pie with shortbread sweets. Regardless, all had one thing in common: it was summer, they felt the call of the Clans and they were allowed to gather once again. The blood is strong!

Festival organizers often request immediate feedback to gauge success. Here is a sampling of some of the many Clan responses circulated this summer in the wake of the return of Games. They tell a story of success and togetherness.

  • A hearty thank you to your team. Exceptional service, accommodation and professionalism were the hallmarks of this years’ festival. Truly it was balm to the soul to be “back in the Game(s)” again. I daresay there was a lot of healing going on and renewed hope for the future.
  • We live in a whacky world where much of what we know and trust has been turned upside down. We have all recently experienced trying times and yet somehow, the tradition, the pageantry, the colors, sights and sounds of the Games have brought us back together and ready to face new challenges. As a result, the touchstone of Clan and the Highland Games helps us to find again the tenacity and vigor of our forebears to embrace the future. This is a gift.
  • Thanks again and the very best to your team. Our Clan looks forward to unbroken years of attendance once again. Slainte mhath.
  • Wonderful weather… Great crowds attending…  Lots of Clan interest…  Whiskey tasting was tasty…  Kirking and lighting went well…  And, the Parade of Clan at the Opening Ceremonies had lots of people out on the field…We’ll be with you again next year…
  • On behalf of our Clan, thank you for a wonderful experience! We were hosting the Clan tent for the very first time and we enjoyed meeting the public and members of other Clans.  The crowds were enormous and volunteers were wonderful with their assistance and knowledge.  Please pass along our thanks to the wonderful folks who made these days a great success. We look forward to attending next year.

We too experienced very large crowds and a lot of keen interest in Clan Gregor. As a result of these and other efforts our Chapter has added 35 new members so far this year! This is extraordinary and underscores the point. I do believe there is an awakening taking place. Preparing, travel and attendance at these Games is a lot of work for our Council and volunteers. However, the payback is found in the connections and interactions with those seeking or trying to better understand their history and heritage. The smile, the gratitude for connecting the dots, the basic human interaction between people with whom we potentially share DNA and history in a distant time and place is heartwarming and makes it all worthwhile. At the end of the day, it’s about people, and belonging is what brought them out in crowds to celebrate. And celebrate we did!

As my wife Vina and I were driving home from the Glengarry Games she made a simple yet profound observation. She noted that at a time when the world is wrestling with cultural appropriation and protectionism, it would do well to consider the Scots approach. In stark contrast, Scottish diaspora so widely scattered by brutal acts of separation and war, is still eager to openly share all that it has. It actively invites all to try the pipes, strap on a kilt, give haggis a go and wash it down with a single malt. She noted that they are open, engaging and forever on the lookout for someone new to share with. Perhaps in a nod to the tradition of highland hospitality, they are more than willing to share, teach and venerate Scottish culture. It means more to them if you are a part of it! This is one of the many reasons why people attend Highland Games, Burns dinners, Hogmanay and a variety of Celtic gatherings. It is the essence of Clan and the things that bond.

With this in mind I want to urge all Canadian Chapter members to seriously consider attending the upcoming 2024 International Gathering of Clan Gregor in Scotland. These gatherings are incredibly useful and meaningful. They help us find a place in our own history and heritage as descendants of ancestors bearing Gregor names who left their homeland to start a new life in Canada. It’s hard to overstate the deep personal emotions stirred when you are on a Gregor site with other folks from all over the world and with whom you share a story and common history. It is visceral and will not be forgotten. My wife and I attended our first in 2009 and can tell you from first hand experience that it forever anchored our MacGregor connection and the Society firmly in our minds and hearts. We have attended ever since and are most eager to renew these connections and reenergize our passion for the work of the Clan Gregor Society. Meeting our Chief, Sir Malcolm MacGregor, his wife, Fiona, Lady MacGregor, together with Council and members from far and wide is a special connection.

You’ll experience the magic energy of staying in a classic Victorian hotel on the shores of Loch Awe, deep in the very heart of the three glens occupied by MacGregors for centuries. The entire facility and staff are dedicated to Clan Gregor. We’ll attend our home games at Lochearned and then celebrate in style at a formal tartan banquet held in the ancient walls of Menzies Castle. And to top it off, the entire trip is made most affordable by group rates and specialized tours conducted in MacGregor territories by our own historians. You’ll never see and feel Scotland, and in particular our ancestral home, in any more affordable or delightful way.

I am unabashedly making this pitch in your best interests! Trust me on this one: mark your calendars and confirm your reservations by deposit by late February 2023. If you are unsure, please call me and I’ll be happy to answer questions.

 And so, I conclude with gratitude. I’m grateful for the chance to connect with so many once again as things open up and the Clans gather once again. I’m grateful for the help and support I receive from Council member June MacGregor Jain and Co-Editors, William Petrie and Sylvie Thériault. Most of all, I am grateful for you, our membership. You are the lifeblood of the Society and the Clan itself.

Enjoy this edition of your newsletter, The Maple Leaf MacGregor.

Nollaig Chridheil!  (Merry Christmas)

Wayne MacGregor Parker