November 30 marked Saint Andrew’s Day, when Scots around the world come together to celebrate their patron saint with scotch and haggis, bagpipes and dancing – much like they did in 1968, when The Toronto Star’s Boris Spremo snapped this photo of Canada’s Governor General Roland Michener wearing a kilt and sporran at the St. Andrew’s Society Ball at the Royal York Hotel.

St. Andrew’s societies originally arose wherever large groups of Scots immigrated and served as places to celebrate Scottish culture.

These traditions continue as the St. Andrew’s Society of Toronto celebrates its 185th anniversary.

Brendan Fyfe is the company’s Head of Marketing, Events and Partnerships. He also liaises with the Scottish Government. His ancestors came to Canada in the early 1800s, where they settled in Cape Breton to work in the mines and lumber. “It fills me with enormous pride to share an ancestry with such brilliant and hardworking people,” he says.

There’s also another organization under the St. Andrew’s banner: the charitable foundation, which supports people who immigrate to Canada from all over the world, who, says Fyfe, “face similar barriers to Scottish firstcomers.” .

“I think the founding members of the society would be proud that we continued their legacy and extended our support outside of our cultural group,” he adds. “Part of being Canadian is recognizing that, aside from First Nations communities, our ancestors all came from elsewhere. »

Over half a million people in the GTA have Scottish ancestry. “For many their families arrived generations ago and the connection to Scotland has been tenuous,” says Fyfe. “The company would like to rekindle these long-forgotten ties.”

Understanding Scotland’s history and culture is more than just a source of pride. “It also makes people more empathetic to the struggles of modern immigrants,” says Fyfe. “The St. Andrew’s Society and the Charitable Foundation want to make Toronto a better place for everyone.


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