That man to man the warld o'er Shall brothers be for a' that
The pipes and the drums of the Canadian Scottish Regiment (Princess Mary's) may have passed on their scheduled opening parade through the township of Chemainus in deference to the ha.....but they more than made up for it with their magnificent subsequent individual performances at the concert, as they accompanied the Lynne Griffiths Highland Dancers and led us all in Auld Lang Syne.
Under Anne Wills's inspiration, and Terry Jones's Scottish Welsh direction and production, the clan's five hour marathon 2003 Burns' Supper and Concert at The Chemainus Theatre, British Columbia, was truly a night to remember. To paraphrase:
In proving foresight wasn' vain
the best laid schemes o' mice an' men
lea'e us wi' nay grief an' pain
but only promis'd joy!
The souvenir programme shows the 'schemed' bill of fare but as we all know it's being at Supper that counts. That began, after the arrival with its two personal pipers of the baronial party which included Dolphinstoun and the Baron Sergeant, carrying the Ellwand.
Greetings from Scotland
Despite the presence of Fergus, Chief of the Clan Macdowall who lives on Vancouver Island and has his pedigree in Burke's Landed Gentry: The Kingdom in Scotland 19th Edition 2001, properly attired with his three feathers, the responsibility fell on Prestoungrange. He reminded one and all he was there to fulfil the promise to outgoing Mayor of North Saanich, Rex Hollett, when he received the Key to Chemainus in 2001. And not only had a Burns' Supper and Concert been arranged but the Glenkinchie had been imported in good quantity also for the evening. And the theatre's own Scottish chef, Iain, had prepared the finest supper.
A particular Greeting also came from The Airts Burns Club of Prestonpans which was itself celebrating its 69th Year at Prestoungrange House the same evening. From them came the Burns' quotation at the head of this news report assuring Chemainus that they "shall brothers be for a' that."
Raven Totem Comes Next
Rex Hollett was accompanied by his successor as Mayor, John Lefebure, and to him the challenge was thrown to take the next step forward by working with Prestonpans to create an authentic totem pole depicting the 'Liberation of Light by the Raven' an animal appearing (in common with the 1st Nations of the Pacific North West) on both the Prestoungrange and Dolphinstoun baronial arms.
Haggis, Glenkinchie and The Toasts
These Greetings were immediately followed by the piping in of the haggis and the address thereto sonorously delivered by John Davidson who was to be Master of Ceremonies for the Supper encompassing both the spoken and sung in Gaelic.
Bishop Bob, who served with Canadian forces in Scotland in World War II, and now lives up Island said the Selkirk Grace and all were then offered the haggis, neaps and tatties with chutney... and, as required, HP sauce!
The Patron proposed the first toast to his Sovereign Feudal Lord, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the First in Scotland and in Canada, Duchess of Normandy and of Edinburgh and Lord of Man. Then followed the elegantly crafted toasts tae The Lassies with its Response, before Roy Kennedy led us in the Toast to The Immortal Memory.
Alec Proven read carefully selected poems and the Master of Ceremonies closed the Supper with a beautiful rendering of The Star of Rabbie Burns. Which was the cue to move from the Chemainus Dining Room to the theatre itself to be welcomed grandly by the massed pipers and drums of the Canadian Scottish Regiment.
The Burns' Concert
What followed was a concert of quite remarkable talent that was enthusiastically enjoyed by all. No performers can be singled out for particular mention because all were so enjoyable - the Celtic harpist, the Gaelic Choir which provided continuity under its director Douglas Hodkinson throughout, the fiddler Michelle Steeves, the soloist Norma Selwood, the duetists Maureen Campbell and Marlene Macdonald Cheng... and the concert goers who shared in the final sing-a-long.
Yet a particular item should be singled out because it was most kindly crafted just for the Prestoungrange Patrons present, a special arrangement to music of Johnie Cope selected because Prestonpans was the site of Bonnie Prince Charlie's glorious victory over the Hanoverians in 1745 led by the man himself.
Appropriately the concert concluded with the massed singing of Auld Lang Syne, everyone mightily well pleased and contented as they ventured forth into the ha and the dreech... for such it was outside.
Thanks to Anne and Terry
The whole enterprise has throughout its two years of planning been under the guidance of Anne Wills, who was thanked on the night and must be thanked here yet again by the Clan. It was she who found the network of performers who made the evening such a resounding success and it was Terry Jones in the months before and on the night itself who made it all come together so majestically. Well done. The Baron is shown thanking him immediately after the celebration.
Click on image to enlarge
But no hints about Burns' Night 2004 were forthcoming so far...
All the Pictures
To view the photographs, please click here.
Published Date: January 25th 2003