Scottish connections in New Westminster go back to the city's first days with members of the Columbia Detachment of Royal Engineers.
Other Scots soon arrived and in a short period of time, there was a St. Andrews Society, as well as other groups for those with similar links to Ireland, England and so on. In time, a pioneers' group would come about for those with connections to the province's earliest years.
Today, the Sons of Scotland continue to enjoy their cultural roots with annual schedules that include meetings, dinners, dances, music, and highland games.
A number of years ago on the occasion of an anniversary year, we at A Sense of History Research Services were very pleased to write their history that is closely tied to many parts of the story of the Royal City.
In putting together some material a few months ago on Sir John A. Macdonald and his visit to our city in 1886, we were reminded of a prominent Scottish part of the program prepared to welcome the prime minister.
We also remembered a couple of curious examples of other Scots references in this city.
For Sir John, the newspaper of the day reported: "And then came that portion of the ceremony which was real, old-fashioned and grand. Mr. L.F. Bonson, chief of the Caledonian and St. Andrews Society, in full dress of a Highland Chief, stepped forward and read (an) address. At the end of his words, Macdonald was asked to allow his name to be at the head of the group's roll of honorary members, which with simple ceremony, was carried out."
Sir John A. Macdonald was then admitted as a member of the Caledonian and St. Andrews Society. The pipes played Hail to the Chief, the Highlanders cheered, and the old lion of Scotland, on a flag, appeared to enjoy the scene.
Our second Scottish reference comes from February 1889, with a report of a family camping in the city: "A family lately arrived in the city are spending the beautiful winter weather under canvas on the government reserve above Royal Avenue . (they) seem to be perfectly happy and contented . the head of the family spends the most of his time in making the welkin ring with the notes of the pibroch. His playing, by the way, is superior to the average run of pipers."
From a year later, 1890, we often wonder if we have a reference to the same man: "One of our Scotch citizens paraded Columbia Street last night with the wild pibroch hugged close in his arms, and gave the inhabitants a regular treat in the way of slogans, strathseys, and other highland tunes. A few enthusiastic Hielenmen followed close to the musician and drank in the sweetness of the music to its fullest."
Just a wee taste of Scottish culture and history in the Royal City.