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Burns 2003: The Prequel

Any thoughts that Burns Night 2003 was going to be a quiet supper and concert for 250 Clan members and guests at The Chemainus Theatre on the 25th was dispelled as the Prequel Fringe Events began on January 19th.... despite the guidelines!

In Beacon Hill Park, Victoria, at the 1900 Burns' Memorial at 2pm precisely a posy of heather was laid, poems were read and a piper and two fine voices did justice to the occasion.

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Beacon Hill Park is also the fine location of what in 1959 was the world's tallest totem pole at 129 feet. And that, together with the indoor display at The Empress, has been inspiration enough for the next Chemainus/Prestonpans link to be forged!

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The ceremony at the Burns Memorial was followed at once by a Concert and Tea at St Andrew's Church Hall on Gordon Street, Victoria, sponsored by the Victoria Joint Scottish Council, Chairman David Sinclair. Alec Proven, Deputy Editor (Scottish News in British Columbia) read Burns' poetry and we were treated to excellent displays of Scottish Country and Highland dancing. We concluded with a Scottish Sing-a-long led by two accordions that included Burns' songs.

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Robert Brown, Worthy Grand Chief, Sons of Scotland for the whole of Canada, was Master of Ceremonies... but as is always the case he was much more than that. He is an alumnus of Preston Lodge School in Prestonpans and lived in Tranent until coming to Canada in 1958.

And yet more surprises were in store as we were introduced to Professor Dr Fergus Macdowall of Garthland, Clan Chief of the Name and Arms of Macdowall, ancient and 27th feudal Baron of Garochloyne (since 1295) now Garthland, recognised by The Lord Lyon and entered in Burke's Landed Gentry: The Kingdom in Scotland Volume 19, 2001, pp.882-885. His ancestral seat is at Barr Castle, Renfrewshire. His second son, David, holds lands as 12th feudal Baron of Castlesemple (since 1773).

And so to wine and cheese (with nae a drop of Silver Birch) at Anne Wills's home on Woodstock Avenue, Victoria, from 7.30 pm... Everyone was there including the President, Vice President and Director of Music of the Gaelic Choir and Lynne Griffith's Highland Dancers. So too were the President Stu Montgomery and his Deputy, Alec Proven, of the Scottish Cultural Society of British Columbia. And Karl and Betty Schutz with Doris Buklin from 29 Palms... and last but not least Roy Kennedy rehearsing his Immortal Bard and Terry and Dawn Jones, artistic directors of the forthcoming 25th.

Click here to read a piece written in the Island Fling 2002, by Terry Jones.

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Detailing in Chemainus - January 23rd

All the best Prequels they say merge into dress rehearsals for the big event and this Burns' Night is no exception. Even needed an evening visit down town to see the moon and Parliament House.

Anne Wills led the detailing party to Chemainus on Thursday 23rd to check out just about everything from how the Glenkinchie will be poured and when, to the naming of tables and the exists and entrances with and without pipers and drums...

Whilst Anne Wills attended to much of the important stuff, the Baron Bailie lately arrived from Scotland and Anne Taylor took time out to pose as schoolies. Prestoungrange checked the Foundation Stone and the new Global HQ for the Global Association across the street from the Theatre (still showing here as a Tatoo Parlour).

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Then it was time for coffee at Karl's splendid home overlooking the Chemainus River gorge. Betty, Doris and Karl posed for their photos with the visiting dignitaries, and one and all admired the new portrait of Karl and his yellow advertisement.

Everything semed to be well in hand, although we recalled the immortal phrase of the SupperMan:

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men ....

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Published Date: January 19th 2003

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