GLENGARRY HIGH­LAND GAMES

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As the Glengarry High­land Games cel­e­brates its 70th an­niver­sary this year, we are happy to share this list of facts that were gleaned from past is­sues of The Glengarry News. Please in­dulge your­selves as we go for a trip down Me­mory Lane...

1. The Glengarry Pipe Band won the Grade 2 Pipe Band North Amer­i­can Cham­pi­ons at the High­land Games in 1996. It was the first time ever that the band won that ti­tle.

2. In 2006, the late Ken McRae, who penned Glengarry’s un­of­fi­cial an­them, Glengarry My Home, un­veiled a brand new verse for his iconic song. This new verse specif­i­cally men­tioned the Games.

3. The Glengarry High­land Games is of­ten lauded as one of the best High­land Games in North Amer­ica, so it’s not sur­pris­ing that it at­tracts ath­letes from around the con­ti­nent. In 1986, for ex­am­ple, Cal­i­for­nian Keith Tice won seven of the eight events en route to win­ning the Cana­dian Scot­tish Heavy­weight Cham­pi­onships.

4. There is vir­tu­ally no ri­valry (and ab­so­lutely no nas­ti­ness) among the High­land Games com­peti­tors. The ath­letes all know they are com­pet­ing with them­selves and are al­ways very sup­port­ive when some­one gets a new per­sonal best.

5. It seems that new records are al­ways be­ing set at the High­land Games. In 1971, the Games set a new record by at­tract­ing 41 pipe bands. Ex­actly one decade later, it set a new record with 44 bands, 43 of which com­peted. One of those bands was the Van­cou­ver Ladies Band, which won the Grade 2 cat­e­gory. By con­trast, in the mid 1940s, the Games were ac­cus­tomed to get­ting about a dozen bands.

6. Un­sur­pris­ingly, af­ter 70 years, bad weather has plagued the High­land Games on oc­ca­sion. In 1974, for ex­am­ple, a mas­sive rain­storm made it im­pos­si­ble for the massed bands to carry out their open­ing per­for­mance. It wasn’t un­til the Games’ sev­enth year, in 1954, when the weather took its toll, prompt­ing many peo­ple to leave early. Ac­tiv­i­ties had to be moved into the nearby Ju­bilee Rink, which soon be­came un­bear­ably hot. (The front page head­line from that year: High­land Games Sur­vived First Trial By Rain.) In 1983, it would rain so hard that it caused a two-hour black­out, which put an end to the Fri­day night en­ter­tain­ment.

7. In 1952, the Na­tional Film Board of Canada an­nounced that it was go­ing to record the Glengarry High­land Games. Later, the footage was shown in movie the­atres across the na­tion.

8. For­mer Prime Min­is­ter Wil­liam Lyon Macken­zie King used the oc­ca­sion of the first Glengarry High­land Games, held in 1948, to make his fi­nal speech as leader of the gov­ern­ing Lib­eral Party. He re­signed as leader about a week later. Also in at­ten­dance was John Bracken, for­mer Man­i­toba Pre­mier, who was then leader of the coun­try’s Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive Party.

9. Al­though the first High­land Games at­tracted a then record amount of more than 20,000 peo­ple, the sec­ond edi­tion of the Games, held the fol­low­ing year, was de­cid­edly less pop­u­lar. About 12,000 peo­ple at­tended and only half of the 12 sched­uled pipe bands showed up. The good news was that the smaller crowd al­lowed for bet­ter view­ing.

10. On­tario Pre­mier Les­lie Frost agreed to of­fi­cially open the third an­nual Glengarry High­land Games in 1950. Cu­ri­ously, The Glengarry News did not fea­ture the pre­mier’s pho­to­graph on the front page of its pre-Games is­sue. Rather, the pic­ture was of Mar­garet Far­linger, a Mart­in­town res­i­dent and Wil­liamstown High School stu­dent who had been crowned Queen of the Games.

11. A for­mer Miss Canada once at­tended the Games in her of­fi­cial ca­pac­ity. Corn­wall res­i­dent Bar­bara Joan Markham was at the Games in 1954.

12. Alexan­dria res­i­dent Lloyd Kennedy was, ap­par­ently, vir­tu­ally unbeatable at the caber toss. In 1955, The Glengarry News called him the “peren­nial cham­pion,” al­though that year he was al­most beaten by a new­comer com­peti­tor from Nova Sco­tia.

13. Al­though the vi­o­lin is an in­te­gral part of the High­land Games to­day, that wasn’t al­ways the case. It wasn’t un­til 1956, the ninth year of the Games, that the fid­dle was in­tro­duced in an of­fi­cial ca­pac­ity. A gen­tle­man named Fa­ther McPhail played on­stage and was ac­com­pa­nied by sev­eral other ac­com­plished area bow­men.

14. Prime Min­is­ter John Diefen­baker was sched­uled to open the 10th Games in 1957. Un­for­tu­nately, he ar­rived late, caus­ing the open­ing cer­e­monies to be de­layed. At the Games, he was pre­sented with 10 pounds of ched­dar cheese, which was in­tended to be a sub­tle re­minder that Canada’s agri­cul­tural sec­tor grows more than wheat. In 1975, he would open them again, mak­ing him the first per­son to serve as guest of hon­our twice.

15. High­land danc­ing was al­ways a big part of the Games but it re­ally took off in 1959 with the ad­di­tion of the mass High­land fling. “The danc­ing classes were never so full,” trum­peted The Glengarry News, which added that there were 117 dancers that year.

16. In 1960, Canada Coun­cil Award re­cip­i­ent and Ot­tawa res­i­dent Sally Hay­den sang pop­u­lar Scot­tish songs at the Games. It was the first time such an event ever hap­pened there.

17. The Glengarry High­land Games has its own tar­tan and it is proudly worn by the Glengarry Pipe Band. The tar- tan is dis­tinc­tive with its bold shades of red and blue. It was com­pleted in the spring of 2000 as a spe­cial mil­len­nium project.

18. In 1961, the show was stolen by Dame Flora, Chief of Clan Ma­cLeod, who was vis­it­ing from the Isle of Skye to help Glengarry Clan Ma­cLeod cel­e­brate its 25th an­niver­sary. Dame Flora re­fused an in­vi­ta­tion to leave early and, de­spite the piti­less sti­fling sun, stayed on into the evening for the sec­ond per­for­mance of the massed bands, which, that year, had a then record num­ber of 18 par­tic­i­pants.

19. In 1962, the Games reached an­other record with 25,000 peo­ple at­tend­ing. It was the 15th an­niver­sary of the Glengarry High­land Games and an­other record was set with 22 groups par­tic­i­pat­ing in the massed bands.

20. In 1963, Lester B. Pear­son be­came the third Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter to open the High­land Games. Un­like Mr. Diefen­baker, who was late, Mr. Pear­son used a he­li­copter to en­sure he ar­rived at the fair­grounds on time. The prime min­is­ter’s pres­ence must have been an added at­trac­tion as that year, the Games broke an­other at­ten­dance record as nearly 30,000 flocked to Maxville.

21. In his open­ing speech to the crowd, Mr. Pear­son only touched on pol­i­tics. Af­ter not­ing that the bud­get had been a tough one to flesh out, he made the crowd laugh by an­nounc­ing that it had re­moved the duty on chanters (prac­tice in­stru­ments for fledg­ling pipers).

22. Glengarry’s own Con­nie Kippen-Blaney was a force to be reck­oned with for many years of the Glengarry High­land Games. Back in the days when the Games held com­pe­ti­tion for fe­male pipe bands, Ms. Kippen-Blaney, who served as pipe ma­jor for the Glengarry Girls Band, was known for lead­ing her girls to first place fin­ishes.

23. In 1965, the Games in­tro­duced a drum-ma­jor’s com­pe­ti­tion. The Glengarry High­landers’ duty band played while the five com­peti­tors went through their paces. The in­au­gu­ral win­ner was Nor­man Ste­wart MacKen­zie of Toronto.

24. Al­though the Glengarry High­land Games is steeped in Scot­tish tra­di­tion, cu­ri­ously, it took 19 years be­fore a Scot­tish band made an ap­pear­ance there. In 1966, the Knightswood Com­mu­nity Ju­ve­nile Pipe Band from Glas­gow. Mem­ber John Wil­liams even won that year’s drum ma­jor con­test.

25. Also in 1966, Tommy Dou­glas – also known as “The Great­est Cana­dian” and founder of Canada’s univer­sal health­care pro­gram – of­fi­cially opened the Games. Mr. Dou­glas, who was born in Scot­land, was pleased to have the Knightswood band in at­ten­dance.

26. For Canada’s cen­ten­nial and for the Games 20th an­niver­sary in 1967, the Games fi­nally broke the 30-band mark. 28 of the bands present played in the open­ing con­cert. It was fur­ther noted that eight of the 30 bands came from the United States. The fol­low­ing year, the Games would at­tract an un­prece­dented 38 pipe bands. It wouldn’t crack the 40-band bar­rier un­til 1971.

27. In 1968, Robert Stan­field, for­mer Nova Sco­tia Pre­mier and then leader of the fed­eral Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive party of­fi­cially opened the Games. No word if any­one tossed him a foot­ball dur­ing his time in Maxville.

28. And how’s this for a “times they are a-chang­ing” type of en­try? In 1969, the Games were of­fi­cially opened by David Macdon­ald Ste­wart, pres­i­dent of Macdon­ald Tobacco Inc. It’s hard to imag­ine such a fig­ure be­ing asked to pre­side over any­thing as lu­mi­nous as the High­land Games nowa­days. Also that year, the Glengarry Pipe Band had a di­min­ished pres­ence at the Games as it had just em­barked on a three-week tour of Scot­land.

29. In 1970, for the first time since its in­cep­tion, The Glengarry High­land Games was not fea­tured in the cov­eted front page above-the-fold spot of The Glengarry News. There were two rea­sons for this. The first is that the pa­per’s an­nual staff va­ca­tion (which has since been re­pealed) took place im­me­di­ately af­ter the Games, mean­ing there was no pa­per for the week that im­me­di­ately pre­ceeded them. More im­por­tantly, how­ever, was the dev­as­tat­ing news of the fire that de­stroyed the in­te­rior of St. Raphael’s church, the old­est Ro­man Catholic church in On­tario. The hor­ri­ble news dis­placed the Games, which was old news by then, to be­lowthe-fold sta­tus.

30. At the 23rd High­land Games in 1970, Wood­land Hills, Cal­i­for­nia res­i­dent Sharon Far­rar won the over-16 danc­ing hon­ours. Her sev­enyear-old son, Harry, danced in the ju­nior class. They are be­lieved to be the first moth­er­son danc­ing com­bi­na­tion in Games his­tory.

31. For the Games 25th an­niver­sary in 1972, Wil­liamstown na­tive Harold MacDon­ald won the caber toss­ing com­pe­ti­tion for the sixth time. Ev­i­dently, Mr. MacDon­ald was a peren­nial win­ner when he lived in the area but had to stop com­pet­ing af­ter he moved to Van­cou­ver. In 1972, he was va­ca­tion­ing in the area and de­cided to en­ter the con­test to see if he still had the magic touch.

32. In 1973, the Games cel­e­brated the first year of its next quar­ter cen­tury by smash­ing all pre­vi­ous at­ten­dance records. Nearly 30,000 peo­ple at­tended, though it was dif­fi­cult to say if the pres­ence of Montreal Cana­di­ens star Jean Be­liv­eau, who opened the Games, had any­thing to do with the high num­bers. As The News said: “He may have at­tracted a large num­ber of FrenchCana­di­ans… but they have no way of know­ing. All those thou­sands were Scots for a day no mat­ter the colour of their skin or the lan­guage they spoke. ”

33. The St. Catharine’s-based Clan MacFar­land Pipe Band cap­tured the Gardiner Tro­phy – em­blem­atic of the North Amer­i­can Pipe Band Cham­pi­onships – four years in a row in the early 1970s. They were even­tu­ally bested by the Guelph Pipe Band in 1976. In 1977, the Clan Mac­Far­lane would win again.

34. Land­mark pipe band at­ten­dance records were set in 1982 and 1983. In 1982, 48 bands at­tended the Games. One year later, the Games broke the half-cen­tury mark when it at­tracted 52 bands. In 1987, it would reach the 54 plateau. It wouldn’t be un­til the turn of the cen­tury, the year 2000, when 70 bands par­tic­i­pated in the massed bands.

35. In 1982, Man­hat­tan Beach, Cal­i­for­nia res­i­dent Ja­nine Hynd won the 12 and un­der McDougall Tro­phy for High­land danc­ing. Her mother, Cather­ine, won that same tro­phy for danc­ing at the Games 35 years ear­lier.

36. In 1985, Cape Bre­ton na­tive Flora MacDon­ald opened the Games. At the time she was the fed­eral Em­ploy­ment and Im­mi­gra­tion Min­is­ter. A proud Scot, she told an ap­pre­cia­tive crowd of about 20,000 about her great love for Scot­tish cul­ture. Al­though her itin­er­ary had her leav­ing at 3, she stayed for the en­tire Satur­day, danc­ing at var­i­ous events and sign­ing au­to­graphs.

37. A Scot­tish ath­lete made waves at the 40th High­land Games in 1987 when he shat­tered long-stand­ing Cana­dian, North Amer­i­can and world records in the sheaf toss. Alis­tair Gunn cleared a height of 27 feet and 4.5 inches, break­ing the Cana­dian record set by Dave Her­ring­ton just four years ear­lier. Sadly, Mr. Gunn’s eu­pho­ria was spoiled when a thief stole an equip­ment bag from the trunk of a car. The bag con­tained ath­letic equip­ment val­ued at about $500. In 1991, Alma, On­tario res­i­dent War­ren Trask would break that record by toss­ing the sheaf 30 feet. In 1993, he would break his record again, 36 feet and six inches.

38. In 1988, a steam ex­cur­sion train from Ot­tawa’s Na­tional Mu­seum of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy brought peo­ple into Maxville so they could see the Games. The train had been re­tired in 1985 un­til the By­town Rail­way So­ci­ety res­ur­rected it.

39. Also in 1988, Glengarry’s own Glengarry Pipe Band placed first in the Grade 4 class for the third year in a row.

40. In 1990, Lon­don’s Harry MacDon­ald, at age 21, be­came the youngest ever Cana­dian cham­pion when he won the heavy­weight event at the High­land Games.

41. By 1991, Games of­fi­cials no­ticed an in­creased num­ber of Amer­i­can vis­i­tors. They said that’s likely due to in­creased pro­mo­tional ef­forts in Ver­mont and up­state New York.

42. Tele­vi­sion news per­son­al­i­ties Max Keep­ing and Lloyd Robert­son have both presided over the Glengarry High­land Games’ open­ing cer­e­monies.

43. Do­min­ionville High­land dancer Heather Ma­cLeod scored a coup at the 1993 Games when she placed in the top five in four dance cat­e­gories in the 16 and over class.

44. In 1994, the Fri­day night Tat­too fea­tured the likes of singer John McDer­mott and vi­o­lin­ist Natalie MacMaster, prompt­ing past Games pres­i­dent Mur­ray MacQueen to call it the best grand­stand show in Games’ his­tory.

45. Also in 1994, the Clan Build­ing made its de­but at the Games. It helped bring all the dif­fer­ent clan rep­re­sen­ta­tives un­der one roof.

46. In 1995, Lon­don, On­tario’s Harry MacDon­ald won the heavy­weight cham­pi­onships for the third year in a row. He set a new Cana­dian record in the 28-lb weight for dis­tance event and, ar­guably, be­came the most suc­cess­ful ath­lete since the days of Keith Tice.

47. The Glengarry Pipe Band was named North Amer­i­can cham­pi­ons in the Grade 2 cat­e­gory at the 1996 High­land Games. It was the first time the band ever won such a dis­tinc­tion.

48. In 1998, sky­divers be­gan parachut­ing into the Maxville Fair­grounds dur­ing the Fri­day night Tat­too, a tra­di­tion that has car­ried on to this day. Prime Min­is­ter Jean Chre­tien opened the Games that year. He was pre­sented with a tar­tan blan­ket as a memo­rial of that win­ter’s dev­as­tat­ing ice storm.

49. Be­lieve it or not, the Glengarry High­land Games has had at least one streaker. In 1999, a streaker bolted across the field, draw­ing cheers from the au­di­ence.

50. In 2000, Judge John Mathe­son, the for­mer MP who helped cre­ate the Cana­dian flag and the Or­der of Canada, of­fi­cially opened the High­land Games. Mas­ter of Cer­e­monies Reg Gam­ble said it was only sec­ond time the guest of hon­our re­ceived a stand­ing ova­tion from the crowd. The first time was two years ear­lier for Jean Chre­tien.

51. Over the years, the Maxville Fair­grounds have seen a num­ber of up­grades to bet­ter ac­com­mo­date the crowds dur­ing the Games. Shortly af­ter the 56th High­land Games in 2003, a new grand­stand was built to ac­com­mo­date an ex­tra 540 spec­ta­tors.

52. The MacCul­loch Dancers have long been an in­te­gral part of the High­land Games. The troupe was founded by the late Rae MacCul­loch, who was guest of hon­our in 2004. That year, she and her dance stu­dents, past and present, set a world record at the Games for the most High­land dancers danc­ing at once.

53. In 2005, the Glengarry High­land Games cel­e­brated the Year of the Vet­eran by pro­vid­ing free ad­mis­sion and spe­cial treat­ment for all vet­er­ans. The event was held as part of the 60th an­niver­sary of the end of the Sec­ond World War.

54. For many years, St. Columba Pres­by­te­rian Church in Kirk Hill has held a Kirkin ‘O’ The Tar­tan on the Sun­day af­ter the High­land Games. It’s al­ways a colour­ful event as lo­cal fam­i­lies have their tar­tans blessed at the church ser­vice.

55. In 2007, the Glengarry High­land Games be­gan host­ing a tug-of-war com­pe­ti­tion for mil­i­tary reg­i­ments. What started as a nov­elty has grown to some­thing that’s just as pop­u­lar as the caber toss.

56. In 2008, the Fri­day night Tat­too con­cert head­liner – Scot­land based Scocha – re­cruited Ot­tawa’s Cameron High­landers Pipe Band to ac­com­pany them on an orig­i­nal piece ti­tled On the Road to Pass­chen­daele, pay­ing trib­ute to the sol­diers who lost their lives in the 1917 WWI bat­tle.

57. The SDG High­landers are now a main­stay in the Games’ an­nual tug-of-war. For many years, they ran a re­cruit­ing sta­tion at the Games and even al­lowed prospec­tive sol­diers to ex­am­ine some of the weaponry.

58. In ad­di­tion to be­ing a cel­e­bra­tion of Scot­tish cul­ture, the Games is also a huge so­cial oc­ca­sion. There’s plenty of camp­ing avail­able dur­ing Games week­end and the beer tent is ab­so­lutely packed on Fri­day night.

59. In 2009, the High­land Games helped the On­tario Pro­vin­cial Po­lice cel­e­brate 100 years of polic­ing in the prov­ince. OPP Com­mis­sioner Ju­lian Fantino was guest of hon­our and the week­end had a num­ber of OPP-in­spired at­trac­tions, like a K-9 unit demon­stra­tion.

60. In 2010 the Games cel­e­brated the Year of the Fid­dle. There were massed fid­dling events, fid­dling work­shops, ceilidhs, and con­certs from fid­dlers from Cape Bre­ton.

61. On the Thurs­day be­fore the High­land Games, the Games com­mit­tee al­ways hosts a Tar­tan Ball in Maxville. It started off as a way of cel­e­brat­ing the Games’ golden an­niver­sary and has since be­come an an­nual tra­di­tion. This year it takes place in the Metcalfe Cen­tre. Dress is for­mal.

62. On Satur­day af­ter­noon, the Clan Pa­rade marches around the track at the fair­grounds. In 2011, there was a con­certed ef­fort to get as many par­tic­i­pants as pos­si­ble. It worked and close to a thou­sand peo­ple marched, proudly show­ing off their Celtic her­itage.

63. In 2012, the Games de­cided to salute Po­lice pipe bands. Fit­tingly, the po­lice bands that com­peted did quite well. The Peel Re­gional Po­lice Pipe Band won the Grade 1 divi­sion with the Toronto Po­lice Pipe Band as the run­ner up.

64. The High­land Games’ peren­nial em­cee, Reg Gam­ble, has been do­ing his job for a long time. Back in 2014, he cel­e­brated 25 years in that ca­pac­ity.

65. The Games hosts an an­nual whisky tast­ing. This year there are two tast­ings on Satur­day, Aug. 5. One at 2 p. m. and the other at 4. Ad­mis­sion is $40.

66. In 2016, the High­land Games de­buted a five-kilo­me­tre kilt run. It will hold an­other one this year at 4: 30 p. m. on Satur­day, co­in­cid­ing with the clos­ing of the Games.

67. As the Games cel­e­brates its 70th an­niver­sary this year, it hopes to rec­og­nize any­one who was in at­ten­dance at the very first Games back in 1948. Those lucky peo­ple will be hon­oured dur­ing the week­end.

68. Rugby fans can watch the game be­ing played this year. The tour­na­ment be­gins at 10 a.m. on Fri­day be­hind the clan build­ing. The cham­pi­onship game will be played Satur­day at 2:30 p.m. on the in­field.

69. Pipe bands have come from Scot­land, New Zealand, and from ev­ery prov­ince and most States. There are now five com­pe­ti­tion Grades for pip­ing and the Games con­tinue to at­tract the best in pip­ing to com­pete in the North Amer­i­can Pipe Band Cham­pi­onship.

70. Many peo­ple con­sider the Glengarry High­land Games to be the best Games in North Amer­ica.

Since the be­gin­ning, the massed bands have been an im­por­tant part of the Games

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