The first Games...
Plenty can change over the course of 70 years… Technology, customs, and journalism stylistics being just a few.
We at The Glengarry News are proud that we have always reported on the Glengarry Highland Games. For your reading pleasure, we are pleased to reproduce part of our coverage from the very first Games in 1948.
*** The largest audience in the history of Glengarry – more than 20,000 – thrilled to as fine a display of massed piping skill as might be heard anywhere on the globe, Saturday, at Maxville, as the revival of the Glengarry Highland Games came and went, right into the record book of a county already rich in great days.
It was a long full day, crowded with eventful moments. But the high point came shortly before 6 p.m. when eight fine pipe bands which had been competing for group honors, massed together for the piping grand finale. Before a wildly cheering grandstand crowd a hundred pipers boweed to the will of happy thousands, playing no less than four encores. Hours later those privileged to have been there, could still imagine the high, sweet notes of the pipes.
A busy spot for weeks as preparations went forward for the big day, Maxville was a hive of activity Saturday. Its streets carrying an unending stream of cars, buses and pedestrians. As early as 10 o’clock that morning, some three to four thousand were already on the Exhibition Grounds. By noon there were an estimated ten thousand and they kept coming. There were still many visitors in the village at midnight when a big street dance was brought to a reluctant halt.
From almost every State of the Union and from all nine Canadian provinces came native sons of Glengarry and many other visitors to swell the mighty flood of humanity. The loudspeaker system gave its hint of this wide representation with its announcements of people from Vancouver, San Francisco and other points seeking the whereabouts of friends.
Prime Minister Mackenzie King was there as were the Hon. John Bracken and Mrs. Bracken and Hon. James G Gardiner.
The pipes were heard all through the day, the SD&G band being on duty throughout the morning to greet incoming special and regular trains. As each band arrived in Maxville, it headed solid columns of visitors making their way to the grounds through the flag and tartan draped streets. During the afternoon, the skirl of the pipes competed with the drone of sight-seeing planes overhead as the individual piping competitions were run off.
The steady flow of incoming traffic in the early afternoon forced a delay in the arrival of the Prime Minister who spent several hours in his private car on the station siding. The official party was headed by the massed pipe bands as it entered the grounds. Immediately following was the car containing Mr. King and his party, then came the pretty white gowned “Queen of the Games,” Miss Mora MacIntosh of Dunvegan, enthroned in an open touring car. The other five contestants for the title were grouped in a second open car.
Prime Minister King was introduced by Major Angus McDonald, reeve of Alexandria and chairman of the Games Committee. His brief address in which he officially declated the Games open set off a chain of events which lasted throughout the day and evening. While hundreds of colorful Highland dancers competed on the stand, piping contests and track and field events were staged at other points on the grounds.
A feature of the afternoon program was the fine contralto singing of Miss Jean MacLeod, noted Toronto soloist. Miss MacLeod introduced the special song written for the Highland Games by Ken MacRae of Toronto, a son of John D. MacRae ex-MP, of Apple Hill. She later favored with the popular “Road To The Isles” and was again heard at the evening concert. Mrs. D. M. Macleod of Alexandria was accompanist.
A short interlude followed the pipe band competitions and the massed band playing and the programme was resumed at 7 o’clock when an All-Star team from the Glengarry Football League went down by a 4-2 count before a smart eleven from the Montreal Scottish. In a morning football game players resident East of Highway 34 had won 2-0 over those living West of the Highway.
Thousands remained on for the evening concert which featured an Old Time Fiddlers contest. Honors were won by John Angus McDonald of Cornwall and St. Raphael’s who took home the fine trophy offered in this event.
The last special trains pulled out of Maxville at midnight carrying to their city homes large numbers of dog tired but happy visitors to the Games.
It was the most successful event in the history of Glengarry from an attendance standpoint but the record crowd in itself prevented the day from being an unqualified success. Jampacked in front of the grandstand and in the infield, the thousands present were pressing to get a view of the proceedings. As a result, judges and dancers at the dancing platform were completely hemmed in and it was almost impossible to get to the stand.