Camerons in Highland dress, with their piper, invaded the Halifax International Airport on Sunday, June 26, to welcome their Chief, Colonel Sir Donald Cameron of Lochiel and Lady Cameron, who were arriving from Scotland, to participate in the Opening Ceremonies of the 1983 Nova Scotia International Gathering and a week long Clan Cameron Rally.
On Monday, June 27, Clansmen and Clanswomen, wearing the tartans of their respective clans, assembled for a march through downtown Halifax. JoAnn Napier reported in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, "With a proud stride of tartan and the skirl of the bagpipes, ancestors of the great Scottish clans recalled the spirit of New Scotland during the Grand March of the Clans Monday in Halifax. The afternoon march, held prior to the official opening of the International Gathering of Clans on Monday evening, claimed the attention and imagination of hundreds of Nova Scotians who watched the colorful procession along Barrington Street. The clan distinguished by the largest number of participants in the march was CLAN CAMERON, which included among its members couples decked out in their tartan, including Opposition Leader, Sandy Cameron and his wife, Shirley."
The Cameron contingent could be easily identified by the twelve foot pinsel which had been brought from Scotland by Colonel Sir Donald Cameron of Lochiel, Chief of the Clan, which was carried in front by three kilted clansmen. A Highland Chief has a Standard or Rallying Flag which is flown at his headquarters at a Rally. He may also hoist a pinsel which may also be flown by an Ardtosheador, or authorized representative.
Members of the march were greeted at the City Hall by Halifax Mayor Wallace and other dignitaries. Among the clan chiefs and those representing chiefs, who welcomed the marchers, were Sir Donald and Lady Cameron of Lochiel, the Duke and Duchess of Montrose (Clan Graham) and Lord and Lady Strathnaver (Clan Sutherland).
"In the old days in the highlands, we clans were not always so friendly. But now we live in peace, except for a little friendly rivalry," said Sir Donald Cameron.
Some one hundred seventy Camerons sat together to participate in Premier John Buchanan's official opening of the spectacular 1983 Tattoo and the second International Gathering of the Clans held in Nova Scotia on Monday night. Distinguished guests included visiting Chiefs and their ladies, government officials and military commanders.
Gloria Kelly of the Chronicle-Herald reported, "More than 1,000 performers took part in the two-and-a-half hour production. Although the Tattoo has its roots in the military establishment and history, last nights show utilized civilian performers in many scenes to the delight of the audience. The dance scenes depicting a Scottish Ceilidh and a Loyalist celebration brought cheers and resounding applause from the crowded house. This year's Tattoo is paying tribute to the Scots ... and to the United Empire Loyalists, who are celebrating the Bicentennial of the arrival in Shelburne."
The pipes and drums were spectacular but the military bands performed sensationally.
The U. S. Marine Corps Band from Quantico, Virginia, was back for the fourth year. Their rendition of Farewell to Nova Scotia almost brought down the house. Their precision and sparkling clean-cut appearance added greatly to the show. From West Germany, the band of the German Air Force made its first appearance at the Tattoo. Two Canadian Bands of Atlantic Area Militia and the Naval Reserve were old favorites. Because the Tattoo is steeped in Naval tradition, the Navy unit's performance was spectacular. Perhaps the highlight of the show was the Tattoo finale with the whole cast on the floor along with the massed bands that have to be heard to be appreciated. "The Tattoo was well worth it for the music alone. However, the drama that was included lifted the traditional military event into a theatrical production that makes it one of the world's best" concluded Ms Kelly.
On Tuesday, June 28, the Cameron Rally opened with a bang with a series of motor trips through some of the world's most scenic areas and the red carpets of traditional warm Highland hospitality from our Nova Scotia Cameron hosts. There was the visit to the historic MacPherson's Grist Mill and Farm Home followed by a sumptuous luncheon at Sandy and Shirley Cameron's lovely home at Sherbrooke, overlooking the Saint Mary's River. River salmon was served for lunch. Then to the Sherbrooke Village Restoration Area which was established in 1971 to conserve a part of the village as it was during the last half of the 1800's. Since some Camerons were coming to Sandy's for high tea, who couldn't make the lunch, we returned for a "cup of tea." We had the cup of tea, but with trays of sandwiches and desserts. A Highlander politician is a great host. On the return trip to the Heather Inn at Stellarton, the Rally headquarters, we were guests of Alister and Harriet Cameron at Antigonish for another "cup of tea" with all the trimmings.
Next day we set out on a 160 kilometer drive to Beddeck, on Cape Breton Island, with Dr. Harold Cameron, Commissioner and his charming wife, Grace (both MDs from London, Ontario) with Dr. Harold driving again. The highway which passes through lush green hills and along side the beautiful Bras d' Or Lake reminds one of drives along Loch Ness and Loch Linnhe in Lochaber (Clan Cameron Country in Scotland).
Road signs read Cameron Road, Cameron Mountain, MacDonald Mountain, Glencoe, Gleneig, Fraser Lake, Morrison Road. It appears that the Highlands of Scotland had been transplanted. The areas adjacent to the highways are immaculately clean and free from litter. Nova Scotia has tough anti-litter laws and enforces them.
Our red carpet roll out this day was by Howard and Lola Cameron who live in a picturesque clearing overlooking St. Patrick's Passage, which is a wide sea loch with wooded hills on all sides. The view is magnificent. Lochiel's pinsel, the Maple Leaf, the Nova Scotia banner and old Glory were flying in the breeze. Ian R.Cameron, president of the host Atlantic Branch of Clan Cameron and Evelyln, make all the right moves. The Reverend Father Frances Cameron and another Sandy Cameron played the fiddle. There was piping and Highland dancing.
Lochiel talked to the clanfolk as he does at all the receptions in a very genuine manner. Lochiel and Lady Cameron move around so that they can meet and talk to everyone. He always extends an invitation to clan folk to visit Achnacarry, the home of the Cameron Chiefs in Scotland. "But please call in advance," he says with great humor. We can all be proud of our Chief and Lady Cameron, who is such a charming and genuine person.
It was quite confusing trying to keep the Sandy Camerons straight. There was the politician, the fiddler and the others. But with the Donald and Allen Camerons we gave up. Trying to sort out the Camerons with MacDonald wives and the other way around was also confusing and the Clarks were also involved. However, there was Alvin Cameron, age 95 and Howard's mother, age 99, who graced the occasions.
Then came the hospitality with attitude adjustment and such food! Enormous whole poached salmon and platters of lobster from the loch below and all the other goodies and sweets that only the Scots can make.
Thursday was to be a quiet day for the ladies to keep appointments with the hairdressers. However, a group was organized in Bill Cameron's spacious (the Goose) van to photograph Lochiel in a typical Highland setting. The Old Log Church at Loch Broom, located in Pictou County, and still being used for services, was chosen for the photo session. With the background of the loch and the beautiful forest, we had an ideal setting. Everyone remembered film and expertise was everywhere. If pictures aren't good, it's not Lochiel's fault.
Friday, July 1, was Canada Day (formerly Dominion Day). Lochiel and Lady Cameron, President Ian R. and Evelyn rode as distinguished guests in a parade at Westville. At 6:30 in the evening, more than one hundred clan folk in their formal attire gathered at the Abercrombie Country Club in New Glasgow for the Annual Banquet and Ball. Lochiel, in a brief address, commented that he is frequently asked, "Why have a Clan Association?" His reply is, "The Aims of the Association are as meaningful today as they were nearly one hundred years ago when the association was formed." He added, "If the aims which are cultural, educational, and promotion of friendship among persons throughout the world, who enjoy a distant relationship, were accomplished, it would be a great-step toward world Peace." There was an excellent dinner, a Grand March, and dancing to get the tired blood circulating.
The International Grand Rally was held on Saturday, July 2, on the Estate of R. B. Cameron at Chance Harbour. The site of the Rally is near Pictou Landing where the three hundred ton cat barque, Hector, landed eleven weeks after embarking from Loch Broom in Scotland in the summer of 1773 with approximately two hundred men, women and children. These immigrants tore up century old roots for a new life and were followed by many ship loads of new settlers from Scotland. Their descendants live here today. The Estate has always been owned by a Cameron. It commands a magnificent view of a crescent shaped harbor above which is situated Mr. and Mrs. Cameron's spacious home. Mr. Cameron is a prominent industrialist. It was a beautiful and relaxing day. The flags and banners were flying, the pipe band played and Highland dancers performed. Reverend John Cameron was Master of Ceremonies as he was when Lochiel and Lady Cameron were there 27 years ago. Historian James Cameron introduced Lochiel and Lady Cameron who then walked around for photographs and to talk to the clan folk. The Reverend Father Charles Clark Cameron took care of the spiritual matters.
On Sunday there was an Ecumenical Church Service at the St. Andrew's Church in New Glasgow for the Cameron party. The Reverend John R., a son of that Congregation, delivered the sermon; Father Charles led in prayer; Sir Donald and Harold read the scriptures; Don sang the solo and Dr. Ian quickened the heart beats with the skirling of the pipes.
Monday, July 4, was filled with a Shopping Tour around Aberdeen and Highland Square Malls. Tuesday, there was another Reception and Program in Annapolis Valley and on Wednesday, July 6, Lochiel and Lady Cameron departed from Halifax for home and hopefully a well earned rest.
Those of us from the United States who were privileged to attend the Rally are unanimous in voting that Nova Scotia is one of the world's most scenic areas anywhere and its people the warmest and most hospitable.
Members in attendance from "South of the border" were: Bill and June Cameron, Franklin, TN; Doug and Christine Taylor, Clearwater, FL; Larry Cameron, Redwood City, CA; Val Cameron, Spokane, WN; Lou and Skip Clark, Van Nuys, CA; Gloria, Cameron Fuld, Rolling Hills, CA.