17TH Annual CRA-Canada AGM - 2008
Saturday's Tours to the Giant MacAskill Museum (Englishtown), Cape Breton Gaelic College (St. Ann) and the Glenora Pub and Distillery (Glenora) . . . followed by Address to the Haggis and Ceilidh back at Iona
Click on a thumbnail photo to obtain a larger version.
At 1:00 AM on the morning of the gathering Don Ross of Halifax received a dreaded phonecall informing him that the bus-driver would not be able to honour the contract to provide transportation for the tours. By the Saturday morning a sufficient number of cars and vans had been volunteered to accommodate all of the members. We thank all who helped out.
Englishtown: Giant MacAskill Museum
The Giant MacAskill Museum is operated by the Giant MacAskill Heirs' Association. Angus MacAskill was born on the Island of Bernerary in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland, in 1825. He was one of 9 surviving children of Norman MacAskill and his wife Christine Campbell. The family emigrated to Englishtown on St. Ann's Bay, Cape Breton Island, in 1831, when North Uist and Harris were being cleared by landowners to make way for sheep.
Angus' size was average until his early teens, but by the time he was 20 he was 7 foot 9 inches in height. He grew to 425 pounds with an 80 inch waist. His hands were 13 inches long and 7 inches wide, and his boots were 18 inches in length.
You may visit a website with more information
about the Giant MacAskill.
St. Ann's: Cape Breton Gaelic College
The Hall of the Clans Auditorium
Bonnie Thornhill, researcher and author (The Road to St. Ann's and The Road to North River) works closely with the libraries of the college and The Highland Village. Following her informative talk, she introduced the esteemed Angus MacLeod, who is a fluent Gaelic speaker and a popular storyteller and singer.
The Milling Frolic
In March of 2007 the Atlantic Gaelic Academy (AGA) was established as a non-profit corporation with Angus MacLeod of Goose Cove, Cape Breton, as President. The new school offers in-class and online courses in the Gaelic language and has a mission to increase the number of Gaelic speakers across the region. Angus currently teaches Gaelic at the Gaelic College in St. Ann's, Cape Breton.
Canada's first Gaelic film, The Wake of Calum MacLeod, had its debut in Europe when it was screened at the prestigious Inverness film festival in Scotland during November of 2007. AGA President Angus MacLeod played the role of Calum MacLeod in the film, and AGA student Nona MacDermid was the film producer. In February, 2008, the film was nominated for a Genie award, in the short film category. Angus is seen introducing the film to our group. We enjoyed the surprise ending.
A milling frolic or "waulking" is a Gaelic song session in which singers sit around a table and beat a large loop of woolen cloth in rhythm with the song. Scottish settlers once sang milling songs to keep a steady pace as they shrank and softened newly-woven cloth by pounding, or "drubbing" it on the table. Milling songs are unique to Gaelic Scotland and Cape Breton, and are characterized by a refrain, followed by verses of single lines or couplets. As the cloth is beat to the song's rhythm, the verses are given by a lead singer. Milling frolics are now held as cultural reenactments. Our session was led by Angus MacLeod.
to see a brief movie of Clan Ross at the milling frolic.
Exhibits at the Hall of the Clans
There is virtually too much to cover at the college. Thus, we have merely sampled what was to be seen.
Glenville: Glenora Pub and Distillery
Glenora Distillery Tour
Glenville is located north of Mabou on the road to Inverness on the west coast of Cape Breton. The distillery operates in the cooler weather of the fall when the yeast performs best. If you have visited one distillery, you have virtually seen them all. They sell a 10-year-old Scotch. In our tasting session, I would have to say that their product was sharp and burning to the tongue, without a peaty taste and definitely not smooth. It reminded me of the "white lightning" I tasted in China.
Lunch in the Pub
A few persons elected to have a soup, sandwich or salad and a dessert with coffee after a beer or two before returning to Iona.
Iona: Haggis and a Ceilidh
to see a brief movie of Ian's Address to the Haggis
taken by Andy.
Andy also provided the photos from the ceilidh which followed later at the Highland Heights Inn.
to see a brief movie of the Saturday ceilidh taken by Andy.