Click on the photo to obtain a larger version.
One of Andy's friends may send us an aerial photo of the Avenue of the Clans to include here. Wouldn't that be great!
Approaching the Avenue of the Clans from the Heavy Events field, the Clan Ross tent was located near the beginning. Our tent was visited by the Great-Great-Granddaughter of Sir George William Ross (1841-1914) during the afternoon. George W. Ross was Ontario Minister of Education in 1883, the Premier of Ontario (1899-1905) and named to the Federal Senate in 1907.
I was able to discuss the restoration of the McGregor-Ross mausoleum in the Pioneer Cemetery at Waterdown when the Gregor tent was visited. One of our five surviving branches descended from Alexander Ross and Margaret Noble is the Ferguson Branch, which we have tried involve in our recent annual family reunions. [Although their tents are not shown, I visited the Clan Fraser to see Neil & Marie Fraser, and I tried to find the Chieftain of the Fergus Scottish Festival at the Clan Cameron tent (but was surprised to catch Jeanine Macdonald Avigdor who is President of Clan Cameron of Canada as well as Secretary of our undergraduate class from Old Vic at the UofT).]
Our Ontario Commissioner showed up while the rest of us suffered through the Opening Ceremonies on the Main Field. The Clan Ross tent was virtually empty from 11:30 AM until almost 3:00 PM.
Helicopter views of the Main Field during the Opening Ceremonies of 2005 are courtesy of Richard Ross of Fergus, who has been a long time Fergus Volunteer. Andy Thibodeau received the photographs after the 2006 Fergus Scottish Festival and emailed them to Tom Hunter and myself. The aerial pictures clearly show the featured clans, Hunter and Stewart/Stuart, already lined up on the field while Clan Ross (near the end) is still entering.
My experience involving the Opening Ceremonies has almost convinced me to vote against having our clan participate in this event ever again . . . for the following reasons:
1. I had prepared some material about the festival for Alastair McIntyre, the Manager of the Electric Scotland website. He arrived on the site after 12:30 minus the "Press Kit" he had been promised by the festival officials.
2. Alastair took photographs of all of the clan tents and posted them at the Electric Scotland website
. The Fergus Scottish Festival missed an opportunity for some positive publicity. Electric Scotland is an award-winning site for all things Scottish.
3. We were unable to connect with Alastair for the remainder of the afternoon, and this was all the more frustrating because members at other clan tents assured us that he had spent some time chatting with them.
4. Members of Clan Ross at the tent were requested to line up at 11:30 AM and, when Ontario Commissioner Wendy Ross arrived, she was unaware of our whereabouts.
5. Events on the Main Field had not completed according to their schedule, so the Opening Ceremonies were delayed.
6. Clan Ross was among the final four clans to be ushered onto the Main Field. Only the Sinclair, Wallace and Young clans were behind us. As an honoured clan, the Stuart of Bute group were escorted to the head of the line at about 12:15 PM (much to their surprise). Some organization!
7. I noted that the Chairman of the Blairgowrie Twinning Committee, Philip Nappi, was not one of the honoured guests on stage. Since this is the 10th Anniversary of the twinning of Fergus, Ontario, and Blairgowrie, Scotland, I'd say that this was a shameful omission on the part of the planners.
8. Most speeches, except for those from the politicians, were reasonable in length. Unfortunately, there were comments that a few speakers could not be heard.
9. Since Clan Ross was also in the group of the final four clans to be ushered off the field, we were also the last to return to the Avenue of the Clans.
10. By the time we tried to get some lunch at 2:00 PM, the line-ups were horrendous. When we had stood for an hour to buy a peameal on a bun instead of spare ribs, the vendor had run out of peameal bacon. Our appetite for food of any sort was deadened.
11. When we arrived at the Clan Ross tent, our Ontario Commissioner was still exhausted by her trek across the festival site from the farthest parking lot. She was unaware that I had an arrangement to meet Alastair McIntyre, because she doesn't use email and nobody was around to suggest that visitors should leave a written note.
12. When we finally had time to enquire about visitors to the tent during our absence, Wendy recalled that some stranger had come by to take a photo of the empty
Ross Clan tent.
IMPORTANT: The opinions expressed above do not represent those of the Clan Ross Association of Canada. Hopefully, some of the concerns have already been addressed by the planning committee. To its credit, the Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games is a Patron of the Scottish Studies Society.
The Ontario Chapter of Clan Ross - Canada is looking for ways to attract people to the clan tent. I have made a suggestion to Alastair McIntyre, a Director of the Scottish Studies Society, which might attract children (and, therefore, adults) . . . if we can get some general support. The idea is similar to the Metro International Caravan Festival which (until 2005) held a week long June festival, except that the Scottish Festival "Passport Book" could receive a stamp of each clan badge. [The Caravan 'Passport’ and Caravan map helped a person ‘visit’ over thirty ethnic communities around Toronto by dropping into their community hall, church basement, club or pavilion.] This concept would be an easy way to reach the youngsters at a Scottish Festival and help to maintain the ties they have to their Scottish roots. It is also an idea which the Scottish Studies Society might organize with the clans, who would undoubtedly want to have their own rubber stamps and stamp pads at their tents. The Fergus Scottish Festival might be a good place to start.
Line-ups for the book signing event with Diana Gabaldon were shorter on Friday than on Saturday (when the line stretched the entire length of the Avenue of Clans). I couldn't miss a photo opportunity here on behalf of Our Great Clan Ross. Pat bought a copy of the author's most recent book, and had it autographed.
Canadian Scottish Historian, Lynn E. Boland Richardson, entertained her audience with tales about the times of Mary Queen of Scots.
Philip Nappi (Chairman of the Twinning Association of Blairgowrie since 1995) came all of the way from Blairgowrie, Scotland, to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Twinning of Fergus and Blairgowrie. If you ever visit Blairgowrie, you cannot help but notice a huge sign announcing that the town is twinned with FERGUS, ONTARIO. On a wee sign for the Fergus Rotary Club, by comparison, you may need a magnifying glass to discover that Fergus is twinned with Blairgowrie in Scotland as well as with Pleasanton in California. Although I did not meet Philip's counterpart, Don McAlpine of Fergus, I asked his wife Donna to pass along a message recalling our previous meeting, recorded at http://www.GreatClanRoss.org/tour~11.html
on the Clan Ross website after a tour with the Canadian Massed Pipes and Drums Band in 2001. Philip took a couple of the photographs.
For those, like myself, who may have wondered why the Scottish Author David R. Ross was absent from the Genealogy & Education Centre schedule at the Fergus Scottish Festival, I discovered that he would have been about half-way to London on his "Walk for Wallace" during the festival. The completion of David's tribute to Scotland's hero will occur on August 23, 2005, when he will be at Westminster Hall to complete the route through London that William Wallace was dragged to his death. For more information, visit http://www.walkforwallace.com/david.htm