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Monday, 31 July 2017

A heritage minute

We told them the music would be loud but when the girls saw a video of the show, they wanted to attend. The show, Highland Storm, is a production of the College of Piping and Celtic Performing Arts of Canada located in Summerside, Prince Edward Island. I accompanied the girls, our granddaughters, ages four and six, to see the production.


Sylvie and Caitlin were interested in the step and highland dancing in the show, as they attend other dance classes which they enjoy. Both girls love to perform. Six year old Sylvie, who lives to dance, wants to expand her repertoire. I was interested in exposing the girls to a part of their family heritage.


My paternal mother’s family came to Newfoundland from Nova scotia via Scotland. The family name was Stewart and my great great grandfather’s given name was Alexander, born is Scotland in 1799. That’s all I know of him. He had three children in the 1860s with Helen, who was from Prince Edward Island and that’s what I know of her. He was much older than Helen obviously. What was his story? What was Helen’s? So many questions are unanswered about these two.


On the drive to the show, I talked with the girls about Alexander and Helen, my 2x grandparents and the Scottish and island connection. In spite of their young ages, they understand the concept of great great grandparents since their 2x great grandmother on their father’s maternal side, is still alive in England. I explained how the bagpipes, the other instruments, the dancing and singing were part of their Scottish heritage. They were excited!


We arrived early for a seat up front. The venue this year is a tent on the parking lot as a new auditorium is under construction. All the chairs are at floor level. While not directly in front of the stage, our front row side seats were perfect. The girls used the books and coloured pencils I had with me to pass the time while we waited.


When the show started, they didn’t move. The music was professionally done and the dancing by the young women was flawless. 




While the drone of the bagpipes wasn’t their favourite sound, they didn’t complain about it or the noise. They enjoyed the drumming, fiddle and harp sounds and the sword dancing was a favourite. The girls loved the costumes and clothes from the kilts to the numerous costume changes of the young dancers. 




Both girls now wonder when they will be able to take classes at the college. 


Sat with my two grandchildren, it was emotional for me to experience the sights and sounds of my mysterious Scottish ancestor, their 4x great grandfather. Some of the songs, sung is Gaelic, were haunting, as if to speak of a lost heritage. The sounds of the bagpipes could be joyful, as to celebrate our lineage or mournful about the lost information. It all touched my soul.


Every year, we three will go again to connect with our Scottish heritage. And if the girls have their way, one day they will be on stage there too.


P.S. Since I couldn’t manage the girls and my regular camera, the photos were taken using an Iphone in low light.

24 comments:

  1. You captured the feelings and excitement very well. And your cellphone camera did just fine too! Love the story and hope to hear more about the girls' quest to become dancers. :-)

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    1. It was a great experience, Jan. We all loved it.

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  2. What a grand experience for all of you.

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  3. sounds and looks like a wonderful experience!! i enjoyed seeing the pictures - pictures are never allowed at the shows i attend!!!

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    1. This is the only place we go where pictures are allowed, Debbie.

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  4. Your pictures turned out great. How exciting to share this with your grandgirls and they loved it. My side of the family has ancestors from Scotland as well, Andrews and Ross. My boys teased me about being proud of it but when the youngest married he wanted to do it in a kilt. I'm still the only one who likes bagpipes though. :-)

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    1. The bagpipes have grown on me, Celia. There is something primal about that sound as I hear it.

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  5. John by Stargoose and Hanglands said:

    With a name like Alexander Stewart he couldn't be anything else but Scottish! My Aunt married into the MacNeils of Cape Breton Island, who originally came from the Isle of Barra, and it seems that there are as many pipers, fiddlers and sword dancers in Canada as there are in Scotland itself. Lets hope your grandchildren will continue the long tradition.

    I am having trouble posting comments again. You can find John's blog at

    stargoose@hotmail.co.uk

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    1. Sorry I couldn't publish your comment, John. I had to copy and paste.

      PEI has the most Scottish descendants, ouside Scotland, of anywhere in the world. More than Nova Scotia.

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  6. It sounds like a wonderful, wonderful outing. For you all.
    Bagpipe music always brings tears to my eyes. I have no idea why, but it does. Regardless of what they are playing.

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    1. Bagpipes can produce a haunting sound, EC.

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  7. This must have been incredibly fun for all of you. My mom takes my niece to a similar thing every year.

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  8. What a great experience for you and your granddaughters, it's priceless. Nice photos of the performance too.

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    1. Sharing the occasion with the girls was special, Bill.

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  9. Have you any Scottish ancestry, AC?

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  10. Sounds wonderful! I love the bagpipes!

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    1. I have grown to love them too, FG.

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  11. You just can't help tapping your feet to Scottish music Marie, I do love the bagpipes, but then I am a Scot, I have heard them described not quite so kindly ☺ So good that your granddaughters enjoyed the dancing, look forward to seeing them do the Highland Fling ☺

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  12. If the six year old gets a chance, she'll take lessons this year, PDP.

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  13. The photos are a lovely gift for us with any tool.

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