Tartan Ted begins his Canadian adventure!

#tartantedcanada @scotlandshop

Hello everyone! My name is Tartan Ted and I’ve recently arrived from Scotland to begin my Canadian journey. My kind family at the Scotland Shop have sent me on this grand adventure and my first host family are the MacAulays. I’m excited that I’m starting on the west coast and hope to be able to visit Central and Eastern Canada as well! My goal is to reach the Fergus Games in Ontario in August. Victoria is certainly beautiful and I can’t wait to see more of Canada!

For my journey I’m attired (head to toe) in Canada’s maple leaf tartan, their national symbol. David Weiser’s design reflects “the colours of the maple leaf as it changes through the seasons—green in the spring, gold in the early autumn, red at the first frost, and brown after falling”.

I arrived safely in Victoria, British Columbia on Friday and the kind people at the @BestWestern Carlton Plaza kept me well fed and warm until my host Joan arrived Saturday morning.

My first full day in Victoria was a busy one! I was very warmly welcomed and met loads of people before the start of the Victoria Highland Games Tartan Parade. I even got to hang out with some wee Scottie dogs. They were very friendly.

Did you know that this will be the 156th annual Victoria Highland Games & Celtic Festival? This is one of the oldest festivals in North America and one of the very few 3 full-day Highland Games. The festival regularly attracts around 25,000 people to the Topaz Park events each year. Events run for 10 days, starting with the Tartan Parade. Events end on Victoria Day, a day that Canadians mark as (hopefully) the beginning of summer and to honour Queen Victoria’s birthday. Here in Victoria they have a huge parade. Interestingly, Victoria Day is only celebrated in Canada and Scotland.

Leading the parade from Centennial Park down Government Street were the massed bands, some of the VHG heavy games competitors carrying the caber and, of course, the Clans. There were so many people smiling, waving, taking pictures and video and following us to the British Columbia legislature buildings (they’re spectacular!).

VHG Vice-President Randy Stewart welcomed everyone and the clans and I were on the steps in front of the leg (as the Canadians call it) looking out over the sizeable crowd. Apparently it’s always a pleasant surprise for the many tourists that visit Victoria to see a parade led by the pipes and drums! There was a highland dance demonstration (the wee ones were adorable!), the massed bands played Amazing Grace (always a crowd favourite) and there was a demonstration of the caber toss (fab throws)!

It’s tradition after the Parade to retire to the Bard and Banker. It’s a well-known and stunningly beautiful pub, so named because it was a bank for 126 years! It’s most famous employee was Robert Service, Canada’s Bard of the Yukon. You may have read The Cremation of Sam McGeeThe Shooting of Dan McGrew or Songs of a Sourdough, poems beloved by Canadians and beyond. Anyway, you get it … the Bard and Banker.

The food was great and I had so much fun getting to know my new friends. And it was such beautiful weather that after lunch we retired to a back deck to continue visiting. Canadians are extremely friendly and I was held, hugged and snuggled by Clans folk, heavy games competitors and members of the VHG executive. I even had a wee nap in the arms of VHG President Jim! So kind!

My first full day in Canada was brilliant and I had so much fun. Which means it’s nap time again … still a wee bit jet lagged and I need to be in fine form for the Highland Games this weekend.

Until my next post, yours from beautiful Victoria.

Slàinte mhath, Ted

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