2018 Canada Trip travel blog

John in full regalia

Milling frolic

Fiddling around

Today we had beautiful weather to start our day. Hopefully it will be the same tomorrow when we travel the Cabot Trail. Breakfast was at 8:00, and it was "plated" as Kim described it. What it means is no buffet breakfast, but you order from a select menu. Jean & I both ordered the blueberry pancakes. The amount of blueberries on the pancakes was phenomenal. We ate breakfast with Don & Linda. We talked about movies, our movie nights double features, and his career as a madman in NYC.

We departed on the coach at 9:30 for our short ride to The Gaelic College. The college was founded in 1938, with its focus on preserving Highland Scottish Gaelic culture. Their mission statement is: "To promote, preserve and perpetuate through studies in all related areas: the culture, music, language, arts, crafts, customs and traditions of immigrants from the Highlands of Scotland." By the way, did you know that May is Gaelic Awareness Month?

Upon our arrival, we were greeted on the coach by Gail. She divided us into two groups, the Montgomery clan and the MacDonald clan. We were in the Montgomery clan and went to see a film entitled "The Wake of Calun Macleod." The entire film was in Scottish gaelic with English subtitles. It was a humorous short about storytelling.

We then switched with the MacDonald clan and walked around the exhibits about the history of arriving and living in Nova Scotia, tartans, clan/family names, etc. The demonstrations began at 10:30, so both clans grabbed seats facing the stage. The first demonstration was about men's kilts. We were shown how they are made today by Jeanie, who is a kilt maker. She then talked about the accessories one uses with a kilt, such as the belt, sporran and kilt socks. She proceeded to describe how you would dress in a kilt for golfing, hiking, a business meeting, and a formal affair.

Then she asked for a volunteer and John Mathers came up. Jeanie showed how in the old days, unlike today when you buy a finished kilt, a man would have a 6 foot piece of tartan cloth and in the morning would stretch the cloth out and fold the cloth to make the pleats. Then he would lie down on it and fold it around himself. So, while she was talking, Brittany who was assisting her, was making the folds.

Then they had John in his long pants, roll his pant legs up and lay down while they wrapped the tartan around him. Then the belt, sporran, a tam, sword and shield for the classic Scotsman were added. With his beard and height, John really looked the part.

We then got up and went to the other end of the auditorium to face a table, or sit at the table. Now we were going to hear about the Scottish Gaelic language and learn about a Gaelic milling frolic. Jeanie was fluent in Scottish Gaelic because she had taken the language in addition to English and French from grades 4 to 12. Plus, she has tutored with a now 83 year-old woman who was fluent in the dialect of her grandfather. So, she taught us how to greet each other and a milling song

Then, those at the table had some wool in front of them. After wool cloth is woven on a loom, it is necessary to shrink the cloth in order to make it warmer and more watertight. To do this they would get together and work through the night, making it a social event with singing and probably drinking. They would trade off throughout the night. So the people at the table began rubbing the cloth over the table, singing the milling song which Jeanie taught us.

Next, we returned to the other end of the auditorium to learn about Gaelic music. This was done by Rodney MacDonald, the CEO of the college. (Later we learned that he had been the 26th Premier of Nova Scotia.) He talked about the various instruments used, fiddle & piano, and demonstrated on his fiddle a march, reel and jig. Then he demonstrated the dance steps. He had a 20 year-old come in and dance for us on the stage as he played on the floor in front of the stage.

We then went over to the cafeteria for our lunch which was a chicken Alfredo over penne and a drink of coffee, lemonade or water, plus a strawberry cheese tart for dessert. We did this meal cafeteria style moving our tray along, and at the end of our meal, we bused our trays back to the washroom. While we were eating, Jeanie sang a couple of Gaelic songs, then Jeanie's husband played a couple of pieces on the piano. Then Rodney on the fiddle with his wife, Ann, on the piano, played a couple of pieces. The last number was Ann dancing while Rodney played his fiddle and Jeanie's husband played piano. (How would you like a job where you're just fiddlin' around?) We toured the gift shop before hopping the coach and returning to the hotel.

Jean and I walked down into the town of Baddock to visit the gift shops. We stopped at the Co-op to purchase items for our dinner. We then walked back to the hotel. While others are taking a boat ride this evening, we were just relaxing, reading and eating supper in the room.

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