Montreal Daily Star, 16 August 1895, page 6

Caledonian Convention

The sessions opened here this morning.

The work of the North American United Caledonian Association reviewed by the President and Secretary in their reports.

Auld Scotia was very much in evidence at the long room of the Mechanic’s Institute, when the twenty-sixth annual convention of the North American United Caledonian Association was opened this morning.

The president, Mr. William Leitch of Philadelphia, occupied the chair, and beside him sat Mr. Peter Kinnear, first vice-president; Mr. William Simpson, second vice-president, and Mr. Peter Ross, secretary.

Mr. James Wright, as president of the Montreal Caledonian Society, extended a cordial welcome to the delegates, and trusted that they would feel at home among their brother Scots in Montreal. 

The president briefly returned thanks for the heart welcome which had been extended to them.

Messrs. Wm Rutherford, James Moir and AR Macdonald were appointed a committee on Credentials, who subsequently reported the following delegates present: James Wright, Wm Rutherford, Alex Murray, Wm Seath, David Guthrie, Duncan Stewart, James Moffat, Ebenezer Bain, RW Hannah, James Currie, Robert Reid, John Macfarlane, JCS Bennett, SC Stevenson, Lt-Col Stevenson, JM Campbell, JF Mitchell and RA Aitken, Montreal; Malcolm Henry, Wm Leitch, Jas Irvine, Thos Mills, Jas Leslie and Geo Goodfellow, Philadelphia; James Lawrence,  Paterson, Peter McLelian, Providence; John Joiner, Menomene, Wis.; AC Hutchinson, Salt Lake City; Nathan Ross, Chas Aitken and Wm Patterson, Wilkesbarre, PA; Richard Smith, CM Gregg, John Picken, Robert Gould, RP Fairbairn, Milwaukee; Allan H Dougall, Fort Wayne; D Walker, Wm Simpson, Robt Swan, DM Robertson, Wm Campbell, JW Gray, Wm Sharp, Robt Aitken, James McIntosh and JB Harris, Toronto, Ont.; JY Henderson, Pittson; Peter Ross and John Allan, Newark; James Moir, Scranton; Peter Kinnear and Allan R Macdonald, Albany; Peter Ross, New York; Peter McEwan, Chicago; John Mathieson, West Elgin.

The president in delivering his annual address said: “Gentlemen, Delegates to the North American United Caledonian Association, as your presiding officer I have great pleasure in bidding you one and all a hearty welcome to this our 28th annual convention, met as we are, in this beautiful and historic city of Montreal.  When I look around and remember what distances you have travelled, some of you hundreds of miles, and how you have sacrificed your business interests to come here, I ask myself this pertinent question: What spirit has moved you so to do?  And the only sufficient answer immediately suggested to me, is love of country.  We honor ourselves by recalling all that is good and great in the history of our native land, by our appreciation of her noble heroes, and her men of genius, not only of the past, but also of the present.  We rejoice in the fact that she is not left behind in the race, but is even now forging to the front.

Since our last meeting the hand of death has been amongst us and has laid low two of our former presiding officers, the Honorable T Waddell, of Pittson, president for 1879, and St Laurie, of Auburn, president for 1878.  of the Hon. Thos Waddell, nothing but good can be said.  His commercial virtues were of the highest order, and he was honored by being sent to the Legislature to represent the community of which he was a part.  As to Samuel Laurie, we have the most kindly remembrances of him meeting him year after year, attending to the work of these conventions.  The loss of these past-presidents is a subject of regret to us all.

The number of the clubs and societies represented in our association is not so great as it was, some dropping off, and this may be owing to the supposition that the work for which the association was called into existence has been accomplished, namely the framing of rules to regulate competitions in outdoor sports.  It is a subject of congratulation that the Code of Rules thus far formed, has been adopted in all parts of the United States and Canada, where outdoor sports are held.  It was suggested some years ago that our association and other Scotch societies, combine, and I think there is one thing in which they would be glad to co-operate with us, namely in keeping one day in the year as Scotland’s day, and that has been arranged as the 15th day of August—the birthday of Sir Walter Scott.

I would recommend that means be taken to acquaint Scotch societies with the idea of embracing along with us the above day as Scotland’s day, and I think the Scotch American newspapers would, if properly approached, be very helpful in forwarding this object.  It is a coincidence that the great novelist’s name was Scott, for he was, without doubt the most thorough Scotchman of the past, so in honoring Sir Walter by celebrating his birthday, it would be Scott’s day as well as Scotland’s day, and a day for the Scots.

Alluding to the re-establishment of Olympian games, he said: suppose their re-establishment an accomplished fact, imagine how many new agencies and activities would get going; from all the great city newspaper offices reporters would be sent by sea and land, telegraph operators would be kept busy day and night, not to speak of the compositors and pressmen, in order that the results of each day’s competitions might appear in the column devoted to sporting news in the daily papers, for the gratification of the curiosity of millions of readers, all over the civilized world.  The glory of the champion would necessarily be of a different character under the changed conditions of the nineteenth century, the crown of olive—the triumphal entry and procession through the native city of the successful competitor, and an honorable public position given to him for life, would likely be swept away and a percentage of the gate receipts would be given instead.  The majority of the great champion athletes of the world are professionals, and if our respective clubs have contributed any such, we are proud of them, and are interested in all their victories, as we ought to be.

There is a question arising in my mind right here.  It is not possible, with out earliest endeavors to make our annual games a pecuniary success, to lay too much stress on the procuring of champions as competitors, that we may throw too far into the shade the regular members of our clubs and their sons, who would compete as amateurs?  I think it is our duty as far as practicable, to give encouragement to the amateur element.

Of Scottish literature, he said: Look at the shelves and see for yourselves  a few of the authors of this present generation.  George Macdonald, with his fine array of volumes of the best literature, which it would take you years to read.  William Black with his long list of delightful novels.  The late Robert Louis Stevenson, with his marvelous stories.  JM Barrie, with his story of the Little Minister, which is thought by some to be the best novel of recent date, then there is his “Auld Licht Idylls” and his “Window in Thrums,” which is a universal favorite, and as a bit of word painting of the Scotch character unsurpassed in literature.  Then there is Crockett, with his story of the Raiders, et,. And Ian MacLaren, with his bewitching word-painting in his stories told “Beside the Bonnie Brier Bush.”  Such authors most of them very prolific show that the Scotch fire of genius is still aglow, and what Scot is there whose heart is said to warm to the tartan, who would not feel a kindling fire of enthusiasm and appreciation in his own breast, when he reads the above masterpieces of literature, produced by his brither Scot, and each of you doubtless has in your clubs, men of genius, productive in literature.  I can mention in our Philadelphia club the name of James D Daw, author of Dreams of Hame and other poems, which have been highly commended both in this country and in Scotland.  And not to go out of the bounds of this convention we have here with us today, as our worthy Secretary, Peter Ross, an author to be proud of, who has published several works, one on “Scotland and the Scots,” another on “Saint Andrew” and yet another just from the press, on “Masonry.”  And now, remembering the motto of the ancients, who instituted games of endeavoring to have a ‘sound mind in sound body,” let us, in additions to the keeping up of the practice of athletics in our respective districts, continue to cultivate literature by at least upholding the character of our literary meetings, where we can refresh our verse from the best authors of our dear old native land.

“And now, in conclusion, in order to create an interest in Highland dancing, and to awaken a feeling of pride for proficiency therein, have taken the liberty to present to the Association a silver cup, to be competed for under certain conditions which will be read to you by the secretary.

“It gives me pleasure also to mention the action of the Albany Club, which has so kindly donated a cup for competition as to Highland dress.

“The association is now in possession of three cups, which I hope, will stimulate competition, so that each competitor will do his utmost to excel his neighbor, thereby taxing the judges’ ability to decide who is justly entitled to the honor of having their names inscribed on the cups as champions for the year.”

The Secretary, Mr. Peter Ross, in presenting his annual report, called attention to the movement for erecting statues to Robert Burns, now going on in several cities, notably Toronto and Chicago.  These movements have all underneath them the very essence of the spirit of Scottish nationality and while the Association was not asked directly or indirectly to contribute to any of them, it was felt that it might at least formally express its pleasure in them and wish them all God speed.  The Paterson Club recommend the holding of memorial services on the Sabbath nearest to the centennial of the death of Burns.  Very few of the games held under the auspices of the affiliated societies had been financially successful during the past year.  One club which used to regularly clear at least $1500 had a surplus of $34 while many others reported balances on the wrong side of the ledger.

He hoped that ere long they would have special prizes for most of the sports enumerated on the rules an done grand trophy to be held by the champion athlete for each year.  He would also like to see a trophy as a prize for the ancient game of curling.  It had also been suggested that this Association might take the initiative in bringing out next season three or four of the best athletes in Scotland, and he was convinced that four champion athletes just from the heather and ready to meet the best performers in their line in Canada would be an attraction that would do much to insure a successful season all round.

Both the president’s address and the secretary’s report were referred to the Committee on Resolutions.

Mr. Peter Kinnear, on behalf of the Albany club, presented to the association a handsome silver pitcher and cup for a Highland costume competition, and Mr. W Leitch presented a beautiful silver loving cup as a prize trophy for dancing.  These trophies will be the property of the winner for three years in succession.

Mr. William Simpson suggested that prizes might be offered for Scottish song or Scottish literary work, and not confine themselves to athletics, and Mr. William Seath related how the Montreal Caledonian Society, which now numbered 850 members, had increased the interest by lectures by prominent men and social gatherings.  Messrs. Bain, Rutherford and others confirmed the success of these gatherings as well as the society’s choir.

The delegates will leave the Grand Trunk Station at five o’clock this afternoon for Lachine, where they will board a steamer Sovereign for a trip down the Lachine Rapids.  A banquet will afterwards be given on board the steamer Three Rivers, which will leave the Jacques Cartier wharf at 7:30.  Tomorrow morning the visitors will be driven around the city and to Mount Royal Park.  The annual games will be held on the Exhibition Grounds tomorrow afternoon.

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