Montreal Herald, 31 October 1863, page 2
This annual celebration of this time honored Scottish festival came off last night at the Crystal Palace, under the auspices of the Caledonian Society. The immense building was brilliantly illuminated; the seats around the nave of the palace were filled, while the galleries presented double and tripple [sic] ranks of spectators along the railings. The walls were decorated with the banners of many of the benevolent societies of our city and with mottoes appropriate to the occasion. In front of the first gallery in large letters were inscribed the words “Remember the Poor;” to the right, “Afflictions are brothers in distress”. “A brother to relieve how exquisite the bliss.” And to the left the well know quotation from Burns:
“The rank is but the guinea’s stamp,
The man’s the gowd for a’ that.”
The dais, which occupied the north end of the transept was also decorated in a tasteful manner; while suspended over it, on the wall behind, were the banners of the Caledonian, St Andrew’s and Thistle Societies. The chair was occupied by Mr. AA Stevenson, President of the Caledonian Society, supported by the Hon TD McGee and the Hon Jas Ferrier, President of the St Andrew’s Society. Among those occupying the dais were observed, JJ Day, Esq., President of the St George’s Society, Mr. McKenna, President of the ST Patrick’s Society, Mr. McIntyre, President of the Thistle Society; Mr. Nelson, President of the New England Society; Mr. R Holland, President of the Irish Protestant Benevolent Society; Mr. G Romer, President of the German Society; Mr. T Sellar, 1st Vice President of the Caledonian Society Marcus Doherty, Esq., Vice President of St Patrick’s Society; Rev Mr. Snodgrass, Rev Mr. Fraser, and several other gentlemen and a number of ladies.
The great interest felt in the novel features of the evening—namely, the humorous games practiced at this period in Scotland in old times was quite evident; while the ‘worthy objects in aid of which the festival was held, contributed to bring together an audience not frequently seen on similar occasions in Montreal: The general satisfaction of the spectators with the varied and interesting entertainments offered them, was expressed in eloquent bursts of applause and ~~~~~ of several of the vocalists. The entertainments commenced with an overture from Norma, by the fine band of the Royal Artillery.
The Chairman Mr. Stevenson inaugurated the proceedings of the evening by making the usual address peculiar to such occasions. He said that on occasions like this it was the custom for the presiding Officer to deliver an address and that it now became his duty to follow that precedent. He would confine his remarks to a very small compass, and to two subjects; the object of the Society and the object of the present festival. The society had been organized eight years ago by Scotchmen who were anxious among other things to cultivate a taste for Scottish history and song, and to preserve a love for the customs of Scotland. The success of the society had been signed and it now numbered about 400 members. The annual gathering in August have been well attended. The necessity for a charitable fund had been much felt, and it was determined that all surplus funds should be devoted to charitable purposes. Last year the proceeds of the Halloween festival were appropriated to the relief of the suffering British operatives. The objects to which the proceeds of the present festival were to be devoted were worthy of all that could be bestowed—the Ladies Benevolent Society and the St Andrew’s Home. Several new features in the way of amusements ~~~ present in the revival of the favorite Halloween customs of Scotland, while the more refined tastes were also gratified by the charms of music and oratory.
Mr. Stevenson concluded his address, which was well received by the audience, by introducing Mr. DD Griswold from New York, who sang the pleasant Scottish ballad “What’s a’ the Steer Kimmer,” with great spirit and delicacy. Madame Mozart from the New York Academy of music, next sang “within a mile of Edinboro Town,” and was encored when she sang “Comin’ thro’ the Rye.”
A number of selections from Highland music were performed by the Pipers of the Scots Fusilier guards. Mrs. Clarke next sang “Down by the river side” in exquisite style, and was encored. The Glee Club of the Fusilier Guards followed with the rollicking song the “Shepherd’s Joy,” which was greatly applauded and was repeated.
The Hon. Jas Ferrier was now introduced by the Chairman; he said he was merely filling a gap caused by the absence of the Hon John A Macdonald. Mr. Ferrier paid a tribute to the energy and spirit of the Chairman as President of the Caledonian Society. He said the time had been when the Society represented by himself thought they could not celebrate St Andrew’s Day without a dinner, which usually cost more than the proceeds of the dinner, and left nothing but the head-ache behind it. It was urged that the National Societies tended to destroy the harmony that should exist in a community such as ours by fostering the prejudices and peculiarities of different nations. He did not believe it. They had the effect of holding more closely together, Scotchmen and others. He was a Scotchman and his heart warmed to a Scotchman, but that did not prevent him from loving Canada. Although persons of different nationalities might join in singing their own national anthems, it was clear that in Canada that should not prove a bar to their joining in “God Save the Queen.” (Applause)
Mr. Ferrier’s address was followed by several additional songs and pieces of instrumental music, then the novel features of the evening transpired, in the form of “Doukin for Aiples,” “Snap Aiple” as they were quaintly expressed on the programme. This was emphatically where the “laugh came in,” and having been disposed of the chairman introduced
Mr. McGee, whose remarks at the commencement of his address, our reporter could not catch from his unfavorable position in relation to the speaker. Mr. McGee approved of the awakening of early recollections and the renewal of youth peculiar to Halloween. Canada was remarkable for many things as gold at the Chaudiele, and other mineral features, but most remarkable for the irrepressible gaiety of her French population. He saw no reason why Irishmen and Scotchmen could not be as gay. He felt convinced there were unwrought mines of cordiality and brotherhood in the mixed masses of our community, that would cement them into one people. He then reviewed the progress and operations of the Caledonian Society, expressing surprise that, with the many advantages enjoyed by membership in this society, any young Scotchman in Montreal should not be a member. Montreal he said was rapidly becoming a large city, but she would not be remembered in future ages, so much on account of the space she occupied and the magnificence of her edifices, as by the intellectual marks she should make. He did not like large cities. He preferred the gods of Greece, because they were more nearly human, to the gigantic deities of Assyria, 40 ~~~~~. This city had about 120 000 inhabitants and would soon have her opera house and others of the requirements of large cities. He could not avoid contrasting the present scene and place with the description of the locality of Robert Burns’ Halloween of one hundred years ago. The scene was one of peasant festivity, seen by us now through the prism of the Poet’s fancy; while we are assembled in great numbers in an immense edifice. We may not regret the loss of some of the customs of Scotland; for in Canada we confine warm Scottish hearts as merry as those celebrated by the Bard of Ayr.
Mr. McGee then read the following original lines written by himself on
HALLOWEEN IN CANADA, 1863
The bard who sleeps in Dumfries clay,
Were ha bat to fore to-day,
What think you, would be sing or say,
Of our new found Canadian way,
Of keeping Halloween!
Ah, did we hear, upon the stair
The ploughman tread that shook Lord Dair
The President would yield his chair
And humour over—member—mayor
The bard of Halloween
Methinks I catch them ringing clear
The accounts that know never fear
Saying, “I joy to see you here
“And still to Scottish hearts be dear
The rites of Halloween
Whenever they meet, on any shore,
Whatever sky may arch them over
Still they honor, more and more
The names their fearless fathers bore
And like them—Halloween.
I care not for the outward forts
‘Tis in the hearts core true and warm
Abides the glow that mocks the storm
And so—God guard us a’ from harm
Till next year’s Halloween.