Montreal Gazette, 1 November 1869, page 2
The Caledonian Society’s Festival was as great a success this Halloween as on any previous occasion. The Theatre Royal was crowded, and not one in that large and fashionable audience could have regretted the manner in which the evening was passed. The programme was of choice variety, and was so excellently rendered that it would be difficult to say which excelled. The applause was enthusiastic and frequent, but always deservedly so.
“Hail to the Chief”, by the piper, announced the entrance of the President and guests. Mr D Rose, the President of the Society, ably fulfilled the duties of chairman. Among the guests were Andrew Robertson, ESq, President of the St Andrew’s Society; FB McNamee, Esq, President of the St Patrick’s Society; MP Ryan, MP; E Cartier, QC, MPPl AW Ogilvie, MPP; AA Stevenson, Esq; A McGibbon, Esq, and others, and several ladies.
The Band of the PCO Rifles played an overture.
The President’s Address
The President then said:–
Ladies and Gentlemen- I feel great pleasure in welcoming the friends of the Caledonian Society to our annual Festival. As years roll round, and we pass from boyhood to manhood, and manhood to old age, with all the cares and troubles of life pressing upon us, yet the days of our boyhood come back, reminding us of the pleasant memories of lang syne, as each succeeding Halloween comes round, and although we do not now “Burn our mite and hand our Halloween fou’ blithe” as in the days gone by, yet the Caledonian Society trusts, that by their annual Festival on this evening, they help to keep green in the memories of many here those enchanting scenes of youth, and by meeting together one night in the year to help to strengthen the cords that bind the hearts of Scotchmen to their native land.
It is a source of great satisfaction to the members of the Society to find that their efforts in affording instruction and amusement are so well appreciated by the citizens of Montreal, if we are allowed to judge from our celebrations.
It is now fourteen years since the Caledonian Society was instituted, having for its object the encouragement and practice of Scottish games; the cultivation of a taste for Scottish history, poetry and song, and to unite more closely Scotchmen and those of Scottish descent, and although many other Societies have sprung into existence and copied in many particulars its manner of getting up Gatherings and Concerts, yet during all those years the citizens have so well appreciated the efforts of this Society that not a single Gathering or Festival has proved a failure either in attendance or financially.
The Society during the past year has increased its membership, and the last Gathering has been the most successful ever held since its formation. I may here mention that two of our members went “o’er the border” to compete at the Gathering of the New York Caledonian Club, and carried off between them no less than twenty-one of their principal prizes, thus reminding our American friends that the “men of the north” are still able to compete successfully with their southern friends.
The Society intends applying at the first session of the Provincial Parliament for an Act of Incorporation, so that they may be enabled to purchase sufficient land in their corporate capacity for holding their annual Gathering. As this marks a very important era in the history of the Society, I would appeal to the young Scotchmen of Montreal, who have not yet joined, to come forward at once and get themselves enrolled as members, and help to swell the ranks until it shall embrace all the Scotchmen of Montreal.
A new feature has been introduced into the programme this year in the shape of a Canadian Patriotic Song: Coming as we do from the land of song, the Committee could not help observing the scarcity of Canadian lyric poetry, and in order to encourage our poets and musicians to direct their attention to this subject, instead of the usual Halloween poem, they determined to offer a prize of fifty dollars for the best Canadian Patriotic Song set to music. In response to our advertisement forty-nine songs have been received, sixteen set to music. These were referred to a Committee of three gentlemen to adjudicate on their literary merits. The Committee’s reports will be read this evening. The song will be read by Professor Andrews and sung by Mrs Weston.
The committee feel confident that the Programme that has been prepared for this evening’s entertainment will meet your hearty approbation. It is useless for me to say anything in regard to this talents of such a distinguished artiste as Mrs Weston, as she is well known to the citizens of Montreal by her recent visit, having captivated the hearts of all those who heard her on that occasion. As this is the first appearance of Mrs Kedelle before a Montreal audience, I must congratulate those present on the rich treat that is in store, and have every confidence that the high estimation she is held in by her friends will be fully endorsed to you. In regard to the gentlemen that are to take part in the evening’s entertainment it is not necessary for me to refer to them as they are so well known and highly appreciated in this City.
Prof Andrews read the following award and the prize poem, in the second part of the programme:
Montreal, 29th October 1869
Dear Sir—In accordance with the request of the “Caledonian Society” we have examined a number of poems received in competition for a prize of fifty dollars. [Illegible] to our judgement, and after a careful perusal of them, we are unanimously of opinion that the poem with the motto of “Mad do it” is entitled to the premium.
In making this award, we are reluctantly compelled to add that the rival rhymes of this year are far inferior in merit to the Halloween verses of former occasions. Many of the forty-nine songs, though apparently designed for [illegible] competitions, are in reality little better than unsuccessful burlesques, and had a second prize been offered, as in previous years, it would have been difficult to select a poem worthy of the honour. We can hardly account for those facts, except on the supposition that the poetical genius of many of the competitors has displayed itself hitherto only in the expression of the Scottish dialect. The use of this was necessarily interdicted in the production of a purely Canadian lyric.
We have the honour to remain, dear Sir,
John Jenkins, DD
A de Sola, LL D
Geo Murray BA, Oxon
To JT Henderson, Esq, Secretary of the Caledonian Society
Let other tongues, in older lands
Loud vaunt their claimants to glory,
And chant, in triumph, of the past,
Content to live in story;
Though boasting no baronial halls,
Nor ivy-created bowers,
What past can match thy glorious youth,
Fair Canada of ours?
We love those far-off ocean isles,
Where Britain’s monarch reigns,
We’ll never forget the good old blood,
That courses through our veins,
Proud Scotia’s fame, old Erin’s name,
And haughty Albion’s powers,
Reflect their matchless lustre on
This Canada of ours!
Long may our country flourish, then,
A goodly land and free!
Where Celt and Saxon, hand in hand,
Hold sway from sea to sea,
Strong hearts shall guard our cherished home
When danger darkly lowers,
And with our life-blood we’ll defend
This Canada of ours!
Mrs John F Kedelle, late of Edinburgh, made her first appearance in Montreal,, and was warmly received. She sang the “Piper o’ Dundee” with great effect, and was encored and gave another Scottish song. She also sung “Within a mile o’ Edinburgh town,” “Logie o’ Buchan,” and “Bonnie Dundee.” Mrs Keddelle has a pleasing voice, and one that is very effective in Scottish ballads.
Mrs Weston was warmly welcomed. She sang the grand aria “Cape Fatal” and received as much applause as when she first appeared before a Montreal audience with the celebrated Boston Quintette Club. An enthusiastic encore was gracefully answered by “the Merry Sunshine.” Mrs Weston also sang “Waiting” and the “Star of Glengarry,” being again encored.
After Prof Andrews read the poem it was sung by Mrs Weston, in a highly creditable manner, though she had first seen it Saturday morning.
Mr Lamothe is always popular and successful, and though he may never have worn kilts, his songs “Draw the Sword, Scotland” and “Scenes that are Brightest” were deservedly applauded.
However people may talk about “jokes” and “surgical operations” and so on, it was quite evident that the humorous and comical is no small element in Scottish character. Mr Hurst told the melancholy story of “the bashful young man,” exciting the laughter even to tears of sympathy of the audience, and then the pit would not allow him to hide his blushes behind the scenery till he had related in his own imitable style his experiences at “Mrs Jones’ evening party,” and how he was “dancing mad”. Then, as if that was not enough, Prof Andrews convulsed every one by recounting “Mansie Wauch’s first and last visit to the theatre.” The professor’s reading was so natural that it was perfectly irresistible and afforded great amusement.
The Band of the PCO Rifle Brigade, between the parts, played selections of Scotch, English and Irish airs. They were most delightful, and increased it if were possible, the highest opinion already entertained of the Band and the alacrity and carefulness of its conductor.
The Ghillie Callum was danced in full Highland Costume by Mr Nivin, and his Highland Fling were greatly admired and received encores.
Mr D Weir played the bagpipes very creditably.
Mr AJ Boucher presided at the piano with his usual skill.
The Festival Concluded with “Auld Lang Syne” in which all joined.