By : Don Cummer
In spite of the global pandemic, the Great Canadian Kilt Skate is back for its eighth season of celebrating Scottish culture with bare knees and ice. And because of the global pandemic, it’s back bigger than ever. Last year, when COVID-19 health protocols closed community events, the Scottish Society of Ottawa (SSO) convened a Zoom meeting of eight kilt skate partners across Canada to discuss options. The seed of an idea was planted: promote small, socially distanced, safely bubbled “micro-skates.” The idea grew to become the “Home Edition.”
From backyard ice, community outdoor rinks, frozen ponds and rivers, and Ottawa’s ever-popular Rideau Canal Skateway, individuals and families sent their photos and videos to the SSO, to be displayed on a website gallery. The number and variety of pictures on the SSO Gallery helped determine which city would be anointed as the Kilt Skate Capital of Canada.
In the end, the honours went to Winnipeg, MB: a triumph that was duly noted in the Manitoba legislature by Dougald Lamont, MLA, who had sent SSO his video of his own Burns Day skate at the Forks of the frozen Red and Assiniboine rivers (watch it on YouTube).
Canadians celebrated their inner Scot
The Home Edition reached places that had never experienced a kilt skate. Without the need to be at a particular place at a particular time for a community event, Canadians celebrated their inner Scot in their own place at a time of their choosing. The Home Edition proved to be so popular that it will continue as a feature of the Great Canadian Kilt Skate this year and likely for years to come. What’s more, the experience of skating in a Home Edition has inspired some Canadians to organize community events for 2022. In addition to the established kilt skate communities of Montreal QB, South Glengarry ON, Ottawa ON, Toronto ON, Fergus ON, Winnipeg MB, Saskatoon SK, Lethbridge AB, and Calgary AB, kilt skates are now planned for, Halifax NS, Glenaladale PEI, Moncton NB, and Midland ON.
After years of endeavouring to promote kilt skates in Canada’s Maritime provinces, where the Scottish roots run very deep, the SSO’s organizers are particularly delighted that the Home Edition seems to have reached Maritimers. In Prince Edward Island, for example, the community kilt skate this winter will be part of the year-long festivities to mark the 250th anniversary of the arrival of PEI’s first Scottish settlers on the brig Alexander in 1772.
This winter, the Great Canadian Kilt Skate has received support from Ontario’s Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture. With this help, a video is planned that will showcase the highlights of the 2022 kilt skate season. Meanwhile, the kilt skate phenomenon continues to grow south of the border. New York City will host its fourth annual Tartan Kilt Skate NYC, organized by the American Scottish Foundation. There are reports that other Scottish organizations in the USA are considering hosting kilt skates in their cities. You don’t need to be Scottish to kilt skate. You just need a Scottish sense of fun and fortitude. Wear your tartans and don a kilt if you have one. Bring your friends and send your pictures to [email protected]. Let’s add to the Home Edition Gallery the photos and videos of Scottish Banner readers from around the world.