Originally published in the 2015 Summer Issue
By Rory Sinclair, President of St. Andrew’s Society
The St. Andrew’s Society of Toronto celebrates Scottish culture and heritage, but welcomes anyone, regardless of background, with an interest in learning more. “When it was formed back in 1836, the original reason was to help Scottish people coming over,” explains Rory Sinclair, President of the St. Andrew’s Society. “Since then, the organization has expanded its mandate; women were eventually accepted, as well as people of different backgrounds. One member is a Chinese gentleman who loves Scottish culture and wears a kilt everywhere.”
There are a variety of exciting and interesting events that take place throughout the year such as concerts, seminars, dinners and dances; one of which is the elegant and much anticipated St. Andrews Charitable Ball, a black-tie affair which takes place at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel and supports several local charities. Last year’s Ball had special Guest of Honour, the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario in attendance, and spoke of the importance of the work of the St. Andrew’s Society. For a taste of Scotland, guests enjoy is a four-course meal accompanied by the music of the Pipes of the 48th Highlanders of Canada, Highland dancers performing and ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee) dancing , which is similar to square dancing, but with fancier footwork. There are practice dance sessions for those planning to attend the ball.
You can become a member of the Society and your annual charitable donation to the St. Andrew’s Charitable Foundation goes back into the community helping those in need. You can join a committee and be part of many events. “There are get-togethers such as bar nights where we bring in new members,” says Sinclair. One can keep up to date for past as well as up-coming events by browsing the ‘Newsletters’ section on the website (www.standrews-society.ca).
Thinking of learning Gaelic? The Society provides a link for The Toronto Gaelic Learners Association, and for more information on Scotland’s history, tourism and educational programs, the Society provides many resources in the ‘links’ section of the website.
It was a pleasure speaking to Mr. Sinclair, and when I asked if there was anything else he would like to add, he said, “in this digital age, when everything you can join is online, to keep something like this (the St. Andrews Society) going for 175 years is quite something.”
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