Highland dancers, pipe-and-drum bands and men in kilts took over Parliament Hill for Tartan Day yesterday and to mark the 1320 Declaration of Arbroath — which was essentially the Scottish declaration of independence.
Organizer Bethany Bisaillion said the Hill celebrations are to share the Scottish heritage, music and culture with the city in an accessible way.
“Anybody can wear a kilt. Anybody can play the pipes. Anyone can dance,” she said. “It’s for the music. It’s for the heritage and the dance.”
This is the second time for Tartan Day festivities in Ottawa. In previous years, local Scots joined larger celebrations in New York City.
Last year, 29 clans were represented on Parliament Hill. And despite the chill yesterday, Bisaillion said they easily surpassed that total yesterday.
“I like the mix of sunshine and the snow, and the Scots and the non-Scots. I think it all works perfect together,” she said. “It says Canada, doesn’t it?”
Ottawa’s Robert Forster came to represent the Forrester clan. He learned of the celebration through a clan newsletter and decided to brave early April in a kilt to participate.
British High Commissioner Anthony Carr said it’s good that Canada celebrates Tartan Day, since Scotland has been central to Canada’s foundation.
“For a long time ... the Irish has the run of the coop and now it’s good the Scots are developing their own traditions, and not just St. Andrew’s day in November.”