Manitobans don kilts, skates to celebrate Canada’s first prime minister
Scottish pride and Canadian patriotism came together at The Forks Saturday.
To celebrate the bicentennial birthday of Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first Prime Minister, hearty Canadians in five cities across the country donned kilts – and headed outdoors.
“We are making a statement about how hearty we are as Canadians and we’re saluting our Scottish heritage,” said John Perrin, President of the Scottish Heritage Council of Manitoba. “And of course, it’s one of the coldest days of the winter.”
In Winnipeg, where the wind chill made it feel like -36 C, kilt-wearers headed out for a brisk skate on the Assiniboine River by The Forks.
One of the hearty bunch, Mark Turner, moved to Winnipeg from Macdonald’s birthplace of Glasgow, Scotland five months ago.
“I can’t believe I’m doing this,” said Turner, who took part despite this being only his second time skating.
And Turner certainly made it count in the cold while donning his family tartan.
“I’m doing okay just now, but I had to go true Scotsman though because I couldn’t have held my head up high otherwise,” said Turner. “I think I’ve got about five minutes before something happens.”
The Manitoba government proclaimed Jan. 31 Sir John A. Macdonald's Great Canadian Kilt Skate Day. Ottawa has held kilt events for the past several years, but 2015 marks the first time Winnipeg and three other Canadian cities, including Montreal, Saskatoon and Calgary, planned outdoor events.
“I don’t think we would exist as a country today, were it not for Sir John A MacDonald,” said Perrin.