Scottish "clan" calls for Richmond recruits

It’s free to join and you only have to be a wee bit Scottish.

That’s the message from Richmond’s Ian MacLeod as he bids to bolster the membership in his Clan MacLeod Society of Greater Vancouver.

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MacLeod, 70, has seen the local “clan” dwindle from a peak of more than 80 in the 1980s to around 40 last year.

But - as Scottish heritage organizations prepare worldwide for Robert Burns Day on Jan. 25 – MacLeod is hoping to stir up some interest with a year’s free membership to the Vancouver society.

It could be the bagpipes that stir your soul, or you could be an ancestor of the MacLeod clan, which has many so-called “septs” (smaller family groups who have been associated with MacLeod over the centuries).

Surnames such as Williamson, Nicol (MacNicol), Nicholson or MacCabe were often connected to the MacLeod clan, which is thought to have been born in the early 1200s.

If you have a love of Scottish culture, music and dancing or fancy finding and/or wearing your tartan, then MacLeod would be happy to hear from you.

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Ian MacLeod addresses the haggis at a previous Burns Supper. File photo

“We’ve reduced the annual membership to $25 from $35 and we’re giving away a year’s free membership to newcomers, as a small gesture to bring new people in,” society director MacLeod, a past national clan president, told the Richmond News from his Moffat Road home.

“For that, you’ll get four publications a year from the Clan MacLeod Society. And you don’t even have to be a MacLeod.

“We have socials and dinners from time to time, nothing too formal.

“Anyone interested in their Scottish roots will be most welcome. Our national president isn’t a MacLeod; her ex-husband is, though.”

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The MacLeod family, Ian (left) with his daughter, Melanie Bolton, and his granddaughter, Tayler, 11, had important roles to play at a Robbie Burns Dinner in 2018. File photo

Richmond, as many locals may have noticed, is steeped in Scottish ancestry, with several schools and roads named after Scots natives.

However, as the decades have swept on, many immigrants of Scottish blood have passed away or moved on.

“We used to have more members in the 80s, when the movie Highlander (about an immortal MacLeod) and its TV show were big hits,” said MacLeod, who believes the local society started around 1955.

“I remember one wee boy came up to me at an event, when I was in full Highland dress, and asked me if I was immortal. I said, if my head gets cut off, you will find out I’m not.

“But I understand people are very busy these days and some of them are getting further and further from their roots.

“Seventy-five years ago, most immigrants were European, so it was a lot easier back when.”

The society, which used to host Robbie Burns Suppers in Richmond every year, has teamed up with the Lord of the Isles Society to host a homage to the famous Scots poet on Jan. 18 at Centennial Lodge in New Westminster.

Apparently, there will be haggis on the menu!

Anyone interested in joining the local MacLeod clan or going to the Burns Dinner on Jan. 18, should email clanmacleodgv@gmail.com.

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