Scots in highland heaven

Nov 14, 2002, vol. 25, no. 6
By Carol Thorbes

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Rex Davidson (left), a director of the St. Andrews & Caledonian society, and Stephen Duguid, director of SFU's centre for Scottish studies, display the 88-year-old James William Stewart Cup.

A match made in the highlands has provided Simon Fraser University's centre for Scottish studies with a $25,000 donation and deemed the university as guardian of valuable trophies.

The St. Andrews & Caledonian Society (SA&CS), Vancouver's oldest society, owns the trophies and made the donation that will finance an annual lecture series named after the society.

The series will be tied to the centre for Scottish studies' annual conference.

“We've long been seeking ways to strengthen our society's role as a preserver of the traditions, culture, arts and crafts of Scotland in Canada,” says Rex Davidson, a SA&CS director. “SFU's centre for Scottish studies couldn't be a more fitting partner given its role as a new academic focal point for students, faculty and the community interested in the impact of Scots immigrants on Canada.”

Among the eight trophies in SFU's care are the James William Stewart cup, the most coveted trophy in Western Canadian bagpiping competitions, and a magnificent bronze statue of Robbie Burns, Scotland's poet laureate.

“These trophies represent significant pieces of Scottish history and wealth in Canada that were shelved for decades until the B.C. Pipers Association began awarding them for competitions about four years ago,” explains Davidson. He sees the visibility of artifacts as key to preserving awareness of Scots' role in shaping Canada. “My hope is that the visibility of these trophies at SFU will raise the centre's profile and encourage more contributions to the display,” says the centre's director Stephen Duguid, a humanities professor at SFU.

In competition this year, SFU clinched three SA&CS trophies, making it all the more fitting that the university is the keeper of the society's prized eight trophies.

For the fourth year running, SFU's senior pipe band is the holder of the James William Stewart cup, awarded annually to the Grade one (senior) piping band with the highest aggregate points.

Cast in silver by Birks, the cup dates back to 1914.

Its namesake was a Scottish immigrant and SA&CS member who rose to prominence in Canada's railway and logging industries.

“I don't think we'll discuss the Stewart's value, but it weighs more in silver content than either the Grey Cup or the Stanley Cup,” reveals Davidson.
SFU's Robert Malcolm memorial band is the winner of the Annual Challenge trophy for the highest aggregate points in Grade two (junior) competition.

Alan Beven, a SFU graduate, is the winner of the Robert Fiddes, MBE trophy for grand aggregate professional piping. The Fiddes trophies are named after a Vancouver businessman and SA&CS member involved in the founding of Vancouver's Scottish Cultural centre.

The trophies will go on display at the W.A.C. Bennett library on Robbie Burns birthday, Jan. 25, a day traditionally marked by a parade and serving of haggis at SFU.

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