Haggis a treat for new director of Centre for Scottish Studies

January 22, 2016

Professor Katie McCullough, the new director of Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Scottish Studies, admits to a secret liking for Scotland’s national dish, haggis.

It seems she actually enjoys sheep’s organ meats minced up with onions, oats, suet and spices and stuffed in a casing. She has tasted the delicacy in all its forms—steamed, barbecued and even battered and deep-fried.

On Monday, Jan. 25 she’ll be at the Surrey campus to sample the haggis during SFU’s annual Robbie Burns Day festivities marking the birthday of Scotland’s most famous poet.

And at 10:00 a.m. (room 2995) she’ll speak on "Scotching British Columbia: Cultural Blending in the Pacific Northwest”.

McCullough joined SFU’s Department of History last May and became the Centre’s director in September, taking over from professor Leith Davis.

Originally from Victoria, McCullough earned her graduate degrees at the University of Guelph (UG), where she was very involved in UG’s Centre for Scottish Studies.

An avid researcher of Scottish history, McCullough spent her first few months at SFU developing and introducing the history department’s first Scottish history courses: History 237—Scotland 1707 to the present, and History 448—Scots in North America.

Now, she’s turning her attention to the Centre for Scottish Studies.

“I’d say there’s a large appetite in B.C. for Scottish history,” she says.

“Scots in B.C. have a long history, dating back to the days of the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC).”

Nanaimo’s first white settlers were from Scotland, recruited by HBC to work in the coal mines. And many of Vancouver’s first business people hailed from Scotland, as well as the city’s first mayor.

“What’s missing is the historical recognition of all this,” she says. “Historians have neglected the history of Scots in B.C.”

As part of her work for the centre she has created a new research blog, and is encouraging her students to undertake research on B.C.’s Scots in Lower Mainland archives. She also plans to publish academic papers on the early history of Scots in B.C.

As well, she is arranging for renowned Scottish history scholars to speak at the University, and plans to hold activities at all three campuses.

Watch for her first event, Tartan Day, on April 9 at the Surrey campus, featuring speaker Graeme Morton, professor of modern history and director of the Centre for Scottish Culture at the University of Dundee.