Calgary Highland Games

One of North America’s premier Celtic events takes place this weekend, as the Calgary Highland Games celebrates its 100th anniversary. Here, festival historian Ann Lidgren shares her story with us.

What are your own roots?
My own heritage is part Scottish and part Norwegian. My father’s family came from Helmsdale in the northern part of Scotland.

When and why did you get involved with this event?
I had been a dancing competitor as a child and had the pleasure of participating for several years at the Calgary Games in this role. My father was the Chieftain of our Games one year and was thrilled with that honor. My son is a piper in the Grade 1 band in Alberta and has enjoyed many years as a solo and band competitor. All of these connections led me to a desire to give back and to support the Games in a more active role than attending.

What are the rewards of being involved?
I have been rewarded through new friendships and strengthened connections within the Scottish Community. I have gained a greater appreciation for my heritage and the contributions of the Scots to Calgary and the wider Canadian community. I have grown to enjoy the unique aspects of Highland Games and to become an advocate for the celebration of this culture.

Will you remain involved with the event in the years ahead?
I am not sure about my future involvement. This year marks 16 years of volunteering with the Calgary Highland Games for me. I have enjoyed the many opportunities but I am now looking to some new volunteer opportunities. I will always be a strong supporter of the Calgary Highland Games whether as a volunteer or spectator.

How else are you involved with the Celtic community there?
I attend other Scottish concerts and events such as the celebration of Tartan Day and other Highland Games within the province of Alberta. I support local pipe bands in their fundraising and performance activities and I am a member of the St. Andrew Caledonian Society of Calgary.

Are we doing enough to preserve and promote Celtic culture generally?
I am sure there are always more ways to recognize and celebrate the Scottish community. I am grateful for recent publications that have gathered the stories and documented the history of the Scottish community in this country. I too have been dedicating time to research the history of our Highland Games and although there is no public document yet reflecting this history I continue to gather information in the hope that I will be able to provide a resource in the future. The Scots have been a part of this community for a long time and in some respects that breeds a level of complacency toward celebration. Newer cultural communities in Calgary are more visible in their celebrations. It is important for all who cherish their Scottish heritage to contribute in some way to preserving traditions and supporting initiatives to recognize the unique and very special qualities of dance, music and athletics that we have derived from Scotland. I welcome all of your readers to come and celebrate with us in Calgary this year as we recognize 100 years since the first Games were held in this city.