Saturday 5 August 2023

The Glengarry Highland Games; A Glance into Glengarry's Scottish Roots

The Glengarry Pioneer Museum strives to preserve and share the stories of countless Scottish settlers and their descendants who have made Glengarry County their home over several generations. While you enjoy a pipe competition or two this weekend at the nearby Glengarry Highland Games, we invite you to wander just a few minutes down the road from the Maxville fairgrounds to the Glengarry Pioneer Museum, where several artifacts associated with Glengarry's Scottish roots can be found.

Color photo in a white cardboard kodak frame of massed bands at Glengarry Highland games. Object ID: 2011-000-044 b.

This mysterious set of bagpipes for instance may be a potentially valuable and rare piece of Glengarry's Scottish heritage. They are believed to have once belonged to a member of the Royal Highland Regiment (The Black Watch), which was the regiment that surveilled the Scottish highlands for signs of rebellion following the Jacobite Rising of the 18th century. It has long been claimed that these pipes had been played at the battle of Waterloo in 1815. As the story goes, an elderly Scottish man roamed into Glengarry with a set of pipes that he professed to have played during the battle. The pipes were given to a man he worked for and they were later donated to the museum in 1975. 

Object ID: 1975-009-001. 

The blue, green and black colors of the Black Watch tartan cover the bag of the instrument, and the black wood pipes and ivory sole of the chanter are all visible in the photo above. The pipes are attached with a now, thin, tartan ribbon consisting of red, blue, grey, black, and yellow colors.

Although the original owner's identity has yet to be verified, we do know that at least two other Canadian collections claim to have a set of bagpipes of their own with a suspiciously similar claim. We do however know that the pipes came into the possession of the Stewart family of Stewart's Glen, situated west of Dunvegan village and nearby to the current site of the Glengarry Pioneer Museum. The Stewart family's longstanding roots in Glengarry County originated with Alexander Stewart when he arrived in the area from the Isle of Skye, Scotland, in 1832. The pipes may have belonged to Alexander's descendant Donald (The Piper) Stewart, a member the Murdoch-Stewart branch of the family, before eventually coming into the possession of Alex D. Stewart of Montreal, who donated the set of pipes to the museum in 1975. 

The team at the Glengarry Pioneer Museum wishes you all a happy Highland Games in Maxville this weekend, and we invite you all to learn more about lives and tales of Glengarry's Scottish settlers and their descendant at the museum soon!                 

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