Thursday, 20 December 2007

Statue in Fort William

There is a prominent statue in Fort William at the North end of the High Street. This is a statue of Donald Cameron of Lochiel, 24th Chief of the Clan Cameron who was Lord Lieutenant of Inverness-shire and also its MP. He was born in 1835 and died in 1905. The inscription on the statue is badly in need of cleaning and repairing and is in places illegible. The statue was erected by his family and clansmen in appreciation of a good man who did much for the area and its people.

"Donald Cameron of Lochiel, descendant of Donald Dubh, 24th chief of the Clan Cameron, Lord Lieutenant of Inverness-shire for many years, Member of Parliament. He was born 1835; he died 1906. This monument was erected by clansmen and friends as an acknowledgement of his humanity and his esteem and their respect for the noble gentleman"

Tuesday, 11 December 2007


In the previous blog, I talked about the "Hector" which sailed from the village of Ullapool on Loch Broom, Scotland to Pictou, Nova Scotia. The journey which had brought the barest of provisions and was grossly overcrowded set out in July of 1873 at a time when the weather was worsening. As it neared Nova Scotia, the ship and its crew were met by a horrific storm which sent the ship backwards and it took another three weeks to reach Nova Scotia. By this time, mid-September, the winter was setting in and there was little opportunity to start clearing the heavily wooded areas which the settlers found were to be their future farms. If it were not for the help from the native Miq Macq Indians and some earlier settlers who had moved from New England, few if any would have survived. A full scale model of the Hector is on permanent display at Pictou. The photograph shows the "Hector" replica berthed at the special museum pier in Pictou.

Saturday, 8 December 2007


A ship called the Hector sailed from Loch Broom in the west of Scotland to Nova Scotia in 1773 and landed at Pictou. Among those who sailed from Scotland many perished through hunger, and disease. A considerable number of the passengers were children and of those a high percentage did not survive the storm-bound passage. One of the settlers was Alexander Cameron from Loch Broom, who as a youth, had witnessed the Battle of Culloden in 1746. The area where he settled is called Loch Broom to this day and his descendants are still living in the Pictou area. The picture on the left is of myself with Genevieve Oliver who is a direct descendant of Alexander Cameron. We are standing outside the house which was built by Alexander Cameron after he settled in the area.

Thursday, 29 November 2007


Lochiel & Lady Cecil are delighted to announce the engagement of their eldest daughter, Catherine to Henry Trotter. I am sure we wish the young couple the best of health and happiness in the future.

Monday, 26 November 2007


I have just had a communication from Colonel Charles Cameron to say that the opening of the revamped centre at Culloden will take place on 16th April 2008. This is of course three days before the annual Memorial Service on Saturday, 19th April. I pass on the information at this juncture so that any one making plans for the 19th might wish to include the 16th. This is a National Trust event and not a Clan Cameron event.

Saturday, 24 November 2007


Some time ago, I raised the issue of the effect of new electric pylons being sited on the Sherrifmuir Battlefield. This battle which took place in 1715 during the first Jacobite Rising was inconlusive. Such was the chaos on the field that the Camerons actually retreated not through cowardice but because they did not know what was going on. Anyway during the inquiry into the siting of the new power line, an expert revealed that none of our battlefields including Culloden and Falkirk are protected from planning applications. This is a serious matter which affects our historical heritage. It is time that we petitioned the Scottish Government to ensure that those iconic places where the great historic disputes were settled are not built over.

Friday, 23 November 2007


While I was at the Mod, I was fortunate enough to meet Mr & Mrs Hector MacKenzie. Hector was kind enough to give me a copy of a recently published book of Gaelic poetry. The poems were written by John Cameron of Inverasdale who was Hector's uncle. The gaelic poems have a side-by-side English translation. The book is entitled:
Inbhir Asdal nam Buadh Orain agus Dain le Iain Cameron
(The songs of Iain Cameron 1991-1989) The Inverasdale bard.

It is published by Clar and the ISBN is 1 099901 34 X

Thursday, 22 November 2007


Back on terra firma after a Trans-Atlantic Cruise. Wonderful weather, food, company, facilities etc. I wore my kilt on the formal dining occasions. There were several others also wearing kilts. There was a debate about white stockings. Personally, I have never worn white stockings either with my day or night outfit. However, it appears that many people regard white stockings as the correct dress wear. My presference is for stockings of a colour which tones with the kilt. My own recollection is that white stockings are a fairly recent development. However, things change. You may remember Jack McConnell going to tartan day in New York with a striped kilt. I have seen leather kilts and indeed every combination of material and design. What do you think about the stocking debate?

Monday, 19 November 2007


Over the past two weeks, I have been cruising across the Atlantic and, while I was in e-mail contact, the wifi connection was both slow and expensive and so I chose not to add any more blogs. I will soon be home and in a position to make more comments.

Sunday, 4 November 2007


One of the features of our recent summer programme is that the Clan Cameron Association has had a stall at several of the Highland Games throughout the country. For the first time, this year, the Clan Association was represented at the Lochaber Games and our picture shows the Cameron stalwarts - Barry Chalmers-Stevens and Caroline McCarthy along with the Chieftain of the Lochaber Games Sir Jimmy Saville. We have all found that the stall has been very popular - particularly from Camerons and indeed members of other clans from North America, NZ and Australia.

Saturday, 3 November 2007


Dear Readers, I suspect my subject today is quite controversial. As someone who has worn a kilt as long as I can remember, I have great attachment to my various kilts. One which I still wear was given to me as a 21st birthday present 45 years ago. Personally, I feel that when I wear my Cameron kilt it identifies me as a Cameron and I must admit I will engage anyone wearing a Cameron kilt in conversation. In the mists of time the feileadh mor (in English philamore) as it was called was simply a blanket worn round the waist with the extra bit thrown over the shoulder. The colours represented the natural dyestuffs found locally and so to some extent the garment did relate to the area if not to the clan. It was the army that developed the kilt as the feileadh beag or philabeg the small kilt. This became popular with the Victorians - particularly the Scottish aristocracy and systematised the tartans. Nowadays we Camerons have a wide range of setts and tartans most based on the Clan Cameron tartan, the Cameron of Erracht and the Cameron of Lochiel. The latter is strictly reserved for the family. Today the kilt has become the essential male garment at weddings and the modern kilt with all its accessories is far removed from the traditional blanket carried conveniently draped around the body. But is this not true of all clothing? It adapts and changes according to the circumstances. What do you think?

Friday, 2 November 2007


At the last Clan Cameron Rally at Achnacarry an oak tree was planted Quercus Rubrus. Not only is the oak the badge of the Clan Cameron but it is also symbolic of something which has withstood the test of time. Indeed the parallel with the Clan Cameron and the oak are clear. The clan had its early beginnings as an amalgamation of tribes around that area of Scotland which is now regarded as its heartland. From there, Camerons have spread like the branches of the oak tree to all corners of the world.

Thursday, 1 November 2007


I recently had an enquiry from a gentleman whose name is Stronach asking if he is connected with the Clan Cameron. Clan Cameron online gives Stronach as a name associated with the clan. As we know the name Cameron derives from Cam (twisted) and Sron (nose) in the same way as Campbell is Cam (twisted) and beul (mouth). It is said that this is because the Campbells talked out of the side of their mouth (ie did not always tell the truth). However all of those names or indeed nicknames were in the past and we are by descent or association lucky to have these names. Getting back to Stronach, it is almost certain that the stron- refers to the nose and just as Camranach is the collective for Camerons so Stronach is the collective for those descended from someone whose nose was a significant feature. Another explanation may be that they are associated with the place called Strone. Indeed there is a place in Lochaber called Stronaba. I have also been approached by someone of the name Stranack which could conceivably be a variation of Stronach. However, it may be that the name Cameron does not come from the Gaelic roots since there is historical record of a Sir Richard de Cambron in Perthshire who was Sherrif of Atholl in 1296. Who knows?

Wednesday, 31 October 2007


It is not like me to confuse the good Scottish or even gaelic word Loch with that used south of the border. Indeed I understand that there is only one correctly named Lake in Scotland and that is the Lake of Menteith. The reason is that the loch to which I am referring is actually in Canada. While in Nova Scotia I met many interesting people with Cameron connections. Among those was a gentleman called Ian Cameron who told me about a campaign mounted by Camerons in the area to have the name of a lake changed from 5 mile lake to Lochiel Lake in Lochaber district. This was achieved in the early 1980s and now boasts a sign to indicate the name. At about the same time, the late Lochiel (Sir Donald Hamish Cameron) and Lady Margaret visited Nova Scotia and an oak tree was planted at Lochiel Lake to commemorate their visit. There was some discussion about the fact that Lake and Loch are the same word and that this name was in fact Loch Eil Loch or Lake Eil lake. In point of fact the word Locheil is an entity and represents a particular landmark in Scotland. The separate meanings of Loch and Eil are not relevant in this case and so it is quite correctly called Lochiel Lake.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007


The next Clan Cameron Rally will take place during the period 30th July 2009 to 2nd August 2009 at Achnacarry - the home of our Clan Chief - Donald Angus Cameron of Lochiel. The plan is that there will be a variety of activities taking place from Thursday through to Sunday and that these will provide educational and entertainment possibilities for all ages and from all parts of the world. However, it is important that you say what you would like. Not that all the suggestions will be incorporated but if you are travelling a long distance and your one dream is to do something special, let us know! I know that Lochiel is keen to make this as good an experience as possible for all participants. We all look forward to seeing you in 2009. Don't forget that the weekend before the Rally, there will be an International Clans' Gathering in Edinburgh. We will have a tent and this, I think will be a spectacular affair. The two events together will complement each other and make the journey from wherever you live a worthwhile one. I look forward to hearing from you.


Monday, 29 October 2007


Elizabeth and I were greatly honoured to be asked to take part in the Pipefest in Halifax, Nova Scotia in July of this year. Many pipebands and kilted clanspeople assembled at the Citadel which overlooks Halifax and was built by British army to defend their policies in Nova Scotia. We then marched through the streets of downtown Halifax. The clans alternated with the pipers. Elizabeth and I were carrying the Clan Cameron Nova Scotia banner and as we walked through the streets of Halifax people shouted "We are Camerons too". It was thrilling and made you proud to be a Cameron. The march then assembled outside the Metro where the Halifax Tattoo was being held and to our surprise it became apparent that all of us were going to march into one side of the arena and out the other. A further surprise when we completed the march was to be presented with a Pipefest T-shirt. The picture shows Elizabeth and I with Sherman Williams along with piper Nathan Ellis whose mother is a Cameron and who was in one of the pipe bands. There is no doubt that with this part of Canada there is a considerable Highland connection and that the Scottish tradition is strong and vital.

Sunday, 28 October 2007


I am not normally someone who is troubled by other people's views but I do like to know what people are thinking about the Clan Cameron and its Association. I have been off at a Conference from Friday until Sunday and so there is a gap in my blogging. However, when I logged on again I found that there was no response to any of the pieces I had posted - apart from the two comments I had put in myself to try to generate a debate. Perhaps the topics are not open-ended enough or not interesting or perhaps there is some barrier to responding. I don't know but I would like to think that we could generate some kind of dialogue. Whatever, I would like to hear from you as I am aware that the site does have a considerable number of hits.


Thursday, 25 October 2007


For the first time, a clan was represented at the National Mod in Fort William, this year. The twin reasons for Clan Cameron asking to have a stall at the Mod were the fact that 2007 was nominated as the "Year of Highland Culture" and the fact that the Royal National Mod was being held in our heartland. On Tuesday, 16th of October, we held a reception for invited guests and any Camerons in the area. We had about 50 people at the reception including local councillors and officials of the organising committee. Many discussions and informal relationships were formed and we were able to promote the Clan Cameron in the wider context of the place of the Scottish Clan in our society today. There is no doubt that throughout the world there is a strong feeling of family kinship and this is particularly strong in North America, Australia and New Zealand. However, recently I had an e-mail from a Cameron in Paraguay asking for help in identifying family ancestors. I think that we can not do enough as a clan association to promote the place of clans in Scotland today. I am sure that these views are controversial in some quarters but I would welcome any comments. Is clanship an important force binding families together or is it simply a relic of a society which is best forgotten? The picture shows Donald Angus Cameron of Lochiel (seated) along with from the left Col Charles Cameron, Charlie McColl (mod Convener), Alan Cameron (President Clan Cameron Association Scotland) and Tom Cameron (Commisioner for Clan Cameron North America).

Wednesday, 24 October 2007


As you probably know, Lochiel is currently undertaking major renovation at Achnacarry House. Amongst the major changes is a project to replace the roof. As if that was not bad enough, the builders have found wet rot in the building and this is affecting the timber - some of it structural. In spite of all this, the renovation is continuing and Lochiel is philosophical albeit frustrated at the disruption all of this work is causing. Having seen many large houses become derelict through long term neglect or transferred to the National Trust because the upkeep is no longer sustainable, we must congratulate Lochiel and his family for taking on this huge task. There is no doubt that for us as members of the Clan Cameron, having Achnacarry is a focus for us as we come to the area from all over the world. We must however, be patient and appreciate that the work will be done and Lochiel is confident that the house will be habitable again in time for the International Rally in July/August 2009.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007


There has been much discussion during the past few years about global warming and climate change and indeed recently Al Gore was awarded a Nobel Prize for his work on warning of the effects of our current lifestyle. It does appear that the winters have been milder overall and if this Autumn is typical the period of mild weather in Scotland has been extended. Longer term records show that there have been wide variations in our weather patterns over the centuries. Core samples taken from the North Pole have been used to show the cyclical nature of the weather. While the evidence of work such as that of Al Gore and his team is convincing, I think there is still much to be researched before we have incontrovertible evidence that the pollution of our current lifestyle is changing the weather. The prophets of disaster suggest that we have little time left until our climate will make life on this planet impossible. On this issue, we all have our own opinions. What do you think? Have you any evidence - either anecdotal or scientific? In the meantime, let us enjoy the lovely weather we are currently experiencing. The photograph shown here was taken on the Dark Mile road on the Achnacarry Estate on Saturday, 20th October.

Monday, 22 October 2007


The autumn colours are wonderful in the west of Scotland at this time of year and no where more beautiful than in Lochaber. The Clan Cameron Association Scotland held its AGM at Clunes on Tuesday, 16th October. Lochiel is staying there during the major renovation project at Achnacarry. The brown of the bracken, the delicate leaves of the birch and the reds and russet colours of the autumn leaves make a wonderful picture. I took the opportunity to take some photographs which I will post on this and some of the following days. There is no doubt in my mind that the palette of colours in Scotland at this time of year is without parallel. As we drove along the road to Clunes, the morning light coming through the trees and sparkling on the waters of Loch Lochy created a most stunning backdrop.

Sunday, 21 October 2007


I have just returned from a week of culture at the National Mod. This is a festival of Gaelic culture involving choral singing for both large and rural choirs. There are also competitions for solo singing for both fluent and gaelic speakers. In addition there are competitions in Gaelic drama and the playing of the bagpipes, fiddle and clarsach. The main competitions for adults are the gold medal which was won this year by James Graham for the gents competition and Jean McKay for the ladies. The silver pendant for those whose gaelic is not quite fluent was won by Somerled Smith and Jennifer Spiers. The major choral competition for the Lovat & Tullibardine Shield was won by the Glasgow Gaelic Musical Association under their conductor, Kenneth Thomson. An interesting aside. During the Lovat & Tullibardine Trophy, one of the audience was frantically knitting a pair of kilt stockings. Apparently a member of one of the choirs had come with the wrong colour of stockings. The stockings were completed in time albeit with a hole in the toe as the knitter did not have enough time to finish them off. The Mod in Fort William had a wonderful fringe programme with craftspeople, seminars, workshops and even a stall for the Clan Cameron Association Scotland. The Clan also held a reception for 50 invited guests.
However, for me the real essence of the Mod is the variety of ceilidhs in every hotel and bar in the town. I particularly enjoyed the music of Fergie MacDonald in the Grand Hotel. I feel that the Mod is an important cultural focus for Gaelic culture. It has been criticised in the past but is still going strong after more than 100 years.