The Scottish Studies Community

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Public Engagement

From the phenomenal appeal of media like Braveheart and Outlander, to the tremendous success of heritage events like the Fergus Scottish Festival (just up the road!), it is obvious that a fascination for Scotland and its history is shared by a great many people, not least here in southern Ontario. It was partly in recognition of this high level of interest, both internationally and locally, that Stanford Reid, the founding Chair of the History Department, promoted Scottish Studies.

The Scottish Studies Foundation, with whom we are closely associated, was founded in 1986 with the purpose of mobilising  the Scottish Canadian community to support the creation of opportunities for the study of Scottish heritage at the University of Guelph.

The Centre for Scottish Studies owes a great deal to the Scottish Canadian community. We take an interest in many local and provincial heritage initiatives and cultural events with a Scottish-historical focus, and are committed to raising awareness of these, and promoting them across our academic network worldwide. We also have a long history of involvement and participation in activities that help us to advance and promote our own academic mission.

Nowadays we mainly employ the tools and power of social media to publicize and promote projects and events of interest;  however, the following initiatives are of long-standing importance to us:

  • The Ballinafad Oral History Project which aims to restore the site of Fallbrook Farm (Halton Hills, ON) as a memorial to the natives who first settled there in the 16th century and the pioneer Scottish community of Ballinafad.
  • Tartan Day, during which we join communities around the world on 6 April in an annual celebration founded in Canada by members of the Scottish diaspora. The Scottish Studies Foundation’s Scot of the Year  award is part of the Tartan Week celebrations and highlights the achievements of Canadian Scots and Scots-at-heart.

General Interest and Research Websites

As we become aware of helpful sites for personal and academic research into Scotland's culture and history, we update a list of relevant websites.  Most features of these sites are accessible to the public and provide information for academics, the public and those interested in genealogy and family history.

Genealogy and Family History

Many Scottish Canadians have questions about their family's Scottish roots, and some are actively and passionately engaged in research on the subject. Our Centre has not traditionally studied or advised on genealogical and related matter; we would refer those looking into their personal Scottish heritage to make use of these popular online tools. Also, keep up-to-date with us on social media to find out when our next genealogical talk or workshop will take place.

There is scope for us to strengthen our ability to specialize in the history of Scottish Canadian families and to support genealogical research. At present, the Centre lacks the resources to make the necessary changes to enable us to deal seriously with the wide range and large number of approaches and inquiries that we receive. The community expectations reflected by these approaches are sending us a message, and it is time for us to respond.

Our events provide opportunities to connect with fellow enthusiasts of Scottish and family history.  Members of the public are welcome to attent any of our academic and public outreach events.  Registration charges may apply.