Tartan Stories

Nova Scotia Tartan 

In Canada, there are almost 5 million people who claim full or partial Scottish ancestry - around 15% of all Canadians. Considering Canada's strong ties to Scotland it is no wonder that our country, and provinces, have tartans of their own, some being official and some being unofficial. The first of all of these tartans was made in Nova Scotia in 1953. It is a signifier to the level of influence that Scottish immigrants have over the province - considering that Nova Scotia translates to New Scotland in Latin and in Scottish Gaelic the name for Scotland is Alba Nuadh, which also means New Scotland. A woman named Bessie Murray designed the Nova Scotia tartan. Murray was the president of the Halifax Weavers' Guild and was called upon to create a trade display for sheep rearing. In the display, it was decided that there would be a shepherd wearing a tartan kilt. Murray did not want to display any kind of favouritism towards one clan over another, so instead of designing the shepherd with a clan's tartan, she created a new one all her own. The new tartan that she created became incredibly popular and had been designed with Nova Scotia in mind. It featured five colours: blue, green, white, gold, and red. Each colour represented a different facet of Nova Scotia. The blue represented the sea, the green represented the evergreen trees, the white represented the surf, the gold represented Nova Scotia's Royal Charter, and the red represented the lion rampant on Nova Scotia's coat of arms. The tartan has been designed with the help of Isabel MacAulay who was Canada's expert on Scottish Clan Systems and knew all things tartans. As the owner of Bond Textiles, she knew a lot about the creation of tartan. Once the popularity of their created tartan took off, it was MacAulay who registered it with the government of Nova Scotia in 1955 as well as with the Court of Lord Lyon in 1956. The Court of Lord Lyon is the official heraldry office in Scotland. They have the authority over all Scottish heraldry and coats of arms. The Court accepted the tartan, and it became an official tartan that year. Seven years later, in 1963, the province of Nova Scotia passed the Nova Scotia Tartan Act, which had them officially adopt the tartan. This tartan is not clan specific and can be worn by anyone as a district tartan. As part of the Tartan Act, every year on April 6th in Nova Scotia they celebrate Tartan Day. The purpose of Tartan Day is a day to appreciate the Scottish heritage and clans that make up Nova Scotia as well as those who are spread out across the nation of Canada. Our Nova Scotia tartan cozy is here Source: TartanTown

Cape Breton Tartan 

Inspired by a poem written in 1907 by a friend, Lillian Crewe Walsh of Glace Bay, Cape Breton, Elizabeth "Lizzie" Grant of Glace Bay designed this tartan 50 years later incorporating the typical Cape Breton colours described in the poem. Now accepted by the local populace as the district tartan. This tartan was first registered in the CIDD in July 1957 to Lillian Walsh and then in 1956 to Elizabeth Grant, with a marginally different thread count. The evidence suggests that it was definitely Elizabeth Grant who designed it.     "The Lady of the Loom" by Lillian Crewe Walsh A lady sat beside her loom, with yarns of every hue. To weave Cape Breton tartan, she only chose a few. Black for the wealth of our coal mines, grey for our Cape Breton steel. Green for our lofty mountains, our valleys and our fields. Gold for the golden sunsets shining bright on the lakes of Bras d’Or. To show God’s hand hath lingered, to bless Cape Breton’s shores. As she watched the pattern grow, then she could understand. Her shuttle had been guided, by the master weaver’s hand.

Canada's Tartans

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