LITTLE CURRENT—A robust skirl of the pipes heralded the start of the annual Robbie Burns dinner on Saturday as a colour guard consisting of members of the Manitoulin Sea Cadet Corps followed piper David Beacon into the hall at the Manitoulin Hotel and Conference Centre. The dinner has become a focal point for the celebration of the Scottish heritage of most of the Island’s original settlers and quite a few more recent arrivals.
The setting of the flags would be the last sight of the cadets for the evening, however. Although the event is a fundraising effort to benefit cadet events, Department of Defence regulations preclude their taking part in a licenced event.
But there were plenty of adult volunteers from the Manitoulin Navy League sponsoring committee on hand to ensure the event went smoothly. That committee consists of Bob Jewell (Manitoulin Navy League president), Rick McCutcheon, Carrie McCulloch, Denis Blake, Carmen Laidley, Chrisanne Mackay and Brad Mackay.
“The monies raised tonight go toward those cadet activities that are not covered by the Department of Defence,” noted Mr. Jewell as he thanked those attending the dinner for their continuing support. He gave the example of a mess dinner the Manitoulin Sea Cadets were able to attend in Sudbury, where they met members of six other corps, including army and air cadets.
This year’s dinner celebrating the birthday of Scotland’s immortal and most beloved bard was once again facilitated by the incomparable Bernie Andrews who, acting as master of ceremonies also provided the traditional ‘Address to the Haggis—Chieftain of the Puddin’ Race.’ Pastor Erwin Thompson provided the Selkirk Grace. Musical interludes were provided by Diane Constantineau and Bill McLean, and the traditional Burns dinner of haggis, tatties and neeps, rolls, roast beef with gravy and trifle (three kinds) was prepared by chef Mike Keeley.
Mr. Beaton, the piper, pulled several duties through the evening, including the aforementioned piping in of the colours, escorting in the head table, the entry procession of the haggis and leading the parade of the tartans. His bagpipe solo was very well received.
The Toast to the Lassies was delivered by Mr. Andrews, with the traditional Reply to the Toast to the Lassies riposte given by Dianna McCulloch—including the top 10 reasons women are superior to men.
The 50/50 draw brought the winner $210, while Expositor scribe Michael Erskine took home the Manitoulin Chocolate Works gift basket and artist Linda Jack securing a huge tin of biscuits as the door prizes.
Denis Blake delivered the Toast to Absent Friends, citing many of the local veterans who have passed on over the last year.
The evening closed out with the singing of what is undoubtedly the Immortal Bard’s most famous work, “Auld Lang Syne.”