Meet Our 2015 Chieftain – Robert Henderson
Robert is a native Calgarian, growing up in the north west area, and starting piping at the age of eleven with the Kiwanis Highland Laddies. Through the years Robert moved through many pipe bands (Calgary Red Hackle, Blackthorn, Calgary Highlanders, Calgary Police, Air Command) and attended summer piping courses in Nelson and Rockcliffe, and is currently the President of the St. Andrew-Caledonian Society of Calgary.
As President, Robert has seen the Society grow from 35 members in the mid-1990s to over 400 at the end of 2014. The Society was founded on 21 November 1884 as the Calgary St. Andrew’s Society by George Murdoch, later the first Mayor of Calgary, and other Calgary Scots – Archibald McNeill, JG McCallum, Thomas S Burns, Joseph Bannerman, J Douglas White and Jack Munro – to celebrate the feast day of St Andrew (30 November). The Society also held Calgary’s first Burns Dinner in 1886 and served Calgary’s first haggis at the St. Andrew’s Ball in 1886. The Society took on a benevolent aspect in 1892 assisting Scots in need and was formally incorporated as a non-profit society in 1923.
The Caledonian Society was founded by P Turner Bone in 1912, reviving the annual Calgary Burns Dinner, and held the Caledonian Highland Games in 1913 at he Calgary Exhibition Society’s Grounds in Victoria Park. The two societies soon found a common bond and benefit in working together and started sharing membership in 1924 and were amalgamated under the current name in 1952.
The intervening years have seen the Society involved in every kind of Scottish cultural activity including: Gaelic Choir, Pipe Band Drumming, Scottish Country dancing, Piping Group and the Gaelic Language Group as well as events such as: the Burns Dinner for the Homeless, the Mobile Burns Unit, the Society Burns Night, Tartan Day for Calgary and Alberta, Curling Funspiel, Golf Tournament and the Scots Gathering in Canmore. The initial concept of the Calgary St. Andrew’s Society is perpetuated by the Ball, celebrating its 132nd gathering this year, the Calgary tartan adopted by the City of Calgary in 2003 and operating grants to clan societies, highland games organizations and other cultural enterprises in need of assistance.
The Society remains a vibrant active organization that connects individuals interested in Scottish cultural activities, raises funds and helps those in the Scottish cultural community. The Calgary Highland Games exemplifies the great Scottish cultural enterprise and the St. Andrew-Caledonian Society is proud to be associated with The Calgary United Scottish Games Association.