Volume 29 #4
The Scottish Country Dancer
January/February 2013

Articles in This Issue
A Visit to Dunedin The MacKenzie Highland Pipe Band
Unique Dances Class Dancers Sparkle
From the Chair Calendar of Events
Thank You, Dessert Auction, Youth Weekend West
A Visit to Dunedin
by Tom Halpenny
Larnach Castle

Liza and I visited the Scottish-founded city of Dunedin for two days during a tour of New Zealand in November 2012. This article reports about some of the history and sights of the city.

Dunedin was founded in 1843 near the southern end of New Zealand's South island. The Scottish settlers wanted to name the city New Edinburgh after the capital city in Scotland. They settled on the Gaelic name for Edinburgh -- Dunedin.

Baldwin Street

Dunedin's unique wildlife initially drew European settlers to the area. Captain Cook's report of seals led to sealers from the beginning of the 19th century, and Otago Harbor was an international whaling port by the late 1830s. Today visitors are drawn by colonies of New Zealand Fur Seals, Yellow Eyed Penguins, and Royal Albatross with 10 feet wingspan.

The city's surveyor, Charles Kettle, planned the city to create beautiful views over the town center and its dramatic harbor setting. The basis of the plan is The Octagon (a flat central city) and the Town Belt (a strip of natural bush and parks that separates the city center from its hilly suburbs). The plan often disregarded the very hilly terrain, and its most famous result is Baldwin Street, recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as the steepest street in the world. Liza and I found and summited Baldwin Street - yikes!

First Church

Gold was discovered nearby in 1861, which triggered rapid population growth and trade. Dunedin soon became New Zealand's biggest and wealthiest city. However during the 20th century the city's growth slowed significantly.

The city developed a rich Edwardian and Victorian architectural heritage. Large churches and public buildings were built with elaborate ornamentation, while houses around the central suburbs competed to have the most daring and decorative mix of architectural styles. The Dunedin Railway Station, built in the Edwardian Baroque style, is Dunedin's most famous monument to its Golden Days, and New Zealand's most photographed building.


The Octagon is Dunedin's city center, an eight sided plaza bisected by the city's main downtown George Street. Laid out by surveyors in 1846, Moray Place and The Octagon form two concentric streets, creating a ring of civil and public buildings around a central plaza.

The Octagon hosts a sculpture of Robert Burns by Sir John Steell of Edinburgh, unveiled in 1887. The poet's nephew, the Rev Thomas Burns, was co-founder of Otago settlement and Presbyterian minister of Dunedin's First Church.

The Cadbury chocolate factory is located near The Octagon. The public entrance has an impressive display resembling a mountain constructed of 22,000 brilliant gold-foil Crunchie bars.

We visited Larnach Castle on the Otago Peninsula, built 1871-1887 by William Larnach, a prominent entrepreneur and politician, as New Zealand's only castle. The grounds have manicured gardens with different themes. There is also a ballroom (now used as the tea room) that would be a wonderful venue for a Scottish dance.

We then endured the strong wind to trek through a wildlife reserve where we viewed two sea lions and two shy penguins waddling from the sand dunes to the ocean. We gained a first-hand experience how the Scottish people like their weather -- stormy.

Unique Dances Class
by Marge MacLeod van Nus

Unique Dances Class continues with more Happy Dancing in the New Year.

This class is open to any dancer who has completed a year's worth of Basic SCD--no matter when or where. Enjoy circles, squares, longwise dances with new and/or very unique formations, and waltzes.

We meet the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays every month at Columbia Dance, 1700 Broadway, Vancouver at 7:30 pm. Note: the door is kept locked---anytime you know you will be late please contact me at 360-892-4366 or beforehand.

January 8 and 22 we launch the New Year of Unique Dances! Will see you all there with smiling faces and happy feet!!

Cheers, Marge

From the Chair
by John Shaw

Here we are, on the eve of Christmas Eve, visiting with family, past, present, and future -- and now thinking about Scottish Country Dancing, past, present, and future.

Very shortly, we have the Betwixt-n-Between dance (which will be a recent memory by the time this is published). We started holding this dance several years ago as a holiday dance celebration for the benefit of those Vancouver dancers who didn't travel away for the holidays. It's a fun evening of simple dances interspersed with ceilidh acts -- which frequently enable us to see our fellow dancers in, hmm, a different light.

You have no doubt noted by now the dessert auction held at the Betwixt-n-Between dance, and that it was to benefit this year's Youth Weekend West event, in the Vancouver/Portland area. It is a weekend workshop for "young" Scottish Country Dancers, which has been very popular. Our Branch is working with Kate and Rebecca Mintz to host this year's event on the same weekend as our Dinner Dance.

In January, we have the restarting of area dance classes, in Battle Ground, Vancouver, Kelso, and eastward in Stevenson. Two classes are of special note. On the first and third Tuesdays of the month, you can practice special requests or learn the "classics" (favorite dances from around the world), in the "Dem, Prep, and Classics" class, taught by Linda Mae Dennis.

On the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month, Marge van Nus teaches the unique "Unique Dances" class. Marge seeks out and presents dances that are unusual, or that have new or unusual formations. It's great to be taught such formations before encountering them on the dance floor!

Way out on the 4th of May, our Annual Dinner Dance is taking shape. Theresa Ryan and Susan Shaw are co-chairing that event. It has been said "Many hands make light work", but we also know from dancing that "Many dancers make for a lot of fun"; so, "join the set" (from the bottom, of course), no partner required -- see Susan or Theresa if you would like to help with the planning of the Dinner Dance!

And between now and then there are many other dancing events to engage us: there are monthly dances in Portland, a Burn's Supper in Eugene, and the Portland Workshop and Ball.

Happy New Year, and Happy Dancing!

Thank You, Dessert Auction, Youth Weekend West
by Rebecca Mintz

We wanted to say a great big THANK YOU to everyone who brought such wonderful desserts to the auction at the Betwixt & Between dance, to everyone who enthusiastically bid on the delicious desserts, and to Susan Shaw, our auctioneer extraordinaire. The auction raised $192 for Youth Weekend West 2013. Thank you for all your help and generous support.

Youth Weekend West is a three-day Scottish Country Dance workshop for youth dancers (ages 15 to 30ish). It began in 2003 in Vancouver, B.C. and over the past ten years YWW has rotated through Victoria, B.C, Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA, San Francisco, CA, and Seattle, WA. In 2013 our very own Vancouver, WA is hosting the workshop from Friday, May 3rd through Sunday, May 5th. Because many attendees are students of limited means, organizers of YWW fundraise to keep registration prices as low as possible. The proceeds of the dessert auction will help YWW 2013 meet this goal.

If you have any questions or comments, please e-mail us at or check out our website at http://www.youthweekendwest.com

  Rebecca & Kathlleen Mintz
  YWW 2013 Co-Chairs

The MacKenzie Highland Pipe Band
by Noel Guthrie

This article is from "The Fairlie Accessible", a local newspaper of the farming community of Fairlie, New Zealand graciously given to the editor by Liza Halpenny from her travels there this past year. More information about the community can be found at (http://www.fairlienz.com) ~ The Editor

The name MacKenzie was at one stage, synonymous with James MacKenzie the sheep stealer. He became a legend the world over for his alleged exploits. Perhaps James MacKenzie set a precedent for a great many of those early Scottish settlers who ventured into this vast and barren landscape. Could it be that those early settlers took a leaf ouf of James MacKenzie's book for his strength, perseverance, and just plain Scottish determination to succeed, against all odds?

Now, that just about sums up the last one hundred years of the MacKenzie Highland Pipe Band. On several occasions, the band has floundered over the last century, but in the true guts and tenacity of their Scottish heritage, and leadership, they have risen again. It takes a lot of strength to hold a country band together, and many of those leaders showed that old Scottish resolve in their leadership. Men like George Cowan, Dan Ross, Arthur Kinsman, John Campbell, Lloyd Carlton, Ballance Slow, Eric Jones, Bill Fraser, Ted Hanifin, to name but just a few. If it weren't for these men, and men of their like, the band may not be active today, serving the community the best it knows how.

And do you know, all that began with one single donation of five quid? Five quid! . . . . . That's all it took to get the Scottish blood up and pounding through the veins.

Away back in early 1912, three young men, George Cowan, Danny Ross, and Joe McDonald, by way of entertaining themselves on a Saturday night in Fairlie, they tuned their bagpipes on the corner of School Road and the Main Street. Regularly they played for hours each session throughout the warmer months, for no other reason but to enjoy themselves in the company of those who came to listen. Then fate intervened. A local character, known only as the Highlan' Chief, approached this small group one evening. "Can ye play MacKenzie's farewell to Ross-Shire?" asked the Chief, in a gruff and demanding voice. "If ye can, I'll give ye five pounds towards your band."

Of that trio, only Joe McDonald could play that aire. Joe had previously played the pipes with the MacIntosh Clan's private Pipe Band back in Scotland. Through a veil of joyful tears, his foot tapping, the Highlan' Chief, was remembering his heritage and his kinfolk back in his homeland, Scotland. Of course, true to his word, the Chief handed over his booty. (This editor, upon hearing Gleann Baile Chaoil or "the Ballachulish Glen" experiences similar emotions as family originally emigrated to Canada from that area) ~ The Editor

From that day on, the Fairlie Pipe Band, as it became known, grew with the inaugural assistance of the MacKenzie County Caledonian Society. However, it was not to be without its trials and tribulations. Being a country band, most of the musicians were farmers and farm workers so it faced the shortage of players through the harvest periods. Then the Wars of 1914 and 1939 decimated the ranks.

In early 1929, the Fairlie Pipe and hit rock bottom and went into recess. By the end of 1929, the late Hector Carlton took up the challenge and gained enough interest for the band to be reborn. This time the band became known as the MacKenzie Highland Pipe Band. Of course, the greatest triumph for this band came in 1935, when, under the leadership of Drum Major Ballance Slow, the MacKenzie Highland Pipe Band won the New Zealand B Grade Pipe Band Championship.

Lastly, . . . of all the leaders this band has had over the last one hundred years, John Campbell's dedication is probably the greates. John, still an active leader as Pipe Major today, is recognized for his astounding record with the band. He has been with the band since 1954. That is fifty-eight years of continuous participation in the MacKenzie Highland Pipe Band, twenty-three of those years as Pipe Major. Over that time he has tutored more than two hundred and fifty local college students and adults in the art of Piping, many of them going on to advance their piping interest in other centres.

Dancers Sparkle
by Tom Halpenny

A set of Scottish Dance friends delivered the premier performance of the "Spark Dance" at the December 28 2012 Betwixt and Between dance and ceilidh. We can view the performance at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-stPXIMuUqg

Tom listened to Alasdair Fraser's tune "The Spark" from the "Skyedance" album and thought it would be exciting to dance to the tune's high-energy music. The challenge is that although the music has a good reel-time rhythm, the irregular bar phrasing would require a specially devised dance.

Many thanks to Holly who has devised the Spark Dance and taught it to her Scottish Dance friends. Particularly interesting is the middle section with 6-6-8 bar phrasing.

The Spark dancers are: Martin, Rebecca, Tom, Liza, Patrick, Linda Mae, John, Susan, Sally, Kate, and Holly. The spark-theme costume designers are: Linda Mae, Liza, and Kate.

Calendar of Events

Jan 3, 2013: Thurs Class in Battle Ground, new session starts
Check the Classes page for details.
Jan 9: Wed Class at Marshall Center, new session starts
Check the Classes page for details.
Jan 26 : Burns Dance, in Eugene
Celebrating the life of the Ayershire Bard, Robert Burns
Live Music by Linda Danielson and Cecily Morris
Santa Clara Grange Hall, 295 Azalea Drive, Eugene, OR, 7:00pm to 10:00pm
Cost: $15 per person before January 19th, $20 after.
Please register at
Please ask to be invoiced by PayPal, or indicate that you will pay at the door.
When registering, please indicate if you are interested in a pre-dance walk through of dances.
January 29: 5th Tuesday Mixer
January 29th is the first 5th Tuesday Mixer of 2013!
I hope that you will join us for a pleasant evening of social dancing for all.
Bring your family and friends who want to try out Scottish Country Dancing!
Hope to see you there!

5th Tuesday Mixer
January 29, 2013
Columbia Dance Center at 1700 Broadway, Vancouver, WA
Dancing: 7:30-9ish pm, followed by refreshing beverages and socializing
ALL dance levels welcome
$3 per dancer, first time attending is FREE

Questions? Email Rebecca Mintz at
Feb 28: Thurs Class in Battle Ground, new session
Check the Classes page for details.
Mar 6: Wed Class at Marshall Center, new session
Check the Classes page for details.
April 6: National Tartan Day
  Do you have an item of Celtic interest you would like to see in print?  
  You can contact me in any of the following ways:  
  By mail:  
  Martin MacKenzie
  10701 SE Hwy 212 C-7
  Clackamas, Or 97015
  By email:  
  The Scottish Country Dancer is a bi-monthly publication of the RSCDS Southwest Washington State Branch, a non-profit educational organization. For changes of address, please contact Martin MacKenzie, 10701 SE Hwy 212 C-7 Clackamas, Or 97015, . The editor reserves the right to alter or edit any material submitted for publication for reasons of taste, style, or clarity. All materials for publication should be sent by email to the editor at the address above, preferably in straight text. Deadline is one week before the end of the month prior to publication date. Editors of other newsletters may use or adapt any materials in the Scottish Country Dancer unless a specific copyright notice is included. Please credit author and original source.

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