The following appeared in the Autumn 1995 issue of Roslin O Roslin
(Vol 3 No 1), Rory Sinclair, Editor:
The regular quadrennial meeting of the Clan Sinclair Association took
place in Nova Scotia this past August. Your editor was in the midst of
preparing a report on the proceedings when this appeared in the mail from
Lee St Clair, son of Neil St Clair, the newly elected
Vice-President of the Nova Scotia Society. Lee has not been involved in
the Clan Association up to now and your editor found his report both
eloquent and moving and much better than anything he could come up with.
So here is Lee.
by Lee St Clair
As a kid in high school, I undertook the study of French because
the name St Clair was French, and I thought that our family was
of French descent. However, long after I'd left my high school romanticism
behind, my father began looking into the genealogy of our family. His
discovery that our family is descended from a young man who emigrated
from Scotland shortly before the American War of Independence ultimately
led me to my first Clan Sinclair Gathering in Baddeck, Nova Scotia in August
I thought I'd come prepared. Earlier in the summer I'd gone to see the
movie Braveheart, the story of Sir William Wallace and his fight for the
independence of Scotland from England. It was a stirring epic, men dashing
about in kilts, swords held high with pride. I had read Andrew Sinclair's
wonderful book, The Sword and the Grail, which I found quite
by accident a year and a half earlier. I had joined the Prince Henry
Sinclair Society and had read several books about his exploits. My mind and
imagination were aflame with visions of William the Conqueror and the nine
St Clairs at Hastings, Duncan and Macbeth, Rob Roy and the glorious
history of Scotland.
Yet, when I stepped out of my parents' car and heard the haunting strains
of a bagpipe coming from up the hill at the lodge where the gathering was
being held, I knew I wasn't prepared at all. I had never been personal for
me until that moment. It had all been legend and myth and movie magic. But
to see a man, a dozen yards away, wearing a kilt and playing the pipes
suddenly brought it home. Over the course of the weekend, I was to hear that
young (! ed.) man play several more times. His name is Rory
Sinclair, Clan Piper. And his music haunts me still as I replay it in my
The first evening at the banquet, I thrilled to many sights and sounds
and feelings: dozens of men in their kilts with the Sinclair tartan in its
variety of forms that seemed to be calling to me from the past; women in
their tartan dresses and skirts; eating haggis for the very first time;
hearing speeches filled with the pride of our effort as an Association to
keep our heritage alive; friendly people whom I had never before met saying
without words: "We are strangers, yet we are Sinclairs and
St Clairs. We have a history. We are Clan and we are Family -
I sat amazed and awed as Niven Sinclair, the guest speaker from Caithness
and now London, told us about Prince Henry Sinclair and his voyage to Nova
Scotia and the New World/ Can we know for a scientific certainty that he
made that momentous discovery in 1398? Perhaps not. But I choose to believe
he did. I choose to bask in the reflected pride that someone in our Clan
accomplished something so noble and worthy. And if the proof is there to be
found, which I believe it is, then Niven Sinclair is the man to lead the way
in this discovery. I am proud to have met him, and prouder still to support
him in his magnificent effort.
Saturday morning: the business meeting. I beamed with pride as my father,
Neil St Clair was elected Vice-President of the Clan Sinclair
Association of Canada. For me, it was fitting that the man who had
inadvertently discovered our heritage should suddenly find himself in the
very midst of trying to preserve it.
Saturday night at the Ceilidh: the music was not just good, it
carried a very Sinclair flavour: Ian Sinclair and his cousin Joanne Sinclair
sang a duet with Ian on the guitar and Rory Sinclair played two tunes he
wrote himself, a lament for his father and a hornpipe for his mother. The
company and conversation was excellent. Later, the film that Niven Sinclair
brought highlighting the Templar connection to Scotland and the Clan
Sinclair was intriguing.
And Sunday morning: the Church service at Loch Katrine. The men and
women resplendent in their tartans. The stained glass windows with the
glorious clan crests; the Clan Sinclair crest proudly taking precedence as
the first of the windows to be installed. The music offered by Clan members.
The noble, haunting tunes from the pipes of our Clan Piper. Pride in
purpose, pride in family, pride in Clan. It all came together there, that
And then it was over.
I came, thinking I was prepared. I left knowing that so much more lay
before me. I have the reissue of Pohl's book on Prince Henry to read as well
as my recently acquired A History of Scotland by J.D. Mackie.
I have the Highland Games at Antigonish to attend and the Tattoo in Halifax.
And I have the dream of a visit to Scotland itself, ever before.
I came thinking I was prepared, but I was not half prepared for the
feeling of pride in being a St Clair, the pride of Scottish heritage,
that I took home with me. It is a good thing to feel.
Well said, Lee! It should be added for the record that the new
slate of officers was elected as follows:
- Past-President: Jack G. Sinclair
- President: William E. "Bill" Sinclair
- Vice-President, Nova Scotia Society: Neil St Clair
- Vice-President, Central Ontario: Glen Sinclair
- Vice-President, Western Ontario: Heather St Clair Wilkerson
- Secretary-Treasurer: Rory Sinclair
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