From Roslin o Roslin Spring 2001 (Vol 3 No 23), Rory Sinclair, Editor
by Jack Sinclair
The Seven Roses Voyage - An Historic Thank You - A Sacred Sign
Three organizations combined their efforts on September 8th and 9th, 2000,
to recognize and salute two intrepid mariners and the Mi'kmaq nations of
Atlantic Canada at Boylston/Guysborough, Nova Scotia. The hosting trio was the
Warden and Council of the Municipal District of Guysborough, The Prince Henry
Sinclair Society of North America, and the Clan Sinclair of Nova Scotia and
The timing of these celebrations was sparked by the September arrival in
Guysborough Harbour of Laura Zolo and her mariner colleague Captain Jack
Lammiman, who, accompanied only by their two faithful dogs, accomplished
a trans-Atlantic heroic feat in their self-constructed vessel entitled Seven
Roses. Their objective - to retrace the historic voyage to the New World
in 1398 by Prince Henry Sinclair of Orkney to Guysborough Harbour, N.S.
As most Clan Sinclair members are well aware, the Venetian "connection" derives
from the fact that Antonio Zeno, of the famous twelfth century Zeno family of
sea-farers, was Prince Henry Sinclair's navigator and colleague on his 1398
voyage. His ship's log, discovered in a Venetian attic in the mid-fifteen
hundreds, details not only the route of the voyage, the geographic features
of Guysborough Harbour, but also, and most importantly, the friendly welcome and
positive reception they received from the members of the Mi'kmaq Nations of
Departing from their native Venice in February, 2000, Laura Zola and Captain
Jack visited various Mediterranean ports as well as Orkney, Shetland, Iceland,
Greenland and Newfoundland en route to Nova Scotia. They were cheered and feted
at each port of call and, interestingly, the spokesperson and chief host of the
Welcoming Committee at Orkney was none other than one Mr. Jim Sinclair - Provost
of Kirkwall! (The woods are full of us Sinclairs!)
The mariners arrived exactly on schedule at 2:30 p.m. on September 8, 2000, to
be met at the mouth of Guysborough Harbour by a small flotilla of local vessels
who escorted the Seven Roses to dockside at Guysborough Village.
Dockside welcoming festivities were organized by the Prince Henry Sinclair
Society of North America. President D'Layne Coleman was ably assisted by a local
committee. Fanfare, balloons, musical groups, official government welcomes, and
food and beverages were all part of the Welcome at the dockside. Again, under
the aegis of the P.H.S.S.
A supplementary welcoming event took place on Friday evening at the local
Masonic Lodge, comprising a cocktail party, refreshments, welcoming speeches and
additional fanfare. On hand for these proceedings were: County Warden Lloyd
Hines; local MLA Ron Chisholm; Hereditary Clan Sinclair Chief The Right
Honourable Malcolm Sinclair; Mr. Niven Sinclair; U.K. historical researchers Dr.
Tim Wallace Murphy and Marilyn Hopkins; Honorary Canadian Clan Sinclair
President Mac Sinclair and his wife, Eileen; current Canadian Clan Sinclair
President Bill Sinclair; Secretary-Treasurer and Newsletter Editor Rory
Sinclair; as well as Gunn Clan Past President Dr. Redge Gunn and Mrs. Gunn, and
The Municipal District of Guysborough official welcome comprised a noon hour
civic luncheon on Saturday, hosted by Warden Lloyd Hines and was held in the
beautiful dining facilities of the DesBarres Manor in Guysborough Village. Some
sixty invited guests were on hand to salute our intrepid mariners. The guest
list included Grand Chief Ben Sylliboy of the Mi'kmaq Grand Council and Mrs.
Sylliboy, renowned Mi'kmaq poet
Rita Joe, Executive Director of the Confederacy
of Mainland Mi'kmaqs
Donald Julian, and Dr. and Mrs. Peter Christmas of Cape Breton's Membertou
reserve. The luncheon featured greetings and congratulations, as well as gift
presentations to Laura and Captain Jack by various donors.
The Clan Sinclair's celebration took place, also on Saturday, from 2:00 to
5:30 p.m. at Boylston Upper Park, site of our Interpretation Memorial to the
Prince Henry Saga, dedicated in the summer of 1998. Its purpose is two fold; to
salute the remarkable feat of the Venetian mariners and to recognize and express
appreciation to the Mi'kmaq nations for their historically friendly welcome
reception of all immigrants to Atlantic Canada.
Some hundred and fifty persons rose in tribute as Grand Chief Ben Sylliboy and
the Rt. Hon. Malcolm Sinclair were paraded to their seats led by Clan Piper Rory
Sinclair and escorted by Provincial and National Clan Presidents Barbara
Sinclair Barnard and Bill Sinclair, as well as by a flag party of young Scouts
bearing the flags of the nations that figure in the Sinclair Saga. They
included, of course, the Mi'kmaq Nation's flag. A thrilling sight indeed in the
beautiful afternoon sunshine featuring the panoramic vista of Guysborough
Harbour against which in the foreground was silhouetted our striking nautical
memorial. Clan Presidents extended welcome greetings.
The entertainment menu for this event aimed at a blend of the Celtic and Mi'kmaq
cultures. The Celtic presentations included the music and dance of the vibrant
and talented Young Guysborough Fiddlers. Terri MacDonald and Lisa Hallett
presented their original choral tribute to Henry Sinclair entitled "Written Down
On Pages" that was presented at our 1998 Celebration. The superb musical talents
of the Ludlow family including daughter Anna a violin virtuoso of great promise
and mother Dorothy, whose choral offerings included her moving renditions of
"Come By The Hills" and "Scotland Forever". Husband and father Basil accompanied
both on guitar.
The Mi'kmaq artists included a dance troupe from Eskasoni, Cape Breton under the
direction of their leader Beverly Jeddore. They performed three separate dance
routines the interpretations of which were interestingly explained by Mrs.
Jeddore. She invited her audience to join her troupe for her final "Friendship
Dance" to which several - in the spirit of the occasion - responded.
The Honourable Rita Joe, a member of the Privy Council of Canada is, in effect,
the poet laureate of the Mi'kmaq Nations. She lives at Eskasoni, Cape Breton
and, for a woman of her age suffering from Parkinson's disease, was
graciously responsive to our invitation to share with us her internationally
recognized talents. Her poetic tribute on this occasion captured the genuine
spirit of our ceremonial occasion and left all in attendance inspired by her
gracious, moving and generous poetic tribute to the saga of Antonio Zeno and
Prince Henry Sinclair, and their reception by the Mi'kmaq people. [This
poem is reproduced in
the Autumn 2000 issue of Roslin O Rosslyn. Ed.]
Mr. Niven Sinclair, to whom our Clans owe so much, presented an update on
ongoing research to add to the information about the Henry Sinclair legacy in
which we all share. Niven's efforts are truly untiring and impressive.
Past President of the Nova Scotia Clan Sinclair, Dr. Alasdair Sinclair paid
tribute to the Venetian mariners saluting their very incredible example of
purpose, dedication, skill and bravery. Similar tributes were expressed by Peter
MacKay, M.P. for Pictou, Antigonish and Guysbourough counties, as did local MLA,
Ron Chisolm and Warden Hines. Greetings and congratulations were expressed by
Ms. Elo Kai Ojamaa, Consul General of the United States, and Mr. Rodolfo Meloni,
Honorary Vice Council of Italy.
The "Sword of Peace" presentation came from the mind, heart and pocketbook of
Niven Sinclair. This concept embodied the notion of making an important symbolic
gesture of recognition and gratitude to the ancestors of the Atlantic Mi'kmaq
people for the friendship, aid and support historically proffered not only to
our Scottish and Venetian ancestors, but indeed to all immigrants to our shores,
irrespective of their lands of origin.
When the Mi'kmaq leadership was approached with the idea of the public act of
gratitude, their immediate response was one of delight and surprise. When viewed
against the contemporary dialogue of anger, angst and controversy, as aboriginal
people struggle for recognition of their treaty rights in the context of today's
circumstances, this act of heart and mind constituted a beacon of light and hope
in an otherwise often dark and gloomy scenario.
The "Sword of Peace" is an ornately and beautifully crafted work of art bearing
both Celtic and aboriginal symbols and inscribed with the word "Peace" in
two hundred and thirty five languages, including the Mi'kmaq tongue. The
presentation by Hereditary Sinclair Clan Chief Malcolm Sinclair to Grand Chief
Ben Sylliboy of this symbol of thanks and recognition was indeed a poignantly
moving and significant moment.
Malcolm Sinclair, in making the presentation stressed the commonality of
historical experience by our two cultures. We (the Scots) were also a tribal
society governed by tribal chieftains. Both societies experienced oppression by
dominate societies as minority sub-cultures. Our language, dress and cultural
values were banned and depreciated. Both know the experience of being cultural
and linguistic minorities.
Grand Chief Sylliboy's response was gracious, moving and appreciative. After
receiving the sword he, in turn, presented it to Donald Julian, whose mainland
based confederacy are in the process of constructing a facility to house
Atlantic Mi'kmaq artifacts. The Sword of Peace will occupy a place of honour in
their new museum facility. All in all it was a proud and mutual act of giving
Our Honorary Canadian Clan President Mac Sinclair and his wife Eileen presented
gifts to Laura Zolo and Captain Jack - as well as to Rita Joe and others. The
Grand Chief also presented gifts to Laura Zolo on behalf of the Mi'kmaq
Following the formal ceremonies, all present enjoyed light "finger food"
refreshments while being entertained with the piping by Rory Sinclair of
selections from his new and exciting CD Rosslyn Chapel Suite.
There is a postscript to these reflections on our Clan Sinclair sponsored
celebrations. I was told by these most helpful and cordial hosts of Carritt
House Bed and Breakfast of an occurrence which, with my preoccupation as emcee
of these events I had not observed. Sharon and Buster Jarvis asked me following
the afternoon ceremonies if I had observed the visit of a bald eagle. I had not.
They and others noticed that immediately following the Mi'kmaq friendship dance,
in which several of our audience participated, a bald eagle had swooped down
over the dance area. On hearing this something in what is left of my mystical
Celtic bones twitched. This had to be an omen of some sort.
I consulted an expert. Captain of the Mi'kmaq Grand Council Noel Knockwood is
the pre-eminent spiritual leader/teacher of the Mi'kmaq Nation. I asked him
if this occurrence and circumstance had, in his view, any meaning. His answer
was as follows:
"Our ancestors taught us that whenever our creator witnessed an occurrence with
which he was pleased he always sent a messenger as a signal and sign of his
pleasure. Most frequently the messenger is an eagle!"
Noel Knockwood is an internationally respected student of aboriginal spiritual
values and customs, and author of several publications.
I like to think that, embodied in the symbolic gesture of the Sword of Peace,
in the moving words of Rita Joe's poem, and in the dance by two cultural groups,
happily celebrating together, that our creator, however we may envision him, was
I have never been accused of a lack of pride in my Clan Sinclair origins. I was
never more proud than I was on September 9th, 2000. Our Mi'kmaq friends were, I
hope and expect, equally proud. So too was Laura Zolo who expressed her
satisfaction in achieving her long cherished ambition and her great and evident
joy at meeting Mi'kmaq people - and perhaps, and most especially - Rita Joe.
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