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Introduction

Introduction

"Scots only parking"
"Scots only parking"
"This is my country,
The land that begat me,
These windy spaces
Are surely my own.
and those who toil here
In the sweat of their faces
Are flesh of my flesh
And bone of my bone."

~ Sir Alexander Gray
"No Shoes, No Kilt, No Service"
"No Shoes, No Kilt, No Service"

Scottish culture and tradition is so ingrained in the roots of the Windsor-Essex region that it has become easy to overlook. Scots have been settling in this region since France ceded its North American territories to Britain in the mid-eighteenth century. They were fur traders, taming the wilderness of the Detroit frontier; they were explorers, marching deep into the dense forests of this peninsula; they were merchants and businessmen and politicians and farmers, and their legacy is the city of Windsor that you see today.

Pay attention to the street signs the next time you're driving in the downtown core of Windsor. The city's Scottish heritage is revealed through the names of its streets: McDougall, McEwan, Moy, Dougall, Askin, Bartlet, Cameron - these roads were built by the families that (literally) laid the foundations of the city. Roads like Bruce, Glengarry, Braemar, Edinborough, Argyle, and Lochmoor were "named by homesick settlers wishing to have some tie with familiar names," and reflect the instincts of the early Scottish pioneers "to surround themselves with names so familiar to their lives in Scotland. 1

Bruce Ave.
Bruce Ave.
Victoria Ave.
Victoria Ave.
Glengarry Ave.
Glengarry Ave.

It's easy for visitors, or even life-long residents, to miss Windsor's Scottish undertones. Except for the pipe bands in parades, men don't gather together in their tartan kilts; few restaurants (aside from the Kildare House at 1880 Wyandotte Street) serve haggis with neeps and tatties; and souvenir shops have stopped carrying tartan products, favouring instead knick-knacks featuring maple leaves or beavers in Mountie uniforms.

But the fact that the Scottish tradition isn't in-your-face just means you have to dig a little deeper to unearth it: Windsor owes its very name to an immigrant from Paisley; its hallmark department store was founded and run by Scotsmen; a disproportionate amount of its local politicians were Scottish-born or of Scottish descent; and even its soldiers marched into the bloody battles of the First and Second World Wars accompanied by the rousing tunes of the Great Highland Bagpipe.

Amongst Windsor's architecture you'll find hidden nods to Scotland's. Amongst its' secrets is that Aberdeen is also known as granite city, and its' use of granite has spread not just though the city but thoughout the world as at one time they were one of the largest exporters of granite in the western hemishpere. We can thank Aberdeen for such prevalent use of granite kitchen countertops.

Among the pages of this website, you'll uncover Windsor's Scottish heritage (and Canada's too), and you'll learn why people of Scottish descent are always so fiercely proud of their ancestry.

"Flow gently, sweet Afton, among thy green braes,
Flow gently, I'll sing thee a song in thy praise;
My Mary's asleep by thy murmuring stream,
Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dream."

~ Robert Burns ["Afton Water"]
  1. Aitchison, George, "Family Names Kept Alive," Windsor Daily Star, 1 August 1942
The opinions and interpretations in this publication are those of the author and
do not necessarily reflect those of the Government of Canada.
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