How the Glengarry Highland Games began – and how they began, in 1948

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MAXVILLE — One, and it’s done?

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The Glengarry Highland Games in a recently released reminiscence video of the first edition held in the middle of the last century has a key figure in the multi-decade event, Jean Campbell, explaining that her father and the other co-founder originally agreed never to hold it again. .

Thank goodness they reconsidered that pretty quickly.

Finally, the 73rd The edition is fast approaching, with what has turned into a three-year period between gatherings, with the countdown to the Glengarry Highland Games now reduced to just three weeks.

The Kenyon Agricultural Showground in Maxville will come alive again on July 29 and 30 to the sound of bagpipes as thousands of fans and competitors join in celebrating a great Glengarry reunion and one of the greatest Celtic events from the continent.

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“As the final notes of the massed bands receded into 2019, no one could have ever imagined it would be three years before we heard that sound again,” Dona Cruickshank, Games Publicity Manager and Former President , said in a press release this week.

  1. Not a chimera: the 73rd Glengarry Highland Games take place on July 29 and 30

  2. A pipergram at an ice cream shop/sugar camp south of Maxville, performed by members of the Glengarry Pipe Band (left to right) Chris McPherson, Nancy McKinnon and Shahna Summers.  Photo on Saturday, July 31, 2021, in Maxville, Ont.  Todd Hambleton/Cornwall Standard-Freeholder/Postmedia Network

    The bagpipes play during the Glengarry Highland Games weekend

  3. Handout/Cornwall Standard-Freeholder/Postmedia Network A bagpiper warms up, in this file photo provided by the Glengarry Highland Games.  Document not intended for resale

    A mini Glengarry Highland Games returns this weekend, remotely

She said the games committee is doing everything to create a wonderful event that will help erase the time we spent outdoors. The guests of honor for this year’s Games are Jean (MacInnes) and Jim Campbell, and their involvement in the event dates back to 1948.

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Jean’s father was Peter MacInnes, co-founder of the games that year, and Jean was a Highland dancer at the early games while Jim was a volunteer; both have not only continued to attend every game since, but also worked as committee members and chairmen over those many decades.

“It’s very hard not to mention the names of Jim and Jean Campbell when you think of the history of the Glengarry Highland Games,” Games Chairman Eric Metcalfe said.

In 1982-83, Jim was president of the games. For the 50th anniversary of the games, there was no more obvious selection for president than the daughter of the games’ first president – ​​Jean would be president in 1996-97, and only the second woman to lead the games.

We apologize, but this video failed to load.

In the video promoting this year’s event, Jean Campbell spoke about the first games held just a few years after the end of the Second World War. She was 12 at the time, a highland dance competitor and, like everyone else, delighted Prime Minister William Lyon MacKenzie King was in the small village to officially open the event.

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She said her father and event co-founder Dr Don Gamble were surprised by the size of the crowd that day, and it was almost too successful.

“It was a fantastic crowd – there were twice as many people as they thought,” she said. “Lack of food was a problem because people came from all over.”

She said many people ventured into the streets, into the village, “knocking on doors to see if they could have a cup of tea. . . it was hard to believe but that was the way it was.

It’s hard to believe too: it could easily have been the end of the Glengarry Highland Games. Campbell said her father and the doctor shook hands at the end of an exhausting and overwhelming day and said, “Never again.”

But they would reconsider before too long.

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“When the dust cleared and they thought about it, they thought it was something that should continue,” she said.

It was in mid-April 2020 that it became clear the pandemic would have lasting ramifications, and the games were canceled for the first time. In early December last year, just before the Omicron variant became mainstream in the pandemic, the organizing committee announced that twice-cancelled games would make a return in the summer of 2022.

Note that for this year’s edition, starting Thursday, the games had space for three food trucks or food vendors to contract to provide catering service during the event. Interested parties can contact the Concessions Manager at [email protected]

Check out the games website and Facebook page for all the details on this year’s games. Ticket sales and registration for the many events are also online, at

[email protected]

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Jennifer R. Strohm