I guess part of my settling
in experience in Canada is taking in a Highland Games and that was what I
did last weekend in Chatham. Actually the park where they have it is a
good venue... down by the river with lots of trees and as it was a hot and
sunny day the shade from the trees was most welcome.
Met lots of interesting
people at the event and I think this just goes to show that the Scots
descendants sure enjoy games and lots of others also like to get involved
with us from all ethnic mixes. I have said this before but Canada to my
mind has one of the most tolerant ethnic mixes of any country I've visited
and it's real nice to see.
You can see the pictures I
took at the
Tartan Sertoma Supreme Highland
Games in Chatham.
I was in Toronto for the
Scottish Studies board meeting and we are looking at the possibility of
doing a Scottish & Celtic seminar. The idea is to bring in some of the top
historical professors and researchers to a several day meeting where
they'd give talks, present papers and otherwise be available for meetings.
We want to attract the top people and make this a really massive event
that will attract world wide interest. This should be a great event to
publicise Scots and Scotland as well as being a prestigious event for
Toronto to host.
Mind you this kind of event
will likely take a couple of years to organize so a lot of work to do and
I guess we'd be looking at Aug/Sep 2007 as the earliest time scale.
I think this also demonstrates the kind of activity that the Scottish
Studies Foundation and Society consider that will benefit a wide range of
people. Authors also attend these events as they get good background for
books both fact and fiction and so we more ordinary folk will get to read
these further down the line.
The following day I had a
meeting with Alasdair MacPherson and we did some business together and
you'll likely see something new appearing in our left border in the next
few days as a result. We were very in tune in decrying Scotland's business
and tourism organisations. Alasdair was over with his family for a couple
of weeks holidays and as we'd been emailing each other for the past couple
of years and had never met face to face this was a good opportunity to
find out more about each other.
We both felt that the web
isn't being used properly by companies. Many feel when they have a
web site that's the work done with perhaps a few banner adverts to attract
more people to visit. Problem is that often the web sites themselves
don't do a good job about communicating their business to visitors and
they rarely get updated. The owners of the companies often think they've
got a great web site because it looks good and often don't realise that
while looking good they are not easy to read and often fail to communicate
any decent information.
I myself fail to understand
why the vast majority of company web sites don't communicate well to the
visitor. It's as if they are scared to talk to visitors and so prefer to
hide behind a brochure site. I mean how many times have you seen the
words "personal attention" and then fail to find the names of the company
owners on the site?
We were also comparing
notes on how important clans are to folk from North America and yet when
you go to Scotland you never see signs saying.... "you are now entering
the clan lands of X". For that matter I also discussed how this
wasn't actually a particular Scottish situation. While in Nova Scotia I
never saw anything about clan lands and yet so many clan people settled in
Nova Scotia and there are lots of areas that have significant gatherings
of clans in a particular area. It's as if we are so familiar with
our own areas that we just don't consider that others won't know what we
know. In fact it was only when I first started doing Scottish History that
I found out about Nova Scotia. That might sound really ridiculous
but at school we never got anything on that area of Canada either in
Geography, History or for that matter Economics. All I can remember
getting was stuff on the prairie provinces.
Considering the sheer
amount of Scots and Scots Irish that have settled in North America you
never see any tour companies offering Scottish ethnic tours in North
America. The story of Scots descendants in North America is quite
fantastic and you could easily fill many books with such stories. Yet to
my knowledge not one tour is offered in North America. Nova Scotia or for
that matter PEI could do something significant on this front. So I guess
that I'm saying is that tourism organisations that look after countries or
regions really should do better.
Marketing companies and
departments seem to be very lacking in coming up with new ways of
promotion. In fact just the other day I was discussing TV advertising as
being ridiculous. I think I'm right in saying you now get around 9 minutes
of programs for every 30 minutes of air time. I was watching Homes on
Homes the other day. What you now seem to get is once the adverts are
finished you get a summary of what went on in the last segment before you
get anything new to watch. They probably figure that after watching so
many adverts you've probably forgotten what you were watching so they need
to remind you... and thus even less new program information.
It occurred to me that if
you watch that Homes on Homes program you are likely interested in
renovations. It was watching that program that made me say to my
contractor to get a leaf guard over the gutters. On that program they were
discussing this new gutter that was on the market but they went so fast
through that item that I didn't really follow it all. Now if they'd
included say a 2 minute advertising item about the gutter and where you
could find it that would have been of great interest. Also there are lots
of other items he brings up in the program so if we could do away with the
advertising slots and just include more information on items discussed on
the program would that not be of more use to us and probably get far
better results than the obnoxious number of standard adverts they serve up
I did read an article the
other day in a Canadian business magazine where global brands were being
discussed and they actually sited the top brand marketing people as saying
"we all know the 30 second TV advert is dead". I mean generations of us
have grown up with these adverts and over a couple of generations we've
all found ways to block out advertising by either going for a cup of
coffee, muting the adverts, channel hopping or any of umpteen other ways.
Even when you do watch an advert they are often totally lacking in
information and if you mute the adverts at least a quarter of them you'll
have no idea what they are about or what they are trying to sell you.
I also note a new
development that tries to trick you into watching an advert. When I was
watching the National Geographic channel I saw an advert come up for the
channel and as these types of adverts used to be at the end of the
traditional adverts I thought... good they are coming to the end and
toggled off the mute button only to find there were two more adverts to
watch before we got back to the program. They have of course also added on
"This program is sponsored by" just before you get back to the program. So
the only novel ways of adding more advertising is to take yet more time
from the actual program. Does this not tell you just how dumb these
media companies are and does not that also say something about ourselves
that we actually sit through them all and not object?
Considering you are
watching all this in your own home in your own time I consider this
advertising to be an invasion of my privacy. I stayed with a family
for a wee while who never watched TV but had over 500 DVD's and that was
all they watched on the TV.
Companies like Toyota have
been very successful but you just know they are on their way out when
sending in an new idea to promote the brand they tell you they don't
accept unsolicited emails. That is a sure sign the company is failing to
innovate and expand and is now relying on past success. I sure won't by a
car from them as they're obviously living on past success.
Anyway... you can tell I'm
mightily fed up with all the adverts. I guess this is because I come
from Scotland where we had the benefit of having the BBC that don't accept
advertising. On the whole you could always find something interesting to
watch on their channels and so TV advertising didn't seem so invasive as
it is in Canada. I admit we had to pay something like £120.00 a year for a
TV license but frankly to avoid advertising I was more than happy to pay
Perhaps some new and
innovative media company will buy up some TV stations and try out a new
way to accept advertising.. one can only hope. Or of course we
could change attitudes by resolving not to buy anything that gets
advertised on TV so when companies see their sales actually fall when they
advertised they will start to insist on finding new ways to get their
advertising out and force media companies to do better advertising that is
more acceptable to us.
Of course during this past
period we had the London bombings and this setup a new discussion on TV
about how it's likely to harm tourism not only for London but elsewhere in
the world. I've personally never had time for people canceling trips
or putting them off just because a terrorist bomb has gone off somewhere
in the world. I admit I wouldn't head for Iraq right now but I would have
been perfectly happy to have gone to Spain or the UK. People that decide
not to travel due to there terrorist attacks are just giving these people
more encouragement to do it all again. If you count up all the
people that die in these attacks it's only a tiny fraction of people that
are killed on our roads. It was the same in Toronto when the SARS virus
was here. Many people stayed away and yet the actual numbers infected were
such a tiny number. I really can't understand it. Of all the people that
are persuaded not to travel due to these things you'll find that more of
them will die due to road accidents than would have died if they'd
Abadan, Iran, Xmas 1946
And so having got all that
off my chest on a lighter note I found this wee picture when unpacking
another box. If you click on it to enlarge it you'll see the face is made
up or humans and animals. I'm not sure where the folks got this but
probably from Iran. Also not sure if this is a one off or perhaps part of
a larger production.
As I got back from Toronto
last night I found that a wee bit of my porch deck had been painted
outside my front door so guess we're now getting to the final stages of
the paint job :-)
I got an invite in this
week to become a member of the Knights Templars (The Sovereign Military
Order of the Temple of Jerusalem) here in Toronto which I am going to
join. The investiture takes places in October in Toronto so will tell you
more about that at a later date.
I also finally got my
membership of the Toronto Press Club which is based in The Ontario Club
which you can read about at
I'm still debating about
becoming a member of the Royal Canadian Military Institute. My only
reservation is that they are not always open for lunch and sure as fate it
will be one of those days that I am in Toronto. I've actually been there
several times and have enjoyed it on each occasion and at the moment it is
unique in that you can smoke in any of the rooms apart from the dining
I'm also going to see what
I can find in Chatham that might be interesting to join and will hopefully
get out and about a bit more in the weeks to come.
This was also the first
time I've actually had to purchase a prescription since leaving Scotland.
Got a bit of a fright at the price for my blood pressure pills which was
just over CAN$200.00. Mind you I worked it out that this was really six
months supply so around $35.00 a month so guess that wasn't too bad. It
will be another month before I need to purchase my other diabetic supplies
so will be interesting to see how much they are going to be. Back in
Scotland you don't pay for prescriptions when you are a diabetic but of
course in Canada the doctors visit is also free so a lot better than down
in the USA.
So.. that's my report for
the past week or so.