Saltire Society Fletcher Lecture 2020


The Saltire Society was pleased to host our annual Fletcher of Saltoun Lecture online on Tuesday 10 November 2020. We are delighted to make this engaging lecture exploring Scottish-Canadian Gaelic connections, presented by Professor Rob Dunbar of the University of Edinburgh, free to watch online.


The Trans-Atlantic Gaelic Ties that Bind Scotland and Canada

John Lorne Campbell of Canna (1906-1996) was one of the greatest folklorists and Gaelic scholars of the twentieth century. In the early spring of 1932 Campbell took advantage of being in the United States to visit Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. One of the first of the new world Gaels he met was Jonathan G. MacKinnon (1869-1944), who edited the longest running Gaelic newspaper that has ever existed, Mac-Talla (‘Echo’), between 1892 and 1904 in Sydney, Nova Scotia. In 1937 Campbell returned to Canada to record Gaelic material, specifically to record material that the emigrants had brought with them from Scotland and that was remembered by their descendants. He also recorded MacKinnon. These were amongst the first sound recordings of Gaelic material in Canada.


Professor Robert Dunbar is Professor of Celtic at the University of Edinburgh. His research interests include the Gaelic diaspora, particularly Gaelic in Canada, eighteenth and nineteenth century Gaelic literature, Gaelic oral tradition, and language policy and planning for Gaelic and other minoritised languages. A native of Canada and a lawyer by training, he received his PhD in Celtic from Edinburgh. He has been a strong advocate for the rights of Gaelic speakers, having played an important role in the creation of the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005. He has also frequently advised international organisations such as the Council of Europe, as well as national and sub-national assemblies such as the Welsh Parliament, on language law, language policy, and the protection of minorities.


Photo kindly provided by the wonderful folk at Canna House - take a virtual tour of their beautiful gardens on the National Trust for Scotland website