View of Centre Hallway House

I climbed a hill and lost 200 years but where is Jamie?

Mea culpa…

Hmm. Maybe I should have thought twice about committing to writing blog posts while I was on vacation.  I seem to be getting a bit lax about deadlines as the vacation progresses. I guess it’s a good thing no one enforces the deadlines but me. :-)

Anyway, when last we met I was looking forward to visiting The Highland Village Museum (An Clachan Gàidhealach) at Iona in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. I am happy to report that I had a spectacular visit on a beautiful sunny day last week. The Village is spread across a hill overlooking the great Bras d’Or inland sea but the views before you even enter the village proper are just spectacular. I was also presented with immediate opportunities to test my Gàidhlig comprehension (I give myself a B+).

A Journey Begins…

Once I paid for my admission ticket, I began my journey through the history of Cape Breton settlement. There weren’t any stones but I still managed to lose over 200 years as I climbed the tree-shaded path up the hill. I wonder if I will find Jamie?

The first habitation on my tour is a Black House—or An Taigh Dubh in Gàidhlig. This is the type of dwelling that many Scottish emigrants left in Scotland when they moved across the Atlantic to Nova Scotia. As I stepped into the hazy darkness of the single room lit only by a peat fire, I was greeted by it’s resident—a shepherd who tended his lordship’s flocks. He apologized for the clutter, as he was in the final stages of preparing to move across the Great Sea to join his wife and children who had already left. He was very interested to hear if I had any first-hand information about the new land of Nova Scotia. I tried to channel my best inner Claire (a character in Outlander for the uninitiated) and make a few comments without prophesying like Cassandra. ;-)

A trifle gratefully, I made my escape from the Black House and move further up the hill toward the first habitations of the Scots in the new world of Cape Breton.

An alien land…

Continuing up the hill, I paused to speak to some other new residents—Heiland Coos!

Once passed the coos, I entered the realm of the first Scots in Nova Scotia. The first thing the Scots had to do when they arrived was clear the great forests that covered their new home. As those of you who are familiar with the Scottish Highlands may realize, this was quite a change from the deforested landscape most of them had left. In fact, many of them had only carried a single axe head on their voyage and had to craft a handle for that before it could even be used.

However, once they did manage to get some trees felled, they were able to build dwellings for themselves and their animals. Entering the log cabin, I was greeted by a frontierswoman—in Gaelic!  I answered her ‘Ciamar a tha sibh?’ with ‘Glè mhath.’ I fancy she was a bit surprised but I don’t think even I could butcher the pronunciation of that too badly. Pleasantries exchanged, she was happy to show me around her humble home.

Prosperity beckons…

Exiting the Log Cabin (Taigh-logaichean), I made my way forward in time to the house of a slightly more prosperous farmer who owned a center-chimney house. This dwelling was a vast improvement over the log cabin. It had painted walls, a hardwood floor and actual partitioned rooms—all clustered around a central fireplace that provided not only for cooking but also the heat for the entire house. Also, many of the rooms served more than one function. You will note in one of the pictures below that the living room is set up for a milling frolic where they waulk the wool to make the cloth softer and more durable. An interesting note about waulking wool—in Scotland waulking was done exclusively by women but in Nova Scotia it was done by women and men. Personally, I think the men just didn’t want to be left out of the singing and gossiping that were part of any Cape Breton function. For all you Outlander fans, I have heard that there may be a waulking scene in Outlander!

After leaving the previous house, I ventured into the church that has served the community for hundreds of years. One of the things I have noticed since I first began coming to Cape Breton almost 15 years ago, is that every community seems to have set aside the piece of land with the best view for their church, and this was no exception.

Leaving the church situated on the high ground, I descended into a Cape Breton village of roughly the 19th century time period. I stopped to peek into a Centre Hallway house from about 1865 and admired the brand new cook-stove. Such a time-saver for the farmer’s wife.

Tentative steps…

After the 1865 house, I walked past the Village School and then stepped into a turn-of-the-century General Store. This is where I got very brave. Not only did I answer the Storekeeper’s ‘Ciamar a tha sibh’ query with ‘Glè mhath,’ but I even ventured a further comment on the weather—’Tha e glè briagh an-diugh!’  Smugly I thought to myself—Àdham would be so proud—unfortunately, however, the storekeeper took this to mean I spoke Gaelic fluently and unleashed a torrent of Gaelic at me. Luckily, she quickly interpreted my panicked deer-in-the-headlights look correctly and switched back to English. We did have a lovely conversation though about how I came to speak even a little Gaelic and I took the opportunity to tell her about a new upcoming television series called Outlander. ;-)

I finally found Jamie…

Next up on my path through the village was the Blacksmith’s Shop. And guess what!! I finally found Jamie. Ok, so maybe he’s not a six-foot four-inch Highland Scot with red hair, but he does speak Gaelic and has a useful skill! I took a few pictures and a quick video of him at work making nails. (And just maybe had a brief flashback to a certain scene in MOBY).

The last stop on my tour of the Highland Village Museum was a turn of the 20th century house. These are the types of houses still much in evidence in many places on Cape Breton. In this house, modern appliances such as stoves, washing machines and ice cream churns are starting to be seen. As I concluded my tour, I stopped to read the signboard about the 21st century Gaels in Cape Breton and also to make a purchase in the gift shop. I’ve never yet experienced anything easy about Gaelic but I’m hopeful this little book will live up to its cover.

I hope you’ve enjoyed taking this tour through the Cape Breton Highland Village museum with me. If you are ever in Cape Breton—and I sincerely hope you will visit—be sure to stop by. You can find all the details about planning a visit at their website: Highland Village Museum

Final note…

I also wanted to take a moment to congratulate Linda Schultz (@lsdragonfly1) on winning the first ever GreatScot! giveaway. I know that the signed first edition copy of Written in My Own Heart’s Blood and the Outlander poster will have a wonderful home—just as soon as I’m home long enough to mail it!

Stay tuned for the next post all about my visit to the Gaelic College (Colaisde na Gàidhlig) where I see a man about a kilt, observe a waulking demonstration and listen to some fine fiddling from a former Premier of Nova Scotia!

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How to Speak Outlander Lesson 12: Tha Gaol Agam Ort, Cape Breton and the Giveaway

With anticipation of the Outlander premier episode on August 9th reaching fever pitch, I have only just now realized that the series beginning will also mark the end of some of our beloved pre-show traditions. Starz has called this to our attention with the release of the final ‘How to Speak Outlander’ video. However, if this series of videos featuring Àdhamh, Sam and others has to end, what a way to go out! I predict the ringtones and notifications of Outlanders worldwide are changing right now.

How to Speak Outlander Lesson 12: Tha Gaol Agam Ort

Wow! As final episodes go, this one is a keeper. Who among us hasn’t wanted to hear ‘my love is upon you’ from Jamie Fraser?  I think Sam must have a secret though, there’s a definite gleam in his eye at the end of this video. I wonder how long he’ll keep it? Until August 9th maybe?

Meanwhile in Cape Breton…

I have been having tons of fun in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. So far I have attended a Celtic square dance and made a visit to the Highland Village museum at Iona.  I promise that I am working on a blog post that will even have videos, but I have to find some better Internet connectivity before I can upload them! In the meantime, here are some quick pictures to tide you over.

And don’t forget…

Only 4 more days to enter the first ever GreatScot! giveaway. Click here to enter!

Cabot Trail

The next best thing to Scotland…Cape Breton, Nova Scotia (oh, and the Outlander Premiere)

In my mind, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia is the next best thing to Scotland and that’s where I’ll be for the next couple of weeks. Although GreatScot! blog posts may be a little more infrequent than usual, rest assured that I will keeping an eye out for interesting tidbits to post from time to time during my vacation.

For those who may not be familiar with Cape Breton Island, it is an island at the northern tip of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. As it was largely settled by Highland Scots emigrants, Cape Breton has a rich Gàidhlig history and many aspects of that culture are still evident today. The Celtic musical tradition is especially strong and there are still places where Gàidhlig is routinely spoken. I’m looking forward to the chance to practice my limited Gàidhlig vocabulary and see if anyone can understand me.

Here are a few pictures I took from my trip last year and a video from a music festival that I attended at Colaisde na Gàidhlig (The Gaelic College).

By the way, I found out yesterday that I am indeed attending the Outlander Premiere in San Diego on July 25, so readers can definitely look forward to Great Scot! blog posts covering the event. I’m very excited to be meeting more Outlanders and having the chance to see both the first Outlander episode and attend the Q&A panel with Ron, Diana, Sam, Caitriona, Tobias, Graham and Lotte.

Stay tuned, exciting times ahead!

In the meantime, don’t forget to enter the inaugural GreatScot! giveaway. Click here to enter.

 

 

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The Outlander Effect or (in Gàidhlig) “Buaidh Outlander”

 Outlander and Scottish tourism

Now that a premiere date for Outlander has been announced, we are slowly yet surely seeing press coverage about the series tick up. One such article published recently got me to thinking. Outlander already has a large and loyal fan base. What impact has there been, if any, on Scotland’s economy and culture? And what can we expect to change after the series starts airing?

First, let me start with the article that intrigued me, published by a site called “We Love Soaps, who bill themselves as the “World’s biggest champion of scripted, serialized storytelling on TV & the web.” I guess the Outlander TV series does fit that description, although I would never call it a Soap! The bit of the article to catch my eye was this:

The fervent on-line fan base totals over a half-million and when the ‘first-look’ photo of Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser posted on the Starz social channels, it outperformed other introductions of lead characters for properties such as The Great Gatsby (Gatsby), Hunger Games (Katniss), Game of Thrones (Ned Stark), and NBC’s Dracula (Dracula). Additionally, when Sam was cast as Jamie Fraser, the fans took it upon themselves to make their voices heard and put him on E! News’ “Hottie of the Week” charts two weeks in a row (which is very rare, if not unprecedented). In addition, #Outlander trended (was one of the top ten things being talked about on Twitter) numerous times during NY ComicCon.  Starz Summer 2014 New Series: ‘Power’ and ‘Outlander’

It is apparent the size and fervency of the Outlander fan base has already been noticed and its impact noted. One example is the recent Twitter trending event held on May 19 for #WorldWideTVNeedsOutlander. The tag trended globally and the fact was highlighted in the introduction of Outlander during the L.A. Screenings event for international TV buyers that same day. You can see Diana Gabaldon author of the bestselling Outlander series of novels — tweet about that here:

Continue reading

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How to Speak Outlander: Lesson 9 ‘Tùlach Àrd’

Happy Monday Outlanders! Starz has given us a sparkling new ‘How to Speak Outlander” video this afternoon. This video focuses on ‘Tùlach Àrd’, the war cry of the Clan MacKenzie.  After a most spirited introduction and pronunciation by Àdhamh (is it just me or does he just get better and better in front of the camera with every new video), we are forced to recognize yet again that the Gàidhlig language is full of traps for the unwary learner.  For English speakers like me, ‘ard’ on paper does not logically translate to ‘aarsd’ in pronunciation, but I have learned to not be too phased by this. (See previous comments regarding H’s in Gàidhlig)

Luckily, we are treated to the MacKenzie brothers (Gary Lewis and Graham McTavish) giving us their rendition of the Clan war cry as well. And may I take a moment to compliment Terry Moore (@outlandercostum) once again for such a lovely job with everything we have seen so far costume wise. As have all the others I’ve seen, the costumes for Column and Dougal take my breath away.

In this new video, viewers are also given a glimpse into the humor of Gary Lewis as he very helpfully points out that the large chap (Graham as Dougal) will be uttering the war cry as he asks for another glass of the Rhenish. I can so totally believe Gary is the prankster on set.

And last but not least, I can’t help but get a little thrill at the end of the video when the premiere date of August 9, 2014 is shown. So close and yet so far!

 

How to Speak Outlander: Lesson 9 ‘Tùlach Àrd’