January 3, 2022
In this NEW YEAR'S episode, Sean Thomas Radcliff meets with Bruce McEwan, the Chieftan of the Caledonian Society of Hawaii.
Bruce McEwan was so kind to educate us on the facts of the richness of the history of the Scots in Hawaii. They were a part of the Royal Family of Hawaii. Princess Kaiulani was half-Scottish, and the Caledonian Society and others hold a traditional Tribue to Princess Kaiulani during the Scottish Highland games annually. It’s such a shame that the 2020, 2021 games were canceled and possibly the 2022 games may have to be canceled as well. We learned that 2020 was the 40th annual Highland Games and the Scotts in Hawaii have yet to be able to celebrate that with the people of Hawaii.
Bruce told us all about why Robert Burns, the Bard of Scotland is important to the world and why an annual Robert Burns night is held in January for the Scottish National Poet.
The Caledonian Society of Hawaii is doing so much each year to keep the people of Hawaii aware of the Scottish influence in the Islands. There is the Tribute to Princes Kaiulani, and the Highland Games we’ve already mentioned, and then there are traditional, ceremonial, and just plain fun events happening all the time.
We learned about some of these such as the SERG program which assists young adults to complete a project normally in Scotland, the Scott of the Year award, the Robert Burns night, the St. Andrew’s Day celebration, the Blessing of the Tartans, participation of the Society in Hawaiian multi-cultural events of all kinds, and finally attending upon request events in schools and other places where a Scott is requested to attend.
Bruce educated us about Robert Crieghton Wiley, who served as a trusted advisor to the Hawaiian Royal Family until the overthrow of the Kingdom in 1893. He sadly related the tragic death at just 24 years of age of Princess Victoria Kaiulani, who was educated in the UK and who passed away in 1899. We also learned about Archibald Scot Claghorn who married into the Hawaiian Royal Family.
We learned how the Scottish National flag got to be created and how St. Andrew became the patron Saint of Scotland. Very interesting.
We found out that the Caledonian Society has been active for 56 years and how the top priorities are getting back to normal in-person events post covid and attracting and retaining young people across the Islands for membership and leadership of the Society going forward.
Bruce told us about the Oral Interview project of people of Scottish descent in the Islands and how that led to the publication of a book entitled “The Story of Scotts in Hawaii”. That book is available from the Caledonian Society website and makes a fantastic gift.
Bruce mentioned how the original oral histories and other valuable artifacts were donated to a local Historical Society and Library where they are preserved in perpetuity.
The Caledonian Society membership is open to anyone with an interest in Scotland and educating the public in the History and Culture of the Scots in Hawaii and Scotland. There are so many fun events going on all the time, please see the list on the Society Web Site. It just makes sense for anyone who wants to contribute to the community to join and support the Society.
I have to say sincerely, that whether you’re a member of the Society or not; participating in the annual Tribute to Princess Kaiulani ceremony at the Royal Family’s mausoleum would be up there at the top of my list of things to make certain I observe annually.
There were a thousand questions I could have asked Bruce McEwan during our time together but could not in the interest of time. If questions occur to you and you would like more information, please connect with the Society via the contact information provided.
If you’re a listener in the area the society serves, OR if you’re a listener who values the history of Hawaii or Scottish ancestry, and you’re not already a member, please, do yourself a favor by joining and supporting the Society!
The society’s website and contact information again:
Mail: P.O. Box 4164, Honolulu, HI 96812-4164
I hope this information helps everyone, like me, understand how valuable the Caledonian society of Hawaii is to the community and what kinds of excellent benefits they have to offer to their members and the public.
The Caledonian Society of Hawaii is truly one of our Nation’s Preservation Oaks!