A little known benevolent group has been quietly operating in the Vernon area for 70 years.
Sons of Scotland Kildonnan Camp #166 first opened on May 21, 1949, at the I.O.O.F. Hall, which is now the Tai Chi Hall. In 1954 the group moved their meetings to the Elks Halls, which at that time was called Burns Hall. Older members of the group recall huge meetings with multigenerational fun had by all. A Pipe Band called the Kildonnan Camp Pipe Band was also part of the group.
The original concept of Sons of Scotland was to assist newcomers to Canada from Scotland, through a support system for new immigrants while preserving a taste of home, and establishing their new lives in Canada. The Sons of Scotland organization grew into a benevolent association that volunteered in local communities and raised funds to promote the Scottish arts among youth.
In Vernon, the Kildonnan Camp members have been very active with numerous volunteering commitments, as well as pursuing the advancement of Scottish Arts among youth. In February members volunteer at the Sons of Scotland Highland Dance competition that has been running for over 30 years. Some of the instructors once were the young people that danced in this competition, and those parents that supported their children are now supporting grandchildren in Highland Dance.
April brings Tartan Day, which usually means a celebration of sorts. Some years have seen dancing at the Vernon Museum, or an informational table set up in the Mall, while other years have a quiet in Camp event.
This year’s Tartan Day celebration is at the Army Navy Airforce Club on April 6 at 5 p.m. The low key event will include members playing bagpipes.
Late June is the downtown Vernon Sunshine Festival, and in past years Kildonnan Camp members volunteered at an informational booth. At one time Vernon had two dance schools that taught Highland Dancing, and those students preformed at one of the stages during Sunshine Fest.
Kildonnan Camp members volunteer at the Kidney Walk held each year in Polson Park, usually held in September, this year the walk is on June 2. Local Pipe Bands also perform while walking the track, and raising funds for the Kidney Foundation.
November is the only open to public fundraising that Kildonnan Camp hosts, at their St Andrew’s Night Ceilidh. Recent years have seen the Ceilidh held at the Schubert Centre, which is a fabulous venue. Bag auction, silent auction and various raffles raise funds to provide scholarships for local youth to attend Piping Hot Summer Drummer, which is held up at Silver Star Mountain Resort each July.
As well, various members of Kildonnan Camp assist and support the local Pipe Bands, while on parade and in practice, even travelling to be supportive in other cities. This May 2019 is the 100th anniversary of the Kootenay Kilties Pipe Band in Nelson, B.C. Pipe Bands from the Thompson Okanagan region, Kootenays and even Washington State will descend on this lovely place to fill the hills with music! Members from Kildonnan Camp will also attend the weekend’s festivities in a supportive role.
Sons of Scotland Kildonnan Camp #166 hold very tightly to their mandate of preserving the Scottish Arts and promoting this among local youth. As well as being an almost silent presence in our local arts community, Kildonnan Camp #166 will continue their volunteering.
They meet on the fourth Tuesday of every month at the Halina Centre in the Vernon Rec Centre at 3310 – 37th Ave.