Clan MacFarlane Worldwide, Inc.

Helping To Connect You With Your Heritage


Diaspora - 3 March 2019

Playing with Sticks

As the designated "Tom Boy" in the family, I did sit with my Dad when he watched ice hockey on his old black and white TV.  I cannot say I ever understood the rules.  Very much like rugby, I was never sure what was going on.  (Really... why do they climb on another player's back...).

Fast forward about 40 years, and I had an opportunity to learn more about ice hockey when the company I worked for, Thomson Reuters, took my group to Toronto, Ontario for a work meeting.  Now let me paint a picture for you:  2 large commercial bus loads of women, all educated with law degrees, all law school teachers, all "girly-girls."  There were perhaps 2 men in "upper management" from our group who had decided that for our closing cocktail party meeting, we should all go to the Ice Hockey Hall of Fame.  Yeah, 2 bus loads of women - Ice Hockey Hall of Fame.  I was only slightly amused.  My work mates were saying less than lady-like things about the venue.  But as I looked in the gift store for something to redeem this horrible idea, I did find a red ball cap to give to my dad with the Swiss Ice Hockey team logo sewed onto the front that would honor my Dad's heritage.  I also noted many, many different ball caps from countries around the globe, including Scotland.

And so now the point of this blog entry:  Scotland and the game of Ice Hockey.  According to Wiki, ice hockey was officially introduced to Scotland in the 20th century.   Fellow Canadians call it "Shinty" or "Hurling."  Shinty is the national stick game in Scotland.  So there appears to be a connection between Shinty - a Scottish team game played with sticks and a ball and ice hockey (wait for it, I am getting to it).  Shinty is similar to our field hockey, but also very different because in Shinty, the stick can be raised into the air, and both sides of the stick can be used to manipulate the ball.  If you are an American, think field hockey vs. lacrosse, and more bruises about the shoulders and head with the raised stick.  (I have my own personal experience with this, which is why I went back to soccer.)

Shinty was played primarily in the Highlands.  The Irish version, hurling, as well as the Welsh version, bando all have their own rules.  Similar, and yet not.  But there is a ruling Camanachd Association that has combined rules for both Hurling as well as Shinty that allows Irish and Scottish teams to play each other.

Now for ice hockey.  In Scotland, there was another game played - Bandy.  Similar to Shinty, but played on ice, the word Bandy is Scottish Gaelic for "Ice Shinty." So there you have it.  The Scots might have actually invented the game of ice hockey.

And are there differences?  Yes.  Hockey plays with a flat puck.  Bandy uses a ball.  Bandy uses 11 players for a team and hockey only has 6 players on the ice.

Wiki is conflicted on the origins.  The Russians claim it.  The Scots claim it.  As for me, I'll go with the Scots.  

And now for a list of Scottish ice hockey teams:

Aberdeen Lynx
Dundee Comets
Dundee Tigers
Kilmarnock Thunder
Kirkcaldy Kestrels
Murrayfield Racers
North Ayrshire Wild
Paisley Pirates
Solway Stingrays.


For more information on Scottish Ice Hockey, start here:

Photo below from Wiki




Diaspora - 2 March 2019

Another Aha! Moment That Leaves You Feeling Incredibly Dim-Witted

 light bulb idea







Father insisted we all have at least one year of Latin in school.  "It will help you with your vocabulary" he would say.  So dutifully, each of us attended Latin.  I took Latin in 8th grade.  I barely remember amo, amas, amat; I love, you love, he/she/it loves.  I was a good student of Latin, but I was incredibly relieved when the year was over so I could start attending classes in German.

Now that I am older, I am amazed at the number of times that I hear a phrase that makes me stop and think about the background for the phrase.  You know the ones: "he's not worth his weight in salt" or "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" or "the grass is always greener on the other side."  Easy to throw those statements around, but how often do you actually stop and think about the background for those catch phrases?  They roll off the tongue so easily.  Right?

Several weeks ago, I was mesmerized by another hour-long session of a TV program about the mystery of Oak Island.  If you are not familiar with it, 2 brothers who frequented the area when they were children, have been engaged with us on trying to find a supposed hidden treasure on the Island.  Each week, another mystery, another find, another catastrophe or near miss leaves us wanting to know more.   Like a modern-day soap opera, I am fully engaged as the story develops.  (BTW - I don't watch soap operas.  I have my pride.)

Where is this mystery island?  Nova Scotia, of course!  Starting to follow me here?

Yes.  At the ripe old age of 64, my light bulb went on.  Nova Scotia... Nova Scotia... New Scotland?  New Scotand!  Sheesh..... where has my brain been?  So with that, I whipped out my trusty Mac and found out that yes, Nova Scotia is Latin for New Scotland.  Father was right.  My Latin classes would pay off.  This is when I tell you this is one of the main reasons why I studied law, but never practiced.  I'm smart... I know it.  But I'm not very fast.  I could not imagine my poor clients in the courtroom suffering over my objection to something presented to a jury.  I would know that I needed to object, but I would beg for a few minutes to mull over my rationale for the objection. So you can see why sometimes my lightbulb is always on, but sometimes not brightly lit.  But I am now off topic.  Back to Nova Scotia we must go!

Nova Scotia is a maritime province off of Canada.  It is part of what is referred to as Atlantic Canada.

I started reviewing the Wiki information, but ended up looking through the Canadian Encyclopedia.  If you work through the history of this island, it is packed with struggles from across the Atlantic, from the colonization of America and much more.  The history of Nova Scotia is rich.  The first inhabitants were the native Mi'kmaq.  There is much to say about this native group, so I recommend some additional research about them.  However,  I did learn that the Mi'kmaq can be traced back some 10,000 years and are part of the Wabanaki Confederacy of Native Americans.  According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, they had much better relations with the French settlers to the island, than the English.

Norse explorers have been suspected to be some of the first visitors to Nova Scotia (and if you watch that TV show, you will hear Romans as well as Knights Templar mentioned - very engaging show. I get sucked right in every hour).  John Cabot is reported to have landed in 1497 (remember your grade school lessons on the world explorers).  French explorers, Pierre Du Gua de Monts and Samuel de Champlain established Port Royal in 1605 and agricultural settlements followed.  But it wasn't until 1621 that King James I of England named the island Nova Scotia under a grant to Sir William Alexander for Scottish colonies.  First attempts to colonize were not successful, but Europeans continued to come to the island.  The history of Nova Scotia is fascinating and is intertwined with European as well as U.S. history.  It is well worth the time to read more about this New Scotland.  Try the Canadian Encyclopeida here.

Did I follow suit with my father's belief of studying Latin for my own children?  Nope.  They took Japanese.


blomidon 1872999 1280

 (Free images from Pixaby)

Photo of Blomidon, Nova Scotia.

Diaspora - 27 February 2019

"Oh, for Peat's Sake!"


Pete was a substitute for "Oh, for Christ's Sake."  A Euphemism to express frustration, etc. without the need to use God's name.  Well, that's what one blog tells us.  I, for one, think this is as good as we'll get for the origin of "Oh, for Pete's Sake!"  For more on this, try:  the Sporcle Blog's explanation.  That's fun, but that's not where I'm headed with today's blog.

Steve and I burn wood we gather from the timber on our property.  It keeps us cozy and warm and heats our entire home. It also helps to keep the cost of propane gas down too.  I know that in Scotland peat is sometimes used to burn, so I thought this would be an interesting topic for us.

So as I started to research burning peat, it turns out, there are numerous pages on the web out there that will discuss the use of peat for whisky.  I've often said:  "That whisky is just too peaty for me."  Tastes like a mouthful of coal.  But I've never wondered about burning peat.  At least, not until I was standing in the timber, in single-digit temperatures, listening to the roar of Steve's power saw cutting through an old tree that would soon be in our wood burning stove.

I did find one great source online to tell us more about the use of peat.  According to the website on Old and Interesting - history of household paraphanalia, there is a wealth of information about using peat in the home!  

Peat is traditionally cut in the warm season, cut into what are called turves.  They are then dried and then stacked and stored.  I associate peat to use in Europe, but even North Americans have used peat for cooking, heating and providing a background light.  And the use of peat outdates written history.

"Keep the home fires burning" is an old saying that might very well apply to peat.  In Scotland, Ireland and part of England, this has been a common practice.  Smothering the fire at night with a block/turve of peat would allow the fire to stay active, but not go out.  In the morning, stirring the ashes would bring the fire back to life in time for morning heat and meals.

Apparantly there are different qualitites of peat based upon depth of the peat, the color of it and the age of the peat.  So I wonder, like a good aged wine, is older peat better?

So now that you are completely intrigued with peat, you can visit this wonderful website to see a video about cutting peat, learn about the Turf Spade, and much more about peat than you could ever imagine!  So try the website:

And just in case you'd like to spend our time reading about peat in the use of Whisky, try this one:  What, Exactly is Peat and How Did it Get in My Whisky?  From the Men's Journal.