Legend, reality and the Outlaw King

The full story of Robert the Bruce's ascendancy to the Scottish crown is more intricate and certainly less romantic

Legend, reality and the Outlaw KingReading about the forthcoming Outlaw King movie reminded me of a childhood story. The subject of both the movie and the story is Robert the Bruce (1274-1329), the famous Scottish king who routed the English at Bannockburn and paved the way for Scotland’s independence. The childhood story had a moral about the value of persistence…

The tangled tragedy of Mary, Queen of Scots

Over the past four-plus centuries, Mary’s reputation has waxed and waned. A movie due out this year should put a positive spin on it

The tangled tragedy of Mary, Queen of ScotsThis Christmas, cinema patrons will be offered the historical drama Mary, Queen of Scots. With Saoirse Ronan in the title role and Margot Robbie as Elizabeth I of England, the movie casts two of today’s prominent actresses in a retelling of the 16th century’s most compelling personal rivalry. As the movie is based on John…

Bringing clarity to the muddy waters of separatist movements

Canada's Clarity Act may be the key to managing issues of sovereignty around the world

Bringing clarity to the muddy waters of separatist movementsMany Canadians still have sharp memories of the Oct. 30, 1995, Quebec sovereignty referendum. Now, what the experience taught our nation may be of great use to other countries. Quebec voters were asked by their government, led by the Parti Quebecois, to decide if the province should assert national sovereignty, arguably with some form of…

Does the Catalonian crisis signal the end of the nation state?

Across the globe, a deep and growing frustration with the nationalist status quo is driving regional politics

Does the Catalonian crisis signal the end of the nation state?The Spanish government's response to the Catalonian independence movement is a reminder of just how fragile nation states have become in the modern world. Mind you, it's hard to imagine a less helpful response than Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's chosen option, arrogantly removing popular regional leaders and imposing direct rule. This is just the…

A minibus ramble through Scottish Highland history

As our minibus pulled to a stop, I felt suddenly that my grandmother’s love of the Highland landscape was surrounding us all

A minibus ramble through Scottish Highland historyI count myself lucky to have had a Scottish grandmother. She was a Graham of Montrose, and came from humble beginnings. I remember her describing something called a byre, and explaining that her mother lived in a crofter’s house with the cattle. From the moment I learned this, I have wanted to travel to northern…

The hardships of Orkney link to Canada’s early days

Displaced from their homes, many citizens of the Orkney islands ended up in Canada working for the Hudson Bay Company

The hardships of Orkney link to Canada’s early daysThe Standing Stones of Stenness on Mainland, the main Scottish island of Orkney, date back to approximately 3,100 BC. Stonehenge, to put the Orkneys in time perspective as a Neolithic parent to western Europe, was constructed from 3,000 to 2,000 BC. What was it about these outpost islands that attracted the earliest agriculturalists to their…

Decoding Orkney by channelling the subtle Norse air

Part 1: A Scottish contribution to Canada’s Arctic genome can be found in the deep history of these remote islands

Decoding Orkney by channelling the subtle Norse airWhen you hear mention of the Orkney islands, off Scotland’s northeast coast, what do you think of? For me, they conjure up a northern vision of Orkneymen, the founding of the Hudson’s Bay Co. on May 2, 1670 (I still recall this date after wearing hundreds of HBC clothing labels over the decades), the Arctic…