Clan Donald Log House Opening by James Alexander.

The official opening of the Clan Donald Log House took place on Sunday, October 3rd 1976, at Doon Pioneer Village, Kitchener. This long awaited and worked for day came about after almost seven years of effort by the GRV Branch of Clan Donald. And what a happy day, it was the most beautiful day of the whole month of October, in a lovely autumn setting.

The co-chairmen for the event were Olive Fraser and Jim Alexander, along with the Trustee Board and all other members of the GRV Branch hosting the day’s activities. Elsie Alexander was the invitation convener and Margaret MacDonald was in charge of the catering for the day.

Approximately 150 persons were present for the afternoon, including a goodly number of Toronto Branch members, Clan Donald Council representatives and Doon Pioneer Village officials. Among those present were Mr. & Mrs. Hugh Elliott, Mrs. E. Dreger, chairman of the Doon Pioneer Village Board of Directors, Mr. & Mrs. Harry Collins, Village Superintendent, Mr. Mel Moffat, Mr. Will Barrie, and Mr. Alfred Schenk, the village curator. Our President, Charlie MacDonald presided very ably as Master of Ceremonies for the occasion and gave the opening remarks.

Brief speeches were given by Jim Alexander, chairman of the Trustee Board, and by Gordon Leggett, chairman of the Clan Donald Council. Also by Mr. Murdo Macdonald,president of the Toronto Branch, Murdo, on behalf of the Toronto Branch, presented to Roy Walser, Restoration Chairman, a copy of the Coat of Arms of Sir John C.A. MacDonald, to be hung in the log house. The GRV Branch considered this agreat honour as there are only four copies of this Coat of Arms in existence.

Regrets were sent at being unable to be present by His Honour, Judge Ian Macdonell, High Commissioner for Clan Donald in Canada. Regrets also were sent by Colin MacDonald, Deputy High Commissioner, and Lord Godfrey Macdonald, our Chief and the Edinburgh Branch of Clan Donald Society in Scotland.

A very interesting and informative talk was given by Alfred Schenk, the village curator. He spoke on topics pertinent to the village, its buildings, furnishings and future plans.

Entertainment was provided by Ellan McLean of Toronto Branch who sang several old Scottish songs which were greatly enjoyed by all. Bob MacDonald of Toronto Branch played pipe selections and also accompanied Kin McLeod of GRVB for highland dancing. Kevin Conley also played during the program for Kim. The Hespeler Pipe Band, under the direction of Pipe Major Robert Chalmers, played several times, and added greatly to the program.

Mrs. Minerva Currie, presently in her 91st year, was assisted in the cutting of the MacDonald Ribbon by Mrs. E. Dreger and Jim Alexander. Mrs. Currie is the widow of Fred Currie, the grandson of Neil Currie, who built the log house in 1850, in Puslinch Township in Wellington County. Neil Currie was a pioneer in the township, and a school teacher. The GRVB project to preserve the log house is felt to be a memorial to Neil Currie who built it, and to Clan Donald for saving it.

Before entering the house, original nails from the house, tied with MacDonald ribbon, were given out by Becky Alexander, Isobel Wiens, and Dave Allen. In the front hall, guests were received by Mrs. Ruby MacDonald. Assisting in the other rooms were Joe & Dorothy Chapman, (Dorothy is a great-granddaughter of Neil Currie’s), Verna & Roy Walser, Joyce & Dallan McColl, Toots & Ray McLeod and Margaret McDonald. Sylvia MacDonald presided over the guest book.

On completing their tour of the house, guests were directed to refreshments under the canopy, by Emmoline Donald, and Lisa Pozzobon. The convenor for serving lunch was Helen Pozzobon, assisted by Hilda Memmott and Sandy & Jerry Stibbard. Dainty sandwiches and coffee were enjoyed. The centrepiece for the attractive tables was a lovely cake, made in the shape of the log house and tastefully decorated with the Clan Donald Crest on either side.

While it was hoped that the house would be completely finished for the opening, this was not possible. But the downstairs looked very attractive, with 1850 to 1900 period furnishings, paintings, old lace curtains, on the windows, and many small items placed around. Many of these donated by Clan Donald members and friends and some by Doon Village. Several hand hooked rugs, made by Mrs. Minerva Currie, added greatly to the appearance of the pine floors. Flowers were everywhere, arranged and donated by Joe Chapman. The downstairs consists of a front hall, parlour, kitchen, and large living room. The upstairs, which is not finished, was closed off for the opening, but work is continuing on the completion of the three bedrooms and storage room, through the winter. All will be ready in the spring when Doon Pioneer Village opens to the public once again. The GRV Branch will be able to store in the upstairs historical artefacts, their tartan display, flags, a library of collected books etc. These will be on display during the annual Scottish weekend in June, and a Clan Donald day in September. This is a time when we will be enjoying a time of clanship with members of other branches.

Following the festivities at Doon, a dinner was held at the Walper Hotel in Kitchener at 6 p.m. 86 persons were present at a delicious and very attractively arranged dinner in the Crystal Ballroom. The arrangements were under the able direction of Margaret MacDonald. Charlie MacDonald was Master of Ceremonies for the evening. Ian McRae of Ayr sang several familiar Scottish songs, accompanied by Jamie Alexander at the piano. In recognition of Mr. & Mrs. Will Barries’ 60th Wedding Anniversary, a corsage was presented to Mrs. Barrie by Elsie Alexander, and a gavel No1, to Will, by Jim Alexander. On an earlier occasion Will had given Jim a handmade gavel, his own work, No2208. Mr. Barrie then presented Charlie with a president’s gavel and gave a miniature one to Margaret for, as he said, protection!

Gordon Leggett presented Charlie & Margaret with their life membership certificates. Courtesy remarks were given by our President bringing to a close a very successful and memorable day for GRV Branch of Clan Donald and their friends.

Photograph: Clan Donald Log House Opening Ceremony – Hespeler Pipe Band.