Celebrating Canada Day with the Camerons in Ottawa

This Canada Day, those in Ottawa, can immerse themselves in the rich history of one of Canada’s oldest militia regiments: The Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa (Duke of Edinburgh’s Own). The regiment’s annual Canada Day BBQ not only gives Ottawa a taste of craft beers and haggis burgers but helps to financially support the Cameron Highlanders.

“Come out for a military experience in a heritage building, the Cartier Street Drill Hall…if you just like pipe bands come on down, get out of the weather and listen to the music. Meet friends, bring friends there’s lots of room. Besides, on the 1st of July where else are you going to get a haggis burger and a beer to wash it down,” said Glenn Fetherstonhaugh, member of the Regimental Foundation and co-chair of the Canada Day BBQ.

Fetherstonhaugh, whose father served in the Camerons and grandfather served in regiments perpetuated by the Camerons, works alongside co-chair Gwyn Nicholson to prepare behind the scenes for the event. The two arrive bright and early with a team of volunteers at the Drill Hall on July 1 to setup and cooking for the event begins at 11 a.m. sharp.

“It’s an opportunity for the regiment to celebrate Canada Day, through the support of the Foundation that is an all volunteer organization, to bring awareness of the regiment to the community and to provide a family-friendly environment and cool space for those that want to take a pause on Canada Day and have refreshments and listen to some highland music,” said Nicholson, who served in the Camerons for 30 years.

The Canada Day BBQ event features a BBQ area dishing out hamburgers, hot dogs, and sausages. Inside the hall that offers a large seating area, attendees can enjoy various beers thanks to a partnership with the Muskoka Brewery.

Also inside the Drill Hall, are the specialty haggis burgers. Haggis is considered to be a Scottish tradition served wherever Highlanders meet.

“A lot of people that come in they’re just curious to know what it is, what it tastes like if it’s actually edible,” laughed Linda Murphy, a longtime volunteer at the Canada Day event.

Also during the day, the Regimental Pipes and Drums will be performing a series of mini concerts.

The Regiment’s younger generation, children, and grandchildren, also are stepping in to volunteer for the day.

“It is gratifying to see the kids and grandkids of regimental members involved volunteering throughout the day. This year, one will help with a treats table and others will help with the BBQ and running supplies,” stated Murphy.

Proceeds from the event will go toward the ceremonial uniform kit for the soldiers in the regiment. The unique Highland ceremonial garb is not covered by the military, and so the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa Foundation steps in to pay this expense.

The Foundation is a charitable institution that holds fundraising and community outreach events in support of the Regiment. The Foundation also serves to preserve and promote the rich history of the Camerons.

One of the Foundation’s main projects is the purchase of scarlet uniforms and regimental kits.

The Foundation is hoping to raise $125,000 by the end of the year to have every soldier kitted in time for the 2017 bi-centennial celebrations of Canada. At the very least, they are hoping to cover the expenses of a full ceremonial guard, consisting of 150 members, with Colour Party and Pipes and Drums in full ceremonial uniform.

Each uniform consists of a feather bonnet, hackle, cap badge, scarlet tunic, plaid, kilt, hair sporran, diced hose and flashes, spats and identifying unit flashes and badges of rank; and can cost upwards of $2,500.The Camerons ceremonial kit will be on display at the Canada Day BBQ.

The Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa (Duke of Edinburgh’s Own) is an infantry regiment of the Primary Reserve of the Canadian Army. The regiment has been active since 1865 as Ottawa’s Own Regiment. The Cameron’s consists of a Regimental Headquarters, two Infantry Companies, small support element and the Pipes and Drums.

For many associated with the regiment, the Camerons are extended family and Murphy is no exception. The Regiment has been part of her life since she was 17 and first met her husband, a soldier in the Camerons.

“The regiment has been really a central part in our family life since then. Same thing is true with my daughter as she grew up with her father in the unit,” recalled Murphy.

The barbecue fundraiser on July 1st serves not only to raise funds but also to reunite this family of Highlanders.

“Many people had ties with the regiment in the past but for various reasons haven’t made it to other regimental events. But they show up on Canada Day, even for a small amount of time, and that renews the sense of ties of friendship and family. This is another rich part of the fundraiser- seeing multiple generations together at the Drill Hall,” emphasized Murphy.

The Cameron’s Canada Day BBQ will be held at the Cartier Square Drill Hall in Ottawa, which is situated immediately beside Ottawa City Hall. The barbecue will start at 11 a.m. Admission is free.


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Mishall Rehman

Originally from Atlanta, GA, Mishall is a freelance journalist pursuing her passion for writing in her new homeland Canada. She currently lives in Trenton, ON with her husband.

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Canadian Military Family Magazine