The Society’s Structure
From 1798, when the Society was founded, until 1849, the only officers were President, Vice-President, Secretary, and Treasurer. In 1849 these officers were joined by a Committee of Charity. The first committee members were John M. Walter, James MacFarlane, and William Thomson. In 1859 the number of officers was increased again by the addition of a Chaplain and a Marshall. Rev. William Donald, D.D. was the first Chaplain, and George W. Smith was the first Marshall. In 1869 a second Marshall was added, and in 1903 the office of Historian was created. Charles W. Bell was the first additional Marshall, and H. Gordon Leavitt the first Historian. On 11 April 1864 the Society was incorporated by an act of the Legislature of New Brunswick.
Since its formation the Saint Andrew’s Society has striven not only to help fellow Scotsmen and their descendants monetarily but also to keep the Scottish culture alive in this community. The resounding success of this endeavour is evident in the many Scottish groups in today’s Saint John and their cultural events. In the past, the Saint Andrew’s Society sponsored picnics for members and guests, often inviting the local military garrison to join them. The first recorded was held in August 1855. The grandest took place on 29 August 1866 when 2,500 people went by railroad from Saint John to Sussex, where they were joined by another 500. The picnics featured Scottish dancing and highland games. Winners received silver medals, except that the prize for ladies’ archery was a silver bouquet holder. These picnics were held at various locations, such as Cedar Bank (White’s Wharf), Oak Point, Torryburn, Crystal Beach, and Westfeild. The first Scottish Night was held in 1889 instead of the usual Saint Andrew’s Night dinner. At Scottish Nights traditional music, dancing and stories were enjoyed. The Saint Andrew’s Society Pipe Band and the Saint Andrew’s Society Country Scottish Dancers are two fine examples of groups sponsored by the Society.
During its long and illustrious history the Saint Andrew’s Society has tried to accomplish two tasks: benevolent assistance to their countrymen and cultural longevity, succeeding at both. The roots of this success are much older than the Society, for they are found in the Scottish character itself, a character which values hard work, dedication, common sense and brotherhood; and perpetuates these traits from one generation to the next.
It is not through great deeds that a Society exists for more than two hundred years, but through the consistent addition of like-minded individuals who pick up the torch and carry it onward.