MAY 21, 2012, Saint John, N.B.—Thousands gathered to see the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall arrive in Saint John, home of Canada’s oldest Saint Andrew’s Society founded in 1798. As the royal couple arrived at Saint Andrew’s Square on a bright and sunny Victoria Day before their walkabout, they were greeted by the Premiere of New Brunswick David Alward, Mayor Ivan Court and many others.
Their Royal Highnesses were escorted to a waiting table covered with the City of Saint John Tartan to be seated and sign the city’s guest book. His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales was not seated in just any chair however, he was seated in the Preses’ Chair.
In the summer of 1907 famous N.B. woodcarver John Rogerson was sent to Scotland to gather rare and historic pieces of oak and holly to carve a chair for the Saint Andrew’s Society president to enjoy at the Society’s functions. This chair was presented to the Society in March of 1908 on the occasion of its 110th anniversary. The chair I still in use today at dinners and was offered for use in the Square that bears the Society’s name.
There are 26 different pieces of wood from 6 different regions in Scotland, including some 800 year old black oak from the castle site where Robert the Bruce was born which forms the scroll work and celtic knot work surrounding the back panel. It also has a small piece of holly tree that was cut down from Robert Burns original grave site in the St. Michaels churchyard. That small holly tree was cut into 3 pieces, 2 remain in Scotland as gavels at Freemason lodges and the 3rd was given to John Rogerson and he used it to carve the Lion Rampant in the Bruce Shield at the top of the chair.
John Rogerson has work scattered all over the City of Saint John, including one of his ships’ figureheads at the N.B. Museum. His work is very collectable. He always considered this chair one of his finest works.
David Nickerson, current president of the Society, stood nearby and was honoured to meet their Royal Highnesses, The Prince enjoyed the chair and the Duchess remarked on his sporran and wondered if the weather was always so nice in Saint John. As they wandered down Prince William St. on their walkabout, David Nickerson aided by young Harrison Hossack grandson to the incoming president and many of the Society members returned the Preses’ chair to safety after its brief outing.
It should be noted that although Charles the Prince of Wales is not yet King he may well be in line for the job and the Society felt it only fitting that the future King have a proper N.B. treasure to sit in. In fact inscribed on the back of the chair above the names of those members who sponsored John’s trip in 1907 is a poem containing the line “ To all of Scottish blood I bring, the message, Fear God , Honour King.”