The Saint Andrew’s Society of Saint John, founded in 1798 is the oldest St. Andrew’s Society in Canada.  It is the second oldest Scottish Society, the oldest being the North British Society of Halifax. It was founded as a meeting place for Scots and their descendants of Saint John, for their mutual benefit, and for the benefit of the city’s greater Scottish community. The Society was also established to promote “cultural longevity,” or to act as a defender and protector of Scottish culture in the city.

Open letter from a Past President to prospective members

With over 200 years of continuous history, this Society is still filled with a strong sense of what it is, of its accomplishments and of those of its individual members. This small organization has managed to make some substantial contributions to its community over the years. Earlier, attention was focussed primarily on helping the needy of Scottish descent, when government assistance was not available. More recently, effort has been greatly extended. Examples include the donation of a grand piano to UNBSJ, along with student scholarships, the regular assistance to promising young pipers, the providing of annual donations to the Saint John Public Library and periodic donations to the Oncology Department at the Saint John Regional Hospital (just this year the Society made a substantial donation for a new diagnostic machine). It operates Saint Andrew’s House, which it initially sponsored and will eventually own, and as well it provides regular financial assistance to the St John and St Stephen Nursing Home. The Society holds dear its collective Scottish ancestry. Saint Andrew’s Day and Burns Night are celebrated annually with gala dinners where traditional Scottish fare, music and song are featured. As well, Tartan Day (April 6th) is observed each year with a flag-raising ceremony at City Hall, and receiving the public at the Bank of Nova Scotia in Brunswick Square. Members attend an Annual Church Service in November prior to the St Andrew’s Day dinner, and participate in Displays at the Community College and the Saint John Arts Centre. Each July members actively support the Annual Highland Games in Fredericton with a tent and display of Society artifacts. Many Society members of long standing who, for various reasons do not attend meetings or dinners, still generously support the activities of the Society merely by belonging. However, in recent years membership has declined to the current number of 108. If the St Andrew’s Society is to survive and continue its worthwhile contributions, members must all actively encourage relatives and those friends who are of Scottish ancestry to take out a membership, to become active if they can, or just hold a membership to enable an assured future. The Society makes modest demands on its members: the dues are certainly not onerous and it meets only quarterly. Those interested are encouraged to contact the Society Secretary at PO Box 1061, Saint John NB E2L 4E6.

Donald S. Mackay, P.Eng., Past President