It was a night of celebrations at Estevan's annual Robert Burns Night on January 25 at the Wylie-Michell building.
Those in attendance paid tribute to the famed Scottish writer, who penned many renowned poems and folk songs. They also celebrated Scottish culture through food, music and dancing. And they honoured the commitment of five local residents who served their countries.
Drum Major Jordan Gervais from the Estevan PPCLI Army Cadet Corps delivered the tribute to Burns, who was born on January 25, 1759.
Gervais noted that Burns spent his early years working on the family farm, and even though Burns lived in poverty, he received an education, thanks to the efforts of his father.
“When he was not being taught, or helping his father tend to the family farm, he entertained himself by reading books by distinguished English and Scottish writers like William Shakespeare,” said Gervais.
When Burns released Poems, a book of his poetry written primarily in the Scottish dialect, it was an instant hit, Gervais said. The first print run sold out within a month. It drew acclaim from both scholars and peasant farmers alike.
“Amazingly, Robert was considered an unlearned poet when he was still alive, but he was really an amazingly talent lyricist and poet,” said Gervais.
Burns died on July 21, 1796. The heavy farm labour from his early years caused his health to deteriorate, and he died at the age of 37.
In 2009 – 250 years after he was born – Burns was named the greatest person in Scotland's history in a public vote by a Scottish television station.
There were other celebrations of Scottish culture during the evening. Haggis was piped in during a ceremony that opened the evening, and then it was served to the crowd. Entertainment was provided by the Estevan Elks PPCLI Army Cadets Pipes and Drums Band and the Drewitz School of Dance.
Also during the evening, military service pins were presented to Captain John New, Corporal Aaron Tolles, Captain Robert Rooks, Captain Craig Bird and Captain Ken Turner.
New served with the British Army in multiple conflicts before he immigrated to Canada. He later became involved with the army cadets. Tolles did a tour in Afghanistan through the Second Battalion of the Princess Patricia's Light Infantry.
Rooks was a reservist who has been involved with the army cadets and the pipe band for many years. Bird was part of the Royal Regina Rifles and the 16th Service Batallion, and is now involved with the army cadets. Turner was involved with the cadet program for many years, too, and was part of the Canadian Militia Primary Reserve Force.