Thursday, February 7, 2013
A splash of blue in the corner.
At the 1953 Truro exhibition, the Nova Scotia Sheep Breeders Association wanted to create an eye-catching display that would show women in rural areas the many ways wool could be used. An eight by fourteen foot scenic wool mural was commissioned to serve as a backdrop for the display. Designed by Bessie Murray, the head of the Halifax Weaver's Guild, the mural created quite a stir at the exhibition.
Well it wasn't the whole mural that created the stir.
It was a lonely wee Scotsman in the upper right corner that did.
Well actually it wasn't the lonely wee Scotsman himself, but something he was wearing that created the stir.
He was wearing a kilt.
Well it wasn't the kilt itself that was creating the stir, but rather the tartan of the kilt.
Nova Scotia is Latin for New Scotland. In a province full of Scots from many different clans, Bessie agonized over what tartan to use on his kilt.
How was she to depict a Scotsman in full regalia without offending one group or another ?
Her solution was a stroke of brilliance. She'd invent a new tartan just for the wee Scotsman.
Pale blue and white, were included for the surf-ridden sea, green was there for our forests, red was there for the Royal Lion on the Coat of Arms of Nova Scotia and lastly gold was included to remind us of the Province's historic Royal Charter.
What Bessie never imagined, was how many people would notice the new tartan: notice it, and want it.
In true fairy tale fashion, the tartan was embraced with affection and thanks to a groundswell of support, Nova Scotia became the first Canadian province with its very own official tartan.
If you fly into Halifax's Stanfield International Airport you will be welcomed by greeters sporting Nova Scotia tartan vests.
And if you're very lucky, you just might spot a similarly clad lobster !