NEWS 2003

Carving is under way in Dalbeattie

Xwa Lack Tun, Jada, Drew and Carman are now with Kenny Grieve in Dalbeattie carving 3 poles....

25th August: More from Dalbeattie

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Jada & Carman
Drew & Xwalacktun
Xwalacktun with the Squamish flag
Carman at work
The Salmon

24th August: First pictures from Dalbeattie:

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The Carvers visit the Bennachie pole after the Strathdon Raising

At Bennachie
After the raising

Moving and Raising the Strathdon Pole

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Starting out from Bellabeg

Kenny, Jada,
Xwa Lack Tun and Drew


Arriving at Colquohonie

Washing the pole

It's up!

Plenty of volunteers turned out to move the pole: Jackie Cumberbirch reports:-

Strathdon Celebrates Totem pole raising in style!

On Saturday 16 August, the Strathdon community and visitors were at a 24 ft totem pole raising and celebrations at the Lonach Hall!

Four carvers from the Squamish Nation of British Columbia, Canada and Strathdon carvers Neil Fyfe, Louise Gardner and Gavin Smith carved the pole last year. The pole was carved from a Douglas fir tree, which was donated by Balmoral estate and was the last pole of 4 poles to be carved from the same tree in Aberdeenshire in 2002 as part of the Forestry Commission’s Treefest celebrations. The other poles, which are smaller at 15 ft, are at Chapel of Garioch School, The Bennachie Centre and at Strathdon Primary School.

The ceremony started on Saturday at 3.00pm from the Bellabeg shop. Approximately 45 people made up of the 51st Highland Regiment of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, Lonach men, Foresters and members of the Strathdon community and other volunteers carried the 24-foot totem pole from Bellabeg Shop along the road for about 1 mile to the Lonach Hall.

At 6 p.m. Xwa lack tun (Squamish Nation carver) led the blessing of the pole. Xwa lack tun and 3 fellow carvers have returned to Scotland to carve more totem poles in Dumfries helped by the local community and coordinated by Kenny Grieve of Brotus Rural Crafts.

The ceremony included brushing the pole with water from the River Don and several witness were called from the community to act as custodians of the pole. Witness’s included Sir Hamish Forbes (chief of the Lonach Men) John Wright (owner of the Coloquhonnie Hotel), Falconer Wallace (Cranacraig Estate trustee), Cicely Lawson and Hamish Wright (both pupils from Strathdon Primary School. Strathdon Primary School had helped to design the pole), Peter and Jean Goodfellow (The Lost Gallery owners and sponsors of the pole).

After the blessing of the pole, the army and the community used ropes and manual power to raise the pole! The Lonach Pipe band played as the pole was raised.

After the pole raising, Wood U Theatre Company did a woodland play outside based on a Stanley Robertson story about an Old Oak tree. The Strathspey Fiddlers organised a free family ceilidh followed the play. After the Strathspey Fiddlers, the Blazing Fiddlers took the stage and had a full hall rocking in their seats or dancing. This was a fantastic way to end the celebrations.

Jackie Cumberbirch, Forestry Commission Ranger said “ The whole day was amazing as everyone in the community pulled together to both raise the pole and enjoy the ceremony.”

Jackie was also keen to thank all the sponsors and supporters of the project without whom the project would not have happened. Sponsors include Brotus Rural Crafts, The Forestry Commission, Forest Education Initative, The Lost Gallery, Duncan and Todd, Marr Area Partnership, Goodbrand Knitwear, The Lonach Hall Committee, the Strathdon community and local businesses.

In the next few weeks, Louise Gardener and helpers will be putting the finishing touches to the pole. She will be placing slabs around the pole. The pupils of Strathdon School individually created each of the slabs. The slabs were part sponsored by the Gordon Forum for the Arts.

Programme for Raising Large Pole at Strathdon on 16th August 2003

28 ft pole is carried from Bellabeg shed ( next to Bellabeg Shop) to the
Colquohonnie Hotel approx. 1 mile.

Ceremony begins with First nation visitors
Pole raised with Lonach men, 51st Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and
other volunteers.

Approx. 6.30 pm
The Wood U? theatre company performs a short play.

Barbecue from about 7 pm onwards

Approx. 7.30 - 9pm Free Family Ceilidh with the Strathbogie Fiddlers in the
Lonach Hall.

9pm onwards in the Lonach Hall Blazing Fiddles
Family £15. Adult £9 concessions £6

2003 Events

Bennachie Pole Raising
Strathdon Raising Ceremony of large pole carved in 2002: XwaLackTun, Drew Atkims and Carmen Mackay will be present from Canada, afterwards Ceildh and Barbecue
Dalbeattie area Tree blessing Ceremony
Between these dates Dalbeattie area Pole carving
Dalbeattie area Pole raising Ceremony

Programme for the Carving:

The report on the 2002 project is now available for download: Download the 2002 Report

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