Category Archives: Random Musings

Following the random musings from Corina Harris’s blog

The Great Scottish Descendant Debate – Choosing a Tartan

When my daughter Adelaide gets older, I have decided that she is going to try Highland Dancing. Fast paced, lots of fun, steeped in history, Highland Dancing will allow her to get some exercise, make some friends and learn to follow instructions.

My daughter is less than a year old. Why would I want to get her signed up for something so early? Truth is, she’s always had an incredible way of holding herself upright. She likes her legs out straight, her toes pointed. She has a dancers stance. Always has and I think it would be great if she can get involved in something that also has costumes that I can support and agree with.

My husband is pretty much on board with this plan. Together we talked to friends who have a daughter in highland dancing. She started dancing a little older than I initially expected, which I’m completely okay with. I always found it funny when people had their daughters in dance at the age of 2 even if it is really cute.

Our friends also talked to us about the clothing and how nice it is having something that is a little less revealing and there is also the ability to show off your family history – something that I would love to do.

The truth is, my daughter has a chance to wear many different tartans from both sides of her family and I’m having a really hard time deciding which tartan would be the best choice. Having descended from several great Scottish families, we have a lot of tartans to choose from. Here is a breakdown:

Murray (of Atholl)

Father’s side: Adelaide’s great-grandmother was Janet Latimer Murray.

These tartans all represent the Murray's of Atholl according to The Scottish Register of Tartans. Right: Dress tartan. Centre: Original tartan. Left: Murray traditional tartan
These tartans all represent the Murray’s of Atholl according to The Scottish Register of Tartans. Right: Dress tartan. Centre: Original tartan. Left: Murray traditional tartan


Elliot family, Tartan, Scotland, Scottish
The Elliot tartan per the Scottish Register of Tartans

Father’s side: Adelaide’s 2x great-grandmother was Helen Elliot.


Mother’s side: Adelaide’s 2x great-grandmother was Margaret Dryden. Our Dryden family came to Canada in the 1700s but before that, they were affiliated with Clan Sinclair.

According to the Scottish Register of Tartans, these two tartans are available for people under the clan Sinclair. Left: the dress tartan for dancing. Right: the original clan tartan
According to the Scottish Register of Tartans, these two tartans are available for people under the Clan Sinclair. Left: the dress tartan for dancing. Right: the original clan tartan

Keith, Falconer and Austin

Keith, Falconer, Austin, Marshall, Tartan, family
This tartan applies to the clans under Keith, Falconer, Austin and Marshall. *This tartan would apply to both sides of Adelaide’s family

This tartan is applicable on both sides of Adelaide’s family.

Father’s side: Adelaide’s 3x great-grandmother was Grace Marshall. The tartan known as Marshall is also known as Keith, Falconer and Austin.

Mother’s side: Adelaide’s 5x great-grandmother was Nancy Dickson. Clan Dickson is considered a sept of Clan Keith. This would mean that this tartan is on both sides of the family and could be a strong contender as a tartan for Adelaide.


Mother’s side: Adelaide’s 3x great-grandmother was Catherine McLarty. My research shows that McLarty’s would have worn the MacLaren tartan.

MacLaren Tartan
Both of these tartans are acceptable for the MacLaren Clan per The Scottish Register of Tartans.


Mother’s side: Adelaide’s 4x great-grandmother was Margaret Kennedy.

All three of these Kennedy tartans have slight variations in colour but are options for Adelaide.
All three of these Kennedy tartans have slight variations in colour but are options for Adelaide per The Scottish Register of Tartans.


Mother’s side: Adelaide’s 4x great-grandmother was Euphemia McMaster. Through some basic research, I understand the McMaster clan was part of Clan MacInnes, but there may have been a divide around the time of the Jacobite Rebellion.

MacInnes Tartans, Scottish
The MacInnes Clan members have several tartans to choose from. Left: dress tartan according to The Scottish Register of Tartans. Right: ancient hunting tartan.


In light of the Cambridge Scottish Festival this weekend, I think we need to go see some of the tartans in the flesh before we make a decision. Which tartan do you think we should choose?

Note: Tartan images came from The Scottish Register of Tartans.

Thoughts on the Idea Exchange Cambridge

When I was young, I waited in anticipation to go to the library every week. I would double and triple check that I had my library card. I would bag up all my books to go back and excitedly imagine what magic I was going to find when I got there. It was a wonderful place. Every book lead to a new adventure and I loved that I lived within biking distance of the main branch at Queen’s Square in Cambridge, Ontario (now called the Idea Exchange.)

As an adult, I find the library can still be the highlight of my week but for very different reasons. I’m discovering that there is more to the library than just hard covers and soft covers. As much as I hated the Library and Gallery’s decision to change their name to the Idea Exchange, I’ve come to understand just how fitting the name actually is.

Baby and Me

Idea Exchange, Cambridge, Library, Adelaide Harris
Adelaide Harris checks out some of the tactile toys during the Baby and Me program at Idea Exchange in February 2016

At the urging of a good friend, I signed up my daughter to be part of one of the many kids programs titled Baby and Me with the Idea Exchange back in September. After exploring all the children’s areas, I found the Hespeler location was the most inspiring and so chose this as the location for our class. With lots of space to crawl around, bright windows letting in lots of natural light and fun colours in the furniture and racks, it truly is a great place to bring your kids.

The staff running the program was top notch. Always smiling and willing to keep things flowing with songs and stories and play. Every week was a new adventure and I loved having the ability to check out and read books to my daughter on days when not at the program.

The fall and the spring programs with the library are part of Baby Connections. This meant we were given either a toy or book to take home and keep every single week. Score!

The program was so much fun for Adelaide and it allowed me as a new mom to meet other parents of little ones and share in our milestones. It even inspired me to sign up for the winter session at Cambridge’s main branch at Queen’s Square. The staff were just as fun and engaging and it truly was nice being able to see Adelaide interact with other kids.

Another added bonus – all of the Baby and Me programs are completely free! How amazing is that?

Historical Research

It’s no secret that I love researching family history as you can see by the History of Me section in this blog. The Idea Exchange has lots of microfiche reels and copies of census records as well as many other books and reference material to keep your brain hunting. Although it is true that the Kitchener Library system has more information on the regional history, I have still had tremendous success hunting through images of the old Galt Reporter.

Writing Programs

One of the biggest challenges I’ve had since becoming an adult is writer’s block. I’ve gotten stuck on an idea or a chain of thought and find myself unable to keep moving forward. A few years ago I saw a tiny little blurb in the Cambridge Times about a Writer’s Workshop at the Clemens Mill Branch of the Idea Exchange on a Saturday morning. As the workshop was later that day, I immediately called the library to see if they still had openings. Lucky for me, the instructor had just walked in the door and said I should come on down. Little did I know that by going to that workshop it would inspire and change my life.

This weekend I completed my third workshop with Larry Brown. His workshop style of providing writing prompts and just enough time to get your mind engaged but not long enough to get comfortable or lost in thought always inspires me. I find myself walking out of his classes with many ideas for stories and inspiration to keep on writing. It sound so simple when he says “If you write a little every day for the next year, by this time next year you’ll have quite a bit written.” Even if life gets in the way and I don’t do it, his words are still with me when I next sit down at the keyboard.

Larry’s workshops are always popular, and will always garner a group that comes to each one, excited and happy to engage in the writing process. Having a hobby that is so solitary, there is something so wonderful about sitting in a room with other writers. And another bonus – this was also a FREE program!

Location, Location, Location!

Hespeler, Cambridge, Ontario, Idea Exchange, Library
The Idea Exchange – Hespeler Branch

An aspect about the Idea Exchange that I have enjoyed is that each branch is different. Each has it’s own unique style and I love that they are located in many different areas of Cambridge. They’ve done a great job of giving people in this town a place to be.

The staff behind the counter is smiling and not sternly shushing you as they did in days of our youth. There are computers available at all the branches for research, or even to play games and connect with the outside world. The Idea Exchange locations are all wifi enabled so you can use your smartphone, laptops or tablets to connect as well.

Special events and programs

The Idea Exchange has done a lot in recent years to really engage with the community. They have partnered with organizations to bring in speaking series, gallery works, workshops and special programming during holidays and over March Break. In the past I’ve participated in knitting circles, craft days and gallery showings. It’s not just about the books anymore. It’s truly a place for people to come and get inspired.

The future of the Idea Exchange

Old Post Office, Cambridge, Ontario, Idea Exchange, Library
The clock tower from the Old Post Office as seen in this 2014 image by Corina Harris will be preserved in the plans for the new Idea Exchange Location.

Having gone to a few of the planning meetings for the newest branch to be located in the Old Post Office on Water Street in Cambridge, I’m incredibly excited about all that they are going to be able to offer.

  • Makers space where children of all ages can explore their imaginations and build and create things.
  • A children’s area that will allow them to play and explore and participate in programs which book up completely in all the other locations.
  • A spot where you can download books or do research while sipping on a coffee overlooking the river.
  • I love that the basement will not only have space for presentations and speaking series but will have recording studios for all those in town that can’t afford to rent space elsewhere.

This new Idea Exchange will be bringing Cambridge into the new age of libraries and I love that it is going to give my daughter a space to grow up and be proud to be a part of. It truly is a meeting of old and new, in the architecture and the awesome programming being planned.

I would like to mention that no one is paying me to write this post. I promote the Idea Exchange because I truly believe in all the work that they do and where they are going in the future. Hopefully you can visit your local branch soon to find out for yourself just how wonderful the library can be.


© Content and Images by Corina Harris, 2016