This book is a guide to the beautiful, colourful patterns known as tartans which represent the Scottish and Highland heritage of eastern Canada. More than 15%—or nearly five million—Canadians claimed Scottish descent in the 2006 Census. In Eastern Canada, the numbers were even higher: Two out of five Prince Edward Island residents reported Scottish ancestry, while one in three Nova Scotians, one in five New Brunswickers, and 17% of Ontarians traced their roots to Scotland.
In Scottish Gaelic, a language of the Highlands and Gaelic Canada, the word for tartan is “breacan,” deriving from “breac” meaning spotted, speckled, chequered, or variegated in colour. The Gaels developed woven tartans, which starting in the 18th century were developed as symbols of geographical areas, military units, Highland clans, Scottish families, abstract concepts, brands, and more.
This book catalogues the tartans of the 50 family names best represented on passenger lists from Scottish immigrant ships landing in eastern Canada during the 18th and 19th centuries. Sketches of famous clan members complete each of the 50 entries. Further chapters explore the unique tartans of eastern Canadian Highland regiments, organizations, geographical areas, and the provinces themselves.