In a normal year, one of the events on day two of the Glengarry Highland Games in Maxville is the Kilt Run, which is capped off by runners finishing their route on the track in front of thousands of spectators. Of course, as we all know, 2020 is no normal year.
However, as the saying goes… the show must go on. In this case, it goes on virtually.
In a media release from Dona Cruickshank, the Games’ director of advertising and a past president, it is noted, “In its 73-year history, a Glengarry Highland Games has never been cancelled until this year. It seems strange not to be preparing for the Games, not only for the Games directors, but for everyone in Glengarry who counts on the Games to be the gathering spot of the summer for family and friends near and far.”
“This week, things are a lot quieter in the Counties and certainly Maxville won’t be receiving the thousands of visitors who start arriving Wednesday and fill the streets and fairgrounds for the days of the Games.
There is a big void for everyone with what to do this weekend that can match the excitement and camaraderie of the Games. At the Games, we have come up with a few novel ways to keep the Games alive by using our social media to post virtual Games happenings.
Nothing can replace the real thing, but we hope everyone will gather in COVID-19 safe groups and carry on with Games festivities using some of the neat stuff found on our website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube sites.”
Glengarry Highland Games committee media release
If you are looking for Games merchandise, such as a T-shirt to don so you can get into the spirit, items are on sale, until Wednesday evening, at the administration building. Amongst the products available is a special 2020 shirt. Sales take place from 6 to 9 p.m., and visitors are reminded to wear a mask. Debit or credit purchases only.
On the Games Facebook page this week, you can participate in trivia and bingo challenges. Word has it that there will also be photos posted from past Games golf tournaments which “have raised funds for many local organizations over the years. What can be more fun that wearing a kilt that swirls as you whack the mighty white ball!”
Something to look forward to on Thursday, with a 6 p.m. scheduled release on Facebook, is “a very entertaining video with many of our Games directors tossing the token. You’ll see a lot of familiar faces and great attempts to look like pros as they toss one of the Games famous beer tokens. No tokens or directors were harmed in this video.”
Also set for Thursday is the posting of nostalgic photos from past Tartan Balls. “For this kick-off to Games weekend attendees gather in their finest Scottish attire for an evening of dinner and dance and, of course, the haggis.”
On Friday, at 4 p.m., the Virtual Edition of the Glengarry Highland Games, a 90-minute show, will be made available to the public. “Many of our Games heavyweights, Highland dancers, fiddlers, and Celtic bands have joined together giving their time and talent to create a mini-Games for your entertainment. Taped live over the past weekend, this collection of Glengarry talent will bring back the many special sights and sounds that make up every Games. It is our hope that you will find a moment in the video that brings the Games to life for you.”
Planned for release on Saturday are several short videos highlighting Games favourite moments from recent years.
Looking to experience the sounds of the Glengarry Highland Games? The organizing committee is releasing playlists to Spotify and Apple Music. You will be able to choose either “the playlist with rousing party songs or the one with traditional Celtic tunes.”
Virtual Massed Highland Fling
Last Sunday, some 230 (and counting) Highland dancers joined together via an online conferencing platform for a Massed Highland Fling. Dancers from countries including Australia, Switzerland, Ireland, Scotland, the USA, and Canada danced for 84 seconds to the piping of Glen Sinclair. According to the Games announcement, “The World Adult Champion, Marielle Lesperance, from PEI, joined the dance, [along with] three generations of dancers from Maxville, [and] past Games director Lois McLeod, her daughter Heather and granddaughter Layla.”
This performance will be posted publicly on Friday, July 31.
“We can’t bring you the real thing, but we hope you will enjoy revisiting past Games and viewing a few special events to fill the hours of Games weekend.”
The 2020 inductees to the Glengarry Sports Hall of Fame have been revealed, but along with the announcement came news that this year’s annual gathering to celebrate the new inductees has been postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The board of the hall of fame extends congratulations to the 2020 inductees:
Corey Van Loon (Martintown, sports organizer, canoeist, Raisin River Canoe Race)
Typically, members of the hall, along with inductees, family members, supporters, past inductees, and honoured graduating high school athletes gather for a celebration each August. The location rotates amongst the county’s three arena, with festivities held on the arena floor. Last year, the event was held in Williamstown, at the Char-Lan Rec. Centre, with the 2020 edition (the 41st annual) scheduled for Maxville’s arena.
However, “due to COVID-19, The Glengarry Sports Hall of Fame’s 2020 Induction Night has been postponed to Wednesday, August 18, 2021, in Maxville. Mark your calendars!”
New Website Address and Hall Visits for 2020
The Glengarry Sports Hall of Fame website address has changed slightly, with the website now available at glengarrysports.ca (formerly .com).
The website is chock full of stories on past inductees, since the facility, located in Maxville, was established in 1979.
Traditionally, the hall building opens after the long weekend in May, welcoming visitors through to Labour Day. The board of the hall of fame expects they will have a summer student hosting guests once again this year.
The hall building is located at 35 Fair Street, adjacent to the arena in Maxville.
Stay tuned for an official announcement on this year’s opening.
With scheduled summer 2020 Highland Games across the country being cancelled due to COVID-19, it came as little surprise that the plug was pulled on the Glengarry Highland Games in Maxville, as well.
On April 22, the official word came down from Games president Eric Metcalfe, and the Glengarry Highland Games Organizing Committee: “What a wonderful world it would be if we could all be together and celebrate the 2020 Glengarry Highland Games on July 31st and August 1st. However, in light of the current public health crisis and with the deepest concern for all those who might be affected, we will not be presenting the 73rd edition of the Games this summer.”
First held in 1948, the Games have taken place in Maxville each year since, regardless of “sweltering heat and pouring rain and other difficult conditions.” The committee notes that the “unprecedented cancellation reflects the gravity of the world’s situation right now.”
“As upsetting as cancelling this year’s Glengarry Highland Games is…it is very much the right thing to do. I also want to assure you that all the directors and committees will be working hard to produce a spectacular 2021 Games. We look forward to welcoming you back on July 30 and 31, 2021. Please keep checking out our website for updates.”
Eric Metcalfe, Games president
There is no doubt that the thousands of attendees, participants, and competitors who would otherwise be in Maxville this summer are as disappointed as those who had to make the difficult call to cancel.
Ron Graham, who competes in the masters division of the Scottish heavyweights, said he is “very disappointed” about the cancellation of the Maxville Games, adding, “they had to … [and I] understand why they did.”
The Apple Hil resident describes the Glengarry Highland Games as one of the biggest, with “people coming from Scotland, the United States, and all over Canada.” He notes that Montreal’s games, which traditionally follow the event in Maxville, has previously been cancelled too.
“All the athletes probably put on 20 – 30 lb from staying at home isolating.”
One of the competitors in the open professional class is Jason Baines, who hails from Dalkeith. He told me, “Every single games has been cancelled, including my opener in South Carolina scheduled for April 4.” The athletes also lost the World Masters Championships, slated to be held in Ireland.
“All in all, it is disappointing seeing as I had been preparing for Worlds since late December,” he added. “The flipside is we will have an entire season to get healthy, improve technique, and cut more cabers.”
Another large Highland games festival usually held each summer in Ontario is the Fergus Scottish Festival, which would have celebrated its 75th anniversary this year. Scheduled for August 7-9, its cancellation was also announced this month.
As a result of the cancellation of various games, the Canadian Scottish Athletic Federation also nixed the Canadian Amateur Championships, which were slated to be part of the Campbell River Salmonfest Logger Sports Competitions and Highland Gathering, and the Canadian Open Championships, scheduled for the Montreal games.
As Baines puts it, “Right now we are crossing fingers that we can throw in September, in Calgary or Quebec City,” where Highland Games competitions are still on the schedule.
The Maxville Mustangs senior ‘A’ hockey team recently revealed what the players will be wearing, come the 2020-21 EOSHL season.
The black-and-red clad Mustangs are a re-brand of last year’s Maxville Millionaires, which played in the inaugural season of the Eastern Ontario Super Hockey League. At the conclusion of the campaign, it was announced that the Millionaires would cease operation due to an unpaid league bill, before new owners stepped in to save senior ‘A’ hockey in the village.
In other team news, the Mustangs announced their first signing, inking equipment manager Rick Emond.
As the league looks to expansion, the club chose its 25 protected players. They are Pierre-Luc Sabourin, Chris Newhook, Michael Dobson, Tristen Elie, Jacob Swamp, Connor MacLeod, Tye Terrance, Ryan Allen, Bryce Luker, Bradley Gabbour, Pat Gilmour, Dan Allaire, Leo MacLean, Matt Thompson, Braedan Pearl, David Bennett, Vincent Crockette, Miguel D’Aoust, Calvin Vojtaszak, Alain Ravary, Maxime Boucher, Adam Wensink, Chris Rutley, Brad Quaile, and Ryan Botchar.
Exposed for the upcoming expansion draft are five Mustangs: Joey Driscoll, Ryan Carisse, Mark Pearl, Curtis Chenette, and Brock Crossthwaite.
Locally, concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic continue to have an impact upon scheduled events and activities. The latest to be cancelled is the 2020 edition of the Maxville Fair.
Traditionally, the Maxville Fair kicks off the summer season of rural fairs across the region. This year, it was scheduled to run June 26-28.
Amongst the activities on the agenda was a showcase of youth minor football, on Friday evening under the lights in front of the grandstand. In past years, this evening of the gridiron game has featured two matches involving teams from the Cornwall Wildcats and Glengarry Gaels programs. Some years have also included the United Counties Warriors or Russell Timberwolves. For the kids, this is a thrilling experience, with announcers calling the game live, while a roaming field reporter interviews players.
On April 15, the Maxville Fair board of directors made the decision official to nix the 2020 edition:
“With regret, we announce that the Maxville Fair for 2020 is cancelled.”
Maxville Fair board of directors
The announcement went on to say, “In this time of uncertainty, for the protection of our volunteers and for the protection of our community, the Board of Directors of the Maxville Fair wishes to advise the 2020 Maxville Fair is officially cancelled. This was not an easy decision and was made after much consideration, discussion, and anxiety.”
The board added, “We thank everyone for their support over the past years, and we look forward to planning the 2021 Maxville fair.”
Senior ‘A’ hockey will return to Maxville for the 2020-21 season, as new ownership has taken over the community’s EOSHL club.
As previously reported in this post, the Maxville Millionaires franchise was taken over by the league in March, following the failure of the club to complete payment of league fees for the inaugural campaign.
On March 27, Matt Thompson and Maxime Boucher purchased the Millionaires roster from the EOSHL, committing to keep the club in Maxville, albeit under a new moniker, the Mustangs (Junior ‘C’ hockey fans may recall that name previously used by the Maxville team which played in the EOJCHL/NCJHL from 1998 through 2010, when the club was purchased by new investors and moved to Papineuville, Quebec.)
In preparation for the second season of senior ‘A’ hockey, the Mustangs have announced details on their recruitment and training camp.
Earlier this week, the Maxville Millionaires announced on their Facebook page (which has since been deleted) that they were ceasing operations after just one year of senior ‘A’ hockey. The Eastern Ontario Super Hockey League, of which the Millionaires were one of four inaugural franchises, stated on March 24, “The EOSHL disappointed to announce that the Maxville Millionaires will no longer operate in the EOSHL as of this morning.”
Further, the league noted, “The Maxville organization was given a final deadline on March 22, 2020, to pay the team’s outstanding league fees. The payment was not received by the EOSHL on that final deadline date. This deadline was an extension from the original March 15” due date.
The remaining three ownership groups subsequently held a video conference call to explore options moving forward.
Ideally, the EOSHL will find a new ownership group for the Millionaires, keeping the team in Maxville and recovering “some or all the money owed by the Millionaires.”
Other options including allowing the roster to be purchased by an expansion team that will enter the 2020-2021 season or holding a dispersal draft of all current Millionaires players sometime in July, after the league has accepted its expansion teams.
In a statement on March 25, the EOSHL announced “to all our fans and the fans in Maxville, especially, we are working on a new ownership group that has come forward to keep the team in Maxville. Hopefully by Monday [March 30] we can have some solid and positive news for everyone.”
Their inaugural foray into senior ‘A’ hockey came to an end Saturday night, when the Maxville Millionaires were thumped by the West Carleton Rivermen 13-1.
The game was a stark contrast to the semifinal series opener on the road, where the Millionaires battled the Rivermen into overtime, before bowing out 8-7.
Facing a must-win in the home rink Saturday, Maxville’s senior ‘A’ squad never really found their legs, after giving up a goal to West Carleton just 14 seconds in.
The Rivermen scored four times in the opening period, including once on a power play. In the second stanza, the visitors continued to pound home the puck, potting five more, before the Millionaires finally tallied one at the 14:46 mark, when Calvin Wojtaszak struck, set up by Braedan Pearl and Adam Wensink.
West Carleton added four more in the final frame, as they shut down the hosts and ended the EOSHL for Maxville.
Millionaires goaltenders Miguel D’Aoust and Alain Ravary faced 41 Rivermen shots, while Maxville players fired 28 shots at West Carleton netminder Erik Miksik.
Statistically, the Millionaires were in tough facing the league’s top team in the semifinal playoffs, as Maxville had just 2 wins through 18 regular-season games compared to the Rivermen’s 14 victories.
With their win over Maxville, the Rivermen qualify for the EOSHL championship finals, where they will face the winner of the Cornwall versus Deseronto series.