October 2021     Title   Past Issues

In this Issue:

  Scotoberfest   Your Society Needs You
  Don Finch   Farquharson
  Phoenix Scottish Games   Snippets from Scotland
  Scotland's Hidden Gems   A Word from our Advertisers


Make 23 October a date. Come along and join us at Lochiel Bar in Mesa. This month we are “merging” two Society traditions after what seems like a long time away.

Lochiel is the Valley’s only Scottish-themed brewing company and we have spent several enjoyable days with host Ian Cameron. We are taking the opportunity to combine the event with our annual Scotstoberfest event, which we have traditionally held at Haus Murphy’s German restaurant in Glendale.

In order to keep the German link alive, we will be providing Octoberfest-style food in the form of brats with sauerkraut, buns and condiments free of charge to all those who come along.

Lochiel Brewing

The event starts at 1 pm at Lochiel, located at 7143 East Southern Avenue, Suite 131, East Mesa. Everyone is encouraged to come along for some good beer and food, stirring Scottish music, and to enjoy the best of craic. For more details, check the Events tab on our Facebook page.

Don Finch

The Society has been shocked and saddened by the sudden death of Don Finch, our former President and a man widely seen as the driving force of the organisation for more than a decade.

Don and his Mini Cooper

Don was President, Vice-President, activities coordinator, and latterly membership secretary. He also played a huge part in the organizing of the annual Highland Games, coordinating many of the events over the years, including the music tents and the British cars display, one of his great passions.

But more than that, Don was a wonderful ambassador, not just for the Society but for the entire Celtic community in the Valley. He worked tirelessly to promote the interests of the CSA and was a much-loved and admired figure by all who came into contact with him.

Don cooking for DOSEverybody in Celtic circles knew Don. He was a gregarious, persuasive, and charming individual whose presence will be sorely missed by us all.

Don was a regular attender at Highland Games and other Scottish events throughout Arizona and in other parts of the US and his native Canada.

In particular he took great pleasure in helping organize the Canmore Highland Games in Alberta.

He had spent his life as a businessman and had worked in Canada, France, and the US. In recent years he had been a mentor with SCORE, a volunteer organization that offers startup help to small businesses.

Don was born in 1945 in Brockville, Ontario. Since his passing, a host of tributes have been posted online. A funeral service was held at Arizona Community Church at which a Scottish musical tribute was paid by Mesa Caledonian Pipe Band.

CSA President David McBee paid a glowing tribute to Don. He said, “I met Don about a dozen years ago at a CSA function at Kierland Commons and liked him immediately.

He was outgoing, welcoming, and very interested in the Society and its growth.

He soon had me involved in many roles of the Society and the Games. His impact on many of us has stretched us to become more than we planned.

Pearland Don, Deb and David “All the many hours we spent driving to Highland Games, dinners, meetings etc., were filled with stories, possible solutions to issues at hand, and visions for the future.

He drove many things for the CSA, both seen and unseen, including entertainment chair; booking groups and all arrangements for them; vice president; President; Burns dinners; St Andrew’s events; social outings; and meetings, with the extensive help of his wife Pearl.

        Pearl and Don Finch, with Deb and David McBee

“At his memorial I learned just how big an impact he had through his work with SCORE, helping individuals and small businesses. I knew he was proud of what that group did, and I knew he had risen through the ranks of significant companies to become the CEO of a major player in the food industry. He applied that experience to SCORE and changed the lives of over 3,000 people. Not many of us can compare.

Don Finch“The Society has lost a great leader and I have lost a true friend. There are ways we can honor Don’s memory by stepping up to fill some of those many large footprints he has left behind, from his church to SCORE to the CSA, and others across multiple countries and continents.”

Iain Warrander, who served with Don on the CSA Board, wrote, “Don was a fellow Canadian from the province of Ontario, where I also grew up.

I met Don through the Caledonian Society and quickly learned that we shared the Clan Duncan heritage. Don was the Caledonian Society board member that persuaded me to become involved with a number of years ago.

“I'm happy and proud that I was able to collaborate with Don on the CSA board and at the Scottish Highland Games. Don's enthusiasm and personal drive were contagious, I never felt that I was working for Don, but always felt that I was working with him. I will miss him every time I think of the CSA and British cars.

Jim Grant, a close friend of Don, said, "I went to his home to view personal items that I might be interested in. Sad to see the remains of an interesting life that was really blessed.

"We were good friends for about six years and to this day I have known maybe five or six men that I could call brother and Don Finch was one. Don, brother, you are sorely missed."

Sandy Bunch, who runs the Canmore Games in Alberta, recalled meeting Don in Alberta several years ago. Don invited him to the Games in Phoenix, arranged a hotel for him to stay, got his great friend Jim Grant to pick him up at the airport, and looked after him throughout the weekend. It was, said Sandy, like receiving the “royal treatment” although he later discovered he was a “volunteered volunteer.”

Don Finch “Arrangements were made for Don to return to Canmore and return the volunteer favour. Don agreed to come and run the first British Car Show. That first year we only attracted about five cars due to the weather.

“Don being the man he was, was not going to give in, even with Covid. He did the groundwork and with a short trip up here, he put the wheels in motion and made some good contacts.He arrived here a couple of days before the Games, met his helper, and did some more work on the car show and lots of help on other areas of the Games setup. On the day we had 26 vehicles show up and it was a great success, mostly due to Don and his persistent ways.”

Don and his wife Pearl, who has also been a stalwart CSA member, lived in Gilbert for several years. The order of service at his funeral celebration contained a line with which we can all identify. “Don sped through life here on earth at full throttle with insatiable curiosity, recounting mostly true adventures and experiences. Speaking up and speaking out.”

Phoenix Scottish Games

Our committee is still hard at work trying valiantly to get a 2022 Scottish Games organized. Having missed out last year due to Covid, we would all love to get back into the swing of things and enjoy a weekend full of Scottish music, athletics, dancing and everything that goes into making the event a success.

However, a lot of hard work lies ahead, not least in finding a suitable site and coming to all the necessary agreements.

Society President David McBee said, “We are gathering cost estimates from suppliers and laying the groundwork for insurance coverages. We will next be meeting with the possible venues to see what will work best in our interests of producing the Scottish Games.

“We are still planning on the first weekend in March 2022 but knowing what roadblocks may be erected by local authorities between now and then will remain a wildcard.

“We have lost some key people over the last two years and really need the membership and Games participants to step up this year. We really need you this time.”

*Next month our colleagues in Tucson are staging their annual Games at the city’s Rillito Raceway Park. It is being held from 5-7 November and is always a fun event.

Scotland's Hidden Gems - Scotland’s Distilleries
Iain Lundy, Editor

Fine malt whisky is woven into the Scottish culture. Every visitor to the country should, at some point on their trip, pay a visit to at least one Scotch whisky distillery, learn about the process, and enjoy a courtesy free dram for their trouble.

Whisky - and in recent years gin - is now a booming success story enjoying a surge in exports despite competition on many fronts. In the United States, everyone who has even a little Scottish heritage tends to make a point of sampling a tincture from time to time.

Lochranza Distillery

Lochranza Distrillery

It wasn’t always the case though, even in the recent past. In the 1980s the Scotch whisky industry was in such a depressed state that distilleries were forced to closed or face being mothballed even in the whisky-producing heartland of Speyside.

A trip through Scotland wouldn’t be complete without a visit to a working distillery of your choice. You can take your pick from the famous to the more obscure; from classic smooth Speyside to the peaty flavors of the island malts; from old, long-established distilleries to more modern plants. l

Talking of modern, the new Macallan distillery is nothing short of an incredible piece of architecture, almost space-age. Built to blend in with the environment, the £140m building near the Moray village of Craigellachie features a green sloping roof covered with wildflowers. When visitors walk through the door they are confronted by what looks lie a plush ‘whisky hotel’. The size and scale is incredible - a must-visit.

Glenfarclas Distillery

Glenfarclas Distrillery

Nearby there are plenty of older, more traditional distilleries such as Glenfarclas, Glenfiddich, and Glen Grant. Although most are now owned by multi-national companies, there is a certain quaintness about them, and they offer a peek into the early days of the whisky industry in Scotland.

The island of Islay and its peaty ‘catch the back of your throat’ brands gives it the nickname ‘The Whisky Isle.’ Distilleries can be found too on Arran, Skye, Mull, Jura, Orkney, and other islands.

A visit to a good Scottish distillery can be a highlight of a visit. The guides are pleasant, educational, and always happy to dispatch a courtesy dram.

Your Society Needs You

As a totally volunteer organization, the Caledonian Society of Arizona depends on folks like you stepping up to serve in Board positions, many Area Chairs for Highland Games activities, and numerous support roles leading up to, during and after the Games event.

Some of our members have been in such positions for a number of years, and frankly, are not getting any younger. And the recent passing of Don Finch has deprived us of a vital contributor.

We need new blood - we need young blood – to help continue over half a century of supporting Scottish and Celtic life here in our community. Please consider how you can get involved – we need you!

There are many in the Celtic community - athletes, musicians, dancers, Clan members, folks from other Celtic groups, to name a few – who participate in our Games and other events. Although this is not a membership drive, we ask for increased support from all our friends, supporters and participants whether a paid member or not.

Please reach out to Society President David McBee to discuss how you can contribute: president@arizonascots.com

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Captain Alwyne Farquharson

Alwyne FarquharsonThe longest-serving Scottish clan chief, Captain Alwyne Farquharson, 16th Baron of Invercauld and Onmalprie, has died aged 102.

Captain Farquharson was confirmed as Chief of the Clan Farquharson in 1949 and is believed to have been the oldest and longest-serving clan chief in Scottish history.

Captain Farquharson, who was also Chieftain of the Ballater Highland Games on Deeside, was born in 1919. During WW2 he served as a Captain in the Royal Scots Greys Regiment. His family estate at Invercauld adjoins the Queen’s Balmoral Estate on Royal Deeside, and he was a close friend of the royal family.

He died on 6 October at his home in Norfolk, England.

Snippets from Scotland

Snippet from The BBC

Being Scottish helped American-based scientist win Nobel Prize. Well of course it did.


Snippet from The Scotsman

A clifftop ruin that has long been regarded as one of Scotland’s oldest castles, dating from the 12th century. But hold on, perhaps it’s not that old after all.


And another Snippet from The Scotsman

A campaign has been launched to save an old-fashioned red phone box at the Aberdeenshire village of Pennan. The box was made famous in the classic 1980s movie Local Hero starring Burt Lancaster.


A Word from our Advertisers

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Len Wood

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Lois Wallace card


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