full screen background image

History of ScotDance Canada

ScotDance Canada — Scottish Cultural Organization for Traditional Dance in Canada

Affiliated member of the S.O.B.H.D.

Recognizing the need for a national body to oversee the continuity of the Canadian Inter-Provincial Championships, ScotDance Canada (SDC) was formed in July 1987 in Regina, Saskatchewan.  The SDC Constitution was formally acceptance in Hamilton, Ontario in July 1988. SDC has been an Affiliated Member of the Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing (S.O.B.H.D.) since November 1990. SDC has acted as the Registration Agent for Canadian dancers and competition organizers participating in the Worldwide Registration System since January 1994. In January 1996, the S.O.B.H.D. recognized SDC as the principal organization and means of communication with the S.O.B.H.D. in Canada.

Linda Rankin was approved, by the S.O.B.H.D., as our delegate in September 1990. She attended her first meeting representing SDC on November 18th, 1990, and has been our Head Delegate for the last 22 years.

Charitable Status

ScotDance Canada Association was granted Incorporation Status under the Canada Corporations Act by the Minister of Industry Canada on January 24, 1994 and in 1995 received Charitable Status designation. The By Laws were amended and accepted at the Annual General Meeting of July 1997. Further amendments have been made at the 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 Annual General Meetings. ScotDance Canda has received Ministerial Approval from Industry Canada for all of these amendments.


Over the years ScotDance Canada has prospered under the leadership of eight Presidents: Irene Baird (Manitoba), Loree Martin Vellner (Alberta), Heather Jolley (British Columbia), Anne Sutherland (Ontario), Christa Mackie (Ontario), Marilynn Wright (Ontario), Peter Archibald (British Columbia), and Bill Troock (Alberta). Being at the helm of more than twenty very opinionated executive and independent members, and committee chairs, is not an easy task. However, these Presidents have managed to bring the voices of our vast country together on the floor of each Annual General Meeting. It is here that our Board of Directors discusses, votes and ultimately changes our course.

Independent Members

Independent Membership has been awarded to six of the founding members of ScotDance Canada: Mrs. Adeline Duncan of Victoria, British Columbia (1991); Mrs. Irene Baird of Winnipeg, Manitoba (1993); Mrs. Gail Danysk of Calgary, Alberta (1994); and, Mrs. Heather Jolley of Burnaby, British Columbia, Mrs. Sandra Bald Jones of Hamilton, Ontario, and Mrs. Donna Jean Ostrander of Ottawa, Ontario (1995). Loree Vellner of Red Deer, Alberta was made an Independent Member in 1998. 2009 saw the addition of Anne Sutherland of London, Ontario and Bill Troock of Edmonton, Alberta as Independent Members. Sadly, 2009 also marked the passing of Mrs. Adeline Duncan, ScotDance Canada’s first Independent (Honorary) Member. Additionally

Independent Memberships were awarded to Christa Mackie of Oakville Ontario (2010) and Peter Archibald of Coquitlam British Columbia (2011).

Emeritus Members

A new class of Membership was introduced and passed at the SDC AGM 2010–the distinction of “Emeritus” membership. This is to be awarded to any SDC Independent Member upon retirement or death. Mrs. Adeline Duncan was awarded the first Emeritus membership. Through retirement, Emeritus status has been awarded to Donna Jean Ostrander (2011), Gail Danysk (2011), Loree Martin Vellner (2011), and Sandra Bald Jones (2012).


SDC Conferences provide an excellent opportunity for the exchange of knowledge and ideas among members. The first National SDC Conference was held in Toronto, Ontario in October 1991. In 1994, a Western Conference was held in Kelowna, British Columbia, and an Eastern Conference in Toronto, Ontario. The second National Conference was held in Toronto, Ontario in October 1996. SDC’s National Conferences have continued to be held every other year in October: 1998 – Montreal, QC; 2000 – Halifax, NS; 2002 – Calgary, AB; 2004 – Etobicoke, ON. In 2006 ScotDance Canada supported and participated in the “World of Highland Dancing Conference” in Las Vegas, NV in lieu of a National Conference. Montreal, QC was the location of the 2008 SDC National Conference. In 2010 the Conference was held in Vancouver, BC. When numbers warrant, an S.O.B.H.D. Judges’ Exam has been scheduled in conjunction with the Conferences. In addition to the regularly scheduled National Conferences, many of the ScotDance Provincial Affiliates hold Provincial Conferences on a regular basis.

In October 1992 a joint ScotDance/FUSTA (Federation of United States Teachers and Adjudicators of Highland Dancing) Conference was held in Las Vegas, Nevada. ScotDance Canada has participated in “The World of Highland Dancing”, an International Conference, held in Las Vegas, Nevada in October 1999, 2003, 2006 and 2011.


The first edition of the SDC Newsletter was issued in July 1991. Avril Wood, Rothesay, NB, served as the Newsletter Editor from 1991-1992. Donna Jean Ostrander, Ottawa, ON, filled this position from 1993-1999. Heather Jolley, Burnaby, BC, became the next Newsletter Editor serving from 2000-2004. Peter Archibald, Vancouver, BC, took over the Newsletter Editor responsibilities in 2005, and distribution became electronic. Over the next few years, the SDC website became our primary means of communication, and the Newsletter seemed to become an unnecessary tool.

Events list

The Canadian Events List, outlining dates and contacts for the majority of the competitions in Canada, is compiled and issued annually by SDC. Originally, this informative list was distributed by mail accompanying the Newsletter. It is now prepared by the National Competition Organizer Registrar, and appears on the SDC website. Monthly newsletters were issued in 2012 leading up to ScotDance Canada Championship Series. A daily newsletter was issued during the 5 days of the series.

James L. McKenzie Memorial Fund

In 1992, SDC established the James L. McKenzie Memorial Fund in memory of Mr. James L. McKenzie of Aberdeen, Scotland. Its intent is to award funds, throughout Canada, to deserving recipients for the purpose of Highland Dancing enhancement. The first recipients to receive this award were announced in 1996. The application process underwent a complete review and was re-introduced in 2011 with 64 applications being received.

Information Technology

ScotDance Canada moved rapidly forward into the electronic age during the Presidency of Christa Mackie (2001-2005). Under Christa’s leadership, ScotDance Canada On-line Registration (SCOR) system–an electronic program handling the complete administration of a competition from entry form to final results – was developed. Unfortunately, a change in service provider resulted in the loss of this program, and considerable time is now being put into the development of a similar program.

The  SDC website, under the original management of Pierie Danysk, was considered to be SDC’s main source of communication with its membership, and the Canadian Highland Dance community for many years. ScotDance Canada is looking forward to the launch of their new website–www.scotdance.ca–in the fall of 2012. Barb Yorke, ScotDance Canada Board of Director for Prince Edward Island has been at the helm of this project for over a year making sure the site serves the needs of our Canadian dancing community. SDC also launched another website in February 2012 –www.sdccs.ca–which operates for the purpose of promoting and sharing information about the ScotDance Canada Championship Series (SDCCS).

Commemorative Book

In 2003, SDC published a commemorative book entitled Canadian Highland Dance Experience – Past, Present and Future, edited by Deborah Wardrope. This limited edition book details the history of Highland Dancing in Canada, and also illustrates Canada’s place in the worldwide community of Highland dance.


The ScotDance Canada Suite, undertaken as a Millennium project, was choreographed by Sheryl Joyner, Chairperson of the National Choreography Committee. Steps were provided by SDC members from across the country. The Suite had its inaugural performance at the 2003 SDCCS in St. Catharines, ON.  It was performed again at the Opening Ceremonies of the 2004 SDCCS in Winnipeg, MB, marking the 30th Anniversary of the Canadian Inter-Provincial Championships.

Online training

In 2004, SDC began an innovative, online Judges’ Exam Preparation Course developed and conducted by Deborah Wardrope, the current Secretary of SDC. The course has proven to be a much-needed, and successful study tool for candidates preparing for the SOBHD Judge’s Exam.

Spearheaded by Deborah Wardrope, the 2008-2009 year saw the development of an Education Centre on the SDC website. This came at a time when professional development was, and continues to be, very much to the forefront. Plans are to continue to develop the Education Centre to serve as a much-needed reference library for professionals.

Annual Planning

SDC recognized the need to resume annual Board of Directors Planning Meetings. The usual, yearly conference call among members of the SDC Board of Directors, and Committee Chairs, was not meeting the needs of our organization. Originally chaired many years ago in Winnipeg by Anne Sutherland, the first planning meeting of recent years was held in Winnipeg Manitoba in 2010, chaired by Bill Troock. Subsequently meetings have been held in Toronto, 2011 chaired by Peter Archibald, and 2012 again chaired by Bill Troock.

Board of Directors

Changes were made to the SDC Board of Directors in 2010. The SDC Board of Directors was adjusted from 27 Provincial Board of Directors and up to 9 Independent Members, to 9 Provincial Board of Directors and up to 9 Independent Members. The weight of the vote remains the same, with each province still holding 3 votes and Independent Members allowed to cast 1 vote each. These amendments received Ministerial approval from Industry Canada as of January 1, 2011.

Risk Management Program

The Simplified Child Abuse/Molestation Risk Management Program was developed by Insurance Advisor Eric Johnston and passed into the SDC Operations Manual in 2008. In 2010, Deborah Wardrope and Barb Yorke revised the program now called the Child and Youth Abuse Protection Program. This program more fully meets the current demands of good governance of our charitable organization,

As with any organization dealing with a vulnerable sector of society, good governance also dictates the screening of its members as evidence of good character. A new Risk Management Policy was introduced by Deborah Wardrope, and passed into our Operations Manual by the membership at the 2010 AGM. Part of this program was the introduction of Enhanced Canadian Police Information Centre Record Check (ECPIC). Cheryl Rafter as chair of the Risk Management Committee implemented the program, and secured 95% compliance in the first year.


ScotDance Canada secured the services of a lawyer in 2011 with the mandate to review ScotDance Canada’s By-Laws. Amendments were suggested and proposed to the membership at the 2011 AGM in Antigonish Nova Scotia. These amendments received Ministerial approval from Industry Canada as of January 1, 2012.

Canadian Inter-Provincial Championships

At the AGM in 2011, SDC passed an additional qualifying heat to our Canadian Inter-Provincial Championship. Among other things, this qualifier was intended to improve the availability of this championship to more members of our Canadian dancing community. The first qualifying heat was to take place in July of 2012. At the S.O,B,H.D. meeting in May 2012, the S.O.B.H.D. unilaterally voted to cancel the qualifying heat based on a document negotiated in the 1970s–prior to ScotDance Canada’s formation. Although extremely disappointed with these actions, and the fact that an Emergency Meeting was not approved, ScotDance Canada announced the suspension of the qualifier  on May 31, 2012.

A new age category for the Canadian Inter-Provincial Championship was proposed and passed at the SDC AGM 2012. There will now be 7 age categories: 7 & Under 10 Years, 10 & Under 12 Years, 12 & Under 14 Years, 14 & Under 16 Years, 16 & Under 18 Years, 18 & Under 21 Years, and 21 Years and Over.

Canadian Champions to 2017

SDCCS Open Championship Winners to 2017