Uncle John & D-Day, 78 years ago today

June 6, 2022 on 9:07 am by Michael Grey | In Photographs, Stories | No Comments

Today marks the 78th anniversary of the historic D-Day operation. On June 6, 1944, in the midst of World War II, Allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy in Nazi-occupied France

My dad’s brother, John, was a sergeant in the Sherbrooke Fusilier Regiment, known in WWII as the 27th Armoured Regiment.

I have in my possession a number of Uncle John’s souvenirs and war-time artefacts. A couple of pages of one is shown here from a slim, cardboard-covered, 10 by 16 centimetres “Soldier’s Service Book”.
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P/M Evan MacRae: Magazine Cover Star

February 22, 2022 on 10:22 pm by Michael Grey | In Photographs | Comments Off on P/M Evan MacRae: Magazine Cover Star

A little diversion for your late-winter’s day: a 1950’s photojournalist’s look at Pipe Major Evan MacRae. You’ll know that Evan MacRae was a top-line piper and great contributor to the “carrying stream” of piping tradition of not-so-long ago.
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Art and Gaelic Life in the Eastern Townships

July 16, 2021 on 7:04 pm by Michael Grey | In Photographs, Stories | Comments Off on Art and Gaelic Life in the Eastern Townships

This week I had the chance to head to the Homeland. To Quebec: the Eastern Townships, or L’Estrie, to Francophones. And, as anyone might, I took it.
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John MacDonald on the Radio at 84

June 29, 2021 on 3:58 pm by Michael Grey | In Photographs, Solo Piping, Stories | Comments Off on John MacDonald on the Radio at 84

Anyone who has visited the excellent G S McLennan website will have seen a smashing photograph of John MacDonald of Inverness. I include it here for easy reference (well, for those click-averse). This version is colourized and “enhanced” – and I’m not entirely sure its better than the original.
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GS & Lawyers: King George Versus Army

April 15, 2021 on 4:48 pm by Michael Grey | In Photographs, Stories | Comments Off on GS & Lawyers: King George Versus Army

A follow on – of sorts – to the David Glen and Peter Henderson court shenanigans of 1900. I happened on the attached clippings following my musings on Dave and Pete’s court tussle(I say “happened” but it was GS McLennan’s grandson who kindly passed along – I think he prefers anonymity but knowing the source is important provenance for these things. And, not just that, shines a light on the inspiring importance the family has always viewed G S McLennan’s legacy).
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Imagining Three Greats: Animating Ross, McLennan & MacDonald

March 6, 2021 on 1:30 pm by Michael Grey | In Audio File, Photographs, Solo Piping, Video | Comments Off on Imagining Three Greats: Animating Ross, McLennan & MacDonald

There’s a famous photo generally available online and everywhere (I suppose that’s redundant) of three of the most famous pipers of the twentieth century – if not all time. The photo is a post-WWI study of Pipe Major William “Willie” Ross, George S McLennan and John MacDonald (Inverness). You’ll likely know, MacDonald almost always gets an “Inverness” plugged on to his name due to the popularity, to this day, of the combination of given and surnames. Though, truth be told, he isn’t the only John MacDonald to ever call Inverness his home. But to pipers everywhere, when the name appears with the marker “(Inverness)” we know precisely the man mentioned: one of the greatest exponents of piobaireachd, one who left a great musical legacy thanks to a hugely impactful lifelong teaching effort.
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To confer importance: John Ban MacKenzie

December 31, 2020 on 2:01 pm by Michael Grey | In Photographs, Random Thoughts, Stories | Comments Off on To confer importance: John Ban MacKenzie

Thanks to technology we’re all photographers. The mobile phone-cum-camera is everywhere. The late writer, Susan Sontag, famously wrote of the subject in her book On Photography (1977). I’ve talked about some of her ideas before but her cleverness stands repeating. She wrote that to photograph is to confer importance. I suppose importance is relative to the photographer and the person that observes the photographed subject. Your pic of your take-away boxed lunch of chicken tikka, pilau rice and Gulab Jamun is likely to mean much more to you than me. But, still, to be fair, a tasty lunch of colourful Indian treats has, for a time, an importance of sorts to any photographer and so there’s a ring – or, maybe, tinkle – of truth to Sontag’s words.
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An ardent epitaph

September 24, 2020 on 7:57 am by Michael Grey | In Photographs, Stories, Tips | Comments Off on An ardent epitaph

I was recently part of a very small group of people who were lucky to have a private expert tour of a few choice corners of Bruce County, Ontario. Bruce County is Ontario’s largest county and – as the name might suggest – magnetic for many of the settlers of The Clearances – and even later. With verdant, rich arable land (well, after newcomers found their way to fell the massive trees, haul the stumps and clear the stones) the county is full of echoes of Scots and Irish immigration. Continue reading An ardent epitaph…

A Line Up of Knees

October 10, 2019 on 7:08 am by Michael Grey | In Humour, Photographs | Comments Off on A Line Up of Knees

I was talking to John Walsh the other evening and learned – among other things – he had one brand new knee. It was last week in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia when his plastic patella was, er, planted. Like so many procedures of this kind there’s no shortage of discomfort in recovery.
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Ronnie Rollo: Folk Artist

February 13, 2019 on 8:05 pm by Michael Grey | In Photographs, Random Thoughts, Stories | Comments Off on Ronnie Rollo: Folk Artist

In a recent mid-winter clear-out of my house I found myself with a little extra wall-space. I also found a few things I’d forgotten. Anyone who knows me knows that walls were made for one thing: to hang stuff. When I was younger I used to move a lot. And here’s a Top Tip for the itinerant: I found that the fastest way to make a place feel like home is to nail to the wall a favourite photo, picture or poster (even before all boxes are unpacked). I say “nail”, I mean hang, as in hung. A well-hung picture makes any strange new place instantly more familiar.
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