History of the Tam O' Shanter Dancers

1982

A demonstration group named the Heather Belles was formed in White Rock and it performed at a number of senior care facilities, church and club functions.  The practice and training of this group was held separately from the Club night.

1986

The Heather Belles demonstration group was selected to dance at Expo '86 in Vancouver.  Accompanied by Peter and Murray Lyon on the bagpipes, the Heather Belles danced on four occasions at Expo '86 and a special dance named "The Call of the Pipers" was written by teacher and leader, Maureen Lyon.

1987

When several men joined the group, it was renamed "The Tam O' Shanter Dancers".  Tam O' Shanter is the name of a famous poem written by Scotland's greatest poet, Robert Burns.

1994

In July and August, the Tam O' Shanter Dancers visited Scotland.  As ambassadors from Canada, they took with them greetings from the Mayors of Surrey and White Rock.  The Lord Provost of Edinburgh welcomed the Tam O' Shanter Dancers at an official 'Afternoon Tea'.

1995

The 1st Annual Burns Supper was held in January.

1996

The 2nd Annual Burns Supper was held in January.

1997

The 3rd Annual Burns Dinner and Dance was held in January.

1998

The 4th Annual Burns Dinner and Dance was held in January.The Tam O' Shanters visited Scotland again and were welcomed at several civic lunches and evening functions at Kilmarnock, Ayr and Dumfries.

1999

The 5th Annual Burns Dinner was held in January.

2000

The 6th Annual Burns Dinner was held in January.

2001

The 7th Annual Burns Dinner was held in January.

2003

The Tam O' Shanters' third trip to Scotland was highlighted by 98°F weather at Loch Lomond.  The Tams were the international guests at the Caledonian Canal Ceilidh.  They performed at the Inverness Highland Games, Glenfidock Distillery, Visitor Centre at The Millennium Wheel in Falkirk, the Drumkinnon Visitor Centre at Lock Lomond and at a Kidney Transplant Fundraiser at the Lord Provost's home in Edinburgh.

2005

The 11th Annual Robert Burns Celebration was held in January.

2006

As well as performing at the 12th Annual Robert Burns Celebration, the Tam O' Shanters performed at two White Rock Chamber Music concerts, the Scotch Club, the Vancouver Gaelic Choir Ceilidh, the Hellenic Centre, Crescent Gardens Residence, Jackman Manor, the Campbell Valley Country Fair and a 50th Birthday Party for Cameron MacIntosh.  The Dancers also participated in the Vancouver CelticFest parade, and, together with the White Rock Scottish Country Dance Club, entered the White Rock Spirit of the Sea Torchlight Parade.  A flatbed truck, duly festooned with lights, acted as a moving stage for the dancers who performed non-stop throughout the length of the parade.

2007

The Tams kicked off 2007 with a performance at the Crescent Gardens Residence, followed by a theatrical, musical and dance event at the 13th Annual Robert Burns Celebration.  They also performed at the Scotch Club of Vancouver's Burns Supper, the White Rock Kent St. Activity Centre and the Peninsula Resort Residence .  Once again, the Club participated with an entry in the White Rock Spirit of the Sea Torchlight Parade.  The fall dance season commenced with participation in the Campbell Valley Country Fair, followed by performances at the Hawthorne Lodge, a fundraiser for the Seaforth Highlanders Army Cadets at the Bell Centre for Performing Arts in Surrey, the Kent St. Activity Centre in White Rock, the annual Tams' Kitchen Ceilidh Pub Night and at the White Rock Chamber Music's concert at the Pacific Carlton Residence.

2008

The new year started with a performance at the Hawthorne Lodge in Port Coquitlam.  The theme for the 14th Annual Robert Burns Celebration was "Shedding a Light on Burns" and Maureen Lyon devised a new 12 dancer strathspey entitled "Light on Burns".  The dance, which was performed in a dimmed room with dancers holding lanterns, was featured at other Burns evenings at the Scotch Club, the Gaelic Society, the Crescent Gardens Residence, the Czorny Alzheimer Centre and the Peninsula Resort.  Once again the group participated in the extremely popular Vancouver CelticFest Parade on the eve of St. Patrick's Day. 

During a 7 day visit to Honolulu in April, the Tams performed at the RSCDS Club of Honolulu, the Ala Moana Center, 3 times at the Hawaiian Scottish Festival in Kapiolani Park and represented Canada in the Closing Parade.

The group danced for the Clan MacKenzie gathering at the Seaforth Armoury and teamed up with the White Rock Scottish Country Dance Club to be selected as the "Best Musical Entry" in the White Rock Torchlight Parade.  The fall season started with a performance at the Campbell Valley Fair followed by demonstrations at the BC 150 event at Mission Fraser River Heritage Park, the Kent St. Activity Centre, the Czorny Alzheimer Centre, the Renaissance in Langley, Crescent Gardens, Hallmark on the Lake in Abbotsford, the White Rock Chamber Music's concert at the Pacific Carlton Residence, Cherry Brook Park, a 90th Birthday for Lois Carson Boyce at the South Arm United Church in Richmond and the annual Tams' Pub Night Ceilidh.

2009

The Tams performed at 4 events to celebrate the 250th Anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns.  The Club's own 15th Annual Robert Burns Celebration attracted a sell-out attendance of 300 people and featured a "Portrait of Burns" in which a large portrait literally came alive and Robert Burns recounted stories from his short life.  Mary Ross of Victoria, recorded a rendition of "My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose" for the strathspey of the same name.  Maureen Lyon devised a lively 128 bar reel called the "Banshee Frolic" and the Tams also performed the "Exciseman".  Songs were sung by Ainsley McCallum accompanied by Veronica Tsai.  Other Burns events included suppers at the St. Alban's Anglican Church in Richmond and the Scotch Club of Vancouver as well as a lunch at the Renaissance in Langley.

Following the Burns season, the dancers performed at the Hawthorne Manor in Port Coquitlam, the Pacific Carlton in Surrey, the Gaelic Society at the Vancouver Scottish Cultural Centre and the Czorny Alzheimer Centre in Surrey.

During the outdoor season, the Tams participated in the New Westminster Hyack Parade, the inaugural Canada Day Parade in downtown Vancouver with the RCMP Pipe Band and the White Rock Spirit of the Sea Torchlight Parade in association with the White Rock Scottish Country Dance Club; the entry in the White Rock parade took 2nd place in the Musical Entries category.  Together with piper Leslie McKay and sword dancer Brooke Baker, the group presented a one hour concert in the Mission Twilight Concert series.  Two performances at the Fort Langley National Historic Site focussed on the history of Scottish settlers in the nineteenth century and involved audience participation in the ceilidh dances.  Once again, the Tams teamed up with the White Rock Scottish Country Dance Club for the White Rock Torchlight Parade and took 2nd place in Musical category.

A beautiful fall day heralded the start of the autumn season with a performance at the Campbell Valley Country Fair.  Fall demonstrations included Simpson Manor, Pacific Carlton, Hallmark on the Lake and Cherry Brook Park.  Joe MacDonald entertained an enthusiastic audience at the Tams St. Andrew's Pub Night Ceilidh at which the Tams danced "Hunter's Moon" and "Pitcarnie Hornpipe"

2010

The Burns season began with the Tams performing again at St. Alban's Anglican Church in Richmond.  Teaming up with the RCMP "E" Division Pipes and Drums, soprano Leanne Page, violinist Celia Collin, keyboard player Trudy Bishop and dulcimer player Brian Thomas, the Tam O' Shanter Dancers performed to a sold out audience of 300 guests at this year's 16th Annual Tam O' Shanter Burns Supper, the "Music and Musings of Burns".  Teacher Maureen Lyon devised three new innovative dances for the occasion:  "The De-ils Amang the Weavers", "Waft and Weft" and "Steps to the Loom".  Final Burns performances were presented at the Vancouver Scotch Club and the Renaissance in Langley.

During the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games, the Tams performed at Hawthorne Manor in Coquitlam.  Spring performances were presented at Peninsula Resort, Carrington Residence, Kent St., Czorny Alzheimer Centre, a ceilidh at the Scottish Cultural Centre and at a Mothers' Day tea for the RCMP Pipes and Drums.  The group participated in the Hyack Parade in New Westminster and performed at Magnolia Gardens.  On Canada Day, the Tams performed at Fort Langley and marched with the RCMP Pipes and drums in the Vancouver Canada Day Parade.  The summer season finished with a performance at an RSCDS Dancing in Stanley Park evening.

The fall season commenced with participation in the "Celtic Fantasy", a fund raising event for the Oneness Gogos, a group of the Stephen Lewis Foundation.  This was followed by performances at AbbyFest in Abbotsford, the Campbell Valley Fall Fair, Hallmark on the Lake, Carrington Residence and Cherry Brook Park.  The annual St. Andrew's  Pub Night and Ceilidh featured Johnny Forrest of Don Messer's Jubilee fame.  The Tams celebrated the Christmas season with a performance at "Christmas on the Peninsula" in White Rock.

2011

The theme for the 17th Annual Burns Supper was "Meet Burns at Mercat Square".  The Tams' final dance, "An Unco Sight", ended with a wild chase involving witches. Performances were presented at the Burns Lunch at the Renaissance and the Burns Supper at St. Alban's Anglican Church on the same day.  Spring dems were held at Carrington Residence and at the monthly ceilidh at the Scottish Cultural Centre in April.

After working on the gate at the BC Highland Games, the Tams performed at a gathering of the Sinclair clan.  Canada Day was celebrated with participation in the Abbotsford Canada Day Parade.

The fall season included performances at the Campbell Valley Country Fair, the Kent St. Activity Centre and the Czorny Alzheimer Centre.  Although they didn't perform, the Tams assisted the White Rock Scottish Country Dance Club host the very successful Lady Aberdeen Tea Dance on Remembrance Day.  The year was rounded out with an annual St. Andrew's Ceilidh and Pub Night.

2012

The Tams performed at the Renaissance Residence in January, followed by the 18th Annual Burns Supper with the theme "Rhyme and Reason".  Additional performances were held at the Ocean View Care Home in White Rock and the Pacific Carlton in South Surrey.

The highlight of the year was a trip to Havana, Cuba to participate in the "Habana Vieja Ciudad en Movimiento Dance Festival".  The Tams were overwhelmed by the very large and appreciative audiences at their 4 outdoor and 1 indoor performances.

In the summer, the Tams performed at the Skagit Valley Highland Games in Mount Vernon and participated once again in the Campbell Valley Country Fair.

Fall performances included demonstrations at the Dr. Stuart Pavilion, Ebenezer Senior's Home in Abbotsford and Laurel Place in North Surrey.  Once again, the St. Andrew's Ceilidh and Pub Night was very successful.

2013

The 19th Annual Burns Supper, with the theme "Burns: A National Symbol", was sold out.  The performance focused on the symbols of Liberty, Culture, Patriotism, Humanity and Love.

In February, the Tams danced at Christina Place and the Ocean View Care Home.  This was followed by demonstrations at Evergreen Baptist Care Home, Peace Portal Lodge and Peninsula Resort.  The Tams also performed at Ceilidhs for St. John's Presbyterian Church and the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society Vancouver Branch and a fiftieth wedding anniversary for the Forrest's.

The fall season commenced with a performance at the Campbell Valley Country Celebration followed by a performance at an event held by the Crescent Beach Pipe Band.

2014

The first performances of 2014 were at Christina Place and the Ocean View Care Home. Once again the 20th Annual Burns Supper in January was sold out two weeks before the event. The event featured "Robert Burns: Past and Present" and included the Jubilate String Quartet and the RCMP Pipe Band.

Spring performances included CelticFest at Vancouver's Robson Square, an RSCDS Ceilidh Dance, RCMP Tartan Day Banquet and St. John's Presbyterian Church.

The Tams had a busy fall schedule with appearances at the Campbell Valley Country Fair, the Royale Pacifica, Mountain View Manor, Peace Portal Lodge, Diwali Day at White Rock Beach, Evergreen Manor, Royal Arch Masonic Home and Amenida Senior Care Home.

2015

The 21st Annual Burns Supper, "Rantin' Rovin' Robin", was extremely well received by the sold out audience. A group of young actors presented interesting, little known facts about the life of Robert Burns. Local singers Sarona and Mederi Mynhart accompanied by guitarist Josh Bogart presented four songs written by Robert Burns. The last of the three dances performed by the Tams was a most unusual dance entitled the Stationmaster's Reel.

During the week following this event, the Tams performed at the Kinsmen Place, the Amenida Senior Care Home and Westminster House. In April, the Tams received an extremely warm reception when they performed at 6 locations in Los Cabos, Mexico during a whirlwind 8 day tour. The spring season was rounded out with performances at the Kent St. Activity Centre, an RSCDS Ceilidh at the Scottish Cultural Centre and a Ceilidh at St. John's Presbyterian Church.

In the fall, the Tams were busy with performances at the Fort Langley Celebration of the Arts, the Campbell Valley Country Fair, Weatherby Pavillion at the White Rock Hospital, the Diwali Multicultural Festival of Lights in White Rock, Evergreen Manor Baptist Care Home, Amenida Senior Care Home, Mulberry PARC Retirement Living, Pacifica Retirement Living and the Pacific Carlton Retirement Home.

2016

The 22nd Annual Burns Supper, "Robert Burns: Around the World", featured The Cantrix Singers and 6 young performers who spoke about the significance of Robert Burns' legacy in various countries around the world.

Following this event, the Tams performed at Whitecliff Retirement Living, Westminster House, Hawthorne Lodge, Amenida Senior Care Home, a ceilidh at St. John's Presbyterian Church, Peace Portal Lodge, Kent St. Activity Centre and Crescent Gardens.

In the fall, the group performed at the Campbell Valley Country Fair and the Weatherby Pavilion.

2017

The 23rd Annual Burns Supper, "Friendship Brings Us Here Tonight", featured singer Tristan Chalcraft and pianist Reynhart Crause. In response to many requests, the Tams' performed their popular "Ribbon Dance" again.

Winter demonstration locations included Kinsmen Place Lodge, Whitecliff Retirement Living, Amenida Senior Care Home, Westminster House, Peninsula Retirement Residence, Evergreen Baptist Care Home and a ceilidh at St. John's Presbyterian Church.

The group was honoured to perform on 17 occasions at the Melnik and Lázně Bělohrad dance festivals in the Czech Republic. For the dancers, it was a once in a lifetime experience.

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