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Clan Gatherings

The Clan Chisholm Society and its individual branches host regional Clan gatherings every so often, and every few years the International Council convenes a society-wide gathering. Here you can find pictures and stories of our experiences.

International Gathering - 2019 - Ypres, Belgium

(This article has been summarised from earlier more extensive reports in the Clan Chisholm Journal #63 of March 2020., as well as the report in the UK Newsletter #58 of November 2019.)

The 2019 International Gathering in Ypres was organised to commemorate Chisholms who had fallen in the Great War of 1914-1918. It was inspired by Robert Chisholm's series of volumes on Chisholm soldiers who fell.
The Hotel Ariane in Ypres served as the base for the Gathering. Here there is a large display of WW1 uniforms and memorabilia including a display stand dedicated to “The Madonnas of Pervyse”: Mrs Elsie Knocker and Miss Mairi Chisholm of Chisholm whose extraordinary courage is still celebrated and honoured today, over one hundred years later. The hotel has collected a number of artefacts to illustrate the story of Elsie and Mairi not least their statue which is situated in the hotel garden.
Mr Stefaan Vandenbussche, who acted as guide throughout the Gathering, was instrumental in raising funds with Diane Atkinson (author of “Elsie and Mairi Go To War”) to commission Josiane Vanhoutte to create the statue which was inaugurated in 2014.
Susan presented Stefaan with a copy of Mackenzie’s 1891 edition of “History of the Chisholms” in appreciation of his work arranging and guiding the four day tour.

First Day

On the first day, the party visted various sites in Ypres itself, including St.George’s Memorial Church built in the 20’s to commemorate the 500,000 British & Commonwealth troops who died fighting in the three battles of the Ypres Salient, as well as the restored Linen Hall and Cathedral destroyed during the conflicts. An evening visit was made to the massive Menin Gate which was built to commemorate the route taken out of Ypres by over a million men proceeding to the front line.
Since 1927, local volunteer buglers have played The Last Post under the Menin Gate every evening except for a period in the Second World War.
The Clan Chisholm Society represented by Honorary Secretary Susan Chisholm, cousin Marie-Angela Foster and fellow clansman Robert Chisholm laid a wreath in commemoration of fallen Chisholms.

Second Day

On the second day, the party visited the small village of Pervyse, seeing the site where the original ”Cellar House” had stood, and from where Elsie and Mairi ran their first aid station. A short distance away, they visited Dixmuide with its museum and “Trench of Death” , as well as the Yser Tower and Pax Gate built in memory of the Flemish soldiers killed on the Yser Front during the war.

The party then moved on to the village of Passchendaele where the third battle of Ypres was fought in 1917, claiming the lives of over half a million soldiers of both sides. Here the enormous Tyne Cot Cemetery and Memorial was built, with the imposing memorial bearing the names of 35,000 Commmonwealth servicemen, including many New Zealanders, for whom there is no known grave. In the cemetery lie the remains of 12,000 servicemen many unidentified.
Here Susan laid a wreath on behalf of the UK Branch of the Society.

A short distance away, Polygon Wood was reached, with the Buttes New British Military Cemetery, with the Australian Memorial and the New Zealand Memorial overlooking the cemetery.
At both Memorials wreaths were laid on behalf of the Australian and New Zealand Branches of the Society.

Before returning to the hotel, a visit was first made to St. Julien, where the Canadian Memorial known as “The Brooding Soldier” stands. This monument commemorates Canadians who fought in the Second Battle of Ypres in 1915 – infamous for the large scale deployment of chlorine gas by the enemy.

Finally a short distance away the party stopped at the Poelcapelle British Cemetery with the graves of over seven and a half thousand servicemen, most of whom remain unknown.

That evening, a talk was given by Stefaan on the lives of Elsie and Mairi at The Front, and a gift of handwoven scarves of hunting and dress tartan was presented later to Robert Chisholm for his work in preparing the World War One Commemorative volumes.

Third Day

The third day was spent in the Somme Valley in northern France. On the approach to Vimy, the massive Canadian National Vimy Memorial stood out in the autumn sunshine with its twin towers embossed one with the fleur-de-lis and the other with the maple leaf representing France and Canada. There are many other beautiful carvings commemorating the lost soldiers of both sides.
Here Susan laid a wreath on behalf of the Canadian Branch of the Society.

The next stop was Thiepval. The Anglo-French Thiepval Memorial stands on the site of the first day of the Battle of the Somme when Commonwealth casualties exceeded 60,000. It is the largest of the Commonwealth Memorials.
On the return journey, a brief stop was made at "Le Tommy" restaurant and museum. Here an outdoor museum has been created with reconstructed trenches vividly showing what conditions must have been like at The Front.

Finally the day spent in the Somme Valley ended with a visit to the Pozières Memorial - this honouring the First Australian Division which suffered very heavy losses in several weeks of fighting here.

Fourth Day

Before the end of the Gathering on the fourth day, and the return home, the party paid a visit to the nearby Lyssenthoek Military Cemetery in Poperinge - the second largest military cemetery in Belgium after Tyne Cot.

Afterwards they then journeyed east to Waregem where the Flanders Field American Memorial Cemetery is located. This contains the remains of American servicemen who fell in the Final Allied Offensive of 1918.
A final wreath was laid on behalf of the US Branch of the Clan Chisholm Society.

In conclusion

The Gathering had proved a great success in the organisation by Mairi Angela and the arrangements and guide commentary by Stefaan.
It had complemented perfectly the Commemorative volumes published by Robert on the website and had left strong impressions of the horrors, resilience and sacrifice of the soldiers of the period.

International Gathering - 2014 - Inverness, Scotland

The 2014 International Gathering of Clan Chisholm was hosted by the United Kingdom Branch in Inverness.
Some pictures are available here

International Gathering - 2011 - Duluth, United States

The 2011 International Gathering of Clan Chisholm was hosted by the United States Branch in Duluth, Minnesota.
(Pictures and report to follow)

International Gathering - 2008 - Banff/Canmore, Canada

The Gathering was held on Friday, August 29 through Monday, September 1, 2008 (Labour Day Weekend) and was held in conjunction with the Canmore Highland Games. An interesting and full event schedule was arranged for the long week-end including a Meet & Greet, a President's Reception, "Dining-in" with The Chisholm, a Western BBQ/Ceilidh, Golf, Coach Tours of the Banff Area including a picnic and Afternoon Tea at the Banff Springs Hotel which proved to be one of the highlights of the Gathering. This hotel, built in baronial style by Scottish stone masons in the late 1800s, is without doubt the crown jewel of the Canadian Rockies. Click here to download a schedule of events and here for more details.

Attendance at the Annual Canmore Highland Games ( on Sunday, August 31st was also arranged. These Games, one of the largest in Western Canada, attract participants from all over North America and Scotland.

Our Chief, Hamish Chisholm of Chisholm and his family attended and was recognized, along with Lord Bruce as "Co-Chief of the Games" and as such participated in many of the official functions.

The sound of the pipes echoing along the Bow Valley with the majestic Three Sisters watching sedately overhead was truly an exceptional experience. Many visitors spent some additional time in the area as Banff National Park is a world famous international tourist destination offering a variety of activities ranging from heli-hiking in the rugged Rockies to shopping along Banff's famous Caribou, Elk and Bear Streets.