The Octagon – December 2020

Greetings all,

Here we are heading into the last month of this rotten year! When we set out on this pandemic journey in March, little did we think that nine months later we would still be in the throes of this ugly virus. As we look down the road we are wondering what Christmas is going to look like this year and bracing for what January will no doubt bring as an aftermath of the holidays. The relative carefree days of years past seem like a distant memory as we now tentatively move forward taking one day at a time.

As I write this (November 30th) I am reminded that today is St. Andrew’s Day. St. Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland and several other countries, (Russia, Greece, Romania and Barbados). Andrew was one of the original 12 apostles of Christ and was present at the last supper. In 1320 the Scots appealed to the Pope for protection against the attempts of English Kings to conquer Scotland and thus the Declaration of Arbroath was signed and St. Andrew was declared Patron Saint. Always looking for an excuse to celebrate, the Scots consider today a bank holiday and will hold feasts, haggis and whisky tastings and generally end the day with a good rollicking ceilidh! Just what we need in these dire times.  The flag of Scotland, also called the Saltire or St. Andrew’s Cross, is supposed to signify how he was crucified on a cross of this form in Greece on November 30th, 60AD.

Now back to the present day…..the Friends of Fintry is working with the Okanagan Indian Band to erect a plaque acknowledging that both the Fintry Estate and Fintry Provincial Park are situated on the unceded ancestral territory of Syilx Okanagan Nation. This plaque will be in both English and the Syilx language and reminds our visitors of how culturally important the Shorts Creek delta is to the Syilx People. Erection and unveiling of this plaque will happen in 2021.

We, the Friends of Fintry, are embracing digital technology during these difficult times by holding our November Board Meeting via Zoom. All went well and we are going to continue with this method over the winter months or until Covid protocols change.

Our caretakers at the Fintry Manor House have settled in and seem delighted with their new winter hibernation location. The Ben Lee entrance to the Manor House has never looked so good!                     


And now we have an interesting tidbit from our Curator Dan Bruce re an item in our collection:

The Chelsea Pensioner’s Coat:

James Dun-Waters was more concerned with outdoor sports than academics when he was at Cambridge, and yet there was obviously an interest in some form of dramatic entertainment.   This we know from a series of Eliot and Fry studio photographs taken in London, showing him in a variety of roles, dressed in costume, and seemingly with full make-up, preparatory to a stage appearance.    One suspects that this became a more significant pastime during his life at Fintry, where home entertainment was the order of the day. Bearing this in mind, it is not surprising that various items of clothing, and perhaps other props were kept to hand, one of which was a Chelsea Pensioner’s coat.    

We do not know how he acquired it, but it is now back at Fintry, through the good offices of Bob Kingsmill, after a slightly mysterious period of absence.   The coat is in very good condition, with its brass buttons inscribed ” R C I ” Royal Corps of Invalids.

The Chelsea Pensioners are retired army veterans who live in the Chelsea Royal Hospital in London.  The Hospital was founded by Charles II in 1681, construction being entrusted to Sir Christopher Wren, who had already done so much to rebuild London after the Great Fire. Still in use, and fully up-to-date, the building is a must-see for anyone interested in architecture.  There are about 300 pensioners in residence, and they participate in events such as the famous Chelsea Flower Show, where, in full ceremonial uniform, they act as ushers and guides.

 The Hospital celebrates May 29th, aka Founder’s Day, or “Oak Apple Day” in memory of the founder’s escape by hiding in a densely branched oak tree after the battle of Worcester in 1651 during the Civil War.

Now here is a much sought-after recipe from Dan’s kitchen!

For those who are thinking about Christmas baking, I hereby give out my Mother’s shortbread recipe.

6 oz. flour

6 oz. butter

3 oz. caster sugar  (berry sugar)

2 oz. ground almonds ( 2 oz. cornstarch if necessary)

Crumble butter  (cut up into flour using two knives) into even sizes crumbs.

Add sugar and ground almonds. Mix well, and put into an 8″ loose bottomed tin.

Press flat with a knife and put into 350 oven for about 1/2 hour or until pale brown

and crispish at the edges.  When crumbling, keep it cold, do not let it get soft and greasy,

IF it does, add some cornstarch.    DO NOT TOUCH IT WITH YOUR HANDS AT ANY TIME.

Good Luck!

On this seasonal note, and on behalf of the Friends of Fintry board members, our Curator Dan and Business Manager Shannon,  I would like to wish you all the very best this Christmas despite all that is going on in the world. Dwell only on the things that are important to you, like family, close friends and good shortbread!

Be safe,

Kathy Drew,

Friends of Fintry Provincial Park

One thought on “The Octagon – December 2020

  1. I hope the Fintry estate site can receive the funding it deserves for proper upkeep and staff. It is an important part of local and Canadian heritage.

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