Life & Accomplishments

of Alasdair McKay

[Crest of Clansfolk of Clan MacKay] Crest of Clansfolk of Clan MacKay

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Alasdair McKay is well known through Scottish and Theatrical circles in New Scotland (Nova Scotia) and elsewhere for his natural abilities in acting, story telling and song, and the wry wit he cleverly brings to these roles.

In another life, as a founding member of the Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Nova Scotia, he has played many of the bass roles in the Savoy Operas at venues from Yarmouth to Glace Bay. Of these his favourite character is Dick Deadeye, an Able Seaman of HMS Pinafore - the only sane character among those portrayed in that piece.

"Alasdair really gets into his roles," notes Hon. Rev. Laird Stirling. "You can tell he enjoys bringing the characters to life with verve and panache."

In Scottish gatherings, folks look forward to being regaled by Alasdair's renditions of poetry and song, interlaced with his insights and musings. Never before has the shuddering haggis been addressed with such flair and feeling : his wife once dared him to start the address, at one very august gathering, " Wee sleekit cowrin' timrous beastie - O whit a panic's in thy breastie " ........ and he did. No-one seemed to notice.

"He loves to expound on history!" his wife Pat comments (sometimes with a sigh, if three hours have passed already). With knowledge gleaned from stories of his parents and grand-parents, his experiences in growing up in Causewayhead in the shadow of the Wallace Monument near historic Stirling and Menstrie in Scotland, and his ability to see further into the millstones than most, Alasdair offers much wisdom and insight in the history of days past, the present and the directions for the future. In four words or less, "McKay knows his stuff!"

"There is a distressing tendency for Nth generation Scots in the former Colonies to accept pontifications emanating from the homeland," says McKay. "While I agree with with the need to suppress idiotic spurious "traditions" arising in the USA and Canada, it is equally important to fire a broadside back at modern home-bred Scots when they show signs of backsliding or general madness."

Alasdair and Pat McKay are proud parents of Robbie McKay and Elizabeth McKay, outstanding teenagers who would be looking forward to bright careers if such things still existed. Robbie shares his computer expertise with CCN, and is frequently sought out by CCN users for wisdom that more experienced and older administrators are not able to provide. Robbie also sets mouse traps around the wee village Elizabeth and her mother have built to catch the mice out for an afternoon's stroll from their Mouse House.

Pat McKay is an accomplished artist, and painter whose favourite medium is water colour. She has exhibited at various galleries in Dartmouth and Halifax. Her experiences in Japan have made her accomplished in Tea Ceremony and Ikebana and turned her into a fan of Sumo Wrestling.

With more perception than most, and most of them are still asleep, McKay notes the distressing similarities in the economic developments in New Scotland (Nova Scotia) and those that led up to the Highland Clearances in Scotland in the distressing times at the beginning of the 19th Century. Yes, it could happen to us in Nova Scotia. When one looks about at the massive layoffs from large corporations (NSPI, MT&T, Royal Bank, others) in order to maintain and increase their profit margins, indeed the New Scotland Clearances are already in progress.

Alasdair McKay, of Grummore (Strathnaver) ancestry, whose grandfather came from Caithness to become a policeman in central Scotland in the early 1900's is a founding member of the Clan MacKay Society of New Scotland, and currently serves as Vice- President. "Alasdair McKay deserves to serve as President," says Janet MacKay, its current President. "He has more wisdom and guidance for our Clan MacKay Society than most of us, certainly me. We look to Alasdair to lead us in the directions we should go. I do merely the busy work and the goading."

McKay grew up in Causewayhead, near Stirling, Scotland and, on visits to his grandmother, often played, as a child around Menstrie Castle, the 16th century seat of Sir William Alexander, Earl of Stirling and founder of Nova Scotia. His mother's grandfather and great-grandfather, as village blacksmiths maintained the rail line which carried the stones from the foot of Abbey Craig to the building site of the Wallace Monument on its summit.

After studies at Glasgow, North Wales - not to be confused with South Wales - and Durham (where he met his wife Pat), he came to Nova Scotia in 1973 and made the mistake of taking employment with the provincial government. He took leave of absence to return to England for a year in the early 1980's to complete a doctorate in marine geophysics and to let his young family (Robbie and Elizabeth) get to know their grandparents.

In 1990, on another leave of absence, the McKays spent a year in Japan as guests of the Japanese Agency of Science and Technology while Alasdair worked as a visitor at the Geological Survey of Japan in Tsukuba, near Tokyo.

Displaced from his position with the province on 6th April 1992 during the N. S. Clearances of the 1990's, McKay now, in partnership with his wife, runs Haggis Geophysics, a firm which does contract geophysical survey work for such applications as port and harbour development, has manufactured and exported seabed hydrophones to France and, with its good friends at McGregor GeoScience, has mapped Musquodoboit Valley kaolin deposits and evolved a new approach to carrying out lakebed seismics in the remote diamond play in the Northwest Territories.

Alasdair McKay is a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, a Past President of the Atlantic Geoscience Society, a Life Member of the American Geophysical Union, the Society of Exploration Geophysics, the North British Society of Halifax, the National Trust for Scotland, the Youth Hostels Association and the Friends of Scottish Monuments, a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, the Oceanic Engineering Society, the Remote Sensing & Geoscience Society and the Computer Society, a member of the European Association of Exploration Geophysicists, the Acoustical Society of America, the Canadian Acoustical Association, and a founding member of the Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Nova Scotia.

He also makes Haggis. Enquiries to or tel/fax (902) 463-7606

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