Today is Robbie Burns Day! Maybe you’ve heard of Burns Night or Burns Supper? Scottish Canadians in particular may be familiar with the event and the man who inspired the events held on this day every year. Born in Scotland on January 25, 1759, Robert Burns would become a well-known poet. He wrote a large collection of works and became a cultural icon in Scotland, earning the nickname “National Bard”. Burns Night celebrates the life and poetry of Burns by encouraging suppers in his honour. These were started by Burns’ friends after his death in 1801 and the tradition has been carried on ever since. These suppers usually include haggis, Scotch whisky, and readings of Burns’ poems.

In honour of this celebration, we are sharing a unique archive from our collection. This typed piece of the poem “February” is from a larger collection titled “The Lyric Year” by Wilson MacDonald, which featured poems related to each month of the year. MacDonald was a poet born in Cheapside (now Haldimand) in 1880. He managed to make a career out of poetry by touring Canada and the Northern United States, charging reading fees and selling his books at readings. His poetry was not taught in schools, so MacDonald travelled to high schools and offered to do readings for free. Due to his success, he was often compared to the famous “Bard of the Yukon”, Robert Service. Service, in turn, had been influenced by Robert Burns’ work.

If you want to learn more about how to celebrate your own Burns Night at home you can check out this website: https://www.scotland.org/events/burns-night

If you would like to read more poetry from Wilson MacDonald, including the full text of “The Lyric Year”, our friends in Haldimand County at the Wilson MacDonald Memorial School Museum have many of his works online: https://www.haldimandcounty.ca/heritage-culture/wilson-macdonald-memorial-school-museum/wilson-macdonalds-poetry/