One of the most important bonds Carolyn and I have shared since the day we met on January 1st, 1979, is our love of the Georgian Bay. Our year round cottage at Thunder Beach has been our retreat for over 35 years.
Hon. Carolyn Bennett is the Member of Parliament for Toronto-St.Paul’s and we have attended the Speaker’s Robbie Burns Supper on Parliament Hill every year since she was elected in 1997. We wondered what tartans we would choose to wear for the occasion. As proud Canadians we started focusing on Canadian tartans. We wondered where we truly located ourselves and concluded that our hearts were in the Bay. But we didn’t have a Georgian Bay tartan. Then we found out that Muskoka had one and we had to do something about that.
Carolyn and I thought that a tartan for the Bay should be classic and simple, more old style. We felt it should primarily be comprised of the blues of the water and the sky, with dark green for the pines, pink for the granite rocks, and white for the clouds and the snow. One evening at the cottage in late 2011 we just started doing some layouts. In early 2012, we took three designs to Margaret Struth-Gaff, the president of Burnetts & Struth Scottish Regalia in Barrie, and, as an accomplished tartan designer herself, she kindly gave us her reaction to each one.
Once we got the blues right (from a print we have of A.Y. Jackson’s “Islands, Georgian Bay”), and saw that our granite pink worked best when it ran inside the forest green, we added a second white line, and it seemed to work. We took it back to Margaret and she liked it. The tartan was approved as “Georgian Bay, Waters of” and Carolyn’s sash and my kilt were made in time for the 2013 Robbie Burns Supper on Parliament Hill. We were delighted to get positive reviews from several Scots of Parliament and had a laugh when Maclean’s posted a shot of us on their website.
Since then, we have added tartan blankets, gift bags and ties to the inventory, all of which is available at Burnetts and Struth, Barrie and other fine shops.