Lady Aberdeen, as she became in 1877, when marrying Lord Aberdeen, the 6th Earl and 1st Marquess of Aberdeen, was certainly a most significant figure of her time.
Lord Aberdeen and his Lady, who had previously visited Canada, returned in 1893 to Rideau Hall in Ottawa, on his appointment as Governor General of Canada, and she as Vice-Regal Consort. This was when Governor Generals were still dispatched by the Monarch. Lord Aberdeen was the 7th Governor General of Canada since the founding of our Dominion in 1867, one hundred and fifty years ago. Hence our surroundings of our National flags this afternoon in 2017.
In her own right Lady Aberdeen was a passionate reform and democracy advocate. She was President of the International Council of Women for forty years and founder of the National Council here in Canada as well as founder of the Victorian Order of Nurses in Canada and many other worthwhile causes.
When she and her husband returned to Britain, Lord Aberdeen was appointed, for the second time, as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland where Lady Isabel Aberdeen continued her prominent, meaningful public work.
Our Lady also Scottish Country Danced and would hold numerous balls and costumed events wherever they resided in their official or personal homes.
Later in life Lady Aberdeen was made “Dame Grand Cross in the Order of the British Empire”. She received the Freedom of both Limerick and Edinburgh. She was the first woman to receive an honorary degree in Canada. Her name is on Plaques, Streets and Avenues across our land. She was named a National Historic Person with a Parks Canada plaque on Sussex Drive. There is another plaque on a bridge upstream from the confluence of the Gatineau and Ottawa rivers where she was rescued by Gatineau locals after falling through the ice. She funded a small church near the site in gratitude. Together they wrote their memoir “We Twa” published in 1925.
Born Ishbel Maria Marjoribanks – Ishbel is Gaelic for Isobel Lady Ishbel Hamilton-Gordon, Marchioness of Aberdeen and Temair died 18 April 1939 aged eighty-two.
Mrs Thomas Bingham (Ella) was indeed the original generator and founder of Scottish country dancing in Vancouver in the 1920s. She was the local president of the Council of Women, and, as a tribute to Lady Aberdeen, formed the Lady Aberdeen Scottish Country Dance Club. Mrs Bingham and that club began this annual tradition of a dance event each November 11th many years ago. I remember Mrs Bingham would stand so proudly at attention at the top of the hall, in the old Vancouver Scottish Auditorium, wearing her best Sunday hat, with the veil in front, for the singing of God Save the Queen, formerly God Save the King, and Oh Canada.
Nellie McKenzie then ran both the Lady Aberdeen Club and this annual event in the following years.
Eileen Bennett then took over, helped by her husband Ken, who in turn, ran this dance on his own, when Eileen died.
We no longer have the Lady Aberdeen Club, so are very pleased that our Vancouver Branch is now the sponsor of this very worthy occasion which is run by different local clubs each year. We, from Gleneagles, are very pleased to be here for today’s dance. We are all here to dance, and today to remember, to remember the unspeakable cost paid, by so many, in years past for our freedom and also to remember those who still suffer in many parts of our world. Both are conditions well beyond our imagination. Let us enjoy the afternoon ahead and be truly grateful about who we are ….. and about where we are.