The Antigonish Highland Society was founded on Aug. 22, 1861, to preserve the culture of the Highland Scots who had settled the area. The Society resolved that efforts had to be made to perpetuate the unique language, dress, music and games of their ancestors. The all-male (at the time) Society adopted a uniform that consisted on a plaid and bonnet. They celebrated their culture at picnics, dinners and Highland Balls and held meetings to discuss how best to promote their traditions. The first such celebration was a dinner held on St. Andrew’s Day, Nov. 30th, 1861. Honouring the patron saint of Scotland has been one of the important traditions that the Society has preserved since its inception.
The Society, largely through the initiative of Rod J. Chisholm, influenced the Town of Antigonish’s decision to dub the community “The Highland Heart of Nova Scotia”. It is the vision of the Society to not have this title in name only, but to create a living and vibrant Scottish culture in Antigonish and be the conduit for the North American Gael to their heritage.