East York Scotsman becomes Canadian on Scottish holiday

30-year East York resident from Scotland becomes Canadian citizen on Robert Burns Day

Hugh Brownly announces his new Canadian citizenship during his address to the haggis presentation at The Auld Spot Pub's, Robby Burns Day celebration.  PJ Boyd/Toronto Observer

Robert Burns day is an important day of celebrating Scottish culture, of course.

But for Hugh Brownly, Jan. 25 has a new significance: it’s the day he became Canadian.

Brownly took the occasion among his friends, family and fellow Danforth-area residents to announce his achievement. Within a crowded room during The Auld Spot Pub’s Robby Burns festivities, sounds of clinking glasses, cheering and the scent of haggis filled the room as he announced his new Canadian status.

“Something happened to me yesterday,” Brownly said. “And I have to tell you, what happened to me yesterday, made today, Robert Burns Day, Jan. 25, 2019, the very first day that I woke up a Canadian citizen.”

Brownly jokingly spoke about getting up early to enjoy a full first day as a Canadian. “But I’m tired now,” he said.

Brownly has called The Auld Spot Pub his local watering hole since he immigrated to Toronto over 30 years ago. He has been in their Robert Burns Day celebrations for all but one of the years they’ve celebrated it.

Brownly’s role in the night’s festivities is part of the Scottish holiday’s ceremonial tradition, “Address to the Haggis.” This tradition is from the Robert Burns poem of the same name.

A Robby Burns celebration in Toronto's East York

Auld Spot bartender, Sebastien Belcourt, serves customers during Robert Burns Day festivities. (PJ Boyd/TORONTO OBSERVER)

Over the years, Scottish ex-patriates have gravitated to The Auld Spot Pub. The celebration of Robert Burns Day at the pub began before the current owners, Nathan and Nicole Hynes, took ownership 15 years ago and they didn’t hesitate to keep the tradition going.

“It helped us build a bit of the events that we run,” said Nicole Hynes about taking over the Robbie Burns Day events. “It gave us a bit of a foundation and passion for events.”

The Auld Spot Pub is a welcoming community spot regardless of the celebration.

“On Jan. 25, half of the people are celebrating Robby Burns. The other half are just waiting for St. Patrick’s Day,” Brownly joked in his kilt.

The Auld Spot Pub will no doubt be in celebration mode on St. Patrick’s Day, just like on Robbie Burns Day.

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Posted: Jan 28 2019 4:23 pm
Filed under: Arts & Life