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Sons of Scotland Fonds
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- Source of title proper: Title based on content of fonds.
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1905; 1946-2017, with gaps (Creation)
- Sons of Scotland Benevolent Association
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292 cm of textual records, objects, and graphic materials
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The Sons of Scotland Benevolent Association was established in 1876. Originally consisting of only three “camps”, or groups of members, the Association spread throughout the Dominion of Canada. The three original camps were Robert Burns Number 1, Robert the Bruce Number 2, and St. Andrews Number 3. In 1878 these camps created a central governing body to be called the “Grand Camp”. The purpose of the Grand Camp was to ensure harmonious communication between the camps of the growing Association and to provide an administrative head for their objectives. For a short time, the Grand Camp met annually, but in our collection the various constitutions and ritual books show that it met once every three years. According to the Sons of Scotland website, a two year cycle was adopted in 1895 and a three year cycle adopted in 1939. 38 of the 66 Grand Camp Sessions have been held in Toronto- the birthplace of the Association.
Originally a male-only fraternal association aimed at supporting Scottish immigrants to Canada, the Association was beneficial to the Scottish community in other ways. This Association was charged with the duty of providing various types of insurance policies to Scottish newcomers in Canada. Furthermore, insurance plans were created to aid the sick, poor, widowed, and orphaned members of the Canadian-Scottish community. These plans also served as a level of economic security for Scottish communities in the case of the death of loved ones. The plight of immigrants was often partially alleviated through these programs. Women were especially supported through these plans as widows or mothers. Scottish-Canadian women were granted official membership in 1909 even though they have played a peripheral role in the Association since its beginning.
Membership was the most important part of the Association. Membership sparked insurance policy subscribers and provided the financial backbone of the S.O.S.B.A. At the beginning, there were only a few hundred members. In the early 1900s, that number had increased to thousands of members. In 1893, a mere 18 years after its establishment, the funds relating to insurance policies amounted to $1,090.00. In 1916, the bank balance totaled more than $500,000. According to the Sons of Scotland website, funds total of over 9 million dollars.
The Sons of Scotland Benevolent Association fonds was acquired by Christopher Lyons upon the original suggestion of Professor Donald Nerbas, Associate Professor and Chair of Canadian-Scottish Studies at McGill University. Mr. Jim Shepherd, past president of the Scottish Centre of Montreal donated the records comprising the Sons of Scotland Fonds (MSG 1205) and Scottish Centre Fonds (MSG 1206) material upon closure of the Centre in January 2018. Three files (MSG 1205-4-15, MSG 1205-4-16, and MSG 1205-7-24) were acquired by Rohinton Ghandi in 2018 upon the closure of the Scottish Centre in Verdun and donated to Rare Books and Special Collections in 2019, along with other items now in the Scottish Centre Fonds (MSG 1206).
Scope and content
The fonds contains administrative and operational records of the Sons of Scotland Benevolent Association from roughly 1913 to 2017, including correspondence, financial statements, member directories, membership documents, newsletters and magazines, and minutes. These documents represent the association's aims to support Scottish immigrants to Canada and promote Scottish heritage. The fonds also includes artifacts collected or created by the association, including promotional materials, and the association's library of maps and books related to Scottish arts and culture. Series 4 represents another of the principal activities of the association, the creation and delivery of insurance policies to Scottish newcomers to Canada.
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Finding aid prepared by Olivia Kurajian, summer 2018. Edited March 2019 and updated for accruals March 2021 by Anna Dysert (Rohinton Ghandi donation).