Thanks to the efforts of Jean Watson, Tartan Day April 6th, has become a yearly event not only in Canada but all over the world.
The concept of "Tartan Day" began at a meeting of the Federation of Scottish Clans in Nova Scotia on March 9, 1986 when members Bill Crowell and Jean Watson put forward the following motion to the Federation:
"That we establish a day known as 'Tartan Day'. This to be a day chosen to promote Scottish Heritage by the most visible means: the wearing of the Scottish attire, especially in places where the kilt is not ordinarily worn, i.e.: work, play or worship."
Started originally as "Tartan Day in Nova Scotia," Jean Watson approached every provincial Legislative Assembly in Canada, as well as other Scottish-cultural societies across Canada, to help get such a date established.
After ten years of work, Tartan Day in Canada was approved in every Provincial Assembly from sea to sea by Premier's proclamation or Members' Bill, the last being in the National Assembly at Quebec City, where it was finally proclaimed in December 2003 -- 16 years after the first such proclamation in Nova Scotia.
In Canada, Tartan Day, April 6th, Canadians are encouraged to wear tartan in commemoration of the contributions of Scots and their descendants to the fabric of their society.
Jean was born on May 29, 1936 in Pictou, Nova Scotia and is the daughter of Angus and Rita (Nee: Heighton) MacKaracher.
She was a cancer survivor at age fifteen which took a toll on her youth and education.
Despite this, she moved to Halifax in 1958 and continued to work there as a bookkeeper for twenty-one years.
She liked to draw from a very early age and went on to become an amateur artist gaining her teaching status some twenty-five years ago and still teaches art classes on a regular basis. She founded the Dalriada Art Group which she still manages, and assisted other art groups to form.
As a child, her parents always encouraged her interest in her Scottish background and she delved into her history after joining the Federation of Scottish Clans In Nova Scotia and has served as its President on two different occasions.
She and her husband founded the Pipes and Drums of Clan Farquharson in 1981 and she served as their President for six years. She was a founding member of the Clan Farquharson Society of Canada later founding the Clan Lamont Society of Canada, the Clan Watson Society of Canada and in 2002 the Stewart/Stuart Association of Nova Scotia, helping all to get active and, at various times, serving as President for each Society.
She served from 1996 to 2000 as President of the Royal Canadian Legion, in Waverley, N. S. (Branch 90) during which time she received the Meritorious Service Award for her work in preventing the closure of this Branch. She is a 30-year member of the Legion and has been active in various Heritage Societies and community endeavors.
In 2004 she was recognized by the St. Andrews Presbyterian College, Scottish Heritage Center in Laurinburg, North Carolina for her work in promoting "Tartan Day April 6th" and received the Flora Macdonald Award.
She served as a one-person committee for ten years following "Tartan Days" initiation by the Federation of Scottish Clans In Nova Scotia in 1986 and, as a result, has justly become known as "The Mother of Tartan Day."
As if all of this were not enough, at age 70 she had her first song released on CD: "Isobel's Song" a ballad about the attack on Toward Castle, in Argyll, Scotland in the 1700's.
It gives us great pleasure to announce that Jean became "Scot of the Year 2007" at the Scottish Studies Society's Tartan Day Dinner at Casa Loma in Toronto on 18th April 2007.
Letter from Nova Scotia Premier, The Hon. Rodney J. MacDonald
Official congratulations from the Nova Scotia House of Assembly
Photographs of Tartan Day 2007
Article about Jean in the Halifax Chronicle Herald
Article about Jean in the Scottish Sunday Post
List of our Scots of the Year