News and Views from Scotland

Pointed Rebuke to a Montreal Piper

Sgian-Dubh - Graphic © "Stubborn Stag" via Wikimedia Commons.

Poor old Jeff McCarthy. The Montreal resident was dressed up in the full Highland rig on his way to blow his pipes at a university event when he was nabbed by the cops - who objected to his sgian-dbhu.

The police reckoned that the small knife, traditionally tucked into the right side of the kilt hose qualified as an offensive weapon under a local bye-law. Jeff was fined $221 (not $219 or $221) and his sgian-dbhu was confiscated.

"As I was walking by these three police officers, one of them asked me, 'Is that a knife?' and I said, 'Absolutely'. "I started to explain to her what it was and why I wear it. It didn't take her long to turn around say, 'This is illegal.' And I was pretty shocked and surprised because I've been playing the pipes for almost 27 years and I've never been stopped for carrying a sgian-dubh."

I hope Jeff gets over the setback and continues to blow his way through the streets of Montreal, sometimes as a member of Canada's Black Watch Royal Highland Regiment or as a solo performer (including playing his pipes at a policeman's funeral).

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October 2016

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