But for the first time, on Sunday, Jan. 28 at Richmond Curling Club, he will be joined in the order of proceedings by his daughter, Melanie Bolton, 40, and granddaughter Tayler, 11, who will be doing a joint version of The Response to the Toast to the Lassies, a more off-the-cuff speech, usually at the end of the event.
Suffice to say, MacLeod will be a very proud father and grandfather on Sunday afternoon.
“This is the first time they’ve taken this role and, obviously, the first time we’ve all done it together, so it will be pretty special,” said MacLeod, director of the local Clan MacLeod society and the organization’s former, national president.
“It’s great to see younger people trying to keep the tradition going, but when they’re your family and are across three generations, it’s extra special. It gives me immense pride.”
For the uninitiated, Burns, an 18th century taxman-turned-poet, is one of Scotland’s most famous exports, most notably in global circles as the author of the New Year’s song Auld Lang Syne.
The only non-religious figures with more statues erected around the globe than Burns are Queen Victoria and Christopher Columbus.
And the work of Burns has influenced many a great human being, such as musician Bob Dylan, U.S. president Abraham Lincoln and author John Steinbeck.
Burns short, but colourful, 37 years of life on the planet are remembered around the world on or about Jan. 25, with Burns “Suppers,” “Dinners” or “Nights,” usually accompanied by recitals of Burns’ poetry, a ceremonial haggis (traditional Scots dish), highland dancing and the aforementioned addresses, such as the ones being performed by the MacLeods.
MacLeod – who is fifth-generation Canadian, but considers his heritage as “Highland Scottish – has twice attended the Clan MacLeod's world gathering on the Isle of Skye, held every four years, and his proud of his deep Gaelic and Cape Breton roots, although his Scottish parents met in Trinidad and Tobago.
He is, however, eager to encourage the younger generations to get involved, with an apparent decline worldwide in membership among Scottish historical organizations.
“All of the Scottish societies across Canada are having trouble getting people in,” said MacLeod.
“There has been resurgence in numbers off and on over the years, such as in the 1980s, when the movie Highlander came out, followed by a TV show of the same name. But it’s went down again.”
And the big question, do you eat haggis?
“No,” laughed MacLeod.
“For two reasons: It’s not regularly available and it’s not something my wife would usually be interested in.”