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History of The MacCammon Highlanders of Canada

WRITTEN BY: Lieutenant Colonel David Bloggins

The MacCammon Highlanders of Canada are not royal, in fact, they are anything but. It is a Regiment financed and raised in Canada and having no affiliation with Scotland, other than that the sponsor and the founder both had ancestors who immigrated from Scotland.

The sponsor, Matthew Chisholm, was a grandson of Ian Chisholm, who had left Scotland after the Battle of Culloden. He worked his passage on a fishing boat and jumped ship in Halifax the day before the ship was due to sail to the Grand Banks.

As Ian Chisholm moved along through this new country called Canada, he tried all kinds of work, but finally settled on being a rancher. Over time the ranch prospered, and was handed down through his descendants.

Then along came Matthew and all kinds of bad luck. Matthew was no rancher. And as hard as he worked, he just couldn’t seem to avoid disaster after disaster. He fought droughts, dust storms, harsh winters and floods. When the ranch burned down, that finished ranching for Matthew.

He set off to find a more suitable career. Wandering around western Canada, he ended up wintering on a hillside with a gypsy band of American Sioux who had no idea where the border was and cared less.

In the Spring they left him at a scum covered pond that let off a smell that scared off every living thing that came in search of a drink. It didn’t scare him off. To Matthew Chisholm it smelt like money.

He wandered around looking for a town in order to register his claim. Once that was done, he went back with a wagon train of equipment and a few investors. Then he couldn’t find the oil pond again.

He lost that load of supplies, but not his motivation. Took him three years. The few investors who had money to throw away, threw it away and finally gave up. But Matthew knew that a fortune awaited him if only he could locate that pond.

He would come into a town, work at anything to get up enough money to buy supplies and then head back out looking for that dirty pond. When he finally found it he turned it into the biggest independent oil company in the west.

The closest town to Matthew’s oil pond turned out to have been the hardest on him and his efforts. The mayor had had him arrested as a vagrant. The chief of police locked him up. When Matthew was released the chief ran him out of town.

With all kinds of money, Matthew also got back into ranching and then into farming, developing the largest farm in that area. But this time he didn’t do the farming, ranching, oil work. He hired experts and everything prospered.

Five years later Matthew Chisholm came back into that little town rich enough to buy it. He fired everyone who had ever laughed at him and then had the town drunk run for mayor. He won.

When the mayor dried out, he turned out to be an excellent mayor. Ran the town for twenty years, until he got run over by one of the new omnibuses he had shipped in for the town’s transport.

Before that happened, he convinced his sponsor, his by now old friend, oilman/cattleman/farmer, Matthew Chisholm, that the town needed a militia.

At first, Chisholm said no. Then he said that if the Regiment was named after the founder he would agree. The mayor said, “Good idea. We’ll call it the Chisholm Highlanders.”

“No,” said Chisholm, “That’s the sponsor’s name. The founder is you, Hugh Delaurie MacCammon. The Regiment will be known as The MacCammon Highlanders of Canada.”

And they got the Regiment raised in time to participate in the tail end of WWI.

The website background tartan is a combination of the different shades of brown. The dark brown stood for oil, light brown for the soil and lightest brown for wheat. Oil, wheat and cattle financed the Regiment.

In a land known for its grain-growing and oil, the soil reminded Chisholm and MacCammon of where both oil and wheat come from, as well as how common both families were. Some of the unkinder members of the Army have referred to the tartan as ‘oilcloth’.