Friday night Dan and I traveled over to Johnstown across the lake from us, to attend the Milling Frolic. This year marked the 78th year for the Johnstown Milling Frolic, the longest running celebration of a milling frolic on Cape Breton Island. In Scotland, milling was known as waulking and performed by women only. In Cape Breton, this custom involved men and women sitting around a table pounding the homespun cloth as it came off the loom in order to shrink it. Singing made this work less burdensome, and many Gaelic working songs originated with this custom.
|Engraving of Scotswomen singing while waulking cloth, c. 1770.|
There was much merrymaking in the Johnstown Community Centre as a group of men and women, young and old, gathered around the table to celebrate this tradition, many joining in the singing of the traditional Gaelic songs. Other non-Gaelic speakers, including myself, joined in by pounding the cloth and singing the chorus. A frolic indeed!
|A milling frolic in Johnstown Centre.|
Friends Frances and Norman from Hay Cove were there, and we were happy to meet up with them. Following the milling, there was square dancing upstairs to the music of Betty and Kinnon Beaton. A fun evening.
|Frances and Norman, friends from Hay Cove.|
|Square dancing in Johnstown.|