LogoThe Caledonian Society
of Hawai‘i


Upcoming Events

  • Presentation: "The Clearances" - September 7, 2019
  • Burns Night
    January 25th, 2020
  • Annual General Meeting, Saturday, June 27, 2020
  • view Celtic Organization Calendar

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The Caledonian Society of Hawaii is a qualified non-profit 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization.  Donations are gratefully accepted and deductible to the full extent of the law.  Please consult your tax advisor regarding specific questions about your deductions.



Presentation on the "The Clearances"

The Highland Clearances
Saturday, September 7, 2019
St, Clement's Episcopal Church
1515 Wilder Ave.

Council member Philip Paradine has been studying the Clearances to be able to discuss what they were, how they came to be, and what were the consequences of the very lengthy period of time (approximately 1785 to 1850). This era had significant implications both to Scotland and to the U.S.

We will meet at St. Clement's Parish Hall to enjoy companionship and a potluck dinner. Paper goods and non-alcoholic beverages will be provided. BYOB if you would like.

Between 1785 and 1850 the Highlands and Islands of Scotland witnessed a social and demographic upheaval in which tens of thousands of clansmen were removed from their homes and holdings to make way for large-scale sheep farming. Such agricultural 'improvement' intended to maximize the land's yield and the owner's income had swept the Lowlands in the 18th century causing some relocation and protest, but later this occurred mostly in the Highlands and Islands.

The Clearances were conducted in an autocratic and often brutal manner and impoverished a population which was also a distinct cultural entity with its own concepts of land tenure. Therefore the whole subject is (still) fraught with emotive undertones and remains both sensitive and contentious.

Clearances involved two distinct types of removal. On the one hand it was a program of resettlement within individual estates whereby tenants were evicted from the communal rigs and grazings of their forefathers to more marginal land, or to villages, usually on the coast. There they were settled on impoverished lots, later known as crofts, whose agricultural potential was poor but whose opportunities for fishing and kelping were supposed to compensate. The second type of removal, though not always forced, was often prompted by the failure of these new lots to provide a living. Population pressures, rent increases, downturns in fishing and kelping and above all the potato famine of 1846, resulted in destitution and hence emigration, either to the Lowlands or to the colonies. It has been widely believed that The Clearances were a major reason for mass emigration to North America and other colonies.

Whole townships were sometimes cleared and sometimes burned; tenants and their livestock were evicted, and the land enclosed to create sheep runs. In many areas tenants suffered from brutal treatment by landlords or their infamous agents, and notorious incidents occurred. Stories of atrocities are frequently told. For a time, some landlords, especially clan chiefs, still wanted numerous retainers and the government encouraged this to provide Highland troops for Napoleonic wars. Eventually a number of landed estates were sold to outsider non-Gaelic and non-Highland landlords leaving tenants feeling betrayed by their former protectors.
Adapted from Collins Encyclopedia of Scotland

Pictures From Recent Events

Robert Burns, 2019 - forthcoming

WWI Scottish Regiments - forthcoming

Highland Games, 2018 - forthcoming

Burns Night, 2018

Ewa Train Excursion

The Caledonian Society was established in 1965 by a group of ex-Scots and other interested people who were living in Hawai'i, and who wanted to educate themselves and others and enjoy the culture of Scotland while honoring their new home. Most months there are activities such as a soup supper, a movie night, or a ceilidh (a gathering with entertainment).

Each January the Society honors the Scottish poet, Robert Burns (1759-1796), with a dinner to celebrate his birth. His poetry is read, sung or performed and of course there is haggis and bagpipes! Anyone interested in Scotland or Scottish culture is welcome to join the Caledonian Society. You do not have to be Scottish (by birth or by ancestry) to be a member.

From 1976-1992, The Caledonian Society sponsored an oral history project involving Scots in Hawaii, which resulted in 26 oral interviews being taped and transcribed for research purposes. In 1986 a monograph entitled "Speaking of Scots in Hawaii" was published. Many of the stories from the interviews and from some of the more famous Scots who visited and came to live in Hawaii can be found in The Story of Scots in Hawaii, a book published by The Caledonian Society in 2000. An order form for the book is available (PDF).

Please consider becoming an active member of the Society.

The Scots in Hawai‘i

Scots have been coming to Hawai‘i since the end of the 18th century. They arrived with other Westerners soon after Kamehameha the Great unified the islands and Captain James Cook, a part-Scot, opened Hawai‘i to the West.  Hawai‘I’s own Princess Ka'iulani was half Scottish. Her father, Archibald Scott Cleghorn, who arrived in Hawai‘i in 1851, was born in Edinburgh. He married Princess Miriam Likelike, sister of Queen Liliuokalani and King Kalakaua. Cleghorn served in several government positions under the monarchy and was Governor of Oahu under Queen Liliuokalani.

Many Scots either immigrated to Hawai‘i or passed through as visitors, since the first seafaring Scots discovered our beautiful islands. A visit by the author Robert Louis Stevenson in 1889 was well publicized and has an historical note because of his friendship with King Kalakaua and Princess Ka'iulani.  There have been many immigrant Scots who brought Scottish values of education, integrity, hard work, democracy, and community service to the sugar industry, banking, government, business, and horticulture, enriching life here for everyone as Hawaii developed.  

Please consider becoming an active member of the Society.

Scottish Education Research Grant (SERG)

The Caledonian Society makes awards to young people for study related to Scotland through the Scottish Education Research Grant (SERG). Awards of up to $2000 may be given each year to students to undertake and complete a project about Scotland, Scottish history or culture. The award is generally granted by the Awards Committee in the Spring of each year and the project must be completed during the following summer or academic year.

Previous awards have included a look at organic farming on farms in Scotland; a study of the Gaelic (Scottish language) at a college in Scotland; and a re-creation of the route taken by David Balfour in Robert Louis Stevenson's novel Kidnapped. The Committee will be happy to consult on ideas for research, projected costs involved, or other matters to make the application process and project a success. To learn more about the Grant and to print an application click here.

Please Donate

The Caledonian Society of Hawaii is a qualified non-profit 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization.  Donations are gratefully accepted and deductible to the full extent of the law. Please consult your tax advisor regarding specific questions about your deductions.



Copyright Caledonian Society of Hawaii - Last updated August 27, 2019
Email us at info@scotsinhawaii.org