Times have changed and some things just are not done the same way they once were. For example, kings no longer receive male subjects in their bedchambers just after rising, and fur traders no longer pay their respects to the master of the fort on New Year’s Day.
The first New Year’s levée in Canada was held in1646 by the governor of New France. The tradition was continued by British colonial governors, then by the governor general and the lieutenant governors. The military continued the historically male preserve until the Second World War when female officers were allowed to attend.
In 2013, the tradition continues in Sooke. The levée, organized by Brenda Parkinson, will be an opportunity for local citizens to meet with Mayor Wendal Milne and talk informally at the social gathering.
“I am a traditionalist,” stated Parkinson, “and it’s also a military tradition. Tradition is really good to have and I was pleased that Wendal wanted it right off the bat. It’s a start to the New Year on a good note.”
Speaking of notes, the Sooke Pipes and Drums and Janet McTavish will be providing the entertainment. The affair will feature the entertainment, a meet and greet and refreshments.
The refreshments will not be “traditional” though. It is a non-alcohol event. Tradition has it that under British colonial rule the wine in le sang du caribou was replaced with whisky (which travelled better). This was then mixed with goat’s milk and flavoured with nutmeg and cinnamon to produce an Anglicized version called “moose milk.”
Tuesday’s event runs from 10 a.m to 12 noon on Jan. 1.
“It’s a good time for people to come out and talk — not in a council way,” said Parkinson. “Come out and show your support. Kids are welcome, of course.”