"Become aware what is in you. Announce it, pronounce it, produce it and give birth to it." - Meister Eckhart

30 September 2019

Day 2: McDougall Cottage, Cambridge Ontario

McDougall Cottage, Cambridge Ontario
Day 2: Last week, I travelled to Cambridge Ontario to perform an evening of storytelling and music at the historic McDougall Cottage. The Cottage is an 1858 granite and limestone labourer’s cottage in Cambridge’s historic factory district. It celebrates a number of events, mostly of Scottish heritage, like ceilidhs, art exhibitions, musical concerts, and storytelling.

This year’s Musician-in-Residence is John Harris, an accomplished composer, teacher, guitarist and singer. He is also an old high school friend. Stories and music have been part of our lives for a long time. I programmed the evening around stories with a Scottish connection. Given that I lived in Scotland for 30 years, it only seemed natural. John and I arranged the songs between the stories, finishing, of course, in Scottish style with “Auld Lang Syne”.

The evening evoked both laugher and tears — from tongue-in-cheek tales of Jack to my own poignant account of how I came by and delivered a letter written by my grandfather more than a 100 years ago while he was in the trenches in northern France.

John Harris (l) and Michael Williams (r)
As stories so often do, at the end of the evening several folk approached and shared their appreciation and offered glimpses into their own lives through anecdotes and memories that had been triggered by the stories they heard. I heard about grandparents and Scottish ancestors and memories of childhood. I was also particularly touched with gratitude by a visiting friend who hails from Newfoundland. Given that I (and most folk) consider Newfoundlanders some of the best storytellers around — and my friend is certainly one of them in addition to being a cracking good musician — I accepted his praise with great humility indeed.

And I am also grateful to my friend John (who originally hails from Nova Scotia) for his musical and humorous support. Our friendship has seen its shares of ups and downs and separations but at the end of the day, it’s always been the music and the stories that are the glue of our friendship.

All in all, it was a very enjoyable night in an intimate and warm setting of historical importance. Check out McDougall Cottage if you’re in the area.

Michael Williams (l) and John Harris (r)

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"We have received only very positive reports of your workshop, and must thank you for being so flexible and responsive both before and in the course of implementing the workshop. It has been lovely to work with you. . . . We are hopeful this project will give rise to future storytelling endeavours, and would be very happy to work with you again if the opportunity arises!" Muireann Crowley, At Home in Scotland, University of Edinburgh, May 2014 ("Storytelling, Research and Public Engagement" workshop)

Michael Williams is a a storyteller of compelling skill. He is also a fine human being who engages in all situations and draws people into the warmth of communication and shared experience." Donald Smith, Director, Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh Scotland

"Michael's understanding of storytelling within a leadership and business context has helped us provide a great service in helping leaders determine their personal and organisational destiny and legacy. Working with Michael is inspiring and fun; and pulls you to be fully engaged from start to finish." Norton Bertram-Smith, Managing Director and Leadership Consultant for On Purpose.

Kamink: the little boy who grew into a giant of a man

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