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Welsh, Culture

Many Welsh came to Alberta from their home country during the peak homesteading years after the turn of the century. Most came from the mining and industrial regions of Wales to work in the coalmines around Edmonton, where they soon became active in the trade union movement. David Milwyn Duggan, a Welshman, was the mayor of Edmonton from 1921 to 1923, who came to Edmonton from Wales in 1905.

Today the Welsh community in Alberta is served by three main organizations: The Calgary Welsh Society, St. David's Welsh Society of Edmonton and the Ponoka Welsh Society. These associations operate as social clubs, featuring lecturers, films and dinner meetings on a regular basis. The St. David's Welsh Society of Edmonton is a regular participant in the city's Heritage Days event, and in 2005 the group will celebrate its centennial anniversary. The Welsh are renowned worldwide for their singing ability, and choirs are often a part of or sponsored by Welsh community associations. This stems from a choral tradition rooted in church and chapel, and still deeper in the folk tradition of Wales. The St. David's Welsh Male Voice Choir of Edmonton has existed for over 75 years and performs several times throughout the year.

Welsh festivals today include the Eisteddfod, the oldest Welsh celebration and competition involving the recitation of poetry and music. Another popular Welsh event is the Gymanfa Ganu, a song festival focusing on hymns. The Welsh in Canada celebrate St. David's Day on March 1st. St. David, reputed to have lived in the country, is the patron saint of Wales and has been instrumental in the Christianization of the country. St. David's Day celebrations include storytelling and singing; banquets are also held in Lethbridge, Ponoka, Calgary, Red Deer, Edmonton and Fort McMurray.

National Costume

National Costume