Remembering Jean Hamilton

JEAN HAMILTON passed away on Monday evening, June 7, 2021.  She recently happily celebrated her 86th birthday.  Her husband Gordon, still a part of her conversations, passed in July 2014. Jean wished to be returned to Manchester, UK, where her ashes will be scattered alongside Gordon's and her brother.

In memory of Jean, a donation please to one of her favourite charities, either Westies In Need (her lifelong love of dogs), or the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society (another lifelong love, Scottish Country dance).  

Thanks to the paramedics and the dedicated medical staff of Trillium Health Centre in Mississauga.


Marie Anne Millar Interviewed Jean Hamilton
for Set & Link   ~   September 9, 2011

Jean Hamilton got a special surprise for her birthday in May, when she was awarded the Scroll of Honour for service to Scottish Country Dance.

When Jean and her husband Gordon came to Canada, they had no family or friends here but were soon making new friends with the Lakeshore SCD group. Since then they danced with many groups, all with excellent teachers. Jean says, “Gordon and I have made our closest friends through SCD. We’re happy with this wonderful activity and all its benefits. It’s been a great source of fun and support for 45 years.”

Besides teaching branch classes at various levels, Jean worked on different committees, like  the branch weekend workshop, membership, special events, as well as being responsible for monthly dance programmes including the 50th Anniversary year. She’s organized and taught the Erin Mills social group since 1980 and participated with the West End Workshop since it started.

Without a doubt, Jean has been a busy lady.

Jean says, “As new dancers, Gordon and I were privileged to be taught by Dr. Jean Milligan at the Toronto Branch (Geneva Park) Weekend. In fact, our set was singled out for her undivided attention when we were having trouble with Crown Triangles. A little embarrassing, but she was very patient with us.”

While acknowledging the good teachers she’s had, Jean specifically mentioned Wesley Clindinning who convinced her to join the Teacher Candidate class tutored by Mrs. Frances Gray in 1979. As well, Wes encouraged her to take over and teach the Erin Mills group.

Over the years, Jean remembers some special times. She took part in the massed dance at the CNE’s Scottish World Festival in the early 70s and more recently at Sky Dome. She was involved in the Scottish Pavilion during the Toronto International Festival of Culture for several years, absorbing more Scottish culture thanks to John Whittaker and the late Bob Blackie. She recalls Summer School in St Andrews where she met many dancers, devisors and musicians.

About the Scroll of Honour

When she found out, Jean says, “I was shocked. This was something I never aspired to.” She feels the honour belonged to people with special gifts like the late Bobby Frew (musician and band leader).

“Knowing some earlier recipients,” Jean continues, “it’s a considerable responsibility as well as an honour to be placed in their impressive company.  But I’ve always enjoyed the opportunity to give back in terms of time, ideas and enthusiastic discussion on Scottish country dance activities.”

What would she say to new teachers?
“Although I hesitate to give advice, I’ve learned a great deal from my students over the years. You know, as experienced dancers we tend to do things from long habit and excellent early training, but to a beginner some things are not obvious and, perhaps, don't come naturally.”

Jean believes new teachers should be prepared and flexible, always open to questions from the floor. She suggests working with the original dance text, not a crib, and troubleshoot the dance before teaching it to allow for possible problems. This is something she learned from the late Gladys McLellan — a superb teacher.

What would she say to beginning dancers?
Although there seems to be a lot to learn, stick with it and dance as often and wherever you can. Never travel without your dance shoes and contact names since we're all part of the worldwide SCD family.

Finally, Jean says,

“This is social dancing. Everyone should go home in a happy frame of mind.”

A great sentiment, Jean.


2011:  Jean receives Scroll of Honour