The 1924 Antigonish Highland Games on the campus of St. Francis Xavier University

The 1924 Antigonish Highland Games on the campus of St. Francis Xavier University, a Fundraising Bazaar to build St. Martha’s Hospital. Photographer: William Archibald. Courtesy of Antigonish Heritage Museum

1924 Highland Games

The Minutes of the Antigonish Highland Society for May, 1924 record an agreement with the trustees of St. Martha’s hospital to stage the Highland Games as a fundraiser for the building of a new hospital.   For the sum of $250 for five years, the University agreed to free use of all the athletic grounds and to assist in building a grandstand with seating for no less than 800.

The track stretched from Confusion Square to the site of present-day Bauer Theatre. Field events were held in Memorial Field. The Bazaar at the 1924 Games raised $8,000 towards the construction of the hospital. (see Danny Gillis, 2013, The Highland Games, p. 28).

1924 Highland Games LETTER

William S. Archibald (1873-1960) took the two photographs of the 1924 Highland Games, which were restored by Joe Muir for Aldine Fine Arts ( to create the illusion of a panoramic view.

Will Archibald was employed as an engineer with the Department of Public Works, and in this capacity took photographs in every corner of Nova Scotia. Her retired in 1936.

The obituary for W. S. Archibald in The Casket, September 1960, is a tribute to the importance of the arts for individual and community health, and illustrates the Social Determinants of Health all on its own.

Will Archibald died August 26 in St. Martha’s Hospital at the age of 87. He was recognized during funeral services at St. James United Church as “the town’s oldest native born resident.” After his retirement in 1936, “his remarkable health allowed him to continue a very active life almost to the time of his death. He drove his own car to the hospital just a week before he died.”

Will Archibald was educated in the town schools and at StFX. In early life he was associated with his father when they operated a condensed milk and cheese manufacturing plant.

He was widely known as a figure skater and many years he gave annual exhibitions. In 1941 when he was 71, he gave an exhibition of figure skating at the opening of the new artificial ice plant at StFX’s Memorial Rink. He was even better known as a bicycle racer and at one time held a couple of Maritime championships.

Mr. Archibald also had the distinction of refereeing the first known hockey match in Antigonish. He was also a keen yachtsman and sailed regularly in the waters of Antigonish harbour and St. George’s Bay. He was regarded by many as the Dean of Antigonish sportsmen.

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