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Betty Chan’s highland dance costume, c.1950s-60s

Betty Chan was born in Saskatoon in 1945 to a Chinese family. As a young girl she studied ballet, jazz and tap dance. When arriving for her dance classes she would watch the class before hers, which was a Scottish highland dance class. Betty showed both interest and skill at this form of dance and was invited to formally join the class.  

She became an award-winning highland dancer. Betty danced for Queen Elizabeth II during the 1959 Royal Visit and danced on Parliament Hill for Canada’s Centennial celebrations. 

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Click on image to enlarge

The McChan Plaid
The Fromm Brothers of Galt, Ontario heard of Betty’s story and designed and wove a plaid for her, as there is no Scottish clan named Chan. They called it the McChan Plaid and wove in blue, green, yellow and red which all have significance in Chinese culture. Betty Chan’s black competition jacket and a judging kilt made of the McChan Plaid show the unique story of Betty Chan. 

Crossing Cultural Boundaries
Betty Chan crossed cultural boundaries to become a well-recognized highland dancer. Though there were no rules to prevent her from learning highland dance, she defied boundaries and norms. Her accomplishments were recognized by her peers, and she was a pillar in Saskatchewan’s highland dance community for many years.  

Betty Chan posing for photos in her dance competition outfit.

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Betty Chan dancing

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Betty Chan talking with a bagpiper

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Betty Chan posing with many of her medals and trophies

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Betty Chan in her competition outfit

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Betty Chan in her competition outfit

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To learn more about Betty Chan CLICK HERE

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