Celebrating 50 years of international friendship

World Thinking Day is an opportunity for us in guiding to celebrate the friendships and the sense of community between members all over the world.


Girlguiding East Lothian county president and Trefoil Guild member, Fiona shares with us an amazing story of 50 years of friendship across continents with Canadian guide Kathy.


In July 1973, 15 Scottish Guides and 15 Canadian Guides, along with 3 leaders from each country, met for the first time in Scotland for a 3 week exchange. They spent a week together at Netherurd, a week of camping at South Newton and then a week of homestays with their exchange partners. “I have so many happy memories of the exchange. We sang, danced, made Celtic jewellery, visited Abbotsford, had a ceilidh, and toured Edinburgh. We moved on to South Newton to camp, climb hills, walk and worked on a youth project in Paisley before the home stays. Many firm and lasting friendships were made during this time”, Fiona remembers.


The following year the Scottish guides travelled to Atlantic Canada to stay for a month with the Canadian guides. They visited 4 Atlantic Provinces of Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. “We met Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Governor Generals. Saw the Tidal Bore at the Bay of Fundy, met Anne of Green Gables as we stepped off the ferry in Prince Edward Island, saw icebergs off the coast of Newfoundland and visited the Antigonish Highland games and so much more. It’s hard to believe that 50 years have passed since our amazing exchange”, Fiona says.


Fiona and Kathy have kept in contact over the last 50 years and met up several times. Kathy says, “the two summers only entrenched our friendships. Fiona and I made a promise to one another that wherever life led us to re-unite in 20 years. Yes, we did! With a 2 year old son at the time I thought it wouldn’t happen but my husband provided me with the gift to travel to Scotland once again to meet Fiona and move in with her Mum and Dad.  Fiona’s sister also had a 2 year old son, Fiona’s nephew, and I was able to be included to enjoy the celebration of his family birthday party. The next year, Fiona came back to Canada, visited with my family and travelled with us on vacation to include my son and husband. We have shared extended family visits between Canada and Scotland since. This Scotland/Canada Exchange extended over 50 years has enriched our family and provided an international cultural understanding of the wider world.”


Now, 50 years on, 16 members of the 1973 group are in contact and they plan to have a reunion in Scotland to celebrate their 50 years of friendship. They are looking for members of Girlguiding Scotland and Girl Guides of Canada who remember the exchange or know someone who participated to help them track down the other guides.


Get in touch if you can help us reunite the group after 50 years at