Cape Breton University is delighted to honour and recognize a woman whose dedication and love of the Scottish culture and the Arts lead her to create one of CBU’s most recognizable examples of its tradition, the official Cape Breton University tartan, Mrs. Patsy MacMullin.
Patsy MacMullin, was raised in the North End of Sydney, Nova Scotia and moved ‘out to’ Sydney River in 1956. Patsy is a talented musician, painter and weaver within the community. Her love of the arts started during her formative years at the former Holy Angels High School. Patsy understood the importance of education and enrolled in the then University College of Cape Breton (UCCB) to obtain her undergraduate degree. While studying part-time and raising a large family, Patsy graduated in 1988 with her Bachelor of Arts. In 1991, Patsy graduated from Mount St. Vincent University with her Bachelor of Education degree and started substitute teaching music in the Sydney area.
During Patsy’s time at UCCB, Father Ora MacMannis celebrated the 25th Anniversary of his ordination, and as a gift for the occasion, Patsy designed a tartan with the official school colours, orange and green. This tartan design would later be presented to the UCCB Board of Governors with a recommendation from President Bill Reid that it become the official university Tartan. The tartan was officially approved and adopted as the institution’s tartan by the Board of Governors on October 28, 1983 and registered with The Scottish Register of Tartans in 2019.
Along with the CBU tartan, Mrs. MacMullin has designed tartans for such events as the Antigonish Centennial, the 1987 Jeux Canada Games, and the City of Sydney’s Bicentennial celebration.
Patsy was chosen to represent Nova Scotia as a weaver at its Expo ‘86 Pavillon. She was named Beta Sigma Phi’s First Lady of the Year in 1985 and was named Woman of the Year in 1987 by the Business and Professional Women in Sydney, Nova Scotia.
Through Patsy’s creative and imaginative tartan designs, she was able to gain national notoriety and create timeless Scottish tartan designs for some of the area’s most significant celebrations, events, and institutions.
Along with her tartan designs, Patsy was also a skilled painter and is the last surviving member of the “Nine of Arts,” a group of local amateur painters who encouraged each other’s artistic endeavours through the Cape Breton School of Crafts and who often held exhibitions of each other’s art.
Patsy has been married to Roddie MacMullin for 66 years, and together, the two have five children, six grandchildren and one great-grandson.