Exploring my Scottish Roots at Cazenovia’s Brea Loch Inn

Exploring my Scottish Roots at Cazenovia’s Brea Loch Inn

[Editor's note: About ten years ago, at a garage sale I bought a couple of hundred vintage matchbooks from restaurants around western and central New York, mostly forgotten in the attic. George's piece inspired me to retrieve two matchbooks of the Brea Loch Inn. From David Kramer's collection.]

[Editor’s note: About ten years ago, at a garage sale I bought a couple of hundred 1970’s vintage matchbooks from restaurants around western and central New York, now mostly forgotten in the attic. George’s piece inspired me to retrieve two matchbooks of the Brea Loch Inn. From David Kramer’s collection.]

Photography and text by George Cassidy Payne

Rochester is 3,238 miles away from Glasgow. If that seems too far a distance to travel for a genuine taste of Scotland, try 108 miles east to the small town of Cazenovia instead. There one can find a wee establishment in Madison County that boasts delicious haggis, a fine selection of single malt scotch, a customary game room, library, fireplaces, guestrooms, and an exceedingly friendly staff. Who needs to cross the Atlantic when the Brea Loch Inn is less than a two hour drive?

Personally, I wanted to check this place out because I just got back my Ancestry.com DNA results. Like millions of people from all over the world, I spit into a tube, sealed it in a box, and mailed it back to a company in Utah for fast processing.

My brother- in- law tried to convince me that the whole enterprise is a vast Mormon conspiracy ( others have told me it is an operation of the Deep State in Washington), but I blithely ignored his warnings and performed the test anyways.

The results were interesting. I always knew that I had Scottish roots (my grandmother was a Cargill), but it was still fascinating to discover the percentage (14%), and to pinpoint the time period in which my relatives made their way from southeastern Germany and northwestern England, into Ireland, Wales, and Scotland, then over to America. I also learned, and you can take this as a plug for Ancrestry.com, the exact regions where my families originated from: Horton in Ribblesdale in England (Yorkshire Dales) and Northern Karlsruhe in Germany. Mormon conspiracy or not, that was really cool.

The Brea Loch Inn operated in an old farmhouse originally located in Borodino, New York, on a hill top overlooking Skaneateles Lake. Adam Scotty Brown, his wife Eva and their “twa boys” opened as a summer only restaurant in 1946. In 1950 they made the decision to relocate to the present site, beside picturesque Cazenovia Lake. (Brae Loch Inn website)

Scottish memorabilia adorns nearly every nook and cranny of the inn and pub.

Did I mention they have an outstanding collection of premium scotch whiskey?

The downstairs game room.

My father (Donald Payne) channeling his inner Jackie Gleason

No corner in the inn is left unattended. This charming lamp and photograph make for a wonderful spot to read. In my case I opted for David Hume.

A typical Scottish scene

Prior to European settlement of the area, Cazenovia Lake was known to the Oneida as Owagehaga or Owahgenah, and to the Onondagaas Hohwahgeneh, all of which mean “lake of the yellow perch”. It was also previously known as “Canaseraga Lake”. (Taken from Wikipedia)


The dining rooms are intimate with lots of “nooks & crannies”, fireplaces, tartan carpeting, Scottish heirlooms, and an open grill where you can see the chefs working their magic! (Brea Loch Inn website)

No restaurant in New York State imbues the ambiance of Scotland better than the Brea Loch. But knowing more about my past, made the smoked salmon taste that much better.

SEE ALSO In Search of Irishness

Irish 9

Dressed in more-or-less authentic gear from the 13th century, these four Irishmen stopped and questioned parade goers not wearing any green, 3/17/18. From In Search of Irishness

About The Author


Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


Like what you see on our site? We’d appreciate your support. Please donate today.

Featured Posts