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What is a Cadie?

By Adam Lyal, July 23, 2016 - 3:35pm
The Cadies & Witchery Tours shop, 84 West Bow.

It's a familiar site in Edinburgh's West Bow to see visitors (and some locals) standing in front of our wee shop staring at the name above the door: The Cadies & Witchery Tours. Within seconds of spying our name, the front door creaks open and we prepare ourselves for the expected question: "What in the world is a Cadie?"

Well, "cadies", in days gone by, were errand boys who acted as a guide and would perform any job that required a comprehensive knowledge of the city. Not much escaped their notice. The name may have been born out of the military term "cadet", pronounced like the French word cadet and many people will know the golfing term "caddy", a term used on Edinburgh's Bruntsfield Links when  golfers hired caddies to carry their golf clubs.

It therefore seemed fitting to choose the name "Cadies" when we started our walking tours in February 1984. It seemed the perfect business title at the time. We couldn't have chosen a better one; or could we? Well, the problem was (and still is), "cadies" summed up exactly what we were doing at the time but no-one knew what it meant.

The Edinburgh poet, Robert Fergusson (1750-1774) penned the following description of "the cadies".

The usefu' Cadie plies in Street,

To bide the Profits o' his Feet

For by thir Lads Auld Reikie's Fock

Ken but a SAMPLE o' the Stock

O' thieves that mighty wad oppress,

And mail baith Goods and gear the less

Thirty two years after we started our walking tours, it's good to know we've kept the original cadies' tradition going, as we still ply the streets to bide the profits of our feet.

We changed our name to The Cadies & Witchery Tours  on 31st October (Halloween) 1985 when we launched the Murder & Mystery Tour from the Witchery Restaurant. The addition of the word "Tours" to our name was helpful but didn't fully solve the "Cadie" problem. Mind you, maybe we wouldn't get so many people into the shop if we had a different name.