Thursday, 1 July 2010

Happy Canada Day!

O Canada, not only have you brought us Bryan Adams, Wayne's World and Alanis Morisette's hair in this picture but you are the home of several Orcadians who answered articles such as this:

This advert dates from the mid-twentieth century but Orcadians had been travelling to 'the Nor-Waast' for years. The Hudson Bay Company ships stopped at Stromness before continuing up into the frozen North and often picked up some hardy Orcadians who were known for being hard-working and for being able to stand harsh weather conditions.

Indeed, sometimes theses recruitments were fairly last minute and families found themselves waving off a son or brother for many months, even years, with very little preparation. We found this letter signed 'Ye ken wha', written to a Miss Wishart expressing surprise ("I wis fair dumfoonered"), at the news that she is to marry another and move out to the "Nor Wast" very soon. He is especially shaken as "thou minds thou proposed tae mesel' nae sae very lang syne."

A second letter follows where he urges his correspondent to accept the offer of marriage as he doesn't want her to end up "spendin' a' thee days i' a garret in the company of a cat...dinna thou let ony precious time ging by."

These letters and others were looked out for the Homecoming celebrations that were put on for many North American visitors by the Orkney Family History Society in May 2007. The society worked tirelessly beforehand to investigate the roots of many of the visitors and there were a lot of reunions with distant relations in living rooms and kitchens and pubs across Orkney.

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