|north of 60 degrees latitude!!!|
|sheep at Eshaness|
|my grandfather's old watch|
Last night, my mother's cousin came over to where I was having tea and brought me a mysterious package. It was a very old watch that had somehow made its way back here probably to my great-grandmother and had been kept by my grandfather's sister until she passed it to her daughter.
My grandfather had written on the back of the warranty paper inside the watch. We can not figure out what a merchant seaman was doing in Philadelphia!!! Obviously, my grandfather got around. I'm taking the watch back home to my mother who does not have his ship papers so does not know exactly where her father was during his twenties.
|Why did the Laird's watch return to Whalsay via Vancouver?|
The Heritage Centre is located in the former home of the Laird of Whalsay. The Scottish lairds of the island kept the Whalsay people in a feudal state until the 1880's. The fishing catch and boats belonged to the laird and only a small amount could be kept back for the family. Until the 1880's, young men who left Whalsay to go to the whaling or the gold rush were banished from the island and could not return. Families who harboured outcasts would also be banished.
Although my great-grandmother had the same surname of Bruce as did the laird's family, we were definitely fish-gutters, stocking knitters and fishers. But!!! now to the second watch story. The last Laird of Whalsay almost bankrupted himself building Symbister House. The family had no children so the Laird's line ended and the house was later a school and then a museum.
In that museum,there is a display of the Laird's belongings that were donated by family members no longer living on the island. When my eyes fell upon the watch, I was astonished!!! Not only had the watch been returned from Vancouver but it was in a box from a jewellery store to which I have a family connection.
My first husband was related to the Grassie family who started a jewellery store in Vancouver in 1886. In my first engagement ring, was a diamond from the family and my darling daughter is connected through her father's family with the blue box that had somehow travelled from British Columbia back to the tiny isle of Whalsay!
It is said that we are all connected and never has it seemed more true to me than during this hamefaring.