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Part Qallunaaq
Chapter 30. Family Time

I told Uncle Bill that my late mother, his half-sister, also used to call my youngest sister, Alacie, “mamaqsautik”. How uncanny and poetic for a man in Scotland, and his Inuk daughter in Arctic Canada, separated by an ocean and a culture, calling their offspring with the same Inuktitut word! What a unique verification of the fact that we have found each other beyond any doubt!

The next five days were a continuous sharing of meals and long visits. Many photographs were shared and explained. Family lineages were elaborated. Each of us shared nuggets of memories of our mother with Uncle Bill and Jess.

One time, while we were sharing our interest in Irish and Scottish music, Uncle Bill spontaneously started humming a tune, which I recognized, and hummed to its finish. I think the tune was “The Humors of Dunblane”, or was it “Muckin’ O’ Geordie’s Byre”? I can’t be sure now, because I am at the pre-school level in terms of knowing the names of Scottish musical tunes. But what a wonderful and natural subject to be getting into! I’m thoroughly enjoying learning the names of tunes!

Family Reunion

From our conversations with Uncle Bill and his wife, we learned that our grandfather had had two brothers, one of whom moved to Chicago in the United States, where he lived as a postmaster, and died in 1972. This brother’s name was Stuart, and I’m almost certain he is the David S. I discovered in the Aberdeen Town Registry records. If he had any children, these would be the first cousins of our late mother. This will definitely require further investigation.

We also learned that two of William Mackenzie Peter’s three sisters had each had a son. Winifred Talbert Peter Johnston had a son named Ian William Johnston, born in 1933, while Alice Peter Cook had a son named Alister John Cook, born in 1937. These would be our mother’s first cousins. If they had children, these would be our second cousins. Definitely branches of the family we will want to track down. The challenge of doing this research is now made less mysterious by having made this connection with our Uncle Bill.

During our last family meal together, I watched my youngest brother Poasie and Uncle Bill sharing stories and laughs; simply uncle and nephew thoroughly enjoying each other’s company, like it should be. That scene will forever stay in my memory: the ultimate reward for my long and sometimes lonely search for William Mackenzie Peter, my Scottish grandfather.

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