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Part Qallunaaq
Chapter 10. William James Peter

Among the records of my Scottish family found for me at the Aberdeen Town Registry was a birth certificate for a son born to my grandfather and his wife in 1940. His name was William James Peter --- our late mother’s half brother, and our uncle by blood. Here was another joy thrown at us from the archives! But this time, it would be a living joy. At the age of 64, he would very likely still be alive! Now I had a living Scottish uncle to track down, and this just made my day!

It did not matter now to me if I didn’t do any tracking and tracing immediately. The records of discovery showed my grandfather and his family were from Broughty Ferry, just outside of Dundee, on the Firth of Tay. That was about fifty miles distant from Aberdeen. Winifred had died in Dundee, while her brother had died in Edinburgh. If the family, and their various descendents, were no longer in one location, it would take time to unweave the different threads, and find one to follow.

There were no uncertainties in the records discovered. If Scottish people are well known for other things, keeping impeccable records of births, marriages, and deaths is one of their great characteristics. I was a beneficiary of this record keeping in this great haul of information on my family. On our paternal side, we know the identity of our ancestors back to five generations. Now, where only a great mystery and question mark had existed, I had records going back to my Scottish grandfather’s grandfather, whose name was Stewart Peter.

I was given a record of my uncle’s marriage in 1966. This triggered all sorts of scenarios in my mind: Will there be first cousins, both male and female? Will we look somewhat like them, or, will they look somewhat like us? The emotional upheaval I had roller-coastered through earlier was soothed with the balm of the possibilities of Scottish cousins. My imagination concocted a possible headline: “SCOTTISH-ESKIMO COUSINS FLY INTO EACH OTHERS’ ARMS”.

My Dear Good Helper archivist, whose name was Valerie Anne Plante, presented more information. One of these was the record of a son of Winifred and Peter Anderson Johnston. His name was not given, but his address in Dundee was. Hey! There could be whole clans of kinfolk in Scotland to track down!

Against tremendous odds, the subjects of many years of searching were “gifted” to me, in one single afternoon! And, having a living uncle to start searching for made me feel really alive!

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