The note sent to Don Cameron was short,
but brimming with substance. Its sender was Mrs. Mina Menzies, a 70
year-old widow from Dundee. By some “coincidence”, Mrs. Menzies had seen
the notice Don had put in a Scottish newspaper, soliciting information
on William Mackenzie Peter. Here was somebody who had known The Man
“Dear Mr. Cameron,
I saw your piece in the Evening
Telegraph, about Mr. Bill Peter, and was most surprised. I knew him and
his wife Mary, as I was fostered by Mrs. Peter’s sister Mabel, who
stayed next door to her. I was 14 at the time; I am now 70. I stayed
with Aunt Mabel, at 107 Church St., Broughty Ferry until I got married
at 20. But when my Aunt Mabel went on holiday, I used to stay with Bill
and Mary. They were a very nice couple. He used to tell me about working
with the Hudson Bay Company and about him knowing Nannook the Eskimo.
Even when I got married he used to come and see me now and again. There
are no relatives of Mrs. Peter left. But like you said Billy married a
Glasgow girl. They stayed in Glasgow, and I’m sure he worked at the
Railway; he might still work there, but I haven’t seen him for a lot of
years. Me myself have 3 sons and a daughter. My husband died 8 year ago.
Hope this note helps you a bit.
P.S. I don’t know if there are any of
Bill’s relatives left.
I read the note many times, sifting its
nuances, and noting some factual pieces that initially didn’t fit in the
puzzle which had been coming together nicely. Mr. Peter had worked for
Revillon Frčres, not the Hudson’s Bay Company. If he had known
Alakkariallak (Nannook the Eskimo), he must have been in Inukjuak as
early as 1922-23. Alakkariallak was known to have died in 1923.
This would have Mr. Peter being there for
five years, generally an informal “limit” for an apprentice trader to be
assigned to one place. One piece of bedrock in the note was the address
in Broughty Ferry; it had been a recurring feature of the Aberdeen
Papers. Another piece of bedrock was “Billy”, who had “married a Glasgow
girl”. This could only be William James Peter, our Uncle Bill!
And it pointed to a location where a search for him could be started.
My dear Mrs. Menzies, God bless you!