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Part Qallunaaq
Chapter 16. The First Photograph


About ten days after sending the letter to Mrs. Menzies in Dundee, Scotland, I received a reply to the letter through quite unexpected means. It was by e-mail, from Mrs. Menziesí son, Roddy. Attached to it was a photograph of Mr. Peter, his wife, and their son, taken in 1954. The photo was a scan of a brownish-yellow original print, and was not at all a clear picture. But it was the first image I had ever seen of William Mackenzie Peter.

It turned out that Roddy Menzies, who now lives in Houston, Texas, was visiting his mother in Dundee, and had been asked by her to send me the photograph by e-mail. At first, I couldnít figure it out. The attachment looked like a NASA photo of the surface of a far-away planet; the craters and the ridgelines were discernable, but its larger patterns didnít make sense. Then I ran across what looked like an ear, and slowly browsed up, down, and sideways.

The photograph had been sent in blow-up size, and thatís why it looked inter-planetary! Slowly, the outlines of three human beings became apparent; two males on either side of a female. Their facial features were extremely hard to see clearly. Then, by some inexplicable procedure, two files of the photograph saved themselves in my computer. In them, I saw the normal photo for the first time, and I didnít need a guide to explain who was who.

Left to right were: William Mackenzie Peter, my Scottish grandfather, his wife, Mary Whyte Peter, and their son, William James Peter, my motherís half-brother, and my uncle! They are all decked out in formal dress, with carnations pinned to their lapels. It must have been taken at a church function, perhaps a wedding. My grandfather was a tall, slender, fit-looking man. In 1954, he must have been 52 years old, two years younger than I when I first saw his image at age 54.

O, William Mackenzie Peter! I have found you! And now, I have seen you!

For my family, this was the news of the century! Thanks to the modern technology of the Internet, I sent this photograph immediately to two brothers and one sister. Copies of the photo were sent to two other brothers, who were helping to run a summer camp for youth at Qaggiquqtuuq, by a more old-fashioned means---a boat delivering supplies to the camp. Now, we had a photograph to hang on our walls!

But more was yet to come!


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