Voices from the Past: A History of North Roe
Revised + expanded edition coming Fall 2022
Update: July 27, 2022
I'm working on source citations, final photo captions, and maps.
If you would like to hear when it is available for purchase, please message me through the Contact Me page.
Update: June 29, 2022
Proofreading is done, and the final chapter is nearly complete. Maps, photos and captions are being added. My hope is for the book to be available in late fall.
January 2, 2021
It's been 20 years since I visited Shetland for the first time. I was 28 years old, and had travelled from Canada to teach in London on a Working Holiday visa. I booked passage from Aberdeen and to save money, I slept on a reclining chair rather than a cabin. It was July, light, and I didn't get much sleep. So, I eagerly went outside and watched the early morning land come into view - Sumburgh Head, all the way to the granite buildings of Lerwick.
I imagined my great-grandfather, Peter Inkster, leaving his homeland for Canada as a young man. And I felt a little of the emotion he must have felt when, at the age of 69, he returned home for the first and last time. I had read his journal through - a record of his travels, his memories, and the friends and family members who welcomed him home - and was eager to retrace his steps.
Skelberry, North Roe was the hamlet of Peter's birth in 1879, and I was eager to see and feel it. During that and subsequent visits, I began to dig away at the stories of neighbours and extended family. I felt that only through recreating the community could I understand my own family and their circumstances.
And that started a voyage of discovery where many locals invited me into their homes. I gathered photos and stories, filling notebooks with small anecdotes that added colour to names and dates. They wondered what I would do with all of this information. "I'll write a book", I replied. Once stated, I felt committed to those who had shared, and those who had gone before, whose stories filled my head.
I made numerous trips to the archives, and used Peter's diary throughout. Over the course of five years, I drafted the history of North Roe, and had it published by the Shetland Times in 2006. It was a momentous feat, and I carried on with life back home in Canada - further education, work, and marriage.
Over the past two years I have continued to get requests for my book, which is now out-of-print. This has prompted me to revise the original text and add to it. Digitized books, records and newspapers have made researching from Canada much more accessible, and have provided new stories and context. Social media has also made it possible to connect and gain information from many descendants of North Roe folk who - like me - are the caretakers for family artefacts and stories. They have generously shared their resources for inclusion in this revised edition.
I am excited to be able to include the following enhancements:
- Additional images and photos
- New stories and anecdotes from digitized newspapers, books and descendants abroad
- Birth years and dates of each individual mentioned (for ease of family identification)
- Refined and corrected source citations and information
- Further anecdotes gleaned from interviews
As always, a work of this magnitude never seems to be done. I have spent every spare moment of the past year researching, writing and revising. Even then, I fear there will be oversights and the work will only scratch the surface. My hope is that this work will help the community of North Roe live on, and will inspire others to preserve and share their own stories. If your family came from North Roe, and you'd like to share information, I'd love to hear from you.
I am currently looking at publication options, and hope to have the revised book available in late 2021. If you would like to be notified when it is available for purchase, please send me a message through the Contact Me page, and I'll be happy to keep you posted.