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The Isle of Islay Reunion, Guelph, Ontario, Canada - July 2000

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The excitement as people arrived at the restaurant was evident in
their broad smiles and warm handshakes.  Name tags given to everyone
that included their names, home towns and Islay names they are
researching helped dissipate the little shyness remaining.  The
restaurant had set aside a separate area for our group and the
conversation was quite full and hearty during our breakfasts.   Each
person around the table stood and gave their own introductions and it
was fun to put a face and personality to the people we had been
emailing with over the past months.  In all, our group of 21 people
were researching 36 Islay names and it wasn't difficult to make
several  connections.  Since we couldn't have this reunion in Islay
(wow - what a dream eh?), Sue Visser brought a taste of Islay to the
group by passing around a jar of Bowmore marmalade for everyone to
taste on their toast and suggested that perhaps we could consider
having a reunion on Islay some day.

We were honoured to have Robert MacKenzie, President of the Glasgow
Islay Association of Scotland join us for this reunion.  Upon
introduction, he greeted us with a hearty bonjour, hello and "ciamar a
tha thu".
Robert congratulated our group for organizing this day and encouraged
us to consider repeating this kind of reunion in the future, hopefully
on a regular basis and in a broader venue.  Robert came bearing gifts
and we were delighted to receive copies of the Bowmore CD-ROM which
gives us a virtual reality tour of parts of Islay and Bowmore
Distillery.  Robert's encouragement to continue having reunions
bolstered our already growing thoughts along this line and we asked
our group to think about it during the rest of the day for later

After the meal, everyone left and reunited at the University of
Guelph.  Thankfully the rain held off long enough for a group photo to
be taken before we headed into the McLaughlin Library.  We were warmly
greeted by Helen Salmon, Acting Chief Librarian and it was obvious
that she had put considerable effort into tailoring a tour specific to
our Islay research group's needs. 

Here's a photo album from the reunion!

Note:  people in photos are listed left to right

#1 - Sue Visser, Sandy and Toni Sinclair await the Islay reunion attendees

#2 - At the restaurant, it didn't take long for everyone to forge bonds of friendship.  Grace Dunn (in the gold jacket) and Helen Blair
(across the table in the black jacket) discovered that they share the
same 3rd Great Grandparents

#3 - Note the name tags.  Everyone received a name tag that included, in a Celtic design framework, their name, home town and the Islay names they are researching.   This made connecting with others searching the same name much easier

#4 - Peggy Oberbeck (on the left in yellow) drove the farthest, coming
from Wisconsin, USA to Ontario

#5 - Some of our group was so involved they didn't even hear me say "say cheese"

#6 - At the University of Guelph:
BACK ROW:  Norm Visser, Lorne Campbell, Anne Goeden, Robert MacKenzie
4TH ROW:  Sandy Sinclair, Jack Puttenham, Russ McGillivray, Peggy Oberbeck, Marilyn Roberts, Gloria Phillips
3RD ROW:  Gaye Weston, Ray Fazakas, Bev Fazakas, Marjorea Roblin, Jeanette Inch
2ND ROW:  Richard Weston, Tom & Grace Dunn, Helen Blair
1ST ROW:  Sue Visser, Toni Sinclair

#7 - U of G Acting Chief Librarian, Helen Salmon gives us tips and access lessons of the U of G online resources

#8 - In the map department - various map books and individual maps were awaiting our perusal

#9 - Some serious inspections of the maps

#10 - The lecture continued to the Government Documents department
that include all the Ontario census records

#11 - In the Archives and Special Collections - rare books and documents about Islay were set out

#12 - A separate room in the Archives department was set aside for our
group to lay out their treasures to share

In the map area, various maps and books specific to Islay were awaiting us.  She walked us through the areas where historical, governmental and social literature/documents
pertaining to Islay and Scotland could be found.  In the lecture room, she had a computer and screen set up to show us how to access the Trellis group of libraries, explaining that the University of Guelph, Laurier in Waterloo, and the University of Waterloo had formed a joint
Tri-University Libraries catalogue that is very impressive.  The U of Guelph has the largest Scottish Collection in North America with over 100,000 volumes, worth more than $2 million, available in general circulation, in the Archives and in the Special Collections.   We were
pleased to learn that we could search Trellis online and get general circulation items through inter-library loan at our home libraries. Handouts covering Genealogy Information Sources, Scottish Culture, British History Information Sources and the Archival, Rare and Special Collections were given to each of us as well as a copy of the Guelph alumnus magazine of Summer 2000 that includes an extensive article entitled "All Things Scottish".  Following the library tour, we retired to the Archives that had been especially opened for our group and again it was very evident that there had been particular care and thought put into our needs for there were rare books, documents and relics awaiting our inspection.  With our hands gloved to protect the items from damage we were given a couple of hours to inspect to our
hearts delight.  Another room had also been set aside for the treasures that our group had brought with them to share with one another.  There were books, maps, personal genealogies, and personal data bases shared and information exchanged with generosity.  At one point, I looked around and listened to the excited conversations and saw the laughter and camaraderie and was filled with a sense that this was something very good.

The reunion guests decided that they wanted to thank the  University of Guelph Library for their special attention to us by donating a book to the library in the name of the Islay Reunion 2000 attendees and made donations accordingly.  Toni and Sandy Sinclair are going to Islay in a couple of weeks and will bring back something suitable for this purpose.  In the meantime, a special note of thanks is being prepared for Helen Salmon who certainly went above and beyond the call of duty.

While we had initially asked our group earlier in the day to consider the idea of future reunions, we decided that we should take this discussion to the SCT-ISLAY-L since our small group represented only a small portion of our listers. We asked everyone to consider if they would work on a committee to investigate and possibly organize a future reunion and we
have 7 volunteers already.

The U of G Archives closed at 4 PM and most people said their farewells then although, with the rest of the library open until midnight, a couple of others took advantage of their time there to do some personal research.

The "first" Islay Reunion was a wonderful success.  I wish each and every lister of the SCT-ISLAY-L list had been able to join us.  I spoke with one of the attendees today and although tired, she was still humming with residual excitement from the fun and interaction of the day.   I know exactly how she feels!   Sincerely, Sue (McCuaig) Visser

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