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The 4th Islay Descendants Gathering was held at Trent University

The 4th Islay Descendants Gathering, held at Trent University Peterborough, Ontario, Canada, June 24 – 26, 2005

Click here for a photo gallery from the Gathering!

Fifty-seven descendants from various points in North America and Scotland attended the event!

Special guests included

Ted Larson from Minnesota, our Islay e-mail list administrator as well as Effie Clark and Flora McAffer who are volunteers with the Islay Family History Society on Islay.

Finlay Payne, a long time Islay researcher and frequent visitor to Islay, served as master of ceremonies for the proceedings and presented a history of Islay pre-emigration as well as some interesting and humorous vignettes.

Guest speakers included

Elwood Jones, well known historian and Professor of History, Trent University, covered migration patterns from Europe to North American. Professor Jones described how historic events in Europe, economic conditions, diseases, religious conflicts and other factors caused individuals, and larger groups of people, affected migration to new locations;

Dr Rae Fleming , historian, educator and author of several publications including “Eldon Connections: a history of the settlers of that township, many of whom were immigrants from Islay. Fleming has also authored books – General Stores of Canada, The Royal Tour of Canada, Railway King of Canada, and Boswell’s Children;

Isabel Wessell. Victoria County author of “Hardscrabble, the Glenarm Manuscript”. Mrs Wessell is also very knowledgeable of local history as she is the curator of the Islay/Zion Women’s Institute Tweedsmuir History.

E-mailed greetings were received from our long-time friend and supporter Steve Gilchrist, who is our mailing list founder and Islay web site webmaster: Sue McCuaig Visser who regrettably could not attend the gathering but kindly undertook the job of registrar for the Gathering; Ellen Millar, Assistant Archivist at the Simcoe County Archives; Dixie Cutler and Elaine Polglase both of Vancouver who (also could not attend...) much to their great regret could not attend this year’s event.

The weekend began with many attendees arriving early in the day to do research at local research facilities – Trent Valley Archives, Kawartha Ancestral Research Association and the University’s library and archives.

Registration took place in the late afternoon followed by a reception and barbecue. Intense conversations took place long into the evening which produced several interesting family connections.

The Saturday programme began following an early breakfast with opportunities at breaks to review materials brought in by Dr Fleming, Mrs. Wessel and our two Islay guests, Effie Clark and Flora McAffer.

Following lunch, attendees were greeted with wee gifts from Islay’s best known industry brought straight from Islay by Effie and Flora.

A 2:30 pm adjournment of the formal proceedings allowed those who wanted to revisit the various research facilities to do so, while many others huddled in small groups to compare notes and make yet more discoveries!

An evening reception and roast beef dinner followed a very full day, however the discussion again continued long into the evening. Toni brought in many books from her personal library and these proved to be especially great resources for many folks who are relatively new to Islay research.

On Sunday morning following breakfast, people departed the campus at their leisure, armed with a box lunch – some for their long journey home, others making their way to churches and cemeteries around the area and yet others were off to Oro township to attend the annual Knox Presbyterian Church open house and service.

All left having made a new connection, found a new important resource to follow up – or, as Dixie Cutler commented in her e-mailed greeting to the group, - at the very least , made some new friends.

We have had many, many notes of thanks from attendees, but from our part we want to remind everyone that the attendees really make the event – without them there would not be a Gathering.

We are looking forward now to new volunteers picking up where we are leaving off. Check out previous Gatherings on Steve's web site to see that these events can take many forms.

Thanks to everyone for making this year’s Gathering a great success,


Toni Sinclair and Helen Blair

Click here for a photo gallery from the Gathering!