Lynn McAlister

What do you know about the reasons for emigration from Scotland?

Emigration was my special subject honours year at Aberdeen University. Since then I have continued to study it and write about it.

If you live overseas yourself, where do you live and can you say a few words about your personal Scottish diaspora story?

I am a dual US-Canadian citizen with Scottish ancestry who grew up in several different countries. I became interested in Scotland’s history (and its present) in my teens and studied at Aberdeen University as a way both to learn more and to spend an extended period of time living in Scotland. After my marriage to an American McAlister, I began to focus my research on that family and am now historian for both North American Macalister societies as well as pursuing a ‘one-name study’ that follows people of this surname both in Scotland and among the diaspora. I maintain a website and a blog, Today in Macalister History, and correspond with Macalisters (of all spellings) all over the world.

Have any of your ancestors or members of your family emigrated? If so, where to? And do you know anything about their story overseas?

Yes, all of them! My mother’s family were Scots who settled in Canada in the late 1700s; they helped to establish the town of Innisfil in Ontario and later emigrated to the American northwest. My father’s grandfather (of Irish origin but born in London) was a Home Child in Ontario in the late 1800s. His family settled in Hamilton.

What do you think is the legacy of the Scots abroad?

I think the legacy is varied. Certainly emigrant Scots and their descendants have introduced a colourful (if too often romanticised) cultural element to their new lands, and many have been instrumental in building the countries they adopted. Some, such as Andrew Carnegie, have left the whole world in Scotland’s debt.

Ending with something light-hearted: what did you think when first looking at the image called ‘Piper Kerr and Emperor penguin’?

The piper must be pretty cold, and perhaps the penguin a bit bemused!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>