My name is John Ure, and I'm a long-time good friend of Bill's. I'm writing stories about life, humour, and forgotten times in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia - and elsewhere too. The connections to Bill and Pat, you might wonder, are several. Bill's mother's family is from Cape Breton and goes back a long ways. Her father dug in the same Dominion coal hole for 54 years. Bill's father's mother was born a Jollimore in Hallifax, Nova Scotia, and so the roots intertwine.
There is a tradition here of people migrating to the "Boston states." My grandmother went in the late 1800's and worked as a domestic. Bill's paternal grandmother left home at 15 and took a boat to the Boston states where she also worked as a domestic. Bill's mother followed a similar path, which is why he was raised in Boston, not New Waterford, god help us. My daughter Emma went a few years ago and stayed for a few months but she came back.
Pat, on the other hand, was born and grew up a Scot and Nova Scotia is filled with them. My own father came over on the boat, his knees peeking from the hem of his kilt. A quirky humour, lively music, and willingness to work hard came with the Scots, and it all evolved into a playful and energetic culture. It wasn't that long ago that Gaelic was the everyday language in many Cape Breton communities. For a while it looked as if it was dying out, but in the past 20 years it's had a revival and you can even buy a Gaelic newspaper, published in Mabou, as it so happens.
By the way, the first time I went to Cape Breton - I who have lived in Nova Scotia all my life - was in 1973 ('74 maybe?) when Bill took me on a trip to scout for land that we might buy to set up yet another free school.
I hope you enjoy the stories - Pat and Bill did when they first heard them. They badger me to keep writing more.