William Ritch of Midhouse, Rackwick, Hoy.

This photographic portrait was taken in Hoy in the Orkney Islands probably in the 1920s, when William Ritch was in his sixties. A copy was donated to the Orkney Archives in 2003 by Neil Leask, whose Great Aunt, Jemima Nicolson, was Willie Ritch's second wife.

Neil's grand aunt, Jeannie Nicolson, used to visit Willie and Jemima Ritch at Orgil Cottage when she was young. Willie showed her his HBC long service medals and told her about his children. Some years later, she told Neil what she remembered. Details were scarce, though, and eventually, the names of William Ritch's family in Canada became forgotten in Orkney. Where they lived and what happened to them after their father retired was not passed on.

In 2006 descendents of William Ritch were traced using K-Net, an internet news site for Ontario First Nations. The gaps in this story are beginning to close.

Click the images to zoom in for a more detailed view.

© Orkney Library and Archive, L5945/4