As my big red beard attests, I’ve got Scottish heritage in my DNA.
On my mother’s side of the family, I’m derived from Clan Donnachaidh, also known as Clan Robertson. My mom’s maiden name is Robertson, which also happens to be my middle name.
Peter Robertson Jickling.
The clan’s first leader was a fellow by the name of Stout Duncan, a fireeyed warrior who displayed fierce allegiance to Robert the Bruce during the Wars of Scottish Independence. In the legendary Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, the Clan Donnachaidh was there, sending the English back, whimpering in defeat.
On my father’s side, I’ve got Crawford blood.
In the reign of William the Lion (1165-1214) Sir Reginald of Crawford was made Sherriff of Ayr. Later, Archibald of Douglas inherited this Clan Crawford post. His sister, Margaret, married Sir Malcolm Wallace, and they had a son named William.
As a youngster I didn’t have much time for this type of ancestral research; it seemed like an old man’s game. But as I grew older, my interest also grew.
There were two watershed moments regarding my Scottish pride.
The most recent occurred in 2008, when I travelled to Scotland with Casey Lee McLaughlin.
I loved it all: the culture of Edinburgh, the working class grit of Glasgow, the haunting highlands, and of course, the exquisite single malts.
Everywhere I turned, there were streets and monuments named after my ancient relatives. Not only that, there were gingers everywhere. I felt right at home.
The earlier moment happened in 1995 when I watched Braveheart, in which the aforementioned William Wallace rallied the Scottish troops against their occupiers. Sure, it was a glossed over Hollywood treatment, but damn if it wasn’t inspiring when Wallace let loose the bloodcurdling cry of freedom.
It was my introduction to the Scottish independence movement.
At about the same time as I watched Braveheart, I remember being glued to my seat as the CBC provided up-to-the-minute results of Quebec’s independence referendum, in which Canada remained whole by a sliver.
As Canadians, we know that independence movements are messy, and that they inspire great passion on both sides of the debate. I also imagine that the process of setting up a new federal government must be a bureaucratic nightmare.
Still, when Scots head to the polls on September 18, 2014 to decide whether to splinter from Great Britain, my gut will be hoping for an aye-vote. What can I say? I’ve got Scottish independence in my marrow.