Final chapter of Campbeltown man’s Canadian memoirs

The front cover of Came To Canada, Eh? Adventures of a Scottish Nomad, left, and author and editor, Ian and Gayle Moore-Morrans, right.

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The final chapter of a Campbeltown-born man’s memoirs, recounting his life after emigrating to Canada, has been released a year after his death.

Came To Canada, Eh? Adventures of a Scottish Nomad is the second volume of Ian Moore-Morrans’s autobiography, penned before his death in 2019, and edited and released by his wife Gayle.

The first volume of Ian’s memoirs, From Poverty to Poverty: A Scotsman Encounters Canada, covers the years 1932 to 1970, and begins by telling of the ‘abject poverty’ in which Ian’s family lived in Campbeltown.

It describes his teenage years, after leaving school at 14, working as a blacksmith’s apprentice, joining the Army Cadets and playing in a Salvation Army band.

The book goes on to talk of his joining the Royal Air Force at 18, serving in the UK and Egypt, his return to civilian life, his marriage to his first wife Mary and becoming a father to daughters Audrey and Shirley, and the family’s eventual emigration to Canada.

The latest instalment, covering the years 1970 to 2004, invites readers on the journey that took Ian and Mary back and forth across six Canadian provinces, with multiple stops along the way, as he struggled to survive and thrive in the face of countless obstacles that would likely have stopped a lesser man in his tracks.

In the book’s prologue, Ian writes: ‘As in the first volume of my memoirs, to the best of my memory, all the stories are true. I have chosen in a few instances to alter the names of some of the characters to maintain their privacy, and have noted those instances where the characters first appear.

‘Most of this story was written when my name was still Ian Morrans. The name on my birth certificate is John Morrans, but I was always called Ian, the Scottish Gaelic equivalent of John.

‘Sometime after I immigrated to Canada, I legally changed my first name to Ian. My surname change happened in 2003 when I remarried after I lost Mary, my first wife. The maiden name of Gayle, my second wife, is Moore. When we married, we adopted the new family name Moore-Morrans.’

Despite moving to Canada in his early 30s and falling in love with his adopted homeland, Ian remained a Scotsman ‘to the core’, Gayle says.

She said: ‘Ian’s closest friends when he was growing up in Campbeltown were Ian Brodie and Ian MacKenzie, both since deceased, and George McMillan.

‘As miserable as much of his early life was in Campbeltown, he still maintained an appreciation for the musical training and opportunities he received there and a real affection for the Wee Toon, its beauty and its people. And he surely never let anyone forget that he remained Scottish to his very core, even though he cherished becoming a Canadian as well.’

In 1976 and 2000, Ian returned to Campbeltown, where his mother ‘Wee Chrissie’ Moorhead, neé Morrans, and step-father Bill – also known as Willy – Moorhead are buried.

Gayle has not had the opportunity to visit Ian’s home-town but hopes to in the future. While here, she hopes to meet some of the members of the Facebook group ‘Old Campbeltown and surrounding area’ with whom she has become acquainted as she shares anecdotes and photographs of Ian’s life.

The Covid-19 pandemic has denied Gayle the chance to hold book readings but she hopes to offer a virtual book launch, recorded at her home in downtown Winnipeg, Manitoba, which will be shared on YouTube and her website at https://ianmooremorrans.com in the near future.

She said: ‘I will also include in the launch a few videos taken of scenes Ian wrote about in Came To Canada, Eh?, in which he shared some of his melodic singing voice at a musical production in Flin Flon, Manitoba, in 1998 and at our wedding reception in Winnipeg in 2003.’

Came To Canada, Eh? Adventures of a Scottish Nomad is currently for sale on Amazon and, it is hoped, will be available in local shops in the future.