Where is Shetland?

Where is Shetland?  Well, it depends who you ask.  "In the north Atlantic" is the most likely answer, but it isn't the only one, because there's more than one Shetland. 

Emigrants often named settlements after places they left behind, and sometimes these became much larger than the original place. Ask an Australian where Perth is, and they'd say in Western Australia, not Perthshire, and even British people automatically think of Boston being in Massachusetts, without realising the original is in Lincolnshire. It's no surprise Shetland settlers likewise took the name of their islands elsewhere.

Now to this interesting item that's just come to the Museum. It’s a trade token, given by a shop for change and which could be used for money only in that store. It clearly says "Shetland Store", but the merchant's name isn't a native one to these islands, and "Good for 5 in trade" signifies five cents. So there's more to this little thing.

A dig on the internet soon revealed the background. Bill Edwards (1879-1940) was from Ontario, Canada, and from 1911 to 1918 he owned the shop and telegraph office at Shetland, mid-way between Lake Huron and Lake Erie. In the 1920s-'30s he was a prolific writer of farming stories for newspapers.

Many Shetlanders settled in the area around the Great Lakes, having come there as merchant seamen. Although Edwards himself didn't have Shetland connections, some bygone emigrant from these islands named the place that still bears the name, as seen on this token. Perhaps an Ontario reader can tell us who that was.

Related Posts

The Laurel

The Shetland Times, 12 October 1907 reported an important event at the Ness. Harry Irvine of Glenfield got a Fifie fishing boat, the ...

Read more

Shetland's jubilations (Part 2)

2022 is the third time in twenty years there’s been a Royal Jubilee, so you might think they come around often. In fact, it’s in ...

Read more

Shackleton's Shetland Pallbearers - A Talk

Shetland Museum and Archives will be kicking off its Year of Stories by marking the 100th anniversary of the burial of Sir Ernest ...

Read more

550 Years Ago: how Shetland became part of Scotland - part 2

Shetland and Orkney became part of Scotland 550 years ago, on 20 February 1472. Denmark’s economic interests were concentrated in ...

Read more

A reminiscence of a traditional Shetland wedding

When lockdown came, one of our first sad tasks was to tell two couples who’d planned a wedding in the museum that it couldn’t ...

Read more

550 Years Ago: how Shetland became part of Scotland

A fortnight ago some women and men from the South Mainland of Shetland marched in Glasgow with torches. They were commemorating the ...

Read more

Up Helly Aa - the Venues

We’re missing Up Helly Aa again - not just a fire spectacle but a major social event, with dances and performances in many venues in ...

Read more

Origins of the Up Helly Aa Song

A huge procession of torch-carrying guizers is one of the most spectacular sights of the Shetland year.  For anyone who heads out in ...

Read more

A historical walk to Culsetter

There is much more to Shetland than the popular places where people go: the Hams of Muckle Roe and the Sands of Breckon, for instance. ...

Read more

A Lerwick Christmas One Hundred Years Ago: 1921

The Town Council decided which day the Christmas holiday should be on, there had been petitions. After some deliberation they settled ...

Read more

Shetland Museum and Archives awarded funding for Year of Stories

Shetland Museum and Archives is delighted to announce that it will be celebrating and showcasing many of Shetland’s untold stories ...

Read more

The Maiden

Hallowe’en at the end of October is traditionally a part of the year when macabre things are thought of and expressed. Perhaps a ...

Read more

The Tolbooth Jail

We don’t have many records that make a direct reference to a person’s personal appearance. Important people might be described, ...

Read more

A Day in Bigga

Bigga, a little island in Yellsound, 80 hectares in extent, is not easy to visit. It has been uninhabited for 200 years, largely ...

Read more

Witchcraft in Shetland

Between around 1615 and 1680 Shetland was afflicted by a mania that was disturbing other parts of Europe. Ordinary Shetlanders and ...

Read more