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.

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