Three years ago I started to track down living relatives of Alec's. I went to the village he was brought up in. I managed to meet the oldest man in the area he was 92 years old. He, in fact, knew Alec's youngest sister. She passed on at the age of 89. The snow in the area was deep but with my landrover and good winter tyres, he guided me to Alec's father's Blacksmiths workshop. It was like stepping into time. Even the bellows were still in place and shaped horse shoes hung by the anvil. Coats hung by large nails on doors--they now could stand by themselves they were so stiff.
I have so many books about Alec and he spoke so much about his childhood back home working the bellows for his dad. Now I was standing in time. It was a very special time being at the "smithy" for me that day.
The Orton graveyard is very small, set around the ruin of a very old church. It was there I found Alec's father's gravestone. To my surprise, the gravestone was nearly new so I found it pretty quickly. It stood out through the drifting piled snow on other gravestones. I found out it was a relative who had renewed the headstone. I was back home looking out on my dog yard a few hours later speaking to the only man in the UK who has the family name of Allan. He gave me the telephone number of Alec's grandniece, Mrs. Lorna Shand, in Aberdeen. Lorna was my guest of honor at our small Centre's open day. A relative of Alec's youngest brother was also here. They had not met each other.
My son, John, played three Highland tunes on his bagpipes. Sleddog history had started in my country. I am sure Alec would have agreed it was a great day. Rick Atkinson, Uk's most successful sleddog racer in the USA, turned to the Lairds wife and said, "something very special happened here today." With a smile Philappa Grant said, "I know." Within my visitors book the grand niece of Alec "Scotty' Allan wrote the following: "As a grand niece of Scotty Allan, I feel very privileged and honored to have been invited to the official opening today. As a young man "Scotty" left Scotland for America but did not return. Alan, you have brought him home and ensured the recognition and memory of him as a great adventurer will be perpetrated. I wish you, Fiona & John every success. Thank you for such a special day Lorna Shand.26/1/02
A life-sized picture of Alec takes centre stand in my small museum here in the Highlands, with his amazing life adventures documented at his side. Beside him is his wonderful leader, Baldy. Within my dog yard dogs with names like Kid, Baldy, Scotty, Tom, Dick & Harry, and Dubby answer to their names. The Centre will grow day by day here and with it Alec "Scotty" Allan's amazing story. With his help we will underline the history of our way of life with the sleddogs.
The final end to my story of Alec is still not complete. I know he died in 1941 but do not know where he was laid to rest. Sounds crazy, but it really upsets me each time I take visitors around my museum. It is hoped with this story being read in the country Alec loved so much that more history will come back to his country of birth.
The Cairngorm Sleddog Centre would like to thank the following for making this unique venture work. Tim White, Bob Thomas, Joe Runyan, Martin Buser, Rick Atkinson, Gerhard Offer, Heini Winter, Nancy Cowan, Johnnie Grant, and all the relatives of Alec "Scotty" Allan in the UK, my wife, son John, and last but in no way least, all my sleddogs.
Born in Glasgow /Scotland 1956. Brought up in the West Coast of Scotland. Moved to Australia where he trained as a Deep Sea Diver. For 21 years he has worked all over the world. For the last 18 years he has been a member of a Deep Saturation Diving team based within the North Sea, living in diving chambers for up to 30 days at a time. Having tried many sports, sleddogs are now a way of life to him. With the help of Tim White, who gave him the opportunity to race in Europe & South America, and helping with contacts, he became the first UK Musher to race in Europe with his own sleddogs and was made an honorary member of the Alpen Trail Club. In 1997, with Rick Atkinson & Alister Taylor, crossed the Cairngorm mountain range & the Uk's second highest mountain BenMacDui. In December 2001, the Stewart family started the first and only sleddog centre in the UK. And one of the only museums for the sport in Europe, dedicated to Alec "Scotty" Allan. In 2001 Joe Runyan sent a bred female to Scotland. Seven males where born in Scotland. These dogs will race at the highest level in years to come in Europe.
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