Local Scots on pins-and-needles during referendum

Phew!

Phew!

That’s how unity-minded members of Red Deer businesswoman Lorna Watkinson-Zimmer’s clan in Scotland reacted to Friday’s No vote in an independence referendum.

Watkinson-Zimmer keeps in regular contact with about a dozen relatives in Scotland, the birth home of her mother, and vicariously experienced the pins-and-needles-atmosphere that surrounded the history-making vote.

The owner of downtown’s Comforts the Sole donned her plaid skirt on Friday in celebration of the vote in favour of remaining part of the United Kingdom, preserving a 300-year-old union.

Her relatives — most of whom are in the Glasgow area — were split on the question, she said.

“Some have been really adamant Yes side and some No.

“My cousin’s son works for the Bank of Scotland and he was told they would lose their jobs (with a Yes vote) because the bank would move to London.”

Red Deer’s Mary Smith was born and raised in Glasgow and came to Canada as a war bride in 1946. Despite the years and distance, she holds her home country dear.

“It’s just a special place in my heart always,” said the 88-year-old.

She would have voted No if she was there, she said.

“I couldn’t see them giving up all of the things our forefathers fought for,” she added.

Growing up in Scotland, she always felt a second-class citizen compared with the English, she said.

“I always felt they were just that better off than I was growing up in a tenement building in Glasgow.”

Many Scots have felt they were not well represented in parliament.

Despite that, Smith believes Scotland made the right choice.

“Everybody I talked to that have come from Scotland had said no.”

Smith still collects a small pension from her birth country and had heard those would have been cancelled under a separate Scotland. While it was not a lot of money for her, it could have meant a big loss to others who had worked many years in Scotland before emigrating.

She hopes the vote will lead to some positive moves.

“I think it was a rude awakening to Westminster (British parliament).

“There will be big changes. I think the Yes did a good job of bringing Scotland to the front to let England see, hey we’re here.”

Margaret Baxter came to Canada in 1963 and is happy they chose to stay part of the United Kingdom.

“I think it would be hard for Scotland to go on its own,” said Baxter, who was born and raised in Bathgate, half way between Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Baxter, 81, said she’s been away too long to know all of the issues and politics behind the referendum.

“When we left there was too much class distinction. You were either very rich or very poor.”

She knows unemployment remains a big problem in Scotland.

“But I don’t think going it alone would help that.”

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

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