Northwest NEWS

July 20, 1998

Front Page

Kenmore discovering its Scottish roots


Photos courtesy of Dick Ramsey

The Kenmore Hotel in the northern highlands of Scotland.


Dick Ramsey, local pharmacist, stands near the sign entering Kenmore.

   by Tom Traeger
   Kenmore reporter

   Don't be surprised if you hear bagpipe music and see lots of tartan plaid at the Celebrate Kenmore gala on August 30. It will simply be Kenmore residents celebrating their Scottish heritage.
   The incorporation of the new City of Kenmore, official on August 31, has fostered a new interest in its history.
   Books such as "Squak Slough" and "Slough of Memories" document the odyssey of John McMasters and his wife Annie from their home in Ontario, Canada to Seattle and then on to this area.
   After settling here in 1900 and building his shingle mill, McMasters named the settlement Kenmore after his Canadian home forty miles south of Ottawa.
   What is lesser known is the origin of the name of Kenmore, Ontario. It was, in fact, named after the town of Kenmore, Alberfeldy in the Northern Highlands of Scotland.
   Located on the Tay River which flows out from Tay Loch, Kenmore has a rich history dating back to the mid 1500s.
   Ostrom's Drugs' owner Dick Ramsey and his wife Jane visited Kenmore during a trip to Scotland in the summer of 1994 and have fond memories of its natural beauty with blue waters and gentle green hills. "The similarities to our own Kenmore is striking," Ramsey said, "with Loch Tay close in size to Lake Washington."
   He noted that the River Tay flows out from the Loch Tay unlike Sammamish River which flows into Lake Washington.
   Kenmore Hotel, reputed to be Scotland's oldest inn, is the main landmark of Kenmore village.
   The structure overlooking the Tay River was originally a tavern commissioned in 1572 by Laird Colin Campbell.
   The inn offered "accommodations and refreshments." Taymouth Castle, another Campbell creation, replaced its predecessor Balloch Castle which was built in 1550 and demolished in 1805.
   Ramsey added, "The castle's nearby golf course and the bridge over the Tay River are two more features which reminded us of our hometown."
   There is some question to the exact translation of the name Kenmore in Celtic or Gaelic.
   It is said by some to be "big head of river" and others subscribe to the "crown of lake" translation.
   In both cases, the meaning is consistent with the location of our own Kenmore and its proximity to both river and lake.
   Many Kenmore residents have expressed interest in learning more about the "other Kenmore." Mayor Crawford has communicated over the past few weeks by phone and e-mail with his counterpart in Scotland.
   The mayor says, "In conversation with the town clerk, the "sister city" idea was broached and was well received."
   Crawford said he will be sending a letter formally requesting the sister city tie in the future.
   And with Deputy Mayor Dick Taylor having similar contacts with city officials in Kenmore, Ontario there is a real possibility that the new City of Kenmore could have two "new sisters" while still in its infancy.
   A display is planned in city hall in time for the August 30 celebration which will provide more information and pictures about the Canadian Kenmore as well as the Scottish Kenmore.
   The public will be invited to view the material and learn more about our Kenmore's heritage, especially its name.