Williams Lake resident Krysta Thomson has strong ties to the Cariboo and to Scotland.
Both are places rich with history, culture and tradition — one of them thousands of years older than the other. With family in both locations, she is currently working as a tutor in local high schools while waiting for acceptance to pharmacy schools she has applied to in the UK and Scotland.
Her family moved to Williams Lake when she was in Grade 3 and she attended Nesika Elementary and Columneetza Secondary schools, graduating in 2004.
After completing a political science degree at the University of Northern B.C., she said that she was ready for a break from school and decided to get in touch with her Scottish roots.
“My great-great grandfather on my dad’s side was born in a farmhouse in Cowdendeath in the Kingdom of Fife — I still have a great-great aunt and cousins in the area,” she explained. “I spent two years in Scotland, and traveling around Europe — I made a lot of friends and got to meet my relatives.”
She said the trip had less than auspicious beginnings: an adventure that included switched destinations, misplaced luggage, a seized lock on a flat and a suitcase delivered to a fruit stand.
“It was so great to get to the farm after that,” she continued. “There was fabulous fresh food and I was happy to discover that my relatives were easy to understand, with soft Scottish accents.”
Krysta moved to Edinburg to immerse herself in Scottish culture, working first as a receptionist in a chiropractic office and then in an investment banking firm.
“First I lived in an apartment in the ‘ritzy’ part of town, quite by accident and then lived in shared apartment housing with roommates from England and Italy,” she said.
“I had never been made fun of for my accent before. At one of my jobs my co-workers would write Scottish phrases on pieces of paper and get me to say them, and kill themselves laughing,” she continued. “It was hilarious — I love a good laugh.”
She traveled to Greece and France, visiting Normandy beaches and a Canadian military museum. “I did Paris on my own, and went to Italy, Finland, Ireland, Switzerland, Austria, Germany and Holland. I made connection with lots of friends and stayed with friends along the way when I could,” she explained.
After a year in Scotland she attended a Ceilidh where she met her boyfriend, Stuart Bennett, who is now spending time with her in Williams Lake.
“The first time I met him we danced a few times but didn’t really talk; the second time we made a stronger connection, and we went to the end-of-festival fireworks in September. We dated a couple of months and then he moved to Australia for a year and a half—something that had been planned for a long time,” she said. “We spoke weekly, and when we met again in Edinburg for a friend’s wedding we starting picking things up again.”
Stuart, who has an engineering degree, decided to move to Canada.
“He loves it here and he’s had so much fun. He’s gotten to do some things he never got to do in Scotland, like drive a snow plow and fencing,” she added. “And riding a horse is definitely on his list.”
Krysta said that people in Scotland and Canada are both fascinated by each other’s culture.
“It’s the old world and the new one — Scotland has such a rich, old history and Canada has such a rich, new one,” she explained. “We embrace things about Scottish traditions just like they embrace things like the Mounties and the cowboys.”
She added that Stuart is the biggest sweetheart in the world. “I just love his accent,” she laughed. “He loves a good adventure and is thoroughly enjoying his time in Canada.”