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He at once told the frightened woman that he would go to Mr Goodwin with the news but she fell on her knees and begged him not to reveal her identity.“After much persuasion, he consented to keep the secret, and they continued to live together under the same conditions as before, and it was not for a long time afterwards that she lost her honour.” Whether or not John Scarth was the father of the child, he was certainly registered as such.

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“The girl came from Orkney to James Bay in the service of the Hudson Bay Company and was dressed in man’s clothes.

For years, her sex was not discovered by any of the people who associated with her when she was at the company post at James Bay.

“He was a wonderfully clear-minded and physically active old gentleman and his information as regards dates and occurrences, when checked by original documents and other records, proved to be singularly perfect even as to minute details.” Donald Murray was quoted as saying: “The story was current amongst the early settlers who knew Scarth and Mad Mc Kay and this was undoubtedly the first white woman who lived in the Red River country.

A new item in our collection is a journal written by Mary Bailey who was principal teacher of English and Latin in Stromness Secondary School from Aug-Dec in 1924.

erhaps one of the most extraordinary tales involving a native of Orkney is also one we know very little about.

However, from the fragments of information we do have it is possible to piece together the incredible story of Isabel, or Isabel, Gunn, a courageous young Orcadian woman who, in the early years of the 19th century, disguised herself as a man to take up a post with the Hudson's Bay Company in Canada.

According to Henry’s journal: “An extraordinary affair occurred this morning.

One of the Orkney lads, apparently indisposed, had requested me to allow him to remain in my house for a short time.

Incredibly, throughout her time with the Hudson's Bay Company, Isabel managed to maintain her male disguise and it was not until she became pregnant that her ruse was finally discovered.

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