From Grangemouth to Canada


 Alastair McIntyre is a web publisher and runs Scotland's

 largest history website

 Have a look at his website


1) Where did you grow up and at what age did you leave Scotland?

I left Scotland when I was 6 weeks old <grin>. I was brought up in Iran, Malta and Kuwait and then went to Dollar Academy in Scotland as a boarder for 7 years. I then worked mostly in Scotland but also England for some years. I left Scotland for good when I was 52. 


2) What made you leave sunny Scotia?

I left to explore the history of the Scots Diaspora in the USA and Canada. Being a web publisher all I needed was a notebook computer and Internet access so I could go anywhere I wanted. I also have to say that when I arrived in Canada for a six month visit I discovered that I really enjoyed the country and its can do attitude and my money went a lot further.

In my last week here before returning to Scotland I was asked how I'd enjoyed my visit and I waxed lyrical on how much I'd enjoyed it. I was then asked why I didn't come here to live. It wasn't something I'd even considered but when asked that question I though why not? So I headed down to the immigration folk to have a chat about what was possible and they really made is so easy to emigrate that I just did it and have to say I've not regretted that decision.


3) What is your job/sector and how many countries have you lived in?

I am a web publisher and run Scotland's largest history web site which is all about the history of Scotland and the Scots at home and abroad.

I have lived and worked in around 9 countries mostly North America, and Europe but also in the Med. Running a business in Scotland I had to work with people throughout Europe but also in the Med and in Scandinavia and Africa and took time to visit these countries to better understand my customers.


4) Do you crave Irn Bru when you’re homesick?

Sometimes but often the Irn Bru is served up in bottles and it's often flat as a result.

..when I find cans I do keep a stock of it.


5) What do people in your host country think of Scots and Scotland?

In Canada, where I now live, they love the Scots and indeed there are some 4 million folk of Scots descent in Canada. Nova Scotia, PEI and Cape Breton are very Scottish and they speak Gaelic but you can't go anywhere in Canada without finding Scots. In many ways it was Scots that created Canada and given Canada's performance through this global depression it shows how old Scots standards proved to be the reason Canadian banks are doing very well indeed as is the economy.


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6) How do you feel about Scotland now that you’re gone?

I'm sad that we are not showing any real initiative. To me there are huge opportunities out in the world for Scots and Scots companies and in my view there are billions in new business to be had but lack of innovation and out of the box thinking are holding Scotland back.

Like there are some 300 Highland Games each year in North America but never do you see Scottish Tourism or Business represented at these events; a huge missed opportunity in my view.


7) What do you miss most and least about the auld country?

To be honest I don't miss much other than some good friends. There are many Scots butchers around so I can still get my Scots Pies, bacon, square sausage, etc.

What I miss least is the weather.


8) What about the independence referendum coming up? How will it affect you and Scotland’s international image?

Right now I firmly believe that Scotland can be an independent country and prosper. I do have reservations about how the country would be run. Right now it seems from an international point of view that there are considerable reservations about an independent Scotland.

Internationally it makes a lot of sense to be in NATO but seems Scots have a very different view and that is causing concern. Either way it won't affect me but depending on how Scotland is run it could dent our image abroad.


9) Describe Scotland in three words!

Beautiful, Historic, Unbusinesslike


10) Do you have any plans for living in Scotland again and have you got a message for Scots back home?

I don't plan to live in Scotland again.

My only message for Scots is to work hard and think out of the box as there are billions to be made in tourism, exports and inward investment but lack of initiative in all those sectors is holding you back. Were I a local Scot I'd be questioning the work of Visit Scotland, the Scottish Chamber of Commerce and Scottish Enterprise. It just seems to me they could all be doing a lot better than they are.

That's really why so many Scots left Scotland as they could obtain a much better life abroad and that includes England. At the end of the day Scotland needs more tourism, more exports and more inward investment and all that means working with people outside Scotland.

I would also say that you should take time to learn of Scotland's history and its people.  Scots have done amazing things at home and abroad and if you take time to read some of the many biographies you can learn so much about how they were so successful. There are lessons there for Scots of today.


Do you know a successful Scot who lives outside Scotland and who Scottish Times can profile? If so contact Ina Göldenitz on or call 00 44 (0) 344 7570




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published this page in Scots Abroad 2012-08-08 10:37:00 +0100