Meanwhile, back in Scotland, Rod and Bella, married only a few months after Kenneth and Wilhelmina, were also beginning a family life. Their first two children were born in Balloch Cottage - Annie (usually known as Nancy) in October 1899 and John (named after his maternal grandfather) in September 1901. However, a couple of years later - in 1903 or 1904 - Rod moved his family from Knockfarrel into Strathpeffer, obtaining from the Cromartie Estates the lease of a small croft at Park, often referred to as West Park, on the western flank of the village. The little croft house was renamed 'Ussie Cottage', and there the third of their children, Alexander William (nicknamed 'Rab'), was born in March 1905. Park had been the scene of a famous battle between the MacDonalds and the Mackenzies at the end of the 15th century, but more recent imperial conflicts were in the minds of the locals when they called the area 'Khartoum' in recognition of the squabbling between neighbours that went on there.
Colin, Rod's younger and closest brother, had also been part of the life of the bustling village, having worked on its construction as a stone mason. During the 1890s - when
he was in his early twenties - Colin established a small carting business in the village ( the rest of the family jokingly knicknamed him 'Colin Wordie' after the Perth-based firm, Wordie & Co, which was the biggest haulage contractor in Scotland at that time). However, the infant enterprise failed, and Colin left Strathpeffer for Glasgow, which was at the centre of a large industrial region, was the most rapidly-growing city in Britain, and proudly called itself the 'Second City of the Empire'. There was plenty of work for a mason there, not only in raising the stone-built tenements that were typical of the city's residential properties but also in sconstructing the many large public buildings in which the city fathers expressed Glasgow's municipal confidence and pride. Family tradition suggests that Colin was employed - at least for a while - on what was then the largest single civic building project -
the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, which was completed in 1901.
While working in Glasgow Colin met Marjory MacIntosh from Kingussie in Upper Speyside, who was in domestic service in the city. The two were married in September 1900 and lived on North Woodside Road, not far from the Kelvingrove Museum and the University. They had two children - Helen,
born in March 1901, and Alexander, born in December 1903.
A few years later, for reasons that are unknown, Colin and Marjory decided to emigrate to the USA. Colin arrived on Ellis Island in March 1909, after a crossing on the new
Cunard liner Mauretania from Liverpool. Having found accommodation on Washington Street in Hoboken, New Jersey, just across the river from Manhattan, he sent for Marjory and the children - who sailed directly from Glasgow on the Anchor Line's Caledonia, and arrived in New York in August 1909. Little is currently known about Colin and Marjory's new life - although they remained in contact with Rod and Bella in Strathpeffer, no family correspondence survives - but Colin apparently found plenty of work in the New Jersey-New York conurbation. The urban lifestyle of Colin and his family, who came to the USA with experience of Glasgow, must have been very different from that of Colin's cousins out on the Montana plains, whose formative experiences had been on the 'camp' of the Falkland Islands.
These Montana Munros now included Colin's first cousin and namesake, Colin MacLean Munro, who in 1904 had arrived in Seattle from Auckland, New Zealand, en route to join his brother Roderick and his several nephews and nieces. Of all members of the Munro family, Colin MacLean Munro was the one most directly associated with the imperialism of late Victorian Britain, in that he spent some time as a professional soldier. Others, it was true, had been attracted to the military life. Rod Munro of Knockfarrel, before his marriage to Bella, had enjoyed weekend soldiering with the Territorial [part-time reserve] battalion of the Seaforth Highlanders, the 'county regiment' for Ross-shire. However, unlike Rod, Colin MacLean Munro, saw active service. In 1888 the tailor from Beauly joined the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, signing on as 'Colin MacLean' and dropping his Munro surname. This attempt to hide his identity suggests that there may have been reasons other than weariness with tailoring (or Beauly) behind his decision to enlist.
Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders on parade
After basic training at Stirling Castle, he went out to Hong Kong to join the 1st Battalion on garrison duties, and spent the next two years as a member of 'C Company' in the grandiose Victoria Baracks that sat on a hill above the city on Hong Kong Island. Although military records show that 'Colin MacLean' occasionally performed regular military duties - such as guardhouse