Before she left for Canada, Ola gave hurried instructions to her co-workers in the tiny workshop, and above all to her mother, Minnie Gorie. It would be Minnie who kept the fledgling business going while Ola lived overseas.
Transatlantic phone calls were expensive in the 1960s, but Ola and Minnie were prolific correspondents – scores of their airmail letters to each other survive. They are full of news and stories about life in Orkney and Ontario, not least the birth of Ola and Arnie’s children: Ingrid in 1962, Shawn in 1964 and Neil in 1965.
Also included in the letters were Ola’s sketches and designs for new jewellery collections, which Minnie would develop with the workshop staff. The business continued to grow, and although demand was mostly still coming from local shops, there was definitely an interest in ‘what would Ola do next?’
What Ola and Arnie would do next – eventually – was return to Orkney. In 1969 Minnie and Patrick wrote to tell them that the premises next to Kirkness & Gorie’s grocery was coming up for sale. As it happens, it was a traditional jewellery and watch shop, run by William Brough. The Gories, being canny businesspeople, realised this would be an ideal base for Ola Gorie jewellery to be made and sold. The two halves of the family business would be side by side, in the shadow of St Magnus Cathedral. Existing customers of William Brough would surely keep coming in, and the growing number of people interested in Ola’s innovative designs would find her behind the counter, or through the back in the workshop that could be constructed there.
It would also mean their daughter and her family would come home from Canada.
And so it was, that in the bitterly cold winter of early 1969 – colder than anything they experienced in northern Ontario, Ola says – they moved back to Kirkwall, and into the flat above the shop. Renovation work began, and a new name for the shop was dreamt up: The Longship.
The connection to Orkney’s one-time Viking rulers was obvious. But The Longship also symbolised what Ola and Arnold intended to sell: the silver and gold treasure that was Ola Gorie Jewellery, and special design and craft from across the islands, and around the world. Their experience overseas had inspired and informed their vision, and they wanted to bring a little of that inspiration into everything they did now they’d come home.