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Clow’s Store

What struck me most by Verna Clow’s presentation is the great fondness that the audience of almost 100 had for Verna and her family’s country store, many of whom were customers or staff of this family business that is into its 77th year. Others were recalling the community stores that they grew up with. As much as Costco, Walmart, Sobeys and Superstore promote their level of customer service, they could not come close to the responsiveness and devotion that Clow’s store has provided its clientele over the years.

It’s clear to see why this store has survived along with the few other country stores we are lucky to find in communities. It’s an abundance of commitment. It’s long, long hours of hard work, flexibility to change with the times and a decent amount of good fortune. Of course, it helps when the next generation is keen to take over, and with that comes new and modern ideas. The generations of Clow children were raised in the store and given responsibility. They were made to feel vital to the store’s success. As much, the older generation knew when to stand back and when to offer support as the kids took the reins.

I am still smiling about the time when Bobby expanded the store, he found out he had encroached on the neighbour’s property, but as these matters are settled in the country, the Clow’s just gave their neighbour a piece of land off another boundary and instructed the lawyers to revise their deeds.

It’s not difficult to tell that Bobby married well. Verna said that they were 20 and 21 years of age when they got married and started their life off together working in the store. She’s seen a lot of changes. They went from not having to worry about such things as taxes and regulations. She says it is so much more complicated now, and administration has become a huge task. She recalls Bobby’s father just pulling the receipts out of the chest pocket of his overalls at the end of the week to review the week’s sales with his wife when they were still managing the store.

Verna says she still goes in a few days a week, as habits are hard to break. But there is another reason. It is what I saw on the faces of the folks in the room. These people, their parents, their kids – they grew up with the Clow family. It’s a precious memory and bond from their youth that still exists. It’s that level of customer service that you could never learn in business school.

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 10.15.27 AMWe welcome you to today’s history lecture.

Saturday, February 6th – 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. – Verna Clow – History of Clow’s Store – Country stores were an important part of the fabric within Island communities over the years. Many did not survive, but Clow’s Store in Hampshire is still thriving. Verna will talk about the history of their store from the early days when Albert Clow first founded it. Her presentation will include photos of the store over the years and how they changed with the times while maintaining strong customer loyalty. She will share some of her favourite stories.

Off to the Great War

World War 1 VeteransIn the Murray Diaries it mentions that there was a recruiting meeting at the community hall at the end of December 1915 and then the boys were off to Charlottetown for training in early January 1916. On the 18th, the community hosted a dinner at the hall for the boys before heading off. One hundred years later, we can still feel the worry that followed those boys.

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IMG_1967Reaching out to our audience to determine where descendants of Spencer 1806 passengers settled connected me to Margaret Bell, President of Clan MacMillan of PEI and Joyce Kennedy, described as “the keeper of all things genealogical.” Most of the passengers from the Spencer originally settled in Wood Islands, but the Darrachs who came on the Spencer settled in the Clyde River area. Margaret was not sure why, so there is a mystery to solve. Duncan Darrach’s wife, Margaret (Peggy), was the oldest daughter of Malcolm Hector MacMillan who is mentioned in the history below.

Margaret Bell sent me this history that Frank MacMillan had written and presented on August 29, 1998 at the gathering of the Clan MacMillan Society (PEI Chapter) at North Shore Community Centre in Covehead, PEI. This story offers us some insight into what life was like for immigrants to PEI in the early 1800s.

MacMillan Family of Wood Islands

As we celebrate our 8th annual gathering, our first thoughts turn to Thomas Douglas, 5th Earl of Selkirk. If not for him, we would not be gathered here today.

Lord Selkirk was a member of the gentry who prepared himself for the life of a country gentleman. He started a plantation building, studied crops and livestock, and learned the obligations of a lord to his tenants.

At the age of 28, as the younger son of a large family, he unexpectedly became the 5th Earl of Selkirk and inherited a considerable fortune. Selkirk and his wife, Jean, were very compassionate people and their hearts went out to the hundreds of poor highlanders whose homes and small land holdings had been confiscated for the Highland Clearances. Tenants living on low production agricultural land were replaced by a small number of shepherds tending the very profitable raising of sheep. At that time the demand for woolens and mutton had increased by leaps and bounds.

The Selkirk family became interested in the colonization of British North America and purchased a large tract of land on Prince Edward Island. Lord Selkirk brought many of the displaced highlanders to the Belfast and Wood Islands areas. The first wave of Selkirk settlers arrived on our shores in 1803 on the ships Polly, Dykes, and Oughten, followed by the ships Rambler and Spencer in 1806. Our Wood Islands MacMillans, natives of the Isle of Colonsay, were transported from the port of Oban, Argylleshire, Scotland, on the ship Spencer and they disembarked at Pinette on the 22nd day of September, 1806.  They wintered in quarters previously built for the 1803 immigrants.

During the winter of 1806-1807 at the Pinette settlement, Malcolm Hector MacMillan and his family built boats to carry them to Little Sands, where they hoped to establish a permanent settlement. Early one May morning they set sail for Little Sands and arrived in the late afternoon at a small beach below where the Pioneer Cemetery is located in Wood Islands West. They intended to continue on in the morning. Meanwhile, a couple of young men set out a net to catch some fish to supplement their diet. When they returned to retrieve their net, they found it not only full, but had sunk with the weight of the catch of herring. This resulted in their father, Malcolm Hector, deciding that they would remain in Wood Islands as there was such a good supply of fish, lobster and other shellfish.

There were no roads in Wood Islands at the time. Boats were their only form of transportation to Belfast. After a while a trail was made to Belfast where Malcolm Hector and his sons helped build the St. John’s Presbyterian Church. Family history tells us how the families walked barefoot all the way to Belfast to attend church each Sunday. When they reached the church they would put on their nice clean shoes which they had carried all the way. Life in the new colony was strict. The ministers in those days did not permit the chewing of spruce gum or reading anything but the Bible on Sundays. Any kind of levity whatsoever was frowned upon as inappropriate by the clergy coming from Scotland. Parents however allowed bundling boards to be used by their daughters and their boyfriends.

Daily hardships for the colonists were enormous. In the Wood Islands area previous forest fires had destroyed any large trees in the forests. Wigwams had to be built to serve as homes until such time as it was possible to build log cabins. Being used to wide open spaces did not prepare them for the terrors of the woods with its bears and other wild animals. Because of low lands they were plagued by mosquitoes and black flies. Days were long and work was very hard for both sexes. However, records report that for the most part the colonists were comparatively healthy and strong. They had to make their own entertainment with occasional ceilidhs with their nearby relatives and friends.

There was little in the way of medicine. A few Indian remedies and herbal treatments were all they had.  The only doctor in the whole area was Dr. Angus MacAulay in Belfast. Later, in 1810, Mrs. Allen MacMillan, a midwife, served as a practical nurse. Unfortunately she met an untimely death…after delivering a baby in Little Sands the sled that was taking her home broke through the ice and plunged her into the freezing water on an extremely cold day. She was rescued and taken to the nearest house a distance of some two miles, but perished shortly as the result of cold and shock. Women, apart from household chores and taking care of the children, were responsible for hand weaving material for all the family’s clothes.

Malcolm Hector’s son, Alexander (Sandy) decided to travel to Little Sands where he later became a mail courier for the federal government. He carried the mail from Wood Islands across the Northumberland Strait to Pictou, Nova Scotia. Ninety-nine times he crossed the strait in a small ice boat. Once he carried the mail all the way to Halifax, a distance of one hundred miles, in three days.

Lord Selkirk believed in the right of cultural minorities to preserve their own way of life and opposed the British government’s efforts to restrict emigration as a way of improving living standards. However, in Prince Edward Island the British policy of colonization was one of governing councils, public service and jurisdiction. The Selkirk settlers had their own local councils and ways and Lord Selkirk petitioned against Governor DeBarre in order to retain his colonists’ autonomy. Lord Selkirk founded his colonies based on the compassion and sympathy he held for the displaced highlanders. His greatest success was on Prince Edward Island.

After numerous attempts to establish colonies in Upper Canada and along the Red River he was forced to return to Scotland suffering from consumption. He used up most of his inheritance attempting to help the unfortunate highlanders. Lord Selkirk died in Pau, in southern France. It is said that at his death Lord Selkirk’s estate was in debt of 160,000 pounds, which is equal to approximately $3,000,000 Canadian dollars today. Of the three settlements, Prince Edward Island, Baldoon, and Red River, only Prince Edward Island was a success. A letter to Lord Selkirk from Prince Edward Island stated, “These poor people whom your lordship brought hither have universally bettered their condition, and are now by far the most independent settlement on this Island.  They are contented and happy.” It was in statements like this that his dreams were designed to end. But, of his three settlements and his three dreams, only the first was ending as it should.

Frank MacMillan biography:

Frank was the founding President of the Clan MacMillan PEI Chapter and devoted many years researching his family history. He was invested in the Community of the Tonsured Servant by Chief George G. MacMillan, Chief of the Clan MacMillan, Scotland, for his efforts in August 2001.

Leonard Cusack’s presentation was excellent yesterday and we had our highest turnout yet at 70 people, including folks with ancestral connections to staff or patients at the sanatorium in Emyvale. Leonard did a thorough job of capturing this important and all but forgotten time in our history in the book, A Magnificent Gift Declined: The Dalton Sanatorium of Prince Edward Island, available at the UPEI Bookstore.

So many young lives were cut short with TB in the early part of the last century and, in some cases, parents lost many of their children. To honour their brief lives, I thought we could gather some names of those from Clyde River and neighbouring communities on our website as a memorial.

Please send information to vivian@eastlink.ca. Include their names, parent’s or spouse’s name, the year of their death and their age or as much of this information as you have. We also welcome you to send photos and add any memories or stories you know of them. Please check back to this page as we build our memorial.

Amy and Albert Mayhew-Amy Ann Beer Mayhew, died 1904, age 29, daughter of James and Mary Ann (Livingstone) Beer, and her husband Alfred Edward Mayhew, died 1900, age 29. They were married in 1895. (picture featured)

“…He was patiently and tenderly nursed by his wife. Three years later her own health began to fall and it soon became apparent that the disease which has claimed her husband had fastened itself upon her, also.” (newspaper clipping)

-Angus and Jane Darrach lost seven children to Tuberculosis: Hector (age 19 1862), Sarah (age 30 1865), Mary (age 22 1866), Jane (age 19 1866), Angus (age 19 1866), Archibald (age 19 1870) and Duncan (age 26 1875). Buried St. Catherine’s Pioneer Cemetery

-In letters of Mary Ann MacDougall Darrach, she mentions in a March 17, 1903 letter the death of Mabel Cruwys from Kingston who lived in Boston and was only married 6 months to John Edwards before she died of consumption. Buried Kingston Cemetery.

I have been doing some research recently and taking a look at the list of passengers on the Spencer 1806, the voyage that brought my Darrach ancestors to PEI from Colonsay, Scotland. The family names are common to us in Clyde River, but many of these families settled in the Wood Islands area. The Darrachs and MacPhees (McDuff/Duffie) settled in the Clyde River and Dunedin area. We already know of Darrach descendants that went to Florida, New England states, Washington state and New Zealand.

In the age of the internet, I would be curious to determine where descendants of these families are living just over 200 years later. We invite descendants of the Spencer 1806 to connect with us either by adding a comment to this article or by emailing vivian@eastlink.ca. Please include the passenger name(s) you are a descendant of, where you live and, as Islanders, we like to hear a little interesting news. We know that we have a broad geographic audience, so this might be a good chance to hear from you. Also, if anyone knows where these ancestors on the passenger list were laid to rest, please add that as well. Feel free to forward this article to those who would have an interest in this project.

Spencer 1806 Passenger List – Names and ages at the time of passage from Colonsay to PEI:

  1. Bell, Angus 24 – son of Malcolm and Flora (McPhee) Bell
  2. Bell, Archibald 25 – Wood Islands Pioneer Cemetery
  3. Bell, Catherine 10
  4. Bell, Dougald 25 – married to Catherine McEacharn
  5. Bell, Duncan 7 – (1797-1877) – son of Dougald and Catherine (MacEachern) Bell
  6. Bell, Duncan 78 – married to Mary McDuff (MacPhee)
  7. Bell, Flora 9 – daughter of Dougald and Catherine (MacEachern) Bell
  8. Bell, Janet 18 – son of Malcolm and Flora (McPhee) Bell
  9. Bell, Janet 5 – daughter of John and Grace Bell
  10. Bell, John 3 – son of John and Grace Bell – married Sarah Darrach, Malcolm’s daughter
  11. Bell, John 40 – son of Malcolm and Flora (McPhee) Bell – married Marion Grace McCannel)
  12. Bell, Malcolm 65 – married to Flora McDuffie (McPhee) – 4 children
  13. Bell, Margaret 1.5 – daughter of John and Grace Bell
  14. Bell, Marion 34 – daughter of Duncan Bell – married to Donald McNeil
  15. Bell, Mary 13 – daughter of John and Grace Bell
  16. Bell, Mary 26 – married Hector MacMillan
  17. Bell, Nelly 12
  18. Brown, Flora 58 – married to Duncan Munn
  19. Brown, Nancy 23
  20. Buchanan, Flora 52 – married to Malcolm McEachern
  21. Campbell, Hector 30
  22. Campbell, John 1
  23. Campbell, Neil 3
  24. Currie, Catharine 22
  25. Currie, Catherine 26
  26. Currie, James 2 – Wood Islands Pioneer Cemetery
  27. Currie, James 25
  28. Currie, James 30
  29. Currie, Jane 21 – married to Dougald MacLean
  30. Currie, Janet 55
  31. Currie, Mary 7 mos. – daughter of Nancy (MacPhee) and James Currie
  32. Darroch, Angus 60 – Duncan’s father – Owned property on St. Peters Road – Old Protestant Burying Ground, University Ave., plot 42 – Descendants
  33. Darroch, Archibald 20 – Duncan’s brother – Married Jane McPhee – children were Angus (St Catherine’s Pioneer Cemetery) and Neil.
  34. Darroch, Catherine 30 – Duncan’s sister – married to Gilbert McAldridge (McAlder) – 4 children passengers
  35. Darroch, Duncan 28 – (1775-1853) – married Margaret MacMillan, oldest child of Malcolm and Grace MacMillan – first lived on Colville Road and then moved to Clyde River –  St. Catherine’s Pioneer Cemetery – Descendants
  36. Darroch, James 32 – Duncan’s brother
  37. Darroch, John 3 – Clyde River Presbyterian Cemetery – son of Duncan Darrach and Margaret McMillan – see note #3 below – Descendants
  38. Darroch, Malcolm 20 – (1786-1864) Covehead – see note #5 below – Descendants
  39. Darroch, Rachael 37 – Duncan’s sister
  40. Livingston, Margaret 32
  41. Livingston, Mary 32 – married to Malcolm McNeil – 4 children
  42. McAldridge, Alexander 5 – son of Gilbert and Catherine (Darroch) McAldridge or McAlder
  43. McAldridge, Gilbert 38 – married to Catherine Darroch
  44. McAldridge, John 1 – son of Gilbert and Catherine (Darroch) McAldridge or McAlder
  45. McAldridge, John 7 – son of Gilbert and Catherine (Darroch) McAldridge or McAlder
  46. McAldridge, Peter 3 – son of Gilbert and Catherine (Darroch) McAldridge or McAlder
  47. McAlister, Effy 60 – married to Angus Darroch – Old Protestant Burying Ground, University Ave.
  48. McDonald, Christian 36
  49. McDougald, Peter 33
  50. McDuff, Catherine 9 – daughter of Donald and Sarah McPhee
  51. McDuff, Donald 2.5 – son of Donald and Sarah McPhee
  52. McDuff, Dougald 17 – son of Donald and Sarah McPhee – later married Flora Shaw and had 11 children – lived in West River – son Donald had a shipbuilding business – McPhee’s Creek runs through property
  53. McDuff, Duncan 54 – aka Donald McPhee – married to Mary aka Sarah McNeil – 7 children, also passengers – settled in West River (Dunedin), PEI
  54. McDuff, Effy 5 – daughter of Donald and Sarah McPhee
  55. McDuff, Jane 14 – daughter of Donald and Sarah McPhee – married Archibald Darrach
  56. McDuff, Margaret 20 – daughter of Donald and Sarah McPhee
  57. McDuff, Mary 72 – Duncan (Donald) McPhee’s mother
  58. McDuff, Nancy 19 – daughter of Donald and Sarah McPhee – married to James Currie
  59. McDuffie, Flora 41
  60. McEacharn, Ann 19 – daughter of Malcolm and Flora (Buchanan) McEachern – married to Hector McNeill
  61. McEacharn, Archibald 30 – son of Malcolm and Flora (Buchanan) McEachern
  62. McEacharn, Catherine 27 – married to Dougald Bell – two children
  63. McEacharn, Donald 22 – son of Malcolm and Flora (Buchanan) McEachern
  64. McEacharn, Malcolm 58 – married to Flora Buchanan
  65. McEacharn, Malcolm 3
  66. McEacharn, Mary 28
  67. McEachern, Angus 12 – Cornwall United Church Cemetery?
  68. McEachern, Angus 32 – son of Malcolm and Flora (Buchanan) McEachern
  69. McEachern, James 1.5
  70. McEachern, Neil 7
  71. McLean, Alexander 2 – son of Dougald and Jane (Currie) McLean – Settled in Lot 16
  72. McLean, Allan 6.5 – son of Dougald and Jane (Currie) McLean – Settled in Lot 16
  73. McLean, Catherine 35
  74. McLean, Dougald 32 – married to Jane Currie
  75. McLean, Gilbert 3 mos. – son of Dougald and Jane (Currie) McLean
  76. McMillan, Alexander 14 – married Janet Bell
  77. McMillan, Betty 18 – daughter of Malcolm and Grace McMillan – married James Munn
  78. McMillan, Catherine 1 – daughter of Malcolm and Grace McMillan – married Malcolm Smith
  79. McMillan, Duncan 4 – son of Malcolm and Grace McMillan – married Mary Shaw
  80. McMillan, Flora 51
  81. McMillan, Flora 8 – daughter of Malcolm and Grace McMillan – married Magnus MacDonald – Wood Islands Pioneer Cemetery
  82. McMillan, Hector 13 – son of Malcolm and Grace McMillan – married Mary Bell
  83. McMillan, James 19 – son of Malcolm and Grace McMillan – married to Ann Munn – Wood Islands Pioneer Cemetery
  84. McMillan, Malcolm Hector 48 – aka Calum Eachan – married to Grisael (Grace) (McNeil) McMillan – 11 children
  85. McMillan, Malcolm 10 – married Christena Currie – Wood Islands Pioneer Cemetery
  86. McMillan, Margaret 26 – (1781-1853) – St. Catherine’s Pioneer Cemetery
  87. McMillan, Murdoch 55 – Malcolm’s brother – 1st person to be buried in Wood Islands Pioneer Cemetery – 1807
  88. McMillan, Sophia 3.5 – daughter of Malcolm and Grace McMillan – later married Donald Blue
  89. McMunn, Angus 31
  90. McNeil Malcolm 51 – married to Mary Livingston
  91. McNeil, Alex 26 – (1779-1863) – son of Dougald and Flora (McMillan) McNeil –  married Margaret McPhee (McDuff)
  92. McNeil, Charles 15 – son of Dougald and Flora (McMillan) McNeil –  St. Catherine’s Pioneer Cemetery
  93. McNeil, Donald 2 – son of Donald and Marion (Bell) McNeil – later married Mary McMillan – Wood Islands Pioneer Cemetery
  94. McNeil, Dougald, 60 – married to Flora McMillan
  95. McNeil, Grisael 40 – married to Malcolm McMillan – parents of Margaret McMillan Darrach – daughter of Hector and Ann (McEachern) McNeil – Wood Islands Pioneer Cemetery
  96. McNeil, Hector 27 – (1779-1838) – married to Ann McEachern
  97. McNeil, Isabella 7 – daughter of Dougald and Flora (McMillan) McNeil
  98. McNeil, John 14 – son of Hector and Ann (McEachern) McNeil – Wood Islands Pioneer Cemetery
  99. McNeil, Malcolm 5 – son of Donald and Mary (Livingston) McNeil
  100. McNeil, Mary 40
  101. McNiel, Donald 34 – son of Malcolm and Mary (Livingston) McNeil – married to Marion Bell
  102. McNiel, Dougald 12
  103. McNiel, Jennet – daughter of Hector and Ann (McEachern) McNeil
  104. McNiel, Margaret 21 – daughter of Dougald and Flora (McMillan) McNeil – married to Angus Munn
  105. McPhaden, Christine 27
  106. Munn, Ann 17 – daughter of Duncan and Flora (Brown) Munn – later married to James McMillan
  107. Munn, Catherine 7 mos.
  108. Munn, Duncan 60 –  married to Flora Brown – Wood Islands Pioneer Cemetery
  109. Munn, Effy 15 – daughter of Duncan and Flora (Brown) Munn
  110. Munn, James 20 – married to Betty McMillan – Wood Islands Pioneer Cemetery
  111. Munn, Malcolm 23
  112. Munn, Neil 28 – married to Catherine Currie – Wood Islands Pioneer Cemetery
  113. Patterson, Dolly 70
  114. Shaw, Donald 30 – married Angus Darroch’s daughter, Nancy

References and notes:

  1. They landed at Pinette on September 22, 1806 and stayed for the winter in quarters provided by Lord Selkirk. The following Spring, they moved to Wood Islands. They camped near the shore below where the pioneer cemetery was later located. Murdoch MacMillan was the first person to be buried there in 1807. – Genealogy of MacMillan Family
  2. History of Clan MacMillan
  3. More details at Colonsay Register
  4. McDuff’s and Mcduffee’s are McPhee’s
  5. Island Register – Duncan Darrach Family
  6. Could be Duncan Bell (Jr.) genealogy
  7. Malcolm Darrach’s son was a shipbuilder, built brig “Pakeha” and in December 1864, along with a crew and 32 passengers including his wife and family set sail for New Zealand. PEI Archives – Passenger List for Pakeha
  8. Wood Island’s Pioneer Cemetery
  9. Voyage of the Spencer, by Hector John Munn
  10. The Americans, the Earl of Selkirk, and Colony’s 1806 Emigrants to Prince Edward Island, John W. Sheets

Editor’s Note: Check back regularly to this article, as I will update information on passengers when I receive it from descendants. We are already receiving high interest in this project.

If this little social experiment works well, we can try this again with other ship passenger lists that have connections to Clyde River.

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