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Archive for the ‘Genealogy’ Category

Little did our Clyde River History Committee know when we worked on cataloguing and photographing artifacts in our community museum two years ago that we were ahead of our time. The COVID-19 pandemic has launched many of us into a virtual world, which has made us, hopefully, much more comfortable with what it has to offer. Even though we are not sure when we will once again host history events at the community centre, we can bring you a virtual tour of our museum and heritage photo collections. I think we have something for everyone.

We invite you to view our artifacts and heritage photo albums. This virtual tour could make for an interesting interactive activity for all of us. Under each photo in the galleries, you will see a comment box. We would be delighted if you added any details, memories and stories as you view individual photos. We have also included a link to an audio exhibit, so you can sit back and listen as well.

We will be adding more photos over the next months, as we have almost 3000 digital photos in our collection which we plan to bring online.

 

Community Artifacts:

For any of you who have visited our physical museum, you know what an interesting collection we have and the memories and stories that come to mind as you view them. Some visitors have commented that it feels like a visit to their grandparent’s place. You will see a variety of items from Clyde River that were generously donated by local families and relatives living throughout Canada and the US. Items include cameras, handicrafts, school books, autograph books, blankets, community store items, tools and personal items. Link here to view gallery.

 

Cups & Saucers:

Most all of our cup and saucer collection was donated to the museum by Elizabeth Osborne. It was her mother’s, Olive (Livingstone) Osborne who grew up on the Baltic Road. However, I think many of you will quickly recognize that the patterns resemble your own mother’s or grandmother’s collection. Our history committee member Rowena Stinson has a vast knowledge of cups and saucers, so if you have any questions, please let us know and we will do our best to answer them. Link here to view gallery.

 

North River Rink Hockey:

One of our most popular photo galleries in the history of our website has been Memories of North River Rink, so this could be a good time for the men in our audience to look through the gallery and offer comments and stories on individual photos. You will definitely find many people you know. We added names under the photos to assist you. Link here to view gallery.

 

War History:

The Great War: For war history buffs, we have something for you as well. You can read letters written by a soldier from The Great War and listen to each of the letters voiced by Alan Buchanan. Even in our two months of lockdown, which is a mere glimpse of how our society can be interrupted by a world event, I think we will have even more appreciation of the unbelievable resilience these solders had, along with their families waiting at home. They went in thinking they were only going to fight a war for a few months and go home. To read and listen, link here.

WWII Naval History: For naval history buffs, here is a story and photos from HMCS Prince Henry on patrol off the coast of South America. Link here.

 

Genealogy:

Next to hockey, our most popular stories relate to genealogy. Here are a few links that will satisfy the genealogist in the family, if they happen to have any connections to our area. We regularly receive emails from those researching family history. Our committee loves to help out and we have accumulated quite a bit of knowledge along the way. And what we don’t know, we usually know someone who does.

  • Clyde River Pioneer Cemetery with photos – link here
  • McArthur Cemetery with photos – link here
  • Cemetery stories – link to category of stories here.
  • Genealogy stories – link to category of stories here.

 

General Community History:

Scrapbooks: Here are stories and photos from community scrapbooks – link here.

General stories related to Clyde River and area history: We now have over 700 stories on our site and 460 of those stories are related to history, so we invite you to delve in to our online library of stories – link here.

The Clyde River History Committee would like to thank you all for your contribution to our physical and virtual museum. We hope you enjoy your visit.

 

Want to contribute to our Virtual Museum?

If you have artifacts or heritage photos that you would like to add to our collection, please let us know. Set aside any artifacts you wish to donate until after the pandemic, but please send any scans of heritage photos to clyderiverpei@eastlink.ca in the meantime.

If you are interested in sharing photos of artifacts that will remain in your family’s collection, we would love to see snapshots of them for interest sake and make them a part of our virtual gallery – we will just indicate that they are part of a private collection. A few photo hints: if it is a small piece, just set on a white sheet in a naturally lit area and take a landscape style photo. If it is a larger piece, take a landscape shot of the object using natural lighting. We can always adjust and crop photos after. If you have any questions, please let us know.

 

Interested in participating in a Virtual History Huddle?

We would be open to hosting an online history circle (huddle) if there is enough interest. We could use a platform such as GoToMeeting or Zoom. We would definitely be happy to organize. We could establish a theme and each participant could share their research/comments on the topic. It could be an interesting experiment, as we have a broad geographic website audience. If you are interested, please email clyderiverpei@eastlink.ca and let us know what subjects you would be interested in discussing. The only criteria is it would have to some how relate to the history of Clyde River and area. Depending on the topic, we could invite a special guest with expertise in the area.

In the meantime, please enjoy the virtual museum tour and stay safe.

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Saturday, February 8th, 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. – Gary MacDougall, The News Media: A work in progress

Gary’s talk will touch on a history of the Charlottetown Guardian; the issue of fake news, then and now; and a look at the impact social media plays in our news consumption. Gary will also discuss some of the more unusual questions he fielded during his time serving as managing editor of The Guardian.

Gary MacDougall

Gary MacDougall is a retired P.E.I. journalist. He had a 47-year career in the newspaper industry, with over 20 of those years serving as managing editor of the Charlottetown Guardian. In 2017, he received an Atlantic Canada Journalism Award in the Lifetime Achievement Category. In 2013, MacDougall was awarded a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for his contributions to journalism on Prince Edward Island. He has recently published his second book, “Wayne Gray: A Man of Vision.” His first book, “Forbie,” was published in 2018 and has become an Atlantic Canada best seller. MacDougall and his wife, Ola, live in Cornwall, P.E.I. They have two sons and four grandchildren.


The Clyde River Lecture Series takes place at the Riverview Community Centre at 718 Clyde River Road. All presentations will be followed by refreshments and a social time. These events are a great chance to get out in the winter to learn about and discuss our interesting local history. Our museum will be open to view our collection of over 200 artifacts and heritage photos. For more information on this series, please contact Vivian Beer, vivian@eastlink.ca.

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The 8th Annual Clyde River Lecture Series will begin this Saturday. All are welcome.

Saturday, January 25th, 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. – Linda Jean Nicholson – Genealogy and Serendipity: Crossing the pond 

Linda Jean Nicholson (Guardian photo)

In September of 2019, Linda Jean travelled to England, Scotland, and Norway on a genealogical research trip. Her plan was to search for distant relatives in dusty archives and ancient cemeteries and, if time allowed, visit some local historical sites. What she also found were lovely people, beautiful scenery, and unexpected connections.  Linda Jean will share stories about her trip and the serendipity she experienced while walking where her ancestors once lived.

Linda Jean Nicholson is Executive Director of the PEI Senior Citizens’ Federation and a past President of the PEI Genealogical Society.  A certified genealogist, Linda Jean has been doing research for over 40 years and has authored several articles and books on Island history and genealogy. She was born and raised in suburban Boston, but all four of her grandparents originated from Prince Edward Island. She is currently working on her thesis for her Masters of Arts in Island Studies from UPEI on the development of the poor relief system on PEI.


The Clyde River Lecture Series takes place at the Riverview Community Centre at 718 Clyde River Road. All presentations will be followed by refreshments and a social time. These events are a great chance to get out in the winter to learn about and discuss our interesting local history. Our museum will be open to view our collection of over 200 artifacts and heritage photos. For more information on this series, please contact Vivian Beer, vivian@eastlink.ca.

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The Clyde River History Committee is pleased to announce our 8th Annual Clyde River Lecture Series that will begin on Saturday, January 25th. Topics will cover genealogy, news media and aging. Each year, we wonder if we can find yet more topics that connect with current interests, but that’s the interesting thing about history – there are layers upon layers of subjects to pursue. We always keep our ears open for ideas, so feel free to make suggestions for future. When we pick the three topics for a series, we try to pull out an overall theme. This year, as we move into a new decade, these presentations will offer us a chance to reflect on where we come from, how we make sense of the world we live in and how we can grow old well. We welcome you to join us.

 


Linda Jean Nicholson (Guardian photo)

Saturday, January 25th, 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. – Linda Jean Nicholson – Genealogy and Serendipity: Crossing the pond 

In September of 2019, Linda Jean travelled to England, Scotland, and Norway on a genealogical research trip. Her plan was to search for distant relatives in dusty archives and ancient cemeteries and, if time allowed, visit some local historical sites. What she also found were lovely people, beautiful scenery, and unexpected connections.  Linda Jean will share stories about her trip and the serendipity she experienced while walking where her ancestors once lived.

Linda Jean Nicholson is Executive Director of the PEI Senior Citizens’ Federation and a past President of the PEI Genealogical Society.  A certified genealogist, Linda Jean has been doing research for over 40 years and has authored several articles and books on Island history and genealogy. She was born and raised in suburban Boston, but all four of her grandparents originated from Prince Edward Island. She is currently working on her thesis for her Masters of Arts in Island Studies from UPEI on the development of the poor relief system on PEI.


Saturday, February 8th, 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. – Gary MacDougall, The News Media: A work in progress

Gary MacDougall

Gary’s talk will touch on a history of the Charlottetown Guardian; the issue of fake news, then and now; and a look at the impact social media plays in our news consumption. Gary will also discuss some of the more unusual questions he fielded during his time serving as managing editor of The Guardian.

Gary MacDougall is a retired P.E.I. journalist. He had a 47-year career in the newspaper industry, with over 20 of those years serving as managing editor of the Charlottetown Guardian. In 2017, he received an Atlantic Canada Journalism Award in the Lifetime Achievement Category. In 2013, MacDougall was awarded a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for his contributions to journalism on Prince Edward Island. He has recently published his second book, “Wayne Gray: A Man of Vision.” His first book, “Forbie,” was published in 2018 and has become an Atlantic Canada best seller. MacDougall and his wife, Ola, live in Cornwall, P.E.I. They have two sons and four grandchildren.


Saturday, February 22nd, 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. – Olive Bryenton, Ph.D. – Pioneers in Aging

Olive Bryanton, Ph.D. (Guardian Photo)

Combining her lifelong interest in older adults and lifelong learning, Olive graduated with her PhD in Educational Studies at UPEI in May 2019. Her study topic was “Pioneers in Aging: Women Age 85 and Older Living in Rural Prince Edward Island.” Olive will talk about the 10 women in her study and their experiences and continued contributions to rural communities. Because these women consented to participate in her study knowing they would not be anonymous, she has their permission to make them visible. By telling some of their stories we will learn why we are fortunate to have these “pioneers in aging” living in our communities and how their voices contributed to a new program for older adults living in this province.

Olive Bryanton grew up and spent the early part of her married life in Malpeque and Summerside. She spent most of her life in Hampshire, where she and her husband Harold raised their five children. Olive began her university educational journey as a mature student and continued her studies into older adulthood.


The Clyde River Lecture Series takes place at the Riverview Community Centre at 718 Clyde River Road. All presentations will be followed by refreshments and a social time. These events are a great chance to get out in the winter to learn about and discuss our interesting local history. Our museum will be open to view our collection of over 200 artifacts and heritage photos. For more information on this series, please contact Vivian Beer, vivian@eastlink.ca.

Editor’s Note: Here are links to our past 22 lectures:

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McArthur Family Cemetery

At our Cemeteries History Circle this past Saturday, the McArthur Family Cemetery in Churchill was mentioned quite a few times. Many commented that most would not know it existed. A few of us from the Clyde River History Committee decided to explore it this week and feature it on our site. We welcome anyone with knowledge of the cemetery to connect with us to ensure that this sacred space is not forgotten. As we receive more details, we will update this article. We would love to hear stories about the people buried here so we can add brief bios. Please feel free to use comments section below or email clyderiverpei@eastlink.ca.

McArthur Family Cemetery

There is no signage. It is the second laneway to the left off Peters Road in Churchill. You will know the path as there are deep tracks leading up through the forest, making it necessary to leave our vehicle and walk approx. 200 metres. We thought the cemetery would be overgrown, but we were pleased to see it was recently cleared, so we had easy access to view stones. Jean and Sharon McLean gave us a list in advance with names that they were able to identify from viewing stones a few years ago. So further to what you will find on Historic Places here, the following is the Mclean list of identified names and details. The photos are from our visit this week.

The first stone in McArthur Family Cemetery remembers Donald and Christy’s five children who died of Diphtheria

Children of Donald and Christy McArthur were the first to be buried in this cemetery. Five of their children died within 7 days with Diphtheria in 1879:

John A. died Sept 19, 1879, age 14

Nicholas, died Sept. 16, age 6

Catherine A, died Sept. 19, 1879, age 6

Donald A., died Sept. 22, age 8

Angus died Sept. 22, age 2

The remaining names appear in alphabetical order:

Cann, Mrs. Ann, died April 1, 1912, age 92; Charles McL. Cann, died April 15, 1887, age 27

MacArthur, Charles, died Dec. 30, 1894, age 47

MacArthur, Donald, died August 14, 1899, age 64; his wife Christy, died April 16, 1909 (Notes: : Christy McLean was from Clyde River. They were married Jan. 21, 1868.)

McArthur, John, died December 14, 1888, age 25; also his uncle Duncan McArthur, died March 18, 1887

McArthur John, died April 29, 1895, age 70; his children Donald, Lauchlin, Ewen, Margaret Ann, Katie, Donald, Alfred, Ethel, Marion & Christina

McArthur, John & Donald – In memory of John died March 13, 1886, age 23; Donald died Oct. 5, 1887, age 25, beloved sons of Nicholas and Maria McArthur. “God in his wisdom has recalled the boon his love had given. And though the body slumbers here the soul is safe in heaven.” (Note: Donald died of Consumption – source: http://www.islandnewspapers.ca)

McArthur, Mary E, died Dec. 28, 1891, age 27 (part of stone leaning on the base); Catherine M. died Feb. 4, 1898, age 29 (this looks like the bottom of a stone which was lying on ground) daughters of Nicholas and Maria McArthur (Notes: Their eldest daughter Ann McArthur died at 17 years on Dec. 13, 1874; confirmed Catherine M. died on Feb. 4, 1898 – source: http://www.islandnewspapers.ca)

McArthur, Nicholas, died Jan. 2, 1905, age 80; his wife Maria McLean, died Nov. 28, 1912, age 85

McArthur, Peter, died June 31, 1892, age 38

McLean, Charles, died July 16, 1881, age 65; his wife Mary McArthur, died April 1, 1906, age 85

McQuarrie, Archibald, died Dec. 5, 1891, age 48; his wife Catherine 1852-1936

Rogerson, Allan L., 1834-1918; his wife Catherine, 1842-1920; son J.A.C. Rogerson, 1868-1901; daughters Barbara Grace, 1873-1882; Ada May, wife of A.A. Pollard, 1883-1916; James D. Rogerson – 1879-1962; granddaughter Emma, 1905-1906 (Notes: Catherine Kitty Shaw born March 14, 1844 (1901 census) in Bonshaw married Allen Rogerson of Crapaud on March 26, 1862. Catherine died 1920 and Allen died 1918. They are buried in the MacArthur Cemetery, Churchill, PE. Allan was the son of John Rogerson and his wife Mary Ann Allan. He was born October 1835 in Dumfries, Scotland. They had the following children: 3 males and 8 females. Catherine Kitty Shaw was the first child and daughter of John Shaw and Margaret Isabella Matheson and granddaughter of Archibald and Catherine Bell. Source: Island Register)

Committee notes:

  • This cemetery is located on land once owned by Donald and Christy McArthur.
  • The first burial date is 1879 and the latest burial date is 1962.
  • We saw remnants of an old wooden fence in the nearby forest, so, at one time, there must have been a fence around the cemetery.
  • The cemetery has been very recently cleared – we are not sure by whom, but we would like to acknowledge their good work.
  • We acknowledge Jean and Sharon McLean for transcribing information from stones.
  • It is a very beautiful and peaceful location. There were a few tiger lilies at some of the graves.
  • The straightest headstone is the earliest one in remembrance of the five McArthur children.
  • If the deep tracks were filled in the lower part of laneway, the cemetery could be accessible by car, but it is a lovely walk.

The following is a gallery of the stones with captions of names and details (click on any photo to advance through gallery):

 

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The Clyde River History Committee will host a Cemeteries History Circle this coming Saturday, August 24th, 1:30-3:30 p.m. at the Riverview Community Centre, 718 Clyde River Road in Clyde River.

We are focusing on cemeteries within the area that have historical connections to Clyde River. This takes in communities extending anywhere from Emyvale/Riverdale, Bonshaw/Appin Road, Argyle Shore/Canoe Cove, Nine Mile Creek/Cumberland to North River/Warren Grove and all communities in between. There were also early pioneers buried in the Old Protestant Burying Ground in Charlottetown and with ancestral connections to those buried in Belfast area cemeteries. We would also be very interested in identifying cemeteries and family names of ancestral connections buried outside of PEI e.g. Boston/Quincy area, Western Canada, New Zealand and Australia or any other areas as this helps to tell the broader story of family connections and migration.

We have identified at least 32 cemeteries in the local area that range from larger ones still in use to pioneer and family plots. We invite participants to take along any research, so we can compare notes and help each other to solve any mysteries or gaps in research.

We will provide tables to display research, photos, artifacts, and family trees. If family trees indicate where ancestors are buried, that would be even more valuable to the group.

The history circle will begin with an overview of our objectives for the afternoon which includes collaborating to increase our historical knowledge of cemeteries in the area. We will ask participants to introduce themselves and highlight their areas of knowledge/research of specific cemeteries and identify what they would like to learn from the session. For others who have not yet conducted research, they can identify those cemeteries of particular interest and any questions they would like answered. This feedback will form the discussion outline for the afternoon, beginning with topics of high interest. Those with research notes will have a chance to share their knowledge.

Following our history circle discussions, there will be an informal time where participants can chat with each other over refreshments, visit the table display and Clyde River’s museum featuring artifacts and photos.

We look forward to meeting you next week. If you have any questions in the meantime, please email vivian@eastlink.ca.

For a list of cemeteries and related stories on our site, please link to our earlier story.

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Pioneer Cemetery in Clyde River

The Clyde River History Committee will be hosting a Cemeteries History Circle on Saturday, August 24th from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the Riverview Community Centre. We have chosen a summer date as we thought it would be a good time of year to also welcome those home from away who are interested in cemetery research and have local ancestral connections.

We are focusing on cemeteries within the area that have historical connections to Clyde River. This takes in communities extending anywhere from Emyvale/Riverdale, Bonshaw/Appin Road, Argyle Shore/Canoe Cove, Nine Mile Creek/Cumberland to North River/Warren Grove and all communities in between. There were also early pioneers buried in the Old Protestant Burying Ground in Charlottetown and with ancestral connections to those buried in Belfast area cemeteries. We would also be very interested in identifying cemeteries and family names of ancestral connections buried outside of PEI e.g. Boston/Quincy area, Western Canada, New Zealand and Australia or any other areas as this helps to tell the broader story of family connections and migration.

We have identified at least 32 cemeteries in the local area that range from larger ones still being used to pioneer and family plots. We invite participants to take along any research they have, so we can compare notes and help each other to solve any mysteries or gaps in research.

Our committee thought this event would be a great opportunity to broaden our network of historical enthusiasts/researchers and genealogists and to capture interesting stories about early settlers and founding families among our communities. We think it will be valuable to identify who is researching local, complementary topics, as this can ultimately help each of us gather a fuller historical picture.

We realize this is an ambitious adventure, so we will likely stay fairly high level and not delve too directly into specific family trees. However, the event will be a good opportunity for you to connect with those who are researching similar family trees which you could collaborate with after event.

We welcome you to RSVP for this event, but it’s not necessary. It would be very helpful to the committee if you could let us know you are planning to attend and what your specific interest/research is of any cemeteries in our area. It will assist us in customizing the format for the afternoon to best meet the interests of the audience. You can RSVP by adding a comment below or by emailing clyderiverpei@eastlink.ca.

We also welcome non-researchers who are interested in listening to the conversation. Sometimes we don’t realize how many stories have been passed down to us which may hold the clue to advance local historical research. That’s the fun of history. It’s like a large jigsaw puzzle and the missing pieces drive us to learn more.

For reference, here is the list of cemeteries in the area and a few stories that have been featured on our site:

  1. Appin Road Cemetery
  2. Argyle Shore Cemetery
  3. Bonshaw Pioneer Cemetery
  4. Brookfield Presbyterian Cemetery
  5. Canoe Cove Presbyterian Cemetery
  6. Old Protestant Cemetery (only aspect that connects to Clyde River ancestors) – story here
  7. Churchill Presbyterian Cemetery – story references pioneers
  8. Stewart Family Plot, Strathgartney – story references Stewart family
  9. MacArthur Family Plot, Peter’s Road
  10. Clyde River Burnside Presbyterian Cemetery – story here
  11. Clyde River Baptist Church Cemetery
  12. Clyde River Pioneer Cemetery – story listing all visible stonesstory 2, story 3
  13. West River United Church Cemetery, Cornwall
  14. Newson Pioneer Cemetery, Ferry Road
  15. Dockendorff Pioneer Cemetery. York Point Road
  16. St. Martin’s Roman Catholic Cemetery, Cumberland
  17. East Wiltshire Baptist Cemetery
  18. St. Anne Roman Catholic Cemetery, Emyvale
  19. Hampshire United Methodist Cemetery
  20. Kingston United Church Cemetery – story here
  21. Howard Christian Cemetery, Kingston – story 1story 2
  22. Long Creek United Baptist Cemetery
  23. Saint Thomas Anglican Cemetery, Long Creek
  24. Long Creek Pioneer Cemetery
  25. Hyde and Crosby Pioneer Cemetery – story on Hyde pioneers, story on Crosby pioneers
  26. St. John’s Anglican Cemetery, Miltonvale
  27. New Dominion United Church Cemetery
  28. Ladner Family/Old Garden Cemetery
  29. Port-la-Joye Cemetery, Rocky Point
  30. St. Catherine’s Pioneer Cemetery – story 1, story 2
  31. MacEachern Family Cemetery, St. Catherines
  32. James Warren Pioneer Cemetery, Warren Grove

Additional articles/sites referencing genealogical connections:

If some of the family researchers in our website audience can only connect with us virtually, we welcome you to send along any information that you think would be helpful for us in our history circle discussions and, also, feel free to send along any questions you would like us to ask the group which will assist in your own research.

It is our hope that we will develop an excellent list of contacts from this event and this initiative will add value to our individual research efforts.

We look forward to seeing you on Saturday, August 24th at 1:30 p.m. For more information, please contact Vivian, Chair of Clyde River History Committee at vivian@eastlink.ca. We also welcome attendees to visit our museum that features over 200 artifacts and also several heritage family photos. This history circle will take place at Riverview Community Centre at 718 Clyde River Road. Refreshments will be served.

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Burnside Church

Burnside Presbyterian Church in Clyde River is pleased to invite you to their annual cemetery service on Sunday, July 29th, 7:00 p.m.

Burnside is caretaker of the cemetery that has been in use since 1861, with a new section added in 1962. As the cemetery grows, so does the list of families who are connected to the cemetery.

The cemetery committee has endeavoured to find the names of descendants who have a loved one(s) buried there. Their wish is to include all those people who have a connection to this cemetery to attend their July 29th service.

Having their service at 7:00 p.m. in July allows us to still have sunlight that will make it possible for visitors to visit the grave of their loved one. We are planning an uplifting service of remembrance with special music and a time for refreshments and visiting. There will also be musical accompaniment as visitors enter and leave the church. The service will finish at 8:00 p.m. and visitors are then welcome to the Riverview Community Centre across the road for refreshments.

They welcome you to attend with friends and relatives to remember your loved ones that have gone from your everyday life, but who clearly live on in your memories. While death may be sad, remembrance is not.

Remembrance

We talk openly of life.
Of joyful times we had.
And the joyful times we will have together.
Death gives no joy. It has no voice.
We have muted it because there are no more time to have together.
While the remembrance of death is painful, the remembrance of those who lived,
those we loved, is joyous.
They have left footprints implanted in our minds, in our hearts,
and in the very essence of our being that shall remain forever.
Death is sad. Remembrance is not.
So, let us remember their lives. Forever.

Author, Patrick Cunningham

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Clyde River History Committee member Joanne Turner has found another gem about the early history of the James McCabe family that settled in what would become Pictou County, Nova Scotia in 1767, 251 years ago. The writer of this family history, Layton McCabe (1854-1944), married Annie Tyler Fraser (1871-1953) of Clyde River and his brother Spurgeon McCabe married her sister Harriett Crawford Fraser. Annie and Harriet were sisters of Edith Rebecca Fraser who married Charles D. MacLean. An earlier story on the MacLeans of Meadowbank is featured here. The history of the Fraser family on the Linwood Road was featured in, “The Old Homestead on the Linwood Road”.

Although the following writing is about the Fraser in-laws’ heritage, we do share ancestral connections to Pictou County, and the early stories of settlement would present similar challenges no matter which side of the strait one landed. So let’s take a little visit over to Pictou and back two centuries.

Hardships of Pioneering in 1767 – written by Layton McCabe

From different sources, but chiefly from Reverend George Patterson’s history of the settlement by pioneers of Pictou County, N.S., I have gathered the following facts in regard to the coming of our great, great-grandfather, James McCabe, a man who had been educated in Ireland for a Roman Catholic priest, but instead, had become acquainted with and married a Protestant girl of a good family of some means, and had emigrated from Ireland to a British colony in Pennsylvania, North America, some time previous to 1767. (He notes that it may have been only a short time previous, or it may have been fifteen or twenty years.)

At this time there was a small town at Halifax, a village at Truro, and settlers had taken up land on the St. John River, and had occupied the borders rich in marshlands of the Bay of Fundy. But, as yet, there were no European settlers on the north shore of Nova Scotia from the Strait of Canso to Bay Verte, and possibly as far as the Miramichi River.

Large grants of land were held by companies farther south in which is now the United States of America, who were continually sending out families to occupy their lands in Nova Scotia. Such a land company in Philadelphia, who owned a large tract of land in Pictou County gave a power of attorney to John Wykoff of Philadelphia (merchant), and Dr. John Harris of Baltimore empowering them to sell, in the name of the company, their lands on such terms as they should see fit. They also dispatched a small brig called “The Hope”, Capt. Hull of Rhode Island, with six families of settlers, with supplies of provisions for their use. One of these families was that of James McCabe, his wife and six children, one servant and two slaves.

The Hope sailed from Philadelphia toward the end of May, 1767, called at Halifax to get information regarding the coast round to Pictou. They reached Pictou on June 10th.

The people of Truro had heard of their coming, and five or six young men set out through the woods to meet them to aid in building camps and commencing operations. Two of these young men were Thomas Troop and Ephriam Howard. These young men in passing two of the mountains on the western border of the country named one Mt. Thom and the other Mt. Ephraim (names by which they are still known).

Reaching the harbour on the same afternoon in which the vessel arrived, they made large fires on the shore to attract attention of those onboard, who seeing them, supposed them to be made by natives of whom they stood in terror. The vessel accordingly stood off, and on, until next morning, when they saw by the aid of spy glasses that they were men who cheerfully hailed them. During the night, a baby boy was born, who lived to grow up, and who died in 1809, and was buried in Pictou graveyard, where his monument may still be seen, describing him as “the first settler English-born in Pictou County”.

At the time of the arrival of these first settlers of Pictou, a great unbroken forest-covered the whole surface of the country down to the water’s edge, pine and hemlock and spruce on all the lower levels, and hardwood, birch, maple and beech farther up on the highlands.

The natives had been hostile to the new settlers up to this time claiming the land and constantly tried to prevent their settlement on the north shore of Nova Scotia. The small group of settlers spent the first night on shore under the trees, without even a camp, feeling lonely and discouraged at the prospect of toils and danger before them, and made up their minds when daylight arrived to go on board the little vessel and return to Philadelphia, but when morning came, there was no vessel to be seen. The captain and the land agent had slipped out of the harbour in the night and left them to their fate.

So with mattocks (an axe on one side and a hoe on the other) they commenced the erection of rude huts in which to live. A half-acre was assigned to each family, and they thus proceeded to lay out a town and Lot no. 1 being James McCabe’s, he immediately set to work to clear his half-acre, which he accomplished, his descendants boasting that he cut down the first tree felled by a new settler in Pictou County. He cleared his land by digging away the earth from the small trees and cutting the roots, hauling them out into the tide water to be carried away by the current.

He planted his lot of potatoes, using a mattock, placing the seed under the moss, which served as manure. The land seemed poor, and the tubers did not grow larger than potato balls. The settlers later got farm lots, McCabe having been shown better land up the West River about five miles, a place now called Loch Broom.

Owing to having been educated as a priest, McCabe gained an influence over the natives, who led him to take up land where they claimed was more fertile, which proved to be true. But he, being Roman Catholic, could not hold a title to any land, as the company’s grant bound them to settle their lands with Protestants, and for this reason the deed of his land was made in his wife’s name; her maiden name had been Anne Petigrew. The six families with their six lots was the beginning of the town of Pictou.

In the following Spring, 1768, the settlers having no seed potatoes had to go to Truro, on foot, by a blazed trail, a distance of fifty miles or more, requiring three days to go, and three to return, each man bearing a bag of seed potatoes on his back. This seed produced a quantity of good potatoes, but these were consumed almost before the winter set in, leaving the families only way of procuring food by hunting and fishing. Moose and bear and rabbits were plentiful, the meat of which was used for food, while the skins were used for clothing and footwear.

They also added to their larder by fishing in the streams and lakes for salmon and trout, which were plentiful, but were often taken from them by the natives who claimed all the land and all the game. The natives would shoot to kill on the least provocation, but the native women would often go out of their way to warn the settlers not to come near their camps when there was danger.

In the Spring of 1769, the settlers had to once more make the long wearisome trip to Truro for seed potatoes, but this time they cut the eyes out, and thus succeeded in carrying back a larger supply which produced enough food during the following winter, with seed enough left for another year’s crop.

I visited the old homestead where James McCabe settled at Loch Broom; on my last visit to Nova Scotia, I found the sixth generation of the name now occupying the farm. It was very interesting to me to be shown over the place, to see the old relics, some of which had been brought from Ireland so long ago, and also to be shown the spot where the first Presbyterian Church was built in Pictou County, the land donated by an old pioneer, and where the people are now about to erect a monument.

The present dwelling house is a three-story French-roofed building, and the land produces good crops, especially hay.

These lines give us an idea of the hardships and dangers endured by our forefathers in carving out homes for future generations.

Layton McCabe, Alexandra, PEI

More resources:

  • The Hope People
  • History of Pictou
  • The Log Church at Loch Broom – The current Log Church at Loch Broom is a replica of the original built in 1787. Under the direction and initiative of Rev. Frederick Pauley a stone cairn was erected and unveiled on August 15, 1965 to mark the site of the church. The land for the cairn and the church was donated by Alvin McCabe – a direct descendant of James McCabe – the pioneer who donated the property for the original log church. July 29, 1973, as a result of the dedication and untiring efforts of numerous volunteers and Rev. Pauley, construction of the replica log church was completed. (sourcePhotos of the Loch Broom log church
  • Genealogy: James McCable married Ann Pettigrew, 2nd generation – John McCabe married Eleanor Moore; 3rd generation – James McCabe married Nancy Whidden; 4th generation – Edward McCabe married Sarah Higgins, 5th generation – Jacob Layton McCabe married Annie Tyler Fraser of Clyde River.
  • The writer of this article, Layton McCable, was born in Higginsville, NS, where his mother Sarah Higgins was born. He later lived in Alexandra, PEI.

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Pioneer Cemetery

All residents interested in the future of our local Pioneer Cemetery are invited to a meeting at the Riverview Community Centre on Thursday, September 28th at 7:00 pm.  The cemetery is in need of some care and maintenance. This meeting will be an opportunity to review that work as well as discuss interest in a plan on how to support the cemetery going forward.

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