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History of Inverness County, Nova Scotia
Chapter XVII - West Margaree


This district is situate on the coast between the district line of Broad Cove Marsh at St. Rose and Margaree Harbour. The place is well adapted to farming and fishing. The front farms lie between a range of heights on the rear and the glistening waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. It is a pretty shore, affording unfailing chances for fishing salmon, cod, herring, mackerel, and lobsters. And the men are here, able and willing, to prosecute these callings of the sea.

The great lack here as elsewhere on the Inverness coast, is reasonable transportation facilities for the products of the sea, the farm and the mine. The soil on these shores is capable of large production, the harvest of the sea is at hand and boundless, there are two tested deposits of bituminous coal within five miles of each other, one at St. Rose, and the other at Chimney Corner; but none of these great natural resources can be properly developed, because there is no way of getting their products to market. There is no incentive to produce.

The harbour of Cheticamp could be made a good shipping port, in summer, provided the so-called Inverness Railway was extended from the town of Inverness to Eastern Harbour. We can see no hope of such railway extension in this county, until the national Government takes over the existing line between Point Tupper and Inverness town; or, until some powerful Corporation acquires the right to several, if not all, of our coastal coal areas, with a view to active operations under one management. Either of these alternatives, could give us the necessary means of transportation. Is either of them attainable? If not, a vast amount of national wealth and fuel will be lost forever to the great Canadian public. As to the estimated quantity of coal in our various areas along the coast,—see treatise on previous pages entitled "Notes on Geology".

The people of West Margaree are a mixed body of Protestants and Catholics, peaceful and fraternal in spirit, and all of them sound and loyal citizens of Canada. They come honestly by these ennobling qualities: their forefathers were rich in them. Nearly all the present settlers of this division are of Scottish descent. North of Margaree Harbour the inhabitants are practically all French, and further on we hope to be able to sketch the pioneers, in this region, of that noble and interesting race.

At Margaree Harbour, on the West side, there is a neat Presbyterian Church and a resident minister; also, a modern school house, a Custom House, a Post Office and Telegraph office, a very commodious Hotel, and several strong business houses. In the olden times there was a fleet of trading schooners owned here; but lately the scientific use of steam has driven this sailing craft clean off the seas. In this connection Margaree has lost seriously, inasmuch as the harbour has never been fitted to the needs of the steamship service.

A very pretty little place is Margaree Harbour. The natural scenery is uplifting. The roads are straight, clean and level. The little village, in its modesty, would seem to be hiding its face from you. On the one side are the placid waters of the harbour, reflecting the varied hues, tints and topography, of the bold surrounding heights; on the other side are the rich slopes of Whale Cove, gorging you with the spirituality of man's natural calling; in front of you is the beautiful beach and the grand curve of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, infusing into your being the wholesome tang of the salt sea, and from the rear there comes to you, down the glens and rivers, the gentle zephyrs of a land breeze laden with the bracing breath of the pines. Altogether, it is one of those places where you are constrained, nolens volens, to praise God in his works.

The principal business men of this district have been Henry Taylor, hereafter referred to, Samuel Lawrence, Alfred Taylor, John P. MacFarlane and A. W. Chisholm, all of whom are dead except the genial John P., who has long since retired from mercantile pursuits. The oldest of the present merchants of the Harbour is John Munro, who is also probably the strongest merchant in Inverness.


This man emigrated from Lochaber, Scotland, in 1818. He was of the Slioch-an-Taighe branch of the Keppoch MacDonalds and also a descendant of the Glendale MacDonalds. He was a man of some ability and education. He had been an hotel-keeper and a dry goods dealer in the Sireland. Coming to America with five hundred pounds Sterling, he, in 1824, acquired by purchase the fine farm at Margaree which afterwards was known as the "John Lord Farm". He was married to Mary McIntosh of Lochaber with issue: John, Donald, Angus Margaret, Mary and Jessie.

The daughter Margaret was married to Alexander MacDonald (Killiechonate) of S. E. Mabou, (see Glencoe); the daughter Mary to Donald Campbell of Black River (see Hillsborough), and the daughter Jessie remained unmarried. The three sons lived, laboured and died on the good old homestead. The comfortable home of "John the Lord" at Margaree was very widely known. It was a favorite place of call for the Scottish wayfarers of the olden times, particularly for the early Bishops and Catholic clergymen, who had occasion to visit Northern Inverness. No gentleman, rich or poor, lettered or unlettered, was ever sorry for calling.


Murdoch MacNeil, the first of that name to settle at Scotch Hill, was a native of Barra, Scotland. He purchased the farm on which he located here. Before leaving Barra he was married to Catherine MacNeil by whom he had four sons, namely: Roderick, Malcolm, John and James.

The son Roderick married a daughter of James MacDonnell (Ban) with issue: one son, Lauchlin, who remained on the homestead, and seven daughters, namely: Mary, who was married to the late Alexander MacDougall, Postmaster, of the Forks; Maggie to Hugh M. Coady of the Forks; Katie, who was the third wife of the late Dr. MacLennan, M.P., and lives in the town of Inverness, and Flora, who resides on the homestead with her brother.

Malcolm, (son of Murdoch) was married to a daughter of John Gillis (Gobha) of Margaree Forks, with issue, two sons and four daughters, namely: John on the farm, Roderick in the United States, Christy married to M. A. Dunn of Margaree Harbour; Maggie, married in Digby County to a Mr. Meallet; Annie married to a Mr. MacNeil of Sydney, and Mary at home.

John, son of Murdoch, was married to a Miss Fleming of N. E. Margaree, with issue: John, Murdoch and Lauchlin.

James, son of Murdoch, was, we think, the first native son of this county to qualify for the medical profession. In his day this Dr. James MacNeil was highly thought of as man, citizen and physician. He practised in his native district of Margaree, where he died unmarried in 1865.


The first MacLean to settle at Whale Cove was Hector, who was born in the Isle of Rum, Scotland. He was married in Scotland to Mary McIntosh and had a family of seven, all of whom came here with their parents, except one daughter who went to Australia. Hector (the father) purchased 347 acres of land at Whale Cove which he divided among his three sons, John, Donald and Kenneth. He bought another adjacent lot for his fourth son, Charles.

John, the first son of Hector, was locally known as "The Banker" on account of his notable thrift and his rare knack of saving money. He was married to a daughter of Alexander MacLean who came from Scotland to Whale Cove in 1830—the second settler there of whom further on.

"The Banker" had a family of eight children, namely: Allan, Alexander, Norman, Hector, Kenneth, Christina, Mary Ann and Mary. The daughter Christina was married to Henry Cranton of North East Margaree, Mary Ann died young, and Mary lived and remained to a good round age on the homestead. She was not married.

The oldest son, Allan, studied medicine and was one of the most neatly developed men we ever had in this County. He graduated from Harvard in the early seventies, after which he practised for several years in Port Hood in partnership with the late Honourable Doctor Campbell. In 1875 he went to his native district of Margaree where he practised till 1887 when he removed to West Bay which was then without a resident medical doctor. Here he remained, and practised acceptably, for the balance of his life. His death at a comparatively early age was a social and intellectual loss to Inverness County.

Alexander, the second son of "John the Banker" was married to Sarah MacLean, daughter of Charles MacLean, with issue, two sons and four daughters, namely: Dan and John living on the farm at Whale Cove, three daughters married in Boston, and the fourth married to Alexander MacLean of Whale Cove.

Norman, son of John the Banker, still lives on the old parental homestead, is married to Elizabeth MacLeod of N. E. Margaree, and had a family of five sons and two daughters.

Hector, fourth son of the Banker, was married twice,—first to a Miss Cranton by whom he had a family, and second to a Mrs. Neil MacKay of Scotsville, without issue. He died some years ago.

Kenneth, son of the first settler, was married to Ann McLeod of Middle River, Victoria County, with issue, three sons and five daughters. The eldest son, Hector, resides at Margaree Harbour, is married to Isabel Farquharson, daughter of the late Rev. Mr. Farquharson of Middle River, and has a family of two sons and three daughters.

John, son of Kenneth, resides at Whale Cove, is married to Sarah Hart of North East Margaree, with issue, five sons and three daughters.

Charles, son of Hector the first settler, was married to Mary MacLean of Black River, with issue, two sons, Hector and Donald, and eight daughters. The son Donald, better known as "Donald Charlie" was married to Sarah MacLean of Black River, and had a son Charlie who lives on the homestead. Hector died some years ago. All the daughters of Charles are well married.

Donald, fourth son of the original Hector, died at Middle River. He was married to Elizabeth MacLeod, and had six sons and five daughters. Rev. H. R. MacLean, who died not many years ago, was a son of this Donald. Another son was Peter MacLean, carriage builder, who lived for years at Whycocomagh.

Alexander MacLean, a brother of the original Hector, came, as above stated, to Whale Cove in 1830. He was married in the old country, and had a family of three sons and seven daughters. The sons were: Donald, Norman and Charles.

The daughter Flora married Alexander McIntosh, lived at Rear Chimney Corner, had a family of four, all of whom are dead, except Kenneth, who lives at Chimney Corner.

Catherine, married John MacLean "Banker" as stated above.

Christy married Henry Taylor of Margaree Harbour and had four sons and one daughter. The sons were: Henry, Kenneth, Robert and Alfred, all of whom are dead except Henry Jr., the oldest of the four brothers. The daughter was married to James Ross of Margaree. This Henry Taylor, Senior, came to Margaree from Scotland, and entered into the mercantile business, at Margaree Harbour, which, in a short time, assumed large porportions. Mr. Taylor was evidently adapted to his calling, for he prospered from the start. He died a comparatively young man. Subsequently the widow married their chief clerk, Samuel Lawrence, who continued the business with great energy until his death. After Mr. Lawrence's death the business was taken over by Mrs. Taylor's youngest son, Alfred, who is now dead, but well and favourably remembered by the older portion of our readers in Northern Inverness.

A fourth daughter of Alexander MacLean's was married to William Crowdis of Baddeck, and a fifth to Kenneth MacLeod of Middle River. Jessie and Mary, the sixth and seventh daughters always lived at home unmarried.

Allan MacLean, another brother of the original Hector, came out from Scotland with his family in 1830. He bought a farm in the district of Port Hastings where some of his descendants are still to be found.


The family of old John MacKay of Chimney Corner was one of the most thrifty and respected families in this district. John MacKay had several able and intelligent sons, among whom were John J., Hector, Donald and William, all of whom had large respectable families. All these MacKays possessed the same generous, kind and hospitable qualities of their race, but seemed to be more provident and prosperous than the generality of pioneer farmers. When money was practically an unknown quantity among our early settlers, the Mac-Kays would have wads of it. It is on their old farm that the coal mine of Chimney Corner is located.

Other fine old landmarks of West Margaree were the families of John and Neil McKinnon, of Alexander MacNeil (Saor) and John MacNeil, of big Donald MacLellann and big John MacLellan. The most of these people were men of large stature and distinct racial prowess. With one or two exceptions, their homes and farms are still in the hands of their direct descendants. This locality was formerly called "The Ponds", it is now called "St. Rose". There was a prominent family of MacLeods among the old settlers here, but we have dealt with them elsewhere (see R. C. Marsh). There were also, a few families here who, although, not first settlers, were prominent men and citizens of the district for many years. Among these were the families of William MacRae, Alexander MacRae and Donald J. Gillis. It would not be easy to find among ordinary people three other men of finer mental gifts.

All the early men of this shore—those whom we have named, and those whom we have failed to find—shared alike the same habits, the same history, the same hardships, the same allegiance to truth and moral principles which we see and admire in the lives of our pristine fathers. God bless them all!

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