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Page 6 - Torquil MacLean & the Englishtown Ferry

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1973/1/1 (3435 reads)
 

by Capt. Harry C. Morrison, Englishtown Torquil MacLean was my grandfather. He was born at Wreck Cove, Victoria County, in 1840. He died at his home in Englishtown, December 28th, 1921 • 81 years of age. He spent most of his years as a sailor. His early years were on foreign ships and square riggers. But most of his life'he operated the ferry between Englishtown and Jersey Cove. Torquil was married to Sarah MacLean from Middle River around 1875. They lived in Englishtown on a small farm and grew most of their own food. There were eleven in their family: six boys and five girls. Torquil was short of stature but built like a wrestler and strong as an ox. He always wore a heavy beard which made him look cross, but he was a good-natured man, and had a heart of gold. He saw perhaps more than his share of suffering: His bro? ther cut himself in the woods and bled to death on Torquil's back as Torquil carried him out; he lost one son, a lad of 19, in a coal mine in New Waterford, and he lost another in a mine in Alberta; and one son went off after returning from World War I, and was never heard of again' Yet Torquil Torquil MacLean and remained a strong and reliable ferryman whose home was always open to the traveler in the storm • a job of low pay and occa? sionally thankless. During his first years at the ferry, Tor? quil used a large row boat, as most of the traffic was on foot. Sometimes the odd horse and sulky (a two-wheeled carriage) was ferried. The sulky would be taken on board the rowboat and the horse would swim behind, a long rope attached to his halter and tied to the stern or held by the pas? senger. When they reached the other side, Torquil often had to haul this large boat by himself. He did not mind getting wet or going up to his waist in the water. He al? ways wore heavy pants' • Summer and Winter • and leather boots that reached to his knees. I often saw him take his boots off after a ferry trip. He'd empty them out, wring out his woolen socks, put them back on and be ready for the next trip. As traffic was increasing, Torquil had to have a larger boat. Well, there was only one place he knew of to have one built, and that was at Wreck Cove where he was born. He knew he could get just the kind of boat he wanted built there by two able Scotchmen and God-fearing men named Ken? neth Morrison and Alex Morrison, This boat was about twenty feet long and nine feet wide. It had a flat bottom and two thwarts in the bow to form seats for the two row? ing the oars or sweeps (which were four? teen feet long). The bow was sharp and the stern was square. The boat was capable of carrying two horses and one carriage at a time. Sometimes Torquil had to row it him? self. As the children grew, one of them would lend a hand. This boat was known as the Old Scow. I believe Torquil had to pay for it himself. And I think he got a small subsidy from the government. The fare was twenty cents for horse and carriage, five cents for passengers. The Old Scow had a launch-way made of poles
Cape Breton's Magazine
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