Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 44 > Page 17 - Folk Mapping: Cape Breton Examples

Page 17 - Folk Mapping: Cape Breton Examples

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1987/1/1 (463 reads)

Fondren, the granddaughter of Hugh MacDon? ald who, according to family papers, was bom in Whycocomagh in 1837, lived in Lou? isiana, and happened to die in Galveston, Texas. They were looking for family connec? tions . And she had with her one of these drawings done in coloured pencils. Family tradition has it that Hugh MacDon? ald made these maps. This is based on the fact that they were in his possession when he died in 1900; he identified them as his own work to his wife, and she in turn so identified them to his children and grand? children; and that his descendants say "he was always fascinated by maps." He also wrote poetry. There are problems with assigning the work to Hugh MacDonald. A third drawing exists, very much like the close-up neighbourhood drawing. It is quite light, and so similar we have not printed it here. But it con? tains the following written boldly in the middle of the sketch: "Captain Crawford Ship Minerva Loading in Argyle Bay By Hugh MacKinnon Merchant in 1845." It has been suggested the drawing is the work of Hugh MacKinnon. It has been argued, however, that the statement refers to what the draw? ing is about, and not to authorship, There is the further point that Jim St. Clair's investigations have Hugh MacDonald born in 1837. And that makes him 8 years old in 1845. But there is no proof these drawings were actually made in 1845. That is simply the time they represent. The past is a common subject of all folk art, and this could be a sketch of remembering. And whether it was Hugh MacDonald or Hugh MacKinnon who actually drew it--interesting as that is-- does not take away from other values such folk mapping may have for us today. For in? stance, Jim St. Clair points out that "there are no extant drawings of buildings from that side of the Island that are any earlier...." shown, the large top building is three- storied. And the words "old mill" are with the building.) The building is shown as on "Mill Brook" which flows into Whycocomagh Bay just about at the entrance. And the next brook over is "Indian Brook." Not one of these buildings is standing today. Jim thinks he has discovered the cellar of the mill. No information has yet been found about the central building. Jim St. Clair says it is thought to be a home. It is a very unusual house for Cape Breton because it has chimneys on either end, on either ga- ble--whereas the traditional 1830-1840 house here would have a centre chimney with fireplaces. If this house were stone, it would be similar to the stone house which stood at Dunvegan and had chimneys at -either end. Also, it has two windows on the left side of the door and only one on the right--a very curious imbalance for that time. It also has a summer kitchen. On the sketch not shown here, the summer kitchen chimney is at the end, whereas here it is in the middle. To our thinking, this suggests careful, considered revision. Jim thinks the writing on the drawing not shown indicates a ship in which Hugh Mac? Kinnon has some interest, rather than an author's signature. It is Jim's understand? ing that Hugh MacKinnon was a fairly pros? perous merchant in the early years of Why? cocomagh and he not only had a store but shipped local goods. (Note the vessels at the bottom of (1) the close-up drawing, at the wharf at the head of Whycocomagh Bay-- the bay the settlers of Whycocomagh called Argyle Bay, which is the name for it on (2) the Island map.) In any case, the evi? dence on authorship is not conclusive. The map of the Island reminds Jim of a view down from a hot air balloon centred a- bove Cape Breton. It shows a portion of the mainland of Nova Scotia and a bit of Technically, the ar' ea of the close-up neighbourhood draw? ing (1) is Blues Mills. The land would be diagonally across from the present-day "Oyster' house on the Trans- Canada Highway. The top building is a mill building. Note the water wheel at the left. Mill buildings tra? ditionally were two or three stories high, with the works on the lower level; and often the miller lived on the second level. (The mill is two- storied here. In the drawing not CONTINUED NEXT COLUMN For marine transportation in Atlantic Canada, the connpass points to Marine Atlantic. Our modern fleet of RoRo auto/truck ferries, container carriers, rail-car ships and high speed passenger vessels operate out of 13 major ports - linking four Atlantic Provinces, the State of Maine and numerous outport communities along the Newfoundland and Labrador coasts. Each year Marine Atlantic sails a million miles, meeting the needs of Atlantic Canada. Marine Atlantic Marine Atlantique
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