Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 46 > Page 31 - Gloomy Memories by Donald MacLeod Eyewitness to Highland Clearances

Page 31 - Gloomy Memories by Donald MacLeod Eyewitness to Highland Clearances

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1987/8/1 (320 reads)

Understandably, photographs of actual evictions are rare. This one is of an eviction in North Uist, 1895 were summoned to give up their farms at the May term following, and, in order to ensure and hasten their removal with their cattle, in a few days af? ter, the greatest part of the heath pasture was set fire to and burnt, by order of Mr. Sellar, the factor, who had taken these lands for himself. It is necessary to explain the effects of this pro? ceeding. In the spring, especially when fodder is scarce, as was the case in the above year, the Highland cattle depend almost solely on the heath? er. As soon, too, as the grass begins to sprout a- bout the roots of the bushes, the animals get a good bite, and are thus kept in tolerable condi? tion. Deprived of this resource by the burning, the cattle were generally left without food, and this being the period of temporary peace, during Bonaparte's residence in Elba, there was little de? mand for good cattle, much less for these poor starving animals, who roamed about over their burnt pasture till a great many of them were lost, or sold for a mere trifle. The arable parts of the land were cropped by the outgoing tenants, as is customary, but the fences being mostly destroyed by the burning, the cattle of the incoming tenant was continually trespassing throughout the summer and harvest, and those who remained to look after the crop had no shelter; ev? en watching being disallowed, and the people were haunted by the new herdsmen and their dogs from watching their own corn! As the spring had been severe, so the harvest was wet, cold, and disas? trous for the poor people, who under every diffi- culty,_were endeavouring to secure the residue' of their crops. The barns, kilns, and mills, except a few necessary to the new tenants, had, as well as the houses, been burnt or otherwise destroyed and no shelter left, except on the other side of the river, now overflowing its banks from the continu? al rains; so that, after all their labour and pri? vations, the people lost nearly the whole of their crop, as they had already lost their cattle, and were thus entirely ruined. But I must go back now to the May term and attempt to give some account of the ejection of the inhab? itants; for to give anything like an adequate des? cription I am not capable. If I were, the horrors of it would exceed belief. The houses had been all built, not by the landlord as in the low country, but by the tenants or by their ancestors, and, consequently, were their property by right, if not by law. They were tim? bered chiefly with bog fir, which makes excellent roofing but is very inflammable: by immemorial us? age this species of timber was considered the prop? erty of the tenant on whose lands it was found In former removals the tenants had been allowed to carry away this timber to erect houses in their new allotments, but now a more summary mode was a- dopted, by setting fire to the houses! The able- bodied men were by this time away after their cat? tle or otherwise engaged at a distance, so that the immediate sufferers by the general house-burn? ing that now commenced were the aged and infirm, and the women and children. As the lands were now Ron May Pontiac 147 Prince street Sydney 539-6494 Hawkesbury Pontiac C3MC: TRUCKS 46 Paint Street Port Hawkesbury 625-3280 FRONT END ALIGNMENT - AIR CONDITIONING SPECIALISTS NEW & USED - SALES -- SERVICE -- LEASING -- DAILY RENTAL
Cape Breton's Magazine
  View this article in PDF format Print article

Adobe Acrobat Reader is required to the PDF version of this content. Click here to download and install the Acrobat plugin
Acrobat Reader Download