Cape Breton's Magazine

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Page 32 - Gloomy Memories by Donald MacLeod Eyewitness to Highland Clearances

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1987/8/1 (270 reads)

in the hands of the factor himself, and were to be occupied as sheep-farms, and as the people made no resistance, they expected at least some indulgence, in the way of permission to occupy.their houses and other buildings till they could gradually re? move and meanwhile look after their growing crops. Their consternation was, therefore, the greater when, immediately after the May term day, and a- bout two months after they had received summonses of removal, a commencement was made to pull down and set fire to the houses over their heads! The old people, women, and others, then began to try to preserve the timber which they were entitled to consider as their own. But the devastators pro? ceeded with the greatest celerity, demolishing all before them, and when they had overthrown the houses in a large tract of country, they ultimate? ly set fire to the wreck. So that timber, furni? ture, and every other article that could not be in? stantly removed, was consumed by fire, or other? wise utterly destroyed. These proceedings were carried on with the great? est rapidity as well as with most reckless cruelty. The cries of the victims, the confusion, the des? pair and horror painted on the countenances of the one party, and the exulting ferocity of the other, beggar all description. In these scenes Mr. Sellar was present, and apparently, (as was sworn by sev? eral witnesses at his subsequent trial,) ordering and directing the whole. Many deaths ensued from alarm, from fatigue, and cold; the people being in? stantly deprived of shelter, and left to the mercy of the elements. Some old men took to the woods and precipices, wandering about in a state ap? proaching to, or of absolute insanity, and several of them, in this situation, lived only a few days. Pregnant women were taken with premature labour, and several children did not long survive their sufferings. To these scenes I was an eye-witness, and am ready to substantiate the truth of my state? ments, not only by my own testimony, but by that of many others who were present at the time. In such a scene of general devastation it is al? most useless to particularize the cases of indivi- duals--the suffering was great and universal. I shall, however, just notice a very few of the ex- STUBBERT'S Convenience Stores Videos * Lottery Tickets * Film * Frozen Foods * Magazines * Snacks 24 Hours: 172 Main Street, Sydney Mines Corner George & Glenwood, Sydney 275 Commercial Street, North Sydney Daily: Florence Bras d'Or 83 Pierce Street, North Sydney "We're there to serve you wherever you need us! Let Us Fill Your Next Prescription Now 2 Locations In Cape Breton to Serve You CAPE BRETON SHOPPING PLAZA 564-8151 MAYFLOWER MALL 539-5080 (32) Operated by Manson Pruqs ltd, treme cases which occur to my recollection, to most of which I was an eye witness. John McKay's wife, Ravi gill, in attempting to pull down her house, in the absence of her husband, to preserve the timber, fell through the roof. She was in con? sequence, taken with premature labour, and in that state, was exposed to the open air and the view of the by-standers. Donald Munro, Garvott, lying in a fever, was turned out of his house and exposed to the elements. Donald Matbeath, an infirm and bed? ridden old man, had th' house unroofed over him, and was, in that state, exposed to wind and rain till death put a period to his sufferings. I was present at the pulling down and burning of the house of William Chisholm,, in which was lying his wife's mother, an old bed-ridden wo? man of nearly 100 years of age, none of the family being present. I informed the persons about to set fire to the house of this circumstance, and pre? vailed on them to wait till Mr. Sellar came. On his arrival I told him of the poor old woman being in a condition unfit for removal. He replied, "Damn her, the old witch, she has lived too long; let her burn." Fire was immediately set to the house, and the blankets in which she was carried were in flames before she could be got out. She was placed in a little shed, and it was with great difficulty they were prevented from firing it also. The old woman's daughter arrived while the house was on fire, and assisted the neighbours in remov? ing her mother out of the flames and smoke, pre? senting a picture of horror which I shall never forget, but cannot attempt to describe. She died within five days. fpra's'??ift Shop Located 2 miles south of Cheticamp at POINT CROSS Largest display of Cheticamp Hooked Rugs -Oil paintings by local artists- -Quallty Souvenirs- Featuring: Handcrafted Clothing section -Tartans & Kilts- Sweaters. Jackets etc. -OPEN 8 AM - 8 PM DAILY- -Large parking-Restroom facllltles- -U.S. currency at bank rate- Cheticamp, Cabot Trail, N.S. 902-224-3139 Breton Energy Ltd. 94 Johnstone Street SYDNEY 539-4949
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