Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 48 > Page 74 - Searching for the Pioneer Log House

Page 74 - Searching for the Pioneer Log House

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1988/6/1 (188 reads)

it. But again, that's true of, say. the Is? lands- -the Hebrides--which would have been virtually treeless. But there were areas of the Highlands, particularly more the north? east rather than the northwest, through Strathglas, for instance--areas which con? tributed very strongly to populating in Nova Scotia. Antigonish County, for instance. And that (region of Scotland), into the 19th century, was an area of large-scale lumber? ing. The whole panoply of lumbering: large- scale cutting in winter, rafting on the riv? ers, milling on the lower reaches, ship? building, etc. I have never been able to find any direct connection. But it's intriguing. In fact, it has been proposed--again, just as specula? tion- -that in fact, what came to be the classic North American Canadian process of lumbering--the technology involved--was im? ported from the Scottish Highlands, where it existed in the late 18th, early 19th centu? ry. Again, that's speculation. (Is it utter speculation, or do we have something to base some of it on?) I have never found any di? rect connection, but it's interesting. Well, I've seen one letter from a prospective im? migrant in Perthshire--just along the High? land Line, right on the border--writing to a relative in Nova Scotia and talking about emigrating prospects, and asking, "Should I bring my ax with me?" This is a long rambling discourse, but the point being that, (while) it's awfully hard to get definite direct evidence, they couldn't all have been people (who) had nev? er seen a tree or any expanse of trees. Some, at least, may have been perfectly at home in a forested environment. And similar? ly, in working with wood, and building in wood. But again, it doesn't get away from the fact that what we call the log cabin-- no, that was not a tradition (in Scotland). So that had to have come from somewhere else. And when people arrived, well, the tradition was you were helped by whomever was around. There are--not so much in the Cape Breton context, but in the original Highland (settlements in Nova Scotia)--the first footholds, so to speak, the 1770s-- people that came to Pictou County, came into Pictou. And obviously there were very few people around. And they were dependent to a certain extent on Truro, for instance, which was much more firmly established. And again, there was a strong connection with Northern Ireland. Not so much Truro, but Londonderry, for instance, and Truro. And people who came in the 1760s--some via New Hampshire. But originally from Northern Ireland. There were a number of key people involved in the original development of that area. and of Pictou, (who) had already been in North America--and had been in the area of Maryland, Delaware--before coming to Nova Scotia. Now, that's a pretty big jump. But it's interesting. (Are you suggesting that they may have brought this building type?) I'd like to have some more evidence. Having had the concept stated, at first it might seem rather far-fetched; but when you start to think of it in that context, you wonder: well, perhaps there may have been some con? nection. It's hard to say. Right now I wouldn't like to say yea or nay. And it may always be maybe; it may be impossible to ever prove to everybody's satisfaction. But it is an interesting concept. (And today, if people were aware of similar log buildings--if they had a sense that there was something like that in their neighbourhood, whether it was from Meat Cove to Port Hood, you know, from Gabarus to Cheticamp--should they be reporting these things?) Very definitely. The search for examples of pioneer log buildings in Cape Breton is extremely im? portant. The building pictured here, for instance, may be the first original example found in the Atlantic Provinces. IF YOU KNOW OF OTHER SIMILAR BUILDINGS, PLEASE CONTACT BRIAN PRESTON IMMEDIATELY. Brian Preston: "You don't look so much at the house, but look at the outbuildings. Out back. To see if there's a former house, perhaps now used as a chicken coop or a shed--whatever. 'Cause they are quite small, and very, very distinctive." Contact Brian Preston, Curator of Archeolo? gy at Nova Scotia Museum, 1747 Summer Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 3A6, or phone (902) 429-4610. Bretoner MOTEL 560 King's Road Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada B1S 1B8 phone (902) 539-8101 call toll free 1-800-528-1234 Located on the Sydney Harbour Front away from road traffic, yet only 3 minutes from Downtown Sydney ' 174 Ashby Rd. 'k SYDNEY 564-8162 Your Prestige Florist for Quality and Service Ashby Nurseries Plummer Ave. NEW WATERFORD 862-3374 "Call on us for free consultation to make your wedding perfect!"
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