Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 58 > Page 35 - Neil MacNeil and The Highland Heart

Page 35 - Neil MacNeil and The Highland Heart

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1991/8/1 (261 reads)

home. Then a neighborhood expert offered to help us put up the frame. A couple of other neighbors also volunteered to help us get going. So we made a party of it. The frame was erected dur? ing one day, and every one ate and made merry far into the night. We ourselves carried on from there, and in about three more months the bam was ready for its tenants. All we bought for its consfruction were several kegs of nails, hinges for the doors and glass for the windows. The bam was forty feet by eighteen feet witii a fourteen-foot post and a peak roof. It was designed on the lines of the neigh? borhood bams, with stables for horses and cows, a shelter for the sheep, and a pigpen. It had big haymows and bins for grain. It was a large undertaking for two boys; but again it was fun. We were on our own for fifteen months until Father sent Mur? doch back to school and me to college at Antigonish. The expe? rience had made us sturdy, self-reliant boys, and it was doubt? less time well spent for both of us. When Father came to settle with the local merchant he found that our debit for the fifteen months was twenty-two dollars and some odd cents. This com? pared favorably with the record made by Henry David Thoreau at Walden Pond, for while he only built a shack we built a large bam, and we served a varied table while he lived mostiy on beans. Moreover, we did not hire out to any one for wages or for any purpose; on the contrary we were able to help out our neighbors with work or food on many occasions and to offer hospitality to our many friends at all times.... Our hospitality was in keeping with the hospitality of Washa? buckt. TTiese Scots were never so poor that they would not share whatever they had, much or littie, good or bad, with their neighbors or anybody in need. No one had ever been known to refuse food or lodging. Knowing this Scottish trait, it has pained me to hear of the Scots be? ing "tight," and to have to listen eter? nally to in? ane and stu? pid jokes, especially in New York, about it. This reputation doubtiess had its origin in the Low- landers of Scotiand, whom the Celtic Scots, of the High? lands and Is- It's NEW! It's GREAT ORTH STAR INN NORTH SYDNEY c.p.B, • ?? Nova Scotia's Friendly Seaport Centrally Located To Major Cape Breton Attractions * 75 Rooms - Kings, Standards, * Indoor Pool and Whirlpool Suites and Mini Suites * Kids free with parents - * Luxury Suite - Whirlpool Bath • Seniors Discount * Harbour View - Air conditioned * Special day rates for ferry * Fishery Restaurant travellers * St. Pierre Rum Bar 100.000 Welcomes At Ttie Big Red Roof * RATING vfoundland Ferry and ' '' (Erit 21, Highway 105) 39 Forrest Street, P.O. Box 157. Nortti Sydney, N.S. B2A 3M3 Tel: (902) 794-8581 Fax: (902) 794-4628 lands, consider English. In the Barra Gaelic, spoken in Washa? buckt, one word indicated both Lowlander and Englishman, and there was no way to distinguish between one and the other, nor did these Scots think it necessary to do so. Every one was welcome in a Washabuckt home. The visitor walked right in without knocking, knowing that he would be greeted cheerfully and that the host and his family would have nothing to conceal. On entering he took a seat without being in? vited to do so. The women of the house would start brewing tea, and he would be served this and whatever else the home af? forded. If the visitor stayed for the night, or for a week or more, he was also welcome. In fact, a frolic might be arranged to make things pleasant for him. Nor did the visitor have to be known. Those from other neigh- borhooods and strangers and peddlers were equally welcome. I remember a deserter from a French warship in Sydney who came to Grandfather's home. He could not speak English and of course knew no GaeUc; but the old man guessed what he was doing and what he wanted. Grandfather indicated by signs that he would get food and lodging; and then proceeded to do what he could to make the worried Frenchman comfortable and his visit agreeable. Everything else failing, the old man sang Gaelic songs for the deserter until it was time to retire, and then led him to his bed and tucked him in for the night. After a hearty breakfast next moming, the visitor tried to hand fifty cents first to Grandmother and then to me as a token of his gratitude, but Grandfather handed him back the coin and sent him on his way with his blessing. We never heard of him again. Another French deserter in a nearby neighborhood was not so fortunate. He arrived at a home where modem ideas had diluted the old forms of hospitality. This family pretended to make him welcome, and then sent a boy to the authorities to inform on him, hoping for a reward. The deserter was arrested and taken back to his ship and bondage, perhaps in Devil's Island. Some time later this family boiled the family dinner in a pot that had been used to mix Paris green to kill potato bugs, and all mem? bers of it were dead within the hour. You cannot tell their neighbors, and certainly not the Washabuckters, that this was not retribution for their violation of the Scottish code.... The ultimate in Scottish hospitality, according to Grandfather, was reached by a poor widow on Boulanderie, a large island in the Bras d'Or lakes, and he himself was the recipient of it. In his younger days he worked for a time at Cow Bay. As he was returning to Washabuckt afoot he was overtaken with fatigue and hunger, so he dropped into a home beside the road for food and rest. It tumed out to be the home of the widow and her five young children. The lady was visibly embarrassed by his visit but she insisted on his staying. When she left the room he was appalled by the evidences of poverty. Soon he heard wild and agonizing shrieks from a pig in the bamyard. Grandfather thought little of it at first, but when the shrieks continued he began to wonder. Some twenty minutes later the widow invited Grandfather to sit ALL ROADS LEAD TO THE Ncrtli Sydney Mall With Over 23 Shops and Services Schwartz 794-3567 Peoples store 794-4900 Electric Avenue 794-8274 Guys & Gals 794-4409 Pipes & Things 794-8305 Jean Gallery 794-8244 Carlton Cards 794-7151 Super Touch Fashions 794-4997 Panhandler 794-901 o Super Touch Ts Island Fashion Nova Scotia Liquor Commission Co-operators Insurance Shoppers Drug iVIart Cape Breton Video 794-8330 794-4997 794-4917 794-4788 794-7211 794-7783 Sherry's Treats & Beverages Ubb'er?Q?? Strings Agnew Alteens Zeilers Sears Sobeys Kids' Korner Sports & Stuff Subway Deli 794-4240 794-3429 794-3513 794-7206 794-3610 794-8088 794-8822 794-2073 794-3005 116 King St., North Sydney, N. S. 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