Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 66 > Page 1 - From Visits with Alfred P. MacKay of Big Harbour Island

Page 1 - From Visits with Alfred P. MacKay of Big Harbour Island

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1994/6/1 (851 reads)

From Visits with Alfred P. MacKay of Big Harbour Island I Alfred P. MacKay: The first MacKay came here--my grandfather, he came from Pic? tou. Of course at St. Peter's canal, there was no canal. They rowed down from Pictou in a big boat, and then they got an ox and hauled the boat through to Bras d'Or Lake. And he came across the lake-- this was all woods here. (Hauled it over the land at St. Peter's.) Yes. There was no canal. There were people travelling that way for years before that. They had fellows there with oxen, that hauled the boats. There weren't many horses. An ox-- you could raise oxen, you know. And after he got old, you could eat him! Alfred laughs. There was no one would eat a horse. I guess they could have eaten it, but they didn't. (You say, when he came here, this was all woods.) Yes, yes. In three years after you started in a place--they were giving grants, you know--you'd get 200 acres or a hundred acres, whatever you want. And if you had, like, cut 2 or 3 acres of land clear, and 2 cows, or 3 cows--the land was yours, to record it in perpetuity. You had it. Like you bought it, you see. That was the way they got it. (By developing it.) And right away they had to start paying tax on it. Alfred chuckles. And my grandfather, he was a carpenter. He could build boats, and he could make cas? kets. It cost you $2 to get buried. He made a box for you for $2. And there was a log house out here. And he had a big table up? stairs- -a workbench, you know. With wooden vices and everything on it to bend the boards. They'd make a pretty good thing. But they'd get stove polish--they'd blacken the casket with this stuff. You could get buried for $2.50. (Sounds pretty economical.) I im? agine if there's such a thing as a resurrec? tion, they'll be chewing the rag among them? selves, each fellow, about the different price he paid to get buried! One'11 get to tell the other fellow. "You're a cheapskate! It cost me two thousand!" -_'r>''?''''3V' ,/; ' CAMPBELL 1. r -:j.r5=i ' 'Y INDIAN 1. AV''~-'''et''' • ->>''y>v''-;' ' Malagawatch A/y LEWIS'.y'' Jb'l 'l vj) BIG ' y''i' ??A. . F-''-'*" ' ISLAND -''' . , , . u/5/ Jrl' PELLIER1. Marble Mountain''?*"!'?/ "'""? '?? "' '-'' -'CAMERON 1. - r. .''f'' o oCLARKEI. -A > Banacadie Ptt-' BRAS D'Or LAKE RED (In some communities, of course, people gathered to build caskets. And I guess there was no charge for those. But that wasn't the case here.) No. This was kind of an outpost here--this Big Harbour Island. There was a road to it, but there were just the families that's still here at the shore. And there was a reservation came on, Indians, after that. (Never very many Scot? tish families here?) Four. There were Mac- Phails and Macintoshes, and MacKays. and MacRaes. There were two families of Mac? Kays. The MacPhails came from a different part of Scotland. They were called "the MacPhails without the.Gaelic." They couldn't speak Gaelic. And they weren't too fond of anybody that could speak it. They seemed to be a race of their own. I know the fellow down here, he said it was the "barbarious language of our forefathers"! He didn't want anything to do with it.... Cape Breton's MAGAZINE • Number Sixty-Six Wreck Cove, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia BOC IHO Publications MaU Registration Number 3014
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