Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 66 > Page 36 - Flora McPherson: The Quest for Rev. Norman McLeod

Page 36 - Flora McPherson: The Quest for Rev. Norman McLeod

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1994/6/1 (368 reads)

not as sociological studies of communi? ties, but as biographies of persons who influenced their community or their coun? try. The books should not be tediously long--perhaps about 200 pages. Presumably they should have the immediacy of local history but would be supported by research into the background. This idea stayed dormant for many years; I kept testing it by examining source materi? al on individuals who seemed interesting. I finally struck something intriguing when Mary Barber and I were searching historical books for items for the collection, Christ? mas in Canada. A few paragraphs about a group of sailing ships built in the Mari? times in the mid-nineteenth century to car? ry a large group of settlers to Australia started a search which seemed worthwhile and led to the biography of Norman McLeod, the community leader.... Flora McPherson sent us the text of a talk she had prepared for the Glencoe Book Club in 1989. It carries her story further: ...When Mary Barber and material for (a book cal Canada, we found a few p. some Scottish people in in the 1850's, built six transplanted themselves der the leadership of a minister, Norman McLeod. to us both. Not long aft' newly published book by Leather Works by John C. Roberts Bags Buckets Visit Workshop and Store at • INDIAN BROOK • CAPE BRETON ISLAND BOCIHO On Cabot Trail between Baddeck & Ingonish DAILY 9-5 SUNDAY 10-5 (May thru Oct; Telephone (902) 929-2414 I were collecting led) Christmas in aragraphs about Cape Breton who, sailing ships and to New Zealand un- strong, autocratic The story was new erward we found a 1 New Zealand writer (Neil Ro? binson's Lion of Scotland), tell? ing the story from the New Zea? land point of view and skimming very lightly over the Canadian part. We thought of the migration story as an adventure book for Canadian young people, and considered col? laborating on it. Lack of free time made this impos? sible, but as a critic and a sounding board for my ideas. Mary was completely involved from begin? ning to end. During my holidays in 1954 I spent a week in the Public Archives of Nova Scotia searching for material on St. Ann's, Cape Breton, which was the Canadian home of Norman McLeod and his migrant community. Then on to the village of Baddeck in Cape Breton where the librarian sent me to Mrs. (Kathryn) Mackenzie, a descendant of a member of the St. Ann's community. She had a copy of The Gael Fares Forth, another New Zealand book long out of print. With a proper appreciation of such a book's value, Mrs. Mackenzie would not let it out of her house, so I settled down in her living room and, as she fed me cookies and tea, I scribbled pages of notes. What was most exciting was that a part of the book was based on letters written by Mur? doch Macdonald, Mrs. Mackenzie's grand- uncle, who had come to St. Ann's with the first settlers in 1820, as a twelve-year- old boy, and lived in the settlement throughout the thirty years before the mi? gration to New Zealand. I wanted more than anything to get my hands on those letters. They were thought to be in the basement of the county court house at Baddeck, some? where among the accumulation of 50 years' unfiled, unindexed material. They may be there yet, as I never found them. The very fact that such things could disappear made me all the more anxious to collect and keep all the scattered scraps that would make the story. When I left London, Ontario, in 1955 to work in the Gait Public Library, I took my folder of notes with me but they were never once unpacked in Gait. However, for a year and a half in Gait I wrote a weekly column on library-related subjects in the local See Extraordinary St. Ann's Bay.., IIANT MacASKILL MUSEUM with Craft Shop and Confectionery/Snack Shop CLOTHING FURNITURE PHOTOGRAPHS INFORMATION GENEALOGY OPEN: 7 Days a Week • 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. 2.5 km. from ENGLISHTOWN FERRY on Route 312 PIPER'S TRAILER COURT Featuring: Fully Licensed Dining Room Laundromat Mini-Mart Ocean-Side Campsites Swimming Pool 929-2233 929-2067 Indian Brook on the Cabot Trail (Halfway between Baddeck and Ingonish) From either direction on the Cabot Trail, plan for comfort and welcome Piper's Old Manse GUEST HOUSE with Bed and Breakfast , OPEN YEAR ROUND ' Drive the Great Circle around St. Ann's Bay
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