Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 66 > Page 39 - Flora McPherson: The Quest for Rev. Norman McLeod

Page 39 - Flora McPherson: The Quest for Rev. Norman McLeod

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1994/6/1 (275 reads)

iiJ Florence McGregor McPherson, author of Watchman Against the World entrepreneur, whose shipping and lumbering business em? ployed many people of the settlement? I puzzled over it for months. Finally, on my last days in the Archives, I was shown a microfilm of the few re? maining pre- 1851 issues of the newspaper. The Cape Bre? ton Spectator. In one was a letter to the editor from John Munro, explaining how and why, in their great need, Norman had made his people boycott Munro's business. That was the most vivid moment in the writing of the book. I was too shy to shriek with delight in the scholarly silence of the Archives. I wrote "This is it!" in a huge black scrawl, across my page, and I'm sure I grinned ear to ear. Not publication, but moments like this, are the thrill of doing a book. Presently I had typed the completed manu? script in the prescribed form and it went off in June 1960 to look for a publisher.... I was appalled to hear from the publishers that they wanted ten illustrations--for a book set in the period 1800-1860! Of course, some of them could be landscape (present-day). A Cape Breton librarian spent a day taking pictures for me at St. Ann's; a family I had met in Lochinver, Scotland, found photographs of the land? scape for me, and the clerk of Assynt par? ish in Scotland provided an excellent pho? tograph (along) with a letter on the unworthiness of Norman as the subject of a book! (Editor's Note: See Flora's reply to BETTENS CONSTRUCTION'=<'''? General Contracting") Residential & Commercial FOUNDATIONS • FLOORS REINFORCED CONCRETE SLABS RAISING OF BUILDINGS Serving Cape Breton Since 1929 849-6566 849-7639 (FAX) • (PHONE) 157 MAIN STREET. GLACE BAY BIA 4Z1 Here Is a portion of Flora's 1961 reply to a letter from the clerk of Assynt parish in Scotland, who felt Norman McLeod was an unworthy subject for a book: "... I COULD NOT COMPLETELY SQUELCH my interest in (Norman McLeod) for two reasons. The first is that I am particularly interested in leadership-- in the qualities that create leaders and followers any? where and in any time. I wanted to assess what es? tablished his leadership, what maintained his pow? er even over people who were wiser in mind and greater in spirit than he. This is important to me because I think that civilized people must know not only when they are being led but why they are being led and what they are giving up for the se? curity of having leadership. In writing of him I was constantly aware of parallels, both small and great, in the present-day world. I mention it to you only to explain my belief that a study of a small-scale tyrant is not untimely or unnecessary "My second reason is that I am a Canadian, inter? ested in the social history of our country and in the small settlements from which it grew. The sto ry of the Canadian years of McLeod and his people is therefore important, whatever McLeod's charac? ter may have been. Indeed, much as we Canadians might like to Idealize our founders, we find in many of them a streak of ruthlessness which is not likeable, but may well have been the only force which could weld and sustain an immigrant people in the lonely vastness of this country. The confi dence of many leaders must have had to be danger? ously near to self-deification to supply the strength which weaker members needed. To us McLeod is particularly obnoxious because of his all- pervading power which we must be sure that many of the people under him hated and resented. But I al? so know that Colonel Thomas Talbot, under whom the part of Ontario where I live was settled, was stoutly hated by some of his settlers. His power was by no means religious, but it was wielded in many ways and his aims for hxs settlement were not particularly altruistic. Yet without such hard men Canada might not exist. Certainly many of the weaker spirits would not have pulled through with? out their strength. "You will notice, however, that their people, pro? tected by their leaders' strength at first, even? tually grew around and beyond them." "the clerk of Assynt parish" in the box.) My old friends at the Nova Scotia Archives cooperated once more and the New Brunswick CELLULAR KING We've got you covered! Authorized MT&T; Mobility Dealer Call Wes THE CELLULAR KING for all your Cellular and Paging Needs Authorized Dealer for: • NOKIA • AUDIOVOX • NOVATEL welton St. -PULSAR Sydney, N.S. B1P5R2 Bus.: 562-6222 Cell.: 565-6003 Fax: 562-6335 m
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