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> Issue 66 > Page 88 - With Jessie Morrison of Cape North - A Cape Breton to Alberta Pioneer

Page 88 - With Jessie Morrison of Cape North - A Cape Breton to Alberta Pioneer

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1994/6/1 (165 reads)

He was, evidently, a very fine nnan. But what I started out to say is this: That book • Cape Breton lVorf/7/es • was in the possession of my Grandfather MacKinnon and he had written marginal notes on various pages. And he had obviously read it many, many times because the cover was worn and he had mended it with the cobbler's waxed thread. And that, with a copy of The Great Election by James D. Gillis and {Gillis's) The Cape Breton Giant, and Murray's History of the Early Presbyterian Church in Cape Breton, prior to the union in 1925, was lost in (the mail). All those precious books are gone. (Ronalda: And that was how we got into doing this history, looking for copies of those books.) Now, I didn't mention Great-grandmother and her music... My mother said that she taught her and her sisters the old tunes that they sang to the psalms. Now the tunes are identified by name. But she had the music. She had the old books that are written in the old system, a different scale. Now, the Morrisons came to Cape Breton about the same time as the Mac? Kinnons. And they settled near the North River, which would be, probably, four or five miles across country from where the MacKinnons settled. And lat? er that area was called The Big Intervale. My paternal grandfather was Rob? ert Morrison and he was the son of Neil Morrison. They had four sons and four daughters. They came at that time. And one of the sons, Robert, was my Grandfather Morrison, my father's father. And accompanying Neil was a brother, Donald. Now Donald had service in the British Army and Navy for many years and, consequently, he was entitled to a grant of land which he took adjacent • or close • to his brother Neil. And this later became part of the Morrison Farnv-Morrison Establishment. And it was on this old farm, it was on this property that my father Neil was born. In February the 10th of 1876. Now my father's mother was a MacLeod, Kate MacLeod. My mother spent her early years in Boston. And she was 28 when she mar? ried my father. And she, with her two sisters, worked for one of the wealthy families as a domestic, as was the custom then. And because of my great grandmother Rachel Campbell-Morrison • -the education that she had before coming to this country, which included English and in Gaelic • she taught her children to read and write. Schools were established, but they were estab? lished by the efforts of the people, not by the government, at this point. So the school that my mother and her sisters attended was a log building near the Forks • or at least near the top of what became later the village of Cape North. But they had to walkthrough the woods, I would say, about two or three miles to this log school.... Now, speaking of my mother, she had a fine voice and a great range. Nowa? days I imagine she would be classed as a mezzo-soprano. And she had an exceptionally keen ear and, 1 believe, perfect pitch. And through the efforts of a minister's wife • by this time they had regular clergy, the Reverend Mac? Kenzie • she, Mrs. MacKenzie, started the singing school to be a diversion for the young people. Now, I'm not sure whether it was a great success as a singing school, but it certainly was an activity. And I'm sure that romance, more than learning to read music, influenced the young people of the day. But anyway, my mother was most enthusiastic and most interested and be? cause of this Mrs. MacKenzie gave her special instruction and special atten? tion. And she encouraged her. So when Mother went to Boston, she had the rudiments you might say of singing, and had sight reading. And she joined the choir of the United Presbyterian Church in Boston. And the membership, I think, was entirely Cape Bretoners! Mother said that after the service there'd be little groups on the sidewalk all talking Gaelic. All the news from home. Anyway, she did take some vocal instruction and she was the contral? to soloist, as such. Now, it's interesting that the family in whose employ she was knew of her in? terest in music and they encouraged it. And they, as much as possible, ar? ranged her time so that she could attend church, and put an organ in the quarters. (That was very considerate of them.) Yes, it was. And it seemed to be typical of the attitude of the American...the people of Boston had toward their domestic help. And they were delighted to take on the girls from Cape Breton. They were choice employees.... During this period that Mother (and her sisters were) in Boston, n' Grand? mother MacKinnon was in poor health. So it meant that one of the girls would go home in rotation to stay with Grandmother because at home would still be my Uncle Dan, who was one of the younger brothers, and Aunt Rachel, who was one of the younger children. So Mother was home for her turn and about this time, I guess, my father came calling and he had a sharp turn-out with a smart high-stepping horse. So their friendship developed, I guess. Mother has told me of the excursions to the harbour where there was racing on the ice of the harbour. And Father had a high-stepping horse and, I guess, it was great fun. Anyway, they were married on September 14th of 1903.... END along the way. I think there were some regulation.... I'm not too certain about that but I think it was. And they usually averaged six to eight miles apart. There would be a railway station with a station agent; a telegraph line to communicate with the outside world--that was the only means of communication in those days; there would be a hotel--this was before prohibition; there would be a general Find Out ... ... 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