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Page 60 - The MacCuaig Story - From Our Mountains and Glens: The History of River Denys, Big Brook and the Lime Hill (North Side)

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1994/8/1 (246 reads)

Ayreshire, he could find no use. The hoe and axe continued to be the chief tools of agriculture. Potatoes were planted and dug among the stumps. Donald Jr. accompa? nied his mother to the field, where like aU women in those early days, she took part in the work. IN PREPARATION FOR THEIR TRIP, Donald was to receive his first pair of pants, tartan, as befitting a young Highlander. They were made by a local tailor named MacLean. [This man was quite possibly Neil MacLean's father, a tailor by trade, grandfather of Charles E. MacLean.] The tartan used is unknown but it was formed by a narrow red stripe, enclosing larger squares of blue and green. James travelled to Sydney to obtain the price of his land, returning with $30.00 in all, tied in a red cotton handkerchief. The last recollection Donald Jr. had of their departure from their River Denys home, was the weeping parents as they bid farewell to the lonely graves in the forest. The small children did not understand at the time, nor did they know why the latch of the cellar door was left open. TTieir destination was Upper Canada, as Ontario was known at the time. They sailed fi-om Halifax aboard a fishing schooner, manned by two Frenchmen, brothers, who were the entire crew. The stormy weather forced the boat back twice to the safety of Halifax Harbour, where a week was spent awaiting favourable winds. They were sheltered in an open shed on the waterfront, where they watched, fascinated, the red- coated soldiers, marching to music as they drilled. The vessel was small and heavily loaded with fish barrels both in the hold and on the deck, and their progress up the Gulf of St. Lawrence was slow and uncertain. So slow, in fact, that supplies ran low, water was gone and an unexpected snowstorm was most welcome as they gathered snow fi-om the sails and deck to melt for drink? ing. This, a decided improvement over the black West Indian molasses given the children to quench their thirst During the voyage, James and Donald Sr. were enlisted to relieve the weary brothers and their previous acquaintance with the sea proved most helpful. The captains of the vessel tumed over their tiny cabin to Catherine and her children, but even this luxury had its hazards. More than once during the trip did the waves wash over the vessel and fill the little cabin, almost drowning the inmates. James would scurry down the ladder to rescue his family and their trunks and boxes floating about. After this voyage of seven weeks, the MacCuaig family arrived at their destination, Hamil? ton, having transferred to a number of vessels at Quebec, Montreal and Toronto. They had few possessions, no money, home, friends or food. Catherine, putting her pride behind her, went into the streets of Hamilton with a blanket brought out from Scotland years before, and sold it for enough money for her family to live on for a number of days. Facing them was the necessity of obtaining employment and a home before the winter came. 6a Since 1914 H. H. Marshall Limited Corporate Head Office Halifax, N. S. 3731 Macintosh Street r-wHOLESALE distributors' B3K 5N5 L OF PERIODICALS & BOOKS" J H. H. MARSHALL Founder and First President ,, ' (1884-1923) H. H. MARSHALL LIMITED TAKE GREAT PRIDE IN OUR COMMUNITY AND THE MANY PEOPLE WE SERVE. IT HAS GIVEN US OUR VALUED HERITAGE AND WE LOOK FORWARD I TO AN EXCITING FUTURE. I BRANCH OFFICES CHARLOTTETOWN ST. JOHN'S SYDNEY H. H. Marshall LIMITED 103 York Street, Sydney (539-3220) DEALER INQUIRIES WELCOMED After a considerable search, James found a job with a John Applegarth who was building a miU about three miles outside the town, on a small stream. His salary would be ten dollars per month for work quarrying stone for the mill. After about three weeks in the quarry, an accident left him with three broken ribs. However, his ability as a carpenter, a mason and blacksmith made him sufficiently valuable to his employer that the job was retained for him until he regained his health. With approaching winter, the distance of even three miles presented a problem and the MacCuaigs induced Mr. Applegarth to build them a shanty beside the quarry for them to live. The one provided was of loose stones, thrown together without mortar, built against the side of a hill, covered not with shingles but boards only, through which water ran, forming icicles all along one wall. The family moved from Hamilton on Christmas Eve 1836, by sleigh with all their worldly possessions. More than once on the three mile journey the sleigh upset, sending all within into the snow along with their furniture. Arriving at the shack af? ter dark, without fire, light or friend to greet them, James, to his alarm, realized his wife, after the gruelling trip, had gone into labour. After making her as comfortable as was possible on the floor of the hut, he lit a fire and hurried out into the night in search of help, leaving his son (four) and a daughter (two). He went to Waterdown, three miles distant, where he persuaded a midwife, Mrs. Grierson, to accompany him back to the hut where, that night, his daughter Mary was born. The mill construction completed, the family moved out of the hut to a house in Wa? terdown, in the fall of 1837. Still, Mr. Applegarth felt somehow James owed him some allegiance and convinced James to join the govenmient forces against Mac? Kenzie during the rebellion. He was drafted into Colonel Chishokn's squad, and tak? ing his old shotgun from the wall, hid his wife and family goodbye again. He found himself present at many of the events of that campaign, including the buming of Montgomery's tavern. This war was neither long nor deadly, and James was back home by Christmas. His judgment in later years led him to believe he should have fought on the opposite side. For three years, James was farm manager for an absentee farmer, and in 1840 he again became an owner of land and a home of his own. This was in the township of Puslinch, a two days' joumey, the last three miles by footpath. His brother, Donald, had previously homesteaded in the area, and thus they had kinfolk ahead of them. It was a Highland settiement with names such as MacLennan and Stewart, and they were received with a Highland welcome. Everyone ttimed out to help with building a log cabin • 'in which they had their first breakfast of codfish and potatoes • 'within three days of their arrival. The cabin con? sisted of only one room, no floor, and three tree sttimps protruding from the ground. From the windowless and doorless openings, wild pigeons could be shot to supple? ment their plain fare, and the woodlands teemed with deer. Little more was done to the house itself during the summer, as all daylight hours were spent in the fields, clearing, buming and planting. By 1841 it became fairly certain that the MacCuaigs would no longer be in want. Tlieir first harvest sold in Gait for a dollar a bushel, of which they sold 70 off their small field. Young Donald learned all the skills required of the homesteader • 'the use of sickles, scythes, the repair of wagons, ploughs, hamess, and the making of ox bows and yokes. By the time he was 23, he could frame a log building, discuss theology, play the fiddle, and even make one or two. A formal education was quite another matter. He learned to read from the few books they had brought from Scotland and those borrowed from cousins on nearby farms. From these humble beginnings, Donald later on acquired an education, graduating from Normal School, and was co-principal of the Rockwood Academy for boys at Guelph for 7 or 8 years. He moved to Collingwood, where he was inspector of schools for the Algoma district. His descendants, like those of his uncles, live throughout Ontario and other parts of North America. One granddaughter, Catherine O'Brien, who lives in Wenetchee in the state of Washington, came to River Denys in 1985 to visit the spot where her great-grandfather and great-grandmother spent their first years in the new world, buried two small children, and brought two more into the world. Her contribution of the families' history is greatly appreciated. Our thanks to Rita Heuser Farrell for permission to publish this portion from Our Mountains and Glens. The full book is almost 500 pa'es, and is an exceptional production for what is essentially a work of devoted local history. The hardcover book measures about 10x12, weighs a few pounds, and is very nicely printed on good paper with lots of pho? tographs. No matter where you come from, this is a book to admire. It is worth the price of $50.00. Available from Rita Heuser Farrell, R. R. 3, Truro, Nova Scotia B2N 5B2. Jacques-Cartier Motel kitchenette units available / telephones in all roomi P. O. Box 555, Sydney, N. S. BiP 6H4 (902) 539-4375 or 539-4378 or 539-4379 SYDNEY - GLACE BAY HIGHWAY FRANCAIS 2 Kilometres de I'Aeroport ENGLISH
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