All the courts in our
Island had their homes in Sydney in the early stages of Cape Breton
History. In Sydney all the records were kept and all the officials
resided. The officials at Port Hood were mere deputies for the chiefs in
Sydney. On this Northwestern side of the Island if a man wanted a grant of
land he would have to walk to Sydney, through the woods and along blazed
paths, to secure his title deed. If he wished to probate a Will or take
out Letters of Administration, a long walk to Sydney was a sine qua non.
Fortunately the men were here to do these things. Providence had fitted
their backs to their burdens. We shall never know one half of the
sacrifices our good ancestors made for us. These tedious pilgrimages to
Sydney were some of them.
The following enactment is
the earliest legal authority we can find for the constitution of any court
in and for the County of Inverness (then called Juste-a-Corps):
AN ACT FOR THE ESTABLISHING COURTS OF PROBATES OF WILLS, AND GRANTING
LETTERS OF ADMINISTRATION, IN THE SOUTHERN AND NORTHWESTERN DISTRICTS OF
THE COUNTY OF CAPE BRETON
(Passed the 11th day of January, 1831.)
WHEREAS, much inconvenience
is experienced by Persons residing in the Southern and North-Western
Districts of the County of Cape Breton, in consequence of there being but
one Court of Wills, and granting Letters of Administration, established
for the whole County, as held at Sydney:
1. BE it therefore enacted,
by the Lieutenant-Governor, Council and Assembly, That it shall and may be
lawful for the Lieutenant-Governor or Commander in Chief, for the time
being, to commission and appoint two fit and proper Persons to be Judges
of the Courts of Probates of Wills, and granting letters of
Administration, for the Southern and North-Western Districts of the County
of Cape Breton, that is to say, one Person to act as such Judge in each of
the said Districts; which persons so commissioned and appointed, shall
possess all the privileges, and have and exercise the same jurisdiction,
within the said Districts, respectively, as Judges of the Courts of
Probate of Wills, and granting Letters of Administration, possess and
exercise in the respective Districts and Counties in the Province of Nova.
Scotia for which they are commissioned and appointed.
IL AND BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, That, from and
after the passing of this Act, it shall not be lawful for the present
Judge of the Court of Probate of Wills, and granting Letters of
Administration. in the County of Cape Breton, to exercise any jurisdiction
under or' by virtue of that office, or in his capacity of such Judge, save
and -except within and for the first or North-Eastern District of the said
County of Cape Breton.
III. AND BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, That the said
Courts of Probate of Wills, and granting Letters of Administration, shall
be hereafter held at Sydney, Arichat and Port Hood, in the respective
Districts of the County of Cape Breton, at such times as the Judges of the
said Courts may respectively appoint."
The first Judge of Probate for the County of
Inverness was John Lewis Tremain; the first Registrar of Probate Hiram
Blanchard. When Mr. Blanchard became a member for Inverness in the House
of Assembly, he resigned the position of Registrar of Probate, and was
succeeded In that office, for a few years by Barclay E. Tremain. A few
years later on John Lewis Tremain and Barclay E. Tremain, pere et fils,
were succeeded by Edward D. Tremain and Donald J. MacDonald. Mr. MacDonald
who was also County Treasurer held the position till. his death at an old
age. When Mr. MacDonald died Mr. Edward D. Tremain who had long been the
very efficient Judge of Probate for Inverness resigned: and owing to a
recent change in the law no successor was appointed. The present Registrar
of Probate is John I. Smyth, youngest son of the late Hon. Peter Smyth.
The first Deed recorded in Port Hood was that
of Dennis Murphy to the Commissioners for building Jail and Court House,
dated February, 1825.
Before this County was raised to an
independent entity all cases for the civil and criminal courts arising on
this side of the island were tried by the Chief Justice of the Inferior
Court of Common Pleas. This Chief Justice came occasionally to Port Hood
and the Strait of Canso. The leading Justice of the General Session in
Sydney, was sometimes associated with the Chief Justice )n the trial of
cases at the the assizes. It is said that this associate J. P was
generally a much more consequential character than the Chief Justice At a
certain trial in Port Hood the hearing took much longer than was expected.
The court-room was small and more than filled with people. Every-body was
getting restless, and tired. It was observed that the associate J P. was
particularly ill at ease. He rose in his place on the Bench and,
with an ominous lustre in his eye, ordered and adjudged as follows:
"Crier; get me a drink of rum!"
The rule of The Inferior Court of Common Pleas
commenced at port Hood in 1824, and ended in 1840, when it was superseded
by the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia. The first case entered for trial at
port hood in this inferior Court of Common Pleas, Chief Justice Marshall
presiding, was the action of Allan MacDonnell against Ronald MacDonald.
Below is a copy of the Judgment in that suit:
"Western District ALLAN
RONALD McDONALD, Defendant.
"Non-assumpsit on indebitatus assumpsit between the said Allan "McDonnell,
Plaintiff, and Ronald McDonald, Defendant,
"Witnesses sworn and
"Judgment by the Court for plaintiff for Eleven Pounds and costs.
"Therefore, it is considered that the said
Allan McDonnell do "recover against the said Ronald McDonald his damages
aforesaid, to "the sum of Eleven Pounds, and also Two Pounds Seven
Shillings and "Seven Pence, costs of suit, amounting in the whole to the
sum of Eleven Pounds Seven Shillings and Seven Pence.
"And the said Ronald McDonald in mercy &c.
(Sgd.) JOHN G. MARSHALL, Chief Justice.
September 30th, 1834".
Bill of Costs
One witness one day 2s,6
(Sgd.) JOHN L. TREMAIN,
Deputy Prothy. Taxed and allowed at the amount of £2,7,7.
(Sgd.) John G. Marshall,
Following is a copy of the Writ of Summons in the above action,
"George the Fourth &c.
"To the Sheriff of the County of Cape Breton:
"WE COMMAND YOU that you summon Ronald McDonald of Mabou in the County of
Cape Breton, Yeoman, if he may be "found within your precincts, to be and
appear before our Justices of "our inferior Court of Common Pleas at Port
Hood in the 4th Tuesday "of September next, then and there to answer to
the suit of Allan McDonnell in a plea of trespass on the case for not
paying him the sum "of Eighteen Pounds of lawful money of Nova Scotia due
the said AlIan by the said Ronald for divers goods, wares and merchandise,
sold "and delivered by the said Allan to the said Ronald and at his
special "instance and request, and for money lent, advanced and paid, laid
out "and expended by the said Allan to and for the said Ronald at his like
,:request, and for other money had and received by the said Ronald to "and
for the use of the said Allan, And, also, for other money due and "owing
from the said Ronald to the said Allan upon an account stated "between
them which said sum of money the said .Ronald promised to "pay to the said
Allan within the jurisdiction of the said Court, but now "refused. To the
damage of the said Allan McDonnell the sum of "Twenty Pounds, as is said
and have then there this Writ.
"Witness the Honourable John G. Marshall at Port Hood this "14th day of
May in the Fifth year of our reign Annoque Domini 1824.
"Issued this 3rd day of September 1824.
(Sgd.) C. E. LEONARD,
Court House in Port Hood, a small stone structure, was built and completed
by one John MacDonald in 1824-1825. Supreme Court pronounced its first
Judgment here in the cause of Peter De Carteret and Peter Le Vesconte,
Plaintiffs, versus Stephen Labille, Defendant. This Judgment was in favor
of the plaintiffs for £400,5,7 debt, and £3,8,0 costs, making
together the sum of £403,13,7.
The lawyers who practised
at Port Hood in those early days were James Turnbull, a Lowlander who had
been educated and had studied law in the Old Country. He made his home and
commenced the practice of Law in Arichat. Although his permanent home was
in Arichat. he resided for a time in Port Hood, and represented Inverness
County in the local Legislature for a term. His cousin was married to the
first Sheriff of our County, George C. Laurence; Esquire, Senior. He was a
man of some force. He died suddenly in his office at Arichat. C. F.
Harrington had a residence at Port Hastings from which he frequently went
on the circuit to Port Hood and Arichat. He had the name of being a keen
lawyer and a good practitioner, but lacked the voice - and fire to charm a
Jury. Mr. John Lewis Tremain was his brotherin-law. There was a Mr.
McQueen, who came from Sydney where he practised, and a Wm. C. Delaney of
whom we know but little, and and there is no one now alive to remember or
recall themselves or their qualities. There was also a Mr DesBarres whom
we believe to be the same who was afterwards a Judge of our Supreme Court
It is our impression that he lived in Guysborough and could conveniently
run the Cape Breton circuit once in a while. Mr. Blanchard, Hugh
Macdonald, Edward D. Tremain and Samuel MacDonnell came at a later date.
All four were clever men and very successful lawyers.
A Court of General Sessions of the Peace was
provided for Inverness in the early forties of the past century. The early
records of this Court were destroyed by fire and we cannot fix the date of
its beginnings definitely. This Court was the local executive for the
County, and consisted of a President, called the Gustos Rotulorum, a
Clerk, and all the Justices of the Peace within the County who could
Custos for this County was the late Hon. Wm. McKean of Mabou, who was also
the first Legislative Councillor the County of Inverness ever had. The
second Custos was the late Hon. Peter Smyth of Port Hood, who, also
succeeded Mr. McKeen in the Legislative Council. The first Clerk was John
Lewis Tremain; the second and last Clerk was the late Hon Duncan J.
Campbell. The good old Justices of the Peace gave their attendance and
services at the Sessions free. Some one may say that they did not give
much, that they were no statesmen Stop there. Those plain Justices of the
Peace gave unto the County the best that was in them without any charge.
Who, among us all, would go and do likewise?
In 1879 an Act was passed incorporating all
the Counties in-Nova Scotia. Since then our County affairs have been
conducted by a Municipal Council presided over by a Warden. Each County is
divided into districts, and each district elects its own Councillor or
Councillors. The idea was to place the administration of County affairs
directly in the hands of the people, without regard to parties or to
politics. As to whether this was, or is, done, or not done, the people
must answer for themselves.
Later on a system of County Courts was
established in this Province. For the purposes of the County Court Act
Nova Scotia was divided into Seven Judicial Districts, each of which was
to have a County Court Judge. The County of Inverness, with the Counties
of Antigonish and Guysborough, was comprised in District Number Six.
The first Judge of District No. 6 was the late
Stewart Campbell of Guysborough, an educated gentleman of fine parts and
of long experience in law and politics; the second was the late Angus
McIsaac a man of scholastic attainments and beautiful character, who had
been for many years a prominent practising barrister, an efficient School
Inspector, and a respected member of Parliament for the County of
Antigonish; the third was the late Angus MacGillivray, a hard working
Judge, and one of the most genial souls that ever lived. He had been a
member of the legislature and Executive of Nova Scotia, a speaker of the
House of Assembly, and a lawyer of recognized standing. But it was none of
these things that formed the leading characteristic of his happy life. His
outstanding quality was a wonderfully cheerful spirit under all
circumstances. We never saw a man, who so triumphantly confuted the dictum
of Robert Burns to the effect that "Man was made to mourn." Our happy
minded Judge MacGillivray was emphatically made-not to mourn-but to laugh.
And he made others laugh as well. In that respect we shall not see his
like again; the fourth Judge of this County Court was the late Honorable
Daniel McNeil. Technically, he was, perhaps, the best equipped of them all
for the high position. He also, had a long apprenticeship in public life.
Moreover, he had long and extensive law practice in city and country. But,
unfortunately, on the very morrow of his appointment to the Judiciary, he
met with a disabling accident which ultimately caused his untimely death
Poor Dan! If he had lived longer he would have adorned the County Court
Bench. He was not permitted to enjoy it long; we were always surprised
that he accepted it.
Politics is a science in which but few have any proper or adequate
training. It is, however, a subject which every man feels justified in
making his own. And many there are who make a sorry mess of it. In the
olden times our Nova Scotia politics was, perhaps naturally a snobby
imitation of that of the mother kingdom. Even at that time, the meaning of
such names as Whigs and Tories was paling into rank absurdity. Liberals
and Conservatives, Grits and Tories, were of a later school; but they,
too, are quite misleading as party names in a modern world. If the history
of Canada discloses one fact clearer than another, it is this:- that Sir
John A. Macdonald, who was every where acclaimed as the great leader of
the Conservative party, was the most adroit and successful Liberal we ever
had; whereas, the wonderful Alexander McKenzie, an honest and respected
leader of the Liberal party, was practically the most unmistakable
Conservative of all our public men. The most of us think of the
illustrious Joseph Howe as. an orthodox leader of Liberalism. He sounded
that way, certainly. But the late Principal Grant, who knew Howe all
through, and was himself a generous soul of high character and education
says in a prepared paper after Mr. Howe's death, that the latter "could
not be anything but a Tory." Whatever our old politics may have been in
theory, it was, at least in Nova Scotia, reduced in practice to a mere
question of men and measures. Howe and Johnstone; Young and Tupper etc.,
etc., - these were the names to conjure with.
Here, as elsewhere, party feeling often ran
high. The first election contested by Sir William Young in Cape Breton was
attended by considerable turbulence. This was in 1832 while the whole
Island was one constituency. There were four polling places in the
following order: Sydney, Arichat, Port Hood and Cheticamp. The vote was,
taken on different dates and days at the various stations. At Port Hood,
the third poll taken, the two candidates broke exactly even.
Mr. Young was opposed by a Mr. Smith who was
then the Manager of The General Mining Association at Sydney. Large
numbers of the brawny Scotsmen of our shores were extreme supporters of Mr,
Young. They hied them off to Cheticamp to assist him there, all equipped
with heavy, home made, walking sticks. Mr. Young and his brother George
were present a Cheticamp, as was, also, the Return-ing Officer, Mr. John
Fuller of Arichat, then High Sheriff of Cape Breton County.
It was found that many of the French were
strong supporters, of Mr. Smith. This was trying on the Celtic friends of
Mr. Young. The French poll was to remain open for two days. At eleven a.m.
of the first day Mr. Young openly instructed the Sheriff to announce that
the poll would be closed for the day at twelve; and it was so closed. The
next morning before the opening of the poll, the cane-armed Scotsmen took
forcible possession of the booth, ejecting there from all the friends and
supporters of Mr. Smith, some of whom were injured.
There is a tradition, very
strong throughout the county, that after the French were ejected they came
back two hundred strong with loaded musket; and that deeds of blood were
averted by the intercession of the French priest, Fr. Courteau. We have
not been able to verify this. All our other facts relating to this
election are matters of record.
In the summing up Mr. Young was declared
elected by a majority of one. A protest was entered on behalf of Mr. Smith
and was tried by a committee of the House of Assembly. That committee
found and reported to the House, and the House adopted the following
findings, namely: 1st, That Mr. Young's election was the result of a
conspiracy with which the candidate himself was no wholly unconnected;
2nd, that the candidates brother, George Young, was directing the
disorderly Scotsmen; 3rd that Mr. Young's election should be set aside and
the seat awarded to Mr. Smith; 4th that the Returning Officer had
committed and permitted official acts that were irregular and illegal. The
following year Mr. Smith was recalled by his employees in England, and his
political life in Nova Scotia was terminated. In after years Mr. Young was
repeatedly elected in the county of Inverness. See his life sketch on
was another election in 1859 at which a silly religious cry was evoked for
duty at the polls. This cry did not originate in Inverness County. It
commenced in Halifax over an ugly disturbance in which a body of Irish
Catholic workingmen, happened to participate. We think it was commonly
called "the Gorley Shanty Riot." The disturbance itself is not to be
defended, nor is any such lawless act of disorder; but this one was
developed and made doubly mischievous by the politicians, who used it as a
party club on either side. Could an thing be more irreligious than using
the sacred name of Religion to incite the frenzy of political malice? At
that same time the late lamented Bishop Walsh died in the city of Halifax.
As would be done in case of the death of any distinguished citizen, the
flag was hoisted at half mast at Government House. At once the shout went
up that the Government was in the hands of the Catholics. That shout
pierced into the constituencies, and even the tolerant County of Inverness
did not escape unscathed. Some of the clergy took an active interest in
the that and subsequent elections, a circumstance which probably gave rise
to the subsequent idea that clergymen should not interfere at all in
have precisely the same rights as other citizens in politics. What is
wrong for clergymen to do there is, also, wrong for other people; what is
right for other people to say and do in the political arena is, also,
right for clergymen. Nevertheless, we should,, ourselves, be better
pleased to see our clerics not mingling in the dust of election campaigns.
They are ordained and appointed unto much higher work. There is a lure and
a fever in popular contests which might lead the most staid clergyman into
But we have
this to say concerning the actions and attitude of the clergy of earlier
times:- There was need for clerical participation in public affairs then.
The pastors were, in all things, the best and only instructors of their
flocks. The people were uneducated. They had no means of acquiring
information. Their pastor was the only educated man among them. Who,
better than the pastor, could lead, instruct and advise them at election
times. When the clergy of Cape Breton were the open, frank and trusted
counsellors of their people in politics, there was none of the crazy
scramble for spoils, which has been in recent times sapping the manhood of
1867 Confederation was a very exciting issue. The whole of Nova Scotia was
set against that federal Union. Before that time there was no easy
communication or commercial intercourse between. this province and the
upper Provinces. Some of the New England States were much more accessible
and better known to us then than were Ontario and Quebec. Moreover, the
Union had been effected without the consent of our people. The terms to
Nova Scotia were not satisfactory. The Anti-Confederates had quite
sufficient matter for criticism to inflame the public mind, and the public
mind was just in the mood to be inflamed. The elections for the Dominion
and Local Houses were held on the same day. Nova Scotia returned but one
Confederate to the House of Commons, and two to the House of Assembly. It
was a general wave of public censure.
The election of 1878 involved a fiscal issue
that was new and important. It was the principle of a strong protective
tariff against the principle of a tariff for revenue only. This new
cure-all was called "The National Policy." Canada had just passed through
a period of severe industrial and commercial adversity, and the people
were looking impatiently for changes and remedies. This proposed system of
protection to our own markets and industries appealed to them. But it was
new and untried in this country and discarded in the old Country, and its
opponents held tenaciously to the old order. The conservatives: espoused
the new Policy, the Liberals assailed it, and the electorate approved it
decisively. After that, and on that policy, the Liberal-Conservative party
held sway for eighteen years without interruption.
The election of 1896 caused a degree of public
irritation in this Province and County. That year "The Manitoba School
Question" was thrust upon the hands of the people of Canada at large.
There was, we admit, an important constitutional point involved. From a
strictly constitutional standpoint the "Remedial Act" prepared and
proposed by the federal authorities would be justifiable. But, in some
cases, there is great danger in being too ready to call out the reserved
power of the constitution. So thought the people of Inverness in 1896. On
the ground of expediency, they, in common with the people of Canada,
decided that, in respect of all differences relating to provincial matters
of education, it were better to leave Manitoba, with all the other
provinces, free to deal intimately and informedly with such grievances at
their natural home.
Sir Charles Tupper, who was then Premier of Canada, came, with his son,
Sir Hibbert, to a special meeting at Port Hood to discuss the general
issues of the day, and particularly with a view to vindicate the Remedial
Act. Dr. MacLennan, the Liberal candidate, with his friends, met them with
lance in rest. The venerable Sir Charles was permitted to make his speech
with but few interruptions, but when Sir Hibbert stood up to give his
address, he was actually compelled to leave the platform. We always
regretted that those illustrious visitors should have met such a reception
in the County of Inverness.
All our other elections were attended by
nothing more exciting than the mere struggle of parties.
SIR WILLIAM YOUNG.
Sir William Young, K.C.B. ranks among the
first of the public men who figured largely in the affairs of this
province at a comparatively early period of its history. He was born in
Falkirk, Scotland in 1799, came to Halifax with his parents in 1814, and
died there June 8th, 1887. His last public act was laying the Corner Stone
of the then, new, Dalhousie College.
The particulars of Sir William's early life so
far as they are known to exist are meagre. There is a tradition, an
improbable one, on account of his youth; that he accompanied the Castine,
Expedition to Maine; if he did it was in a business and not a military
admitted an Attorney October 25th, 1825, and a Barrister a year or so
later. For some years he and his brother George R., a prominent barrister
and member of the Legislature, practised law together. In after years and
until his appointment as Chief Justice in August 1860, his relative James
Thompson Q.C. was associated with him in his practice.
He was first elected to the Legislature late
in 1832 for the Island of Cape Breton and was unseated the next April and
the seat awarded to his opponent but was elected in 1837 for Juste au
Corps. The Island prior to that was not divided. He represented this
constituency up to and including the general election of 1855. He retired
from Inverness in 1859 and was elected for Cumberland by about a score of
votes. His colleagues in the representation of Inverness were at first,
James McKeagney, then James Turnbull and finally Peter Smyth. He was
elected Speaker in 1843 and held that position for eleven years. In 1854
Howe accepted the Commissionership of Railways, Young thereupon became
leader, formed a government, took the Attorney-Generalship and was elected
by acclamation. His government was sustained in the election of 1855 but
was defeated in 1857 by a want of confidence vote, through the defection
of Catholic members, and some, non Catholics, who represented Catholic
constituencies, caused by the religious conflict then prevailing. Mr.
Johnston with Doctor Tupper then formed a government which lasted until
the early part of 1860, when it was defeated by vote of the house
consequent on the general election of 185Q. Sir William then formed a
government and remained with it as leader, without portfolio, until his
appointment to the Bench a few months later.
Sir William never encountered any difficulty
in retaining his seat in Inverness. There was but little for him to do in
County matters. The good people of the County, and the term is strictly
accurate then and now, were not hungry for political favors, and outside
of the agitation for Responsible government there was scarcely a question
disturbing the general public mind. There were few newspapers in
circulation to convey hints, or discuss public affairs, and patronage;
moreover he had the whole-hearted support of the Clergy and the Merchants
of the County; and last but not least the undivided Catholic body, which
constituted the majority of the people in the County, were his cordial
friends. Besides this he had the whole-hearted backing of Hon. Williaw
McKeen, Hiram Blanchard and Peter Smyth, highly respected and influential
In his career as
a Barrister he was engaged in a large number of the most important cases,
and as a rule Mr. Johnston was opposed to him There is not sufficient
material available whereon to form a reliable opinion as to the measure of
his success. He was painstaking, thorough, and methodical in all his work,
and prepared his cases with great care. He revised, and often entirely
recast his speeches in the House and polished them thoroughly before
submitting them for publication; hence often the greater evidence of
literary finish found in them, in comparison with some of Howe's on the
same subjects. As an impromptu speaker he was not Howe's equal. There was
this difference between him and Howe: the latter never prepared for
retreat. He was always sanguine of success on the battle-lines he
projected; on the other hand Young, always cautious, always in a
calculating mood, never failed to prepare for eventualities, including
want of a term of greater accuracy it may be said that Young was adroitly
eloquent. He knew his auditors, he understood them, he had a keen sense of
their tastes and prejudices; he realized what would sting, and what would
soothe, what would depress and what stimulate their enthusiasm, and like a
skilful actor, he played accordingly. He was what the writer of his
Obituary notice in the Morning Chronicle said of him, "showy rather than
a leading and useful part in preparing and carrying through the
Legislature Statutes to simplify and improve the practice of law; and
especially the excellent Statute relating to Pleadings and Practice which
in several respects anticipated the later English Common Law Procedure
Act. A substantial part however was covered by Judge made rules
promulgated in 1842.
Sir William was an extensive reader and kept in close touch with the
questions of the hour. As an individual citizen he was always ready to
assist in all good works, which appealed to him as adapted to promote
general, moral and civic, betterment. His benefactions to Charity were
generous and frequent during his life; and at his death his gifts, through
his Will, to the City were quite substantial and appropriate. He was well
versed in the principles of the Common Law, and especially those branches
which came before the Courts in his day. The general opinion of the
leaders of the Bar in his own time, and of those who have had occasion to
examine his judicial opinions, since then, was that his knowledge of the
fundamental principles and the practice of the Courts of Equity was not
very extensive, nor profound. This view was founded upon the conclusion
that he appeared at times to be governed, in respect to equitable
principles, by what he thought the guidance of his conscience dictated as
right and just, rather than by the well-defined principles of Equity
Jurisprudence which should always have controlled him.
It cannot be said with anything akin to moral
certainty that his judicial decisions have had, or are liable to have, an
important bearing upon' our Jurisprudence. They are rarely cited by Bench
or Bar and this perhaps furnishes a fair test of their value.
Sir William Young occupied responsible
political and judicial positions in the Province and especially in
connection with Inverness County, hence this rather lengthy notice.
THE HONOURABLE PETER SMYTH.
The Honourable Peter Smyth represented the
County in the Assembly from some time in 1847 until his appointment to a
seat in the Legislative Council in 1867 which he held up to his death in
was born in Dublin in 1800, came to Nova Scotia in 1817, and lived at Cape
George for some time. While there he carried goods and made sales as he
went through the Country. Some time later he removed to Port Hood, then
spoken of as Juste au Corps-eventually changed in use to Chestico - where
he built a residence and store. His business soon called for a larger
store which he erected, and some years afterwards, as his trade expanded,
he built and opened a store in Mabou Village, and another in the lower
part of Judique, and about 1850 he erected one on Smith's Island where he
did a large fish outfitting, and general trade.
During his business career of sixty or more
years there were several occasions when, through failure of the fisheries
or the crops, some times both, there was a serious scarcity of the
necessaries of life in many parts of the County. He gave generously, in
credit and otherwise, to meet these emergencies, and never at any time
refused an applicant for goods on credit, no matter how poor he was, nor
how improbable the prospect of payment. The calls upon him in the hard
cold year of 1848 were many. Through this generous Christian spirit he
prevented much want and suffering amongst those in distress; even to some
outside the County. He was a man of high moral tone, a devout Catholic,
and the spirit these engendered actuated him through life. No needy
person, and no charity, ever appealed to him unsuccessfully; while his
contributions in aid of religion were always prompt :and generous, and his
money, and other gifts in aid of the erection of the large brick Catholic
Church at Port Hood, covered a very substantial portion of its cost.
His first wife whom he married about 1830 was
a Miss Grady of Canso. There were three children of this union: Patrick,
who studied law with Hiram Blanchard, gave great promise, but died before
admission to the Bar, Thomas, who assisted in his father's business, was a
very quiet, reserved man, with some of the qualities of a recluse, and
died in his early forties; Mary who never married, and died comparatively
young. The second wife was Eleanor Keating of Guysboro. Two girls and five
boys resulted from that marriage: Elizabeth, married Dr. Campbell, who
represented the County for some years and was also a member of the local
Executive, and Annie who married Samuel McDonnell, Q.C.M.P. Both ladies
are living, and so are all the boys except Christopher. Peter the eldest
assisted in his father's business to the end. He married Mary McNeil,
sister of His Grace the Archbishop of Toronto, and now resides in that
first election in the County was late in 1846 or early in 1847. A vacancy
occurred through the death of Mr. Turnbull, a sitting member and he was
selected to fill it, and was again chosen in the general elections of
1851, 1855, 1859, and 1863. As a representative he was faithful to his
duties, but rarely spoke in public or in the House, and then very briefly
but always concisely. He was the Custos of the County from the death of
the Honourable William McKeen, his predecessor in that office, until it
was abolished by the erection of Municipalities. The main highways were
kept throughout his regime in good order-that between the Strait of Canso
and Margaree via Port Hood was especially well maintained. Commissions for
road -expenditures were not at all general until about 1867. Prior to
that, and at any rate up to about 1860, the highway between the points
just mentioned was under the care of Sheriff Laurence, through an
appointment of the two members. Laurence divided that district into
sections, and appointed a capable, trusty man for each to make repairs
promptly and to maintain the road in his section in good condition
throughout the year. Departure from that system led to a serious
deterioration in the condition of that road. It was however easier to keep
up a road then than during the last half century in which wheel, and heavy
traffic has very materially increased.
Mr. Campbell lived and died at Strathlorne.
When quite a young man he came into this valley, taught school for a while
and later entered into business which he continued all his life. He was a
canny Scotsman. One wonders how any man could live in business in the
conditions then existing. The credit system prevailed of necessity,
because there was no cash in circulation. The currency was the general
country produce, the market for which was hard to reach. Extreme care and
shrewdness were necessary in the conduct of a rural business then. It was
only in cases in which these qualities were marked that traders could
escape a crushing insolvency.
Mr. Campbell was a man of exceedingly strong
individuality. He was plain and candid with his customers. He would give
them goods on credit, but payment without fail would have to be made on
certain dates. If they lived up to their obligations, he would use them
well; if not, he gave no quarters, and asked none. By and by, the wiser
folks began to think that Mr. Campbell's way was the right way for both
sides. And thus he held his trade. He married Mary MacLean, daughter of
John MacLean (Ban) of Strathlorne, by whom he had two sons and two
daughters. Years after the death of his first wife he was married to Miss
Grant of Pictou, sister to the late Principal Grant of Queen's University,
by whom he had one daughter.
In 1867 he was elected to the House of
Assembly of Nova Scotia. Confederation was the burning issue in this
province at that election. The legislature of Nova Scotia had passed a
Resolution accepting the scheme of Confederation without submitting the
same to the people. The whole province, led by brilliant Joseph Howe, rose
in revolt. Never since did we see the electors of Inverness raised as they
were then raised. The revolt was not so much against the principle of the
Union, as against the manner of bringing it about, and the terms proposed
for Nova Scotia. The battle cry of the "Antis" was,-"Sold for the price of
Campbell was a candidate of the Anti-Confederates, and was, of course,
elected, although his colleague was not. Strange to say, Hiram Blanchard,
a frank and fearless Confederate, was elected with Mr. Campbell. Only two
Confederates were elected for the whole Province, namely Mr. Blanchard of
Inverness and Mr. Pineo of Cumberland. The former was afterwards unseated
by a committee of the House of Assembly, and at a subsequent by-election
in the County of Inverness was defeated at the polls by Hugh MacDonald, of
Mabou, who in after years was a very popular and effective Sheriff of this
general election of 1874 Mr. Blanchard having retired both Mr. Campbell
and Hugh MacDonald were defeated by John McKinnon of Whycocomagh and Dr.
Campbell of Port Hood. After this Mr. Campbell remained some years in
private life. In 1878, when the National Policy was a new issue, he
entered the lists as a Liberal-Conservative candidate, and came out a
winner, but his colleague, the late Donald Gillies, Barrister, went down
to defeat. The men returned this time were Mr. Alexander Campbell and Dr.
Campbell, opponents in politics but always friends. Within a few years
thereafter Dr. Campbell died, and the late Dr. MacLennan then a
Conservative, was elected for the first time to fill the vacancy caused by
Dr. Campbell's death.
At a future election Mr. Campbell was again
returned to serve in the House of Assembly with the late John H. Jamieson,
but after serving their term they were both defeated in a contest with the
late James Macdonald and Moses Doucet, and neither of the two ever went
back again to the political arena.
So Mr. Campbell had the average experience of
politicians. But the varying fortunes of politics had no ill effect on his
fine force of character. He was always honourable and straight forward,
and well-informed for a self-made man. He was a reader of good books
only,. and lived an absolutely correct private life. Friends and foes
respected him. He sleeps his long sleep, under the shade of the willows,
in his own beloved Strathlorne, where he will be long remembered as a
militant Liberal-Conservative in politics, a worthy leader in the
Presbyterian Church, a useful and enlightened citizen, a kindly host and
a, real man.
many years, one of the most prominent public men of Inverness County was
the late Hugh Cameron, M.D., of Mabou. He was a native of Antigonish, was
married to Eunice, daughter of the late Honourable John McKinnon of
William's Point, and came to Mabou immediately after his graduation as a
medical doctor. When he came, there was only one other doctor in this
county-a Dr. MacKeen, who subsequently removed to Baddeck in the County of
Victoria. Before that there was an old county Doctor by the name of Noble
in Southern Inverness. Therefore, at the very beginning of his medical
practice. Dr. Cameron had all the County of Inverness under his foot. A
call of fifty miles was a common thing to him. Naturally, he established a
large business in a short time. He was then, as always, a literal "live
In 1867 he was
elected to represent the County of Inverness in the new found House of
Commons of Canada. He was a warm anti-Confederate, and that was a
sufficient passport to the seats of the mighty that year in Nova Scotia.
Of all the Confederate candidates for a Dominion seat that year in this
Province, the gallant Dr. Tupper alone escaped the wrath of a wild
electorate. From 1867 till 1872 Dr. Cameron worked hard for his
constituency. The British North America Act had assigned to the central
Parliament, exclusively, certain subjects in which the County of Inverness
was vitally interested. Among these subjects were the Fisheries, Light
Houses, improvement of Harbours, and the building and maintenance of
wharves and piers. The member for Inverness had need of all those things.
In 1872 Dr. Cameron was defeated at the polls
by Samuel MacDonnell; and so in 1873 on the question of the alleged
Pacific Scandal. So likewise in the election of 1878, with the National
Policy in issue. It has a right to be told, however, that in the Dominion
Election of 1878 there were three candidates in Inverness for the one
seat. Those candidates were Dr. Cameron, Samuel MacDonnell, and young Dr.
MacLennan - a flashing blade of bright promise. It has been claimed by the
Conservatives that Dr. Cameron's defeat in 1878 was due to Dr. MacLennan's
candidature. If that were so, Dr. MacLennan fully attoned for the mishap,
for he afterwards powerfully assisted Dr. Cameron on many a foughten
defeat in 1878 Dr. Cameron was appointed to the Legislative Council at
Halifax by the government of "Holmes and Thompson." In 1882 he resigned
his seat in the Legislative Council, and again contested the County of
Inverness for the Dominion representation. This time he was easily
successful. For the next three parliamentary terms he was the spokesman
for Inverness at Ottawa. It was during this period that the federal
government extended the Intercolonial Railway from Mulgrave to Sydney.
There were two routes proposed for this extension, one via St. Peters and
Louisburg, the other by way of the Grand Narrows. This latter line was
called the "central route" of which we know Dr. Cameron to have been a
strong supporter. That route was adopted, and brought very considerable
advantage to Inverness County. In 1896, if we remember well, Dr. Cameron
was finally defeated by the popular vote of Inverness County. His
successor for many years was the doughty Dr. MacLennan, of whom more anon.
Dr. Cameron was a good living man, an
exemplary father and husband, a regular church-goer, - worshipping in the
Catholic Church, and respecting all other churches, He was also a dutiful
citizen, a sympathetic and successful physician. In politics he was ever
loyal to his party, and his party's principles. If he had any fault in
this. respect it was that he was at times, ultra loyal. He was a fierce
fighter, possessing a good deal of the craft of the sheer politician, but
he would not, in any case, abdicate the throne of conscience.
In the social realm different men might judge
him differently. Some might say that he was aggressively candid; others,
that he had infirmities of temper which were not made to charm; others
still that he had hobbies that were tiresome. We shall not discuss such
things. Basing our judgment on long personal acquaintance with him, we
believe he was a man whose virtues far outweighed his failings, whatever
the latter may have been. The County of Inverness owes him the memory of
honest, faithful, energetic service.
DR. ANGUS MacLENNAN.
Angus MacLennan was born at- Broad Cove Marsh
in the County of Inverness. He was the seventh and youngest son of John
MacLennan of Kintail. His mother was Isabel MacLeod daughter of Donald
MacLeod, the pioneer and progenitor of all the MacLeods of Broad Cove
Marsh and vicinity. The fact that he was the youngest of seven brothers
gave him a chance of being left at school longer and more regularly than
the rest. He was born with fine natural abiliities, potential then, of
course. The school at the "cross roads", so called, was one of the first
schools of Inverness County to acquire a name. The well remembered
MacLellan Brothers, Malcolm and John, who were clever scholars coming to
America, taught alternately for years in that section. Mr. John MacEchen,
familiarly known a5 "the Big Schoolmaster", a teacher of experience and
assertive head qualities, also laboured long at Broad Cove Marsh. The late
Dr. Alexander McIntosh of Antigonish also taught here. Of all the
generation of school pupils to which Dr. Angus MacLennan belonged he,
himself, the late Reverend Joseph McLeod, P.P., and the late Alexander
Macdonald, barrister, were the most notable products of the old school at
the "cross roads."
When he left the district school, he joined the teaching fraternity which
at that time was much in need of recruits. His first school was at Broad
Cove Banks, where he taught for three continuous years. lie was then a
well developed young man, nineteen years of age, lithe, strong and
strenuous, and beaming with the joys of living. He had a clear gift for
teaching; pupils and parents admired him. The hidden prompter of this pen
was one of his first and humblest pupils.
When he left Broad Cove Banks, he taught for a
term at South West Mabou, after which he attended the Port Hood Academy
for a winter. Leaving Port Hood, he went across to Cape Breton County, and
taught there for years in one section in the neighbourhood of Glace Bay.
Then, he took a year in St. F. X. College, after which he returned to his
Cape Breton school where he remained till be began to study medicine.
After graduating in medicine, he located at
Margaree Harbour, where he established a large and lucrative practice. As
mentioned elsewhere, he was a federal candidate in Inverness in 1878.
Though defeated then, he made a good impression on the people. After the
coming into force of the County Incorporation Act of 1879 he was elected
by his home district of Margaree to the Municipal Council of Inverness. He
remained a leading member of that intelligent body for a full decade, or
more. He ran successfully once, and unsuccessfully twice for the local
he was elected to the Canadian House of Commons in the Liberal interests.
At a future election he was opposed by a strong Liberal, as well as by a
straight Conservative, but was triumphantly re-elected against the two. In
the very beginning of his last Dominion election campaign in 1908 and
while addressing a public meeting at Cheticamp, he was taken suddenly ill,
and in a few days died the edifying death of a genuine Christian. So
passed away one of the most interesting figures that ever occupied a place
in the public life of Inverness County.
Dr. MacLennan was a man who did things. His
love for his native County was a veritable passion. When he made a demand
on the government which he felt convinced was right - and necessary for
his constituency - he would not take "no" for an answer. The minister who
tried to dispose of him with sweet phrases was not well advised. The first
year he was in Ottawa he secured a double subsidy ($6400 a mile) for sixty
miles of railway in his constituency. The next year he had the project so
worked up that MacKenzie and Mann were attracted thereto. Forthwith the
construction of the long-deferred Inverness Railway was proceeded with. A
busy railway from Point Tupper to Inverness Colliery, a solid and spacious
Public Building at Inverness; the town of Inverness itself (indirectly); a
Salmon Hatchery at North East Margaree; an important Boat Harbour at Grand
Etang; and a perceptible uplifting of the general services within the
County, are some of the silent witnesses to Dr. MacLennan's force and
fidelity as a representative. We never had a better one.
As a mere man, Dr. MacLennan could, like the
most of Adam's kin, be viewed from various angles. At times he would
appear to be very domineering and headstrong. He was subject to fits of
high temper, and when his temper held sway his actions and discourses were
not wise. He would be himself the first to acknowledge the disadvantage of
that temper. We often heard him deploring it; and we have reason to
believe that he worked and prayed to overcome it. Barring this ailment of
temper, which alas! was not peculiar to him alone, he was the most genial
and friendly of men. He was no hypocrite. All could see the worst, but not
the best, of him. He had within him a heart as large as a mountain, an
ocean of rich, red blood, and a deep religious spirit which it was not his
wont to parade. Rest faithful servant; rest.
Mr. Samuel MacDonnell Q.C.,was born at St.
Andrews in the County of Antigonish, and was the son of Donald MacDonnell
(Garanaich). He studied law in the town of Antigonish with William A.
Henry, who afterwards became a Judge of the Supreme Court of Canada. After
his admission to the Bar, he came to Port Hood, where he develop ed a
practice of large dimensions for a country business. He married Annie
Smyth, the youngest daughter of the late. Hon. Peter Smyth, then doing
business on a large scale at Port Hood, Judique and Mabou.
He was the incarnation of
mental and bodily activity, and an exceedingly well built little man. No
grass could grow under his feet. Like all the sons of men, he had certain
ways with him. One of these ways was to show, under all circumstances, a
marked appreciation of himself That militated against his popularity with
people who did not know him. We knew him well, and we know those apparent
airs of superiority were all on the surface. We saw him in the presence of
sickness and death; we saw him lending his hand to the poor, we saw him
facing conditions of grave public importance; and we saw him exercising
himself in the most practical and friendly manner to help out of
misfortune, men whom he knew to be his enemies. This was the "inner man",
which was never vainly displayed on the street. There may be such a thing
as a man thinking too much of himself. All depends upon the sort of man he
is. There is one thing certain, the man who thinks nothing of himself is
liable to fare ill with this world of ours-and quite probably with the
was distinctly above the average in intellectual strength. It may be that
he, at times, depended too much on that innate strength, without regard to
precedents. That often happens with men who are lavishly gifted; but the
natural strength is still there.
Such as he could not easily keep aloof from
public affairs. A few years after he came to Port Hood he was elected to
the Nova Scotia Legislature by the people of Inverness. He was in the
House of Assembly when the late Dr. Tupper submitted to that body his
famous Resolution, on the question of Confederation. Mr. MacDonnell and
the late Senator Miller of Arichat were both members of that Assembly and
both outspoken opponents of the original terms of the scheme as regards
the Province of Nova Scotia. Near the close of the debate, in which the
opposition had developed ominous strength, Mr. Miller arose to ask if the
Leader of the Government could confer with them as to the practicability
of modifying the terms. Dr. Tupper agreed, the conference was held, an
effort to secure "better terms" was promised; Miller and MacDonnell
withdrew their opposition, and the Union of Nova Scotia to the old upper
Provinces became a legislative fact. For many years, Samuel MacDonnell was
the oldest Queen's Counsel in Cape Breton and conducted the whole Island's
criminal business in the Supreme Court, efficiently and satisfactorily.
In 1867 Mr. MacDonnell ran in Inverness for
the Dominion House of Commons, but was defeated. In 1872 he was elected to
the Canadian Commons, and took his place in Parliament as a supporter of
John A. MacDonald's Administration. In 1873 that Administration was
dissolved by reason of the so-called Pacific Scandal. On that occasion Mr.
MacDonnell of Inverness and Newton L. MacKay of Cape Breton withdrew their
support from John A. MacDonald, and threw in their lot with that stern,
unbending Scotsman, Alexander MacKenzie. Mr. MacDonnell appealed again to
Inverness and was again returned but now as a supporter of the MacKenzie
between 1873 and 1878 were a period of acute depression in Canadian trade
and business. As always in such cases, people began to reach out for a
change. John A. MacDonald's right hand had not lost its cunning. He
prepared, ably assisted in the task by Dr. Tupper, and proposed a system
of fiscal Protection for Canada. It was called the National Policy-Canada
for the Canadians-and took like hot cakes. In 1878 the MacKenzie
Government was crushed out of power, but Mr. MacDonnell was re-elected in
Inverness. In 1882 he was defeated by Dr. Cameron and never afterwards got
back to Parliament.
In Parliament he was not obstrusive although he would sometimes indulge in
pungent criticism, and frequently enlivened the proceedings with his
quaint humor. On one occasion there had been a very protracted debate.
Preparations were in progress for the taking of the vote. The House was
getting restless. . A very much respected member had just started to make
the final speech. All at once a certain section of the Chamber broke out
into a perfect pandemonium of song, and a French song at that. The poor
man that had the floor was having a bad quarter of an hour. Mr. MacDonnell
rose to a point of order; and, asked by the Speaker to state his point of
order, said: "The honourable member is interrupting the music."
Mr. MacDonnell always maintained a lofty sense
of honor in every sphere of life. He was fond of being among his
constituents, identifying himself with their every interest. His large
farm at Dungarry, with its massive and hospitable stone house, was for
some years a regular "illustration station" for many of our
the late afternoon of his life he was appointed by the Laurier Government
an Inspector of Customs for Eastern Nova Scotia. This was a position
which, we think, did not suit his taste, training or temperament. When the
County Courts Act came into operation he was offered the Judgeship of
District No. 6, comprising the Counties of Antigonish, Guysboro and
Inverness. He declined the offer, and recommended the late Stewart
Campbell of Guysboro, who was then appointed. We heard him saying on a
certain Declaration day that he "would not willingly be the servant of
Queen Victoria, but was delighted to be the servant of the people." He was
a man of public spirit. We remember a time when, besides his large farm
and law practice, he attended to the County's affairs in Parliament, took
part in organizing Agricultural Associations, owned a steed of superior
horses, a good sized trading vessel, and a weekly newspaper, of which he,
himself, was the editor.
He was only a few years in the Civil Service
when his health gave way. His illness was slow, gradual and progressive,
to the end. In fact, he was vouchsafed the finest opportunities, of which
we have no doubt he availed himself, to prepare for the great Adventure
which awaits us all; but which each of us, in his turn, must undertake by
himself, alone,-some day, some day!
DUNCAN J. CAMPBELL.
Other representatives of the County of
Inverness, now deceased, were: Hon. John MacKinnon of Whycocomagh, Dr.
Duncan J. Campbell of Port Hood, Hugh MacDonald of Mabou, Hon. Daniel
MacNeil, Moses Doucet of Grand Etang, Hon. James MacDonald of West Bay,
and J. H. Jamieson of Port Hood, all of whom are well remembered by our
readers and all of whom were men of merit.
Mr. MacKinnon was for many years a member for
Inverness in the House of Assembly at Halifax, first with Dr. Campbell,
and afterwards with Hon. Daniel MacNeil. While in the House with Dr.
Campbell he was a member of the Executive, without portfolio. He was an
educated man of excellent manner, a good, clear public speaker, and one of
the coolest men ever seen on the hustings. After his return to private
life he was appointed Inspector of Schools for Inverness and Victoria, a
position which he filled and deserved well. The present Inspector, James
MacKinnon, is his son, and a worthy one. In politics Mr. MacKinnon was a
sane Liberal, broad-minded and fair. In religion, he was a helpful and
dutiful member of the Presbyterian Church.
Dr. Duncan J. Campbell was born at Margaree
Forks, and was the son of Samuel Campbell of that place. After finishing
his medical studies he practised for a short time at Port Hastings. People
were at once impressed by his winning personality. Friends in Port Hood
importuned him to come to that shire town. He did come; and spent the rest
of his life there. In 1784 he and John MacKinnon were elected to the House
of Assembly. After this he won a series of elections, and never lost any.
He was a member of the local Government when he died. It is rarely that
any man is as well liked by the masses as Dr. Campbell always was. Many
men are popular with their supporters, but Dr. Campbell was popular with
his opponents. Socially he had no opponents. Towards all and sundry he was
kind generous and hospitable, and loved to help along the young men of the
County. He married Elizabeth Smyth, daughter of the late Hon. Peter Smyth.
For many years he held the office of Clerk of the General Sessions of the
Peace, and was the first Clerk of the Municipal Council of Inverness. In
his medical practice he had the late Dr. A. K. MacLean associated with him
for a long time. He died young and was mourned extensively.
Hugh MacDonald was a protege of the late
Reverend Alexander MacDonald, who was the first resident Priest of Mabou,
and Vicar General of the diocese. Father MacDonald was sent to minister to
the missions of Mabou and Port Hood for one year. At his own subsequent
request he was permitted to remain permanently. He brought with him for
housekeeper a relative by the name of Mary MacDonald, a widow with three
young children, Hugh Mary, and. Isabella. The former is the subject of
this sketch. In his youth he was, known as "Hugh the Priest."
The fact that he was reared by Fr. MacDonald
gave him some opportunities for early education not possessed by the
neighbouring youth. He was given a course in St. F. X. College in
Antigonish, and. was about to enter the study of medicine when he was
drawn into politics in 1868. That year he was elected to the House of
Assembly,. defeating, in a bye-election, such a seasoned gladiator as the
late Hiram Blanchard, Esquire. The issue was "Confederation."
After his first legislative term he never more
returned to politics. Subsequently he was appointed Postmaster and
Telegraph Operator at Mabou, and held both of those offices until he was
appointed Sheriff of the County. This last named office he held unto
death. He was a nice, clean man, happy-minded and well read; and, as far
as we know, and we knew him intimately-he never had a visible enemy.
Our kind friend, Daniel MacNeil, is almost too
fresh in the memory of our readers to be made the subject of history. It
seems like yesterday when he was living and moving among us. But We have
known him from his youth, and cannot pass him by in silence. We knew him
as a boy, we knew him in the common struggle of our school days, we knew
him as a fellow student at law, we knew him as a brother practitioner, we
knew him as an eager, energetic force in the public concerns of our
people, and we knew him-for too short a time-as, the well-equipped Judge
of the County Court for District Number Six. In all those spheres of human
activity he was, as far as we know,honourable, hardworking, well posted,
and well disposed.
commenced the study of law with his uncle, N.H. Meagher and finished with
Samuel MacDonnell of Port Hood.
Mr. MacDonnell. After a few years this
partnership was dissolved and Mr. MacNeil commenced for himself a law
practice in Port Hood which developed into large size rapidly. After a few
years he removed to Halifax where he practised, with a large measure of
success for a lengthened period. In the Halifax business his brother
Alexander and W. F. O'Connor were associated with him.
After Dr. Campbell's death he was elected to
the local legislature as the colleague of John MacKinnon. He was appointed
a member of the Fielding Government before he ran his first election, and
remained in that Government for several parliamentary terms. He retired
from that Government, and sacrificed his future prospects on a question
affecting the construction of railways in Inverness.
After the death of his wife and some of his
family, he removed from Halifax and returned to practise his profession in
the town of Inverness. In that town (we think on the next evening after
his appointment to the Judiciary) he received an accidental injury from
which he never entirely recovered.
Poor Dan! As is the case with the most of us,
it was his portion to taste both the sweets and the bitterness of life.
But through it all, he never weakened or despaired. He held fast to his
faith. In the town of Inverness, it was an inspiration to young and old,
and to men of all creeds, to see him in his declining years, and in the
midst of a heavy law practice, wending his way to early mass every day in
He died in
Antigonish a few years ago.
Moses Doucet has, also, been well known to our
readers. He was the first Acadian in Inverness County to be made a member
of Parliament, and he was a credit to his race. Mr. Douche was a natural
gentleman; an intelligent Frenchman, speaking English that was almost
classic in its neatness. He was so eminently gentlemanly and polite, that,
in the majority of cases, to meet him was to vote for him He was elected
twice to the provincial legislature, with the late Hon. James MacDonald as
his colleague. His third appeal to the electors was unsuccessful, owing to
a multiplicity of candidates which divided the voters, beyond all party
calculations. Shortly after his defeat he contracted pneumonia, of which
Before he went into provincial politics he did business at Grand Etang,
and represented that district efficiently for quite a while in the
Municipal Council. His death at an early age was an untimely public loss.
HON. JAMES MacDONALD.
The late Hon. James MacDonald is another
gentleman with whom our readers have long been intimate. Long before he
entered politics, he had been a shrewd and successful merchant at West
Bay. We think he was much better adapted to trade and commerce than to
politics. Yet, when he did enter the political arena, his fine character
as man and merchant, coupled with a strong combination of supporters, made
him an exceptionally strong factor in the public life of Inverness. He was
elected three times in succession, and never defeated. He was a member of
considerable weight in the Murray Government. In his later years his
health broke badly, causing him to quit the field of political
competition. A Liberal he was born, and a Liberal he was buried. In
religion, he was an equally firm, lifelong and consistent Presbyterian.
Men like him are not plentiful. Inverness will always honour his name.
JOHN H. JAMIESON.
John H. Jamieson was a son of Hugh Jamieson of
Broad Cove. His preliminary education was received in the school of
Strathlorne, usually conducted in those times by sons of Reverend John
Gunn of that place. He served, himself, as a school teacher in various
sections of the County afterwards. Before commencing to study law he
attended St. F. X. College at Antigonish for a year. He studied law
alternately with Samuel MacDonnell and Edward D, Tremain of Port Hood.
After his admission to the Bar he began to
practise in Port Hood, where he worked up a considerable legal business.
He attended well to his work, and looked out for Number One. Optimism was
his middle name. It was refreshing to see how sanguine and self-confident
he could be even in the most hopeless legal tangle. He was a warmhearted
Highlander with a talent for making friends. No one could surpass him in
the hospitality of his home. He was for some years the Clerk of the
Municipal Council. He was elected to the House of Assembly with Alexander
Campbell, but both were defeated at the next ensuing election. He was
married to Lila, daughter of the late Sheriff MacDougall, without issue.
Some years before his death he contracted some
ailment which ultimately proved fatal. He was a brawny Scot, possessing
some of the finest qualities of his race.
THE LATE MR. JUSTICE HUGH MacDONALD.
The Honorable Mr. Justice Hugh MacDonald, one
of the most distinguished sons of the county of Antigonish, was born on a
farm at South River in that county on the 4th of May 1827. His parents
were Allan MacDonald, a Highland Scottish emigrant, and Christina Cameron,
a near relative of the late Bishop Cameron. Some of the MacDonald's from
whom the subject of this sketch was descended were men of note in the
parent land. He was the son of Allan, son of Angus, son of John Og, son of
John who was a Captain in the army of Prince Charlie. This last named John
was a brother of the then Laird of Morar, and of Bishop Hugh MacDonald who
blessed the flag of Prince Charlie at Glenfinnan. Our Hugh MacDonald
received his early education in the Grammar School of St. Andrews, then a
well reputed institution of learning. He left school at sixteen, taught
for two years in the near by section of Dunmore, and afterwards engaged in
land surveying for some years.
In 1856 he married Sarah, a daughter of the
late Captain Joseph Smith. Of his four daughters and one son, the
youngest, Eva, the wife of Doctor J. J. Cameron, alone survives. He was
bound to his family by ties of ardent mutual affection, all too rare. He
died on the 28th of February 1899, and his wife in 1903. In religion he
was a devoted member of the Catholic Church.
He began his law studies with C. F. Harrington
at Arichat and ended them with W. A. Henry in Antigonish, was admitted to
the Bar in 1855, and forthwith began the practice of his profession in the
Shiretown of his native county. He rose early to a prominent position at
the Bar of Nova Scotia, of which he continued to be an active and
successful member until his elevation to the Bench on November 5th 1873.
He was appointed one of Her Majesty's Counsel, learned in the law, on
December 26th 1872. Early in June 1873 he entered the Government of Sir
John A. MacDonald as President of the Privy Council, and less than a month
later was chosen for Minister of Militia and Defence, a position which he
held until his appointment to the Supreme Court Bench of Nova Scotia.
It became the privilege of Inverness County to
introduce this eminent citizen to the public life of Nova Scotia. In the
general election of 1859 he was elected by this county to the House of
Assembly at Halifax, together with Peter Smyth and Hiram Blanchard Q.C. In
1863 he ran in the County of Antigonish and was defeated.
During the provincial session of 1860 Mr.
MacDonald addressed the House briefly several times; but his first speech
of weight and note came in March 1861 on a motion of Mr. Johnstone,
declaring "that the Constitution, under existing, conditions, demanded an
appeal to the people." The Colonist of 18th March 1861 pronounced this
deliverance one of the most lucid and convincing arguments the editorial
writer ever heard. Mr. Johnstone, himself, complimented the young speaker
strongly " on the amount of argument he had pressed into small space" and
"on the legal ability he displayed." Mr. Howe, also, paid him a high
tribute, saying "it was gratifying to know there were young men of talent
and promise to take the place of the old leaders." Howe always entertained
a high opinion of Mr. MacDonald's ability and not long afterwards offered
him a seat in his government, but owing to special circumstances the offer
was refused. Party feeling, embittered by heated and unchristian
controversy, ran very high at this period.
In the summer of 1866, Howe, Annand and Hugh
MacDonald comprised the Nova Scotia delegation to London, with a view to
prevent the passage by the British Parliament of the Act to unite the
provinces of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The Act was
decisively approved of by the English Government and the efforts of these
delegates, though able and earnest, were ineffective.
Howe, in a letter to the Chronicle of the 25th
of August 1868, in reply to one in the Recorder finding fault with himself
and others, wrote:-"Hugh MacDonald is, I suppose, another of those men who
are to be improved and rendered faithful by this sort of discipline. This
gentleman gave many months of his time to the cause as a delegate to
England with no recognized official position, with no money compensation
for his time or practice, and coming back from England as he came back
from Ottawa, sternly upright and personally pure, he defeated the Attorney
General under circumstances that all of us know to have been peculiarly
trying and difficult."
Mr. MacDonald, like the majority of Nova
Scotians, was an ardent opponent of Confederation. It may possibly be
claimed that his opposition was not so much to the principle of Union, as
to the terms originally provided for Nova Scotia. In any case, after the
failure of a second delegation to London in 1868 to secure the repeal of
the Act, he prudently yielded to the inevitable. With Howe, McLelIan and
other prominent Antis, he accepted the invitation of Sir John A. MacDonald
to meet delegates from his Government to discuss the situation with the
view of ending the hostile and violent feeling in this province towards
the Act of Union. The result is well known. Better terms were secured, and
Howe and MacDonald became members of the Federal Government.
In the Dominion election of 1867, Mr.
MacDonald contested the County of Antigonish against William A. Henry who
had represented that county in the local Legislature for many years, and
was elected by a large majority. He was elected by acclamation in that
county in 1872, and again in July 1873, upon his acceptance of the office
of Militia and Defence.
Mr. MacDonald developed a larger practice not
only in the country of Antigonish, but, also, in the adjoining counties of
Guysboro, Inverness and Richmond. Much of the litigation in which he
figured arose from disputes over land-titles and boundaries. Here his
experience as a land surveyor stood him in good stead. But, apart from
technical experience and professional training, he had commanding personal
parts. Who that ever heard him addressing a jury can forget that singular
energy, that intense earnestness, that deep devotion to cause and client,
and those eloquent, brown eyes?
As a respected member of the Bench, he was
ever kind, patient, industrious and fair. No Judge ever strove more
consistently than he to do his duty as he saw it. When he found evidence
of fraud or evil design he spoke strongly and emphatically, for he was a
cordial hater of all shams and subterfuges. During his eighteen years on
the Bench he was absent on only two occasions, one caused by a severe
illness, the others by a leave of absence which he had fully earned. It is
a noteworthy fact that he was the first Catholic to occupy a seat on the
Supreme Court Bench of Nova Scotia.
His recorded Judgments, though not of
immoderate length, fill a large space in the Law Reports of his time. They
are, in each case, clear and concise expositions of the facts involved,
exhibit a comprehensive and accurate knowledge of legal principles, and
were always pertinent to the questions calling for determination.
He was forced to retire from active duty in
1890 because of an attack of progressive paralysis supervening on a severe
illness and, sometime later, he resigned his official position.
In every place or position, public or private,
which he was called to occupy h e did his work faithfully. He gave unto
the state the best and most that man can give, - a life of loyal and
efficient service. In a very liberal sense, "he was one of Natures
Blanchard, Q.C.,M.P.P., was born in Pictou in the year 1822, and died in
Halifax on December 17, 1874. His father was a Presbyterian Minister
probably of French descent. His brother Jotham represented the County of
Halifax in the House of Assembly for some years. He was a journalist, and
published a newspaper in Pictou; and through its columns, he gave the
question of responsible government exceedingly able advocacy; nor was he
tardy in advocating all other matters of vital importance to the youthful
province.. Hiram Blanchard studied law in Guysboro, in the office of F. W.
DesBarres, who was subsequently for many years a Judge of the Supreme,
Court. A strong mutual affection sprang up between master and pupil, which
endured until death parted them.
Soon after his admission to the Bar early in
1843, Mr. Blanchard opened a law office at Port Hood where he remained
until 1860 when he removed to Halifax, and formed a professional
co-partnership with the Honourable Jonathan McCully which lasted until the
latter's elevation to the Bench in 1870. Mr. Blanchard's next partnership
was with N. H. Meagher, which began with the latter's admission to the Bar
in January 1872, and terminated with Mr. Blanchard's death at the end of
In July 1867
upon the resignation of Doctor Tupper's government, Mr. Blanchard became
Attorney-General in the Hill-Blanchard government. This post he was
compelled to resign in October, as a consequence of the defeat of his
government in September.
He married Eliza Cantrell, an Irish lady, born
in Queenstown, Ireland, who came to this country with her father, who was
a doctor and practised for many years in Guysboro. Mrs. Blanchard was a
highly cultured lady and a devoted wife and mother. Their children were
Agnes, wife of William H. Wiswell, Sarah, wife of Dr. Woodill,. Eliza,
wife of W. H. Waddell, Eva, wife of C. W. Anderson; and William who died
while a young man. Mrs. Waddell and Mrs. Anderson are the only survivors
of the family.
first actions Mr. Blanchard defended were brought by a Mr. Crawley against
a McDonald (Tulloch) and a McIsaac, to recover lands at West Lake Ainslie.
Mr. Justice Bliss presided, and on mo-tion of Mr. Blanchard non-suited the
Plaintiff. In the course of his, decision Justice Bliss complimented Mr.
Blanchard very highly, on the skill and ability he exhibited.
Fresh actions were brought and were tried at
Port Hood, and in other Counties to which the court changed the place of
trial. The verdicts were always for the Defendants, but the court set them
aside as contrary to law. The plaintiffs eventually despaired of success
and abandoned their further prosecution; and they remain undetermined;
except that death has removed all the actors in them.
While at Port Hood Mr. Blanchard followed the
Cape Breton Circuit, but frequently went to Antigonish and Guysboro. After
coming to Halifax he went on the Midland Circuit, where he took part in
all the important cases civil and criminal; and achieved a very large
measure of success. In the early sixties he became the Senior Q.C. on the
Circuit; and conducted all criminal prosecutions with great ability, and
with absolute fairness to the public and the accused. Mr. Blanchard had
wonderful success with Juries, for various reasons, but mainly for his
candour and fairness in discussing the facts. They felt almost
instinctively that he was entitled to their confidence. In like manner
individual Judges and the Court had undoubted confidence in him because of
his always candid, clear and thorough, presentation of the facts and law
of the cause he advocated. These forceful qualities were powerfully
supplemented by his adroitness in the management of his cases; and his
great skill in examining and cross-examining witnesses. In addition he was
a man of splendid presence and captivating manners; friendly with all,
hostile towards none.
Another factor which contributed largely to
his success was his quick, accurate grasp of the facts; and their bearing
on the law of the case. While there may have been others in the province
with a wider knowledge of law, there was none who excelled him in the
possession of a strong, common sense notion of what the law was upon a
given subject, although it had never previously come under his
consideration. The qualities adverted to received splendid re-inforcement
from his extensive and accurate knowledge of human life and character, and
of every day affairs including land-surveying, contracts for the
constructions of buildings, vessels, and of wharves, the navigation of
vessels, and every kind of mechanical and industrial work usual in his
day. In these respects he had no peer in this province; such was the
testimony of the late Judge in Equity, Ritchie, with whom he frequently
crossed swords in forensic combats.
Soon after coming to Halifax he defended Mr.
Smellie, a government engineer connected with the construction of the
Windsor Railway, who was indicted on the charge of having fraudulently
altered figures in the Schedule of contract prices for that work. The
alleged alterations gave rise to a flood of political controversy in the
House and the press; and the government of the day was forced to prosecute
their employee. The Attorney-General Mr. Johnstone was a witness for the
Crown, and several times during his examination appealed to Mr. Justice
Bliss, who presided, for protection against answering questions put by Mr.
Blanchard, but without success. The accused was acquitted. Mr. Blanchard
passed into the front rank of the Bar through the great skill and capacity
he exhibited in that trial, and held that place conspicuously until the
end of his life.
the retirement of William Young from Inverness in 1859, he became a
candidate in the Liberal interests. The election was run on universal
suffrage. The Catholic voters, at that time numbered about three hundred
more than all other denominations in the County. Mr Blanchard was a
Presbyterian and ranked high in the Masonic Order. The fever of the
Protestant alliance which sprang from the "Gourley Shanty Riot", so
called, Mr. Howe's letters upon it in the Chronicle, and his foreign
enlistment labors of some time previous, and the attitude adopted by
leading Catholics in regard to these incidents, was then at its highest
point. The religious feelings of all denominations were greatly inflamed
and found vent in extremely strong language, which no one can read today
without feelings of surprise, not to use a stronger word. Inverness was
perhaps less excited on these subjects than the counties nearer Halifax.
Mr. Blanchard took strong grounds against religious proscription of any
sort: and pledged himself unequivocally against such a step. His attitude
coupled with his entire freedom from any taint of bigotry, and his
universal popularity enabled him to overcome all opposition and win by a
majority of about one hundred. Every species of pressure available was
used by both parties. He was elected again in 1863 and 1867, but was
unseated in 1868 on trivial partian grounds, due to a desire to get him
out of the house, and thus relieve the anti-confederate government of that
day from his strong and able opposition to their policy. He became the
legal adviser and agent of the Dominion Government soon after its
formation, but was deprived of this position by a Statute enacted at the
instance of Martin I. Wilkins, the Attorney General, which rendered any
employee of the Dominion Government incapable of election to, or sitting
as a member of, the local House. It was of course mainly aimed at him, and
its only attribute was petty malignity. In the bye-election late in 1868
Mr. Blanchard was defeated by some twenty odd votes. In the election of
1871 he was elected again; and retired from political life voluntarily a
short time before his death.
He gave the County valuable service in road
construction, postal service and other general matters, and mainly through
his efforts the direct road from the Strait to Whycocomagh was
constructed. He was an active member of the House and rendered excellent
services on committees, and in drafting new, and improving existing
legislation. For years he was Chairman of the committee on Humane
Institutions and did splendid work; especially in improving the equipment
and conditions prevailing in the Insane Asylum and the Deaf and Dumb
Institution, then comparatively in their infancy. He was a skillful and
effective debater, and while he supported Dr. Tupper's free school Bill in
principle, he opposed, in conjunction with Mr. Archibald, the making of
the Executive Council the Council of Public Instruction for the Province.
He was a strong supporter of Confederation before its consummation, and an
ardent upholder of it afterwards. The debates of the House show how
zealously and ably he contended against the efforts of the then government
to obstruct its working and to secure the repeal of "the act of 1867."
At the time of the by-election of 1868, Howe,
McLellan, Hugh McDonald, and E. M. McDonald had agreed to accept the
situation, but the fact was not generally known. Nevertheless, E. M.
McDonald was sent to the County to harangue the electors against Blanchard
and to brace their courage up with hopes of Repeal. It is said, but is not
known with how much, or how little, truth that Sir John A. McDonald was
not opposed to Mr. McDonald's participation in that contest in opposition
to Mr.Blanchard; and in supporting that theory it has been urged that
Doctor Tupper, then in Halifax, could not be prevailed upon to go to the
County and assist Mr. Blanchard, which otherwise he would have done.
The reason suggested for this course was that
Sir John was extremely anxious, for the sake of political peace in Nova
Scotia, that the dying embers of Repeal, and dissatisfaction, should be
promptly smothered; and this could not be quickly gained if acrimonious
discussions on the subjects were to continue in the local House.
If the theory alluded to is correct, and the
writer has no desire to label it as such, it would have been fairer
towards one, who almost single-handed, had so bravely fought for
Confederation in the Province, if he had been authoritatively approached
and requested for the sake of peace, to abstain from further antagonism
toward the government on the subject. He would have readily yielded. As it
was he was sacrificed, but only temporarily however.
Taken all in all he was a man of remarkable
ability-generous and large hearted, incapable of harbouring hard, or
vindictive, feelings even against those whom he had liberally assisted,
(and they were not few), in their hours of great need, and who, like the
frozen adder, repaid him with naught but treachery and gross ingratitude.
It must be admitted he was not a diligent student; his splendid ability
relieved him from much labor of that kind. If he were a student of that
class he would have established a reputation second to none in Canada. In
several respects there was much in common between him and the late Right
Honourable Sir John Thompson.
No history of Inverness could be written
without respectful mention of this distinguished priest, who has lived and
labored in the shiretown of this County for more than half a century. He
is an old man now, surviving all the loyal men of this parish, who
received and acclaimed him when first he came here.
We know Father Colin's aversion to publicity;
but we feel that if we passed him here without any recognition we should
be doing a flagrant injustice, not only to himself, but to our whole
county as well. Inverness dearly loves to honor the man who serves well
Monsignor Chisholm never liked excess of noise. He worked quietly and
seriously, and always with sympathy and solicitude for the people
committed to his care. In down right fact, he wrought and thought for
souls. His unfailing patience, in every situation and capacity, was truly
proverbial. Not for him "the fretful stir unprofitable."
It is no flourish of diction to say that
Monsignor Chisholm was essentially a strong man, in mind and body. Very
few men could be better equipped than was he for the higher services of a
great leader. His every habit was a wholesome school. He was extensively
and wisely read, and his memory was good. He was a close student unspoilt
by prejudice, an able logician, a kind and cautious counsellor, a vigilant
watchman of men and events, a prudent patriot, and an ideal priest. We
have no doubt that his humble heart and simplicity of manner concealed
from many of his friends the power and good order of his great intellect.
He was born at St. Andrews, in the County of
Antigonish on the 26th day of November 1840. His father was Alexander
Chisholm, son of Colin Chisholm (Donn). Colin (Donn) was one of the
pioneer settlers at St. Andrew's, who emigrated from Strathglas, Scotland.
Another of those first settlers was Alexander MacIntosh who had a son
named, Donald. This Donald had a daughter, Catherine, who became the
mother of Monsignor Chisholm. Thus the subject of our sketch is directly
descended from two of the sturdiest families in the Scottish Highlands-the
Chisholm and the MacIntosh families.
Father Colin received his early education in
the district school of St. Andrew's, and in the old College of St. F.X. in
the town of Antigonish. He commenced his theological studies in the
Seminary at Quebec in 1864, and was raised to the priesthood on the 7th of
September 1867. Very shortly after his ordination he was sent to Cheticamp
to fill a temporary vacancy there. In June 1868 he was transferred to Port
Hood from which he was never since removed. For seventeen years his
jurisdiction extended over both Port Hood and Glencoe. A couple of years
ago he asked, and was permitted, to be relieved of the parochial burdens
of the ministry. Thereupon, Father Donald MacPherson, a prominent Catholic
Chaplain in the great war, was deservedly appointed and constituted the
Parish Priest of Port Hood. But Monsignor Chisholm still is there; "still
achieving, still pursuing".
The title of "Monsignor" was conferred in this
case with singular propriety. Seldom was it given to a worthier holder.
It would appear that a certain branch of these
Chisholms had inherited an inclination and an aptitude for the priesthood.
In this country, as in Scotland, large numbers of them gave themselves to
the service of their church. Years ago we remember seeing in this county
of Inverness a resident Chisholm priest in each of the following
parishes:- Creignish, Judique, Port Hood, West Lake Ainslie, Broad Cove,
S. W. Margaree, and Fast Margaree. This drew from an American stranger,
who was travelling in the mail coach from Port Hawkesbury to Cheticamp,
the not unnatural interrogatory:
"Say, neighbor, must every Catholic priest be
cite the following material monuments of Monsignor ,Chisholms' work at
Port Hood:-the stately brick church (St. Peters), completed in 1881: the
commodious new Convent in 1898: St. Peter's Hall in 1901: and the present
elegant Presbytery a few years later. The number of Catholic families when
Fr. Chisholm came was about 200; the number of such families now is about
300. And we have to reckon in that period with a peculiar exodus of the
young people from Port Hood.
As to the spiritual benefits arising from the
sway of Fr. Chisholm we have no title to speak. Those benefits are
recorded on High, and we are not permitted to read them. We may, however,
be permitted to believe that they have left their lasting influence on the
parish. We believe we see that influence in the homes and lives of the
people: We believe we see that influence in the peace and order that
always prevails in the town; we believe we see that influence in the happy
faces and. gentle manners of the Young Children on the way to and from
their schools: we believe we see that influence in the vast body of devout
worshippers that fill the church of St. Peter's every Sunday morning.
We make these statements because we believe
them to be true, and not for the mere purpose of praising Monsignor
Chisholm. Our poor praise were an empty compliment to him. The good man
can, dwell with much more comfort on the thought and knowledge that
"Virtue is its own reward."