of Inverness County, Nova Scotia
Chapter III -
A General Sketch of Inverness County, its Prominent Features. And some
of its Distinguished Sons and Citizens.
We have seen by the
preceding chapter that, when the first representatives of Cape Breton were
elected to the Assembly of Nova Scotia there was only one County on the
Island and that the County of Cape Breton.
By a Provincial Act of
1834-35 the original county of Cape Breton was like Gaul, divided into
three parts, namely, Cape Breton, Richmond and Juste-au-Corps. In 1851 the
now Cape Breton county was partitioned into two counties, called,
respectively, Cape Breton and Victoria.
By an Act of 1837 the name
of the district or county of Juste-au-Corps was changed into that of
Inverness. An Act was passed in 1838 "For altering the Representation in
the General Assembly" in 1840 an Act "establishing Times and Place of
holding Elections": in 1841 an Act "To improve the Administration of Law":
in 1843 an Act "to amend Chapter 31 of the Acts of 1840": in 1844 an Act
"to provide two Lock-up Houses and Town Houses, in 1845 an Act "To provide
an additional General sessions of the Peace."
The name of Inverness was
given to this county on the suggestion of the late Sir William Young, who
was its first representative in the Assembly at Halifax. Sir William was,
himself, a native of Invernessshire, Scotland, and a cultured Scotsman to
the backbone. The Youngs were a recognized force in the early formative
days of Nova Scotia. Who hath not read or heard of, the rousing, ringing
"Letters of Agricola" on 1 he subject of Agriculture in this Province? Sir
William held, at different times several eminent posts in the public
service, the last of which was the Chief-Justiceship of our Supreme Court.
He was greatly beloved by his Scottish constituents here, particularly by
the older clergy of whom he loved to speak so kindly in his old age. Some
of our good Presbyterian Ministers were so fond of him that they were
calling their children after him. The full name of our second Inspector of
Schools for Inverness County was John Young Gunn. And there were others.
As it now stands this
county runs from the Richmond line at Point Tupper, along the windings of
the coast northeastwardly, to Cape St. Lawrence near Cape North. The
length of this coast line would be at least; 130 miles, the average width
of the county about 30 miles.
The coast is bold, rugged,
irregular and picturesque. There are capes, points and promontaries, with
here and there a nestling cove and a sandy beach. The few harbors we have
on this long front are distinctly inadequate for the country's needs.
Those of Port Hawkesbury and Cheticamp are the only safe places of shelter
and anchorage. It was not always so.
Fifty-five years ago, this
writer remembers counting two hundred sail of the fine American and
Maritime fishing fleet, riding restfully at anchor in the harbour at Port
Hood. Today this harbour is not much safer for the tempest tossed than is
the open sea. The change has been caused by sheer neglect of the public
accommodation. We make this statement, in good faith, for the ear of the
wise in our public life.
A good, safe harbour at
Port Hood was always a public need, but never as much as now, when we hear
the whistle of an excellent colliery, at the very entrance to that harbour,
screaming five times a day for suitable means of transportation. Talk
about production; production loses most of its value and all its charms,
when you are not, able to commercialise your products, except at a ruinous
disadvantage. In view of the fine fisheries of this coast, in view of the
large and well known deposits of coal at Port Hood, Mabou, Inverness,
Saint Rose and Chimney Corner; in view of our improved and improving
methods of farming, and in view of the growing intelligence and riper
experience of our people, the harbours of Port Hawkesbury, Port Hood and
Cheticamp, could be made important assets of Canada as summer shipping
ports. We show in this Chapter a drawing of Port Hood Harbour as it was
originally. All that is needed to render the Harbour safe is to close the
northern entrance thereto.
The incident of counting
two hundred vessels in Port Hood Harbour in 1855 reminds us of another
incident which occurred there a few years Previous thereto. It had been
discovered that, for some years preceding the Reciprocity treaty of 1854,
some American vessels were sailing under false colors and papers and were
thus enabled to fish in waters prohibited by the treaty of 1818. The
British cruiser "Devastation" commanded by Captain Campbell, came here to
pursue those suspected vessels. Captain Campbell was very- severe. He
coralled three hundred suspected vessels at Port Hood. The only one that
escaped him was a sharp-shooter commanded by Captain Charles Macdonnell.
Captain Charlie was renowned at sea. The British cruiser fired at his
vessel and blew his jib off, but he got away. Mr. Dunsier Tremain was then
American Consul at Port Hood. He happened on a fourth of July to hoist the
American flag above the Union Jack at his office. Captain Campbell at once
dispatched a boat and messenger to tell the Consul that if he did not
lower or reverse the flags within fifteen minutes, his office would be
fired at. The Stars and Stripes of course came down.
After the County of
Inverness had been made a separate and independent political division, it
became necessary to effect some local organization for its government.
Ways and means of administering law and maintaining order had to be
provided. The Court of Common Pleas was then the only superior Court of
law, for general purposes, and its Judges were appointed by the British
Government in England. But local officials were needed in every county,
chief of whom was the Sheriff.
We regard the district
sketches which are to follow as the appropriate place for describing the
people of the county. There may be, in fact there are, a few of our men
whose lives and services have won a definite recognition throughout the
whole Dominion, and others who were specially noted within the county
itself. To such as these common justice requires us to give space in this
The first Sheriff of
Inverness County was George C. Laurence, Esquire, (Senior). He was a
lowland Scotsman who came to America in the prime of his young days,
taking up his abode first in Arichat where he spent a few years. His wife
was a Miss Turnbul!, a cousin of the well remembered lawyer of that name
and time. About the time the County of Inverness mess was established Mr.
Laurence removed to Port Hood and received his appointment as Sheriff. In
a new colony of immigrants the office of Sheriff is never likely to be "a
bed of roses." Mr. Laurence had his hard experiences; but he was a strong
man mentally and physically, and uncompromising in the necessary
performance of duty; he made his office feared and respected from the
start. Stern and uncompromising in the necessary performance of duty, he
was generous and reasonable to reasonable people, but a perfect "terror to
When the highways of the
County were being opened up and constructed this Sheriff had, for some
years the expenditure of the road monies. His method was "to auction" the
road in small sections to people along the line. This was the only way
people could get any cash for a day's work. There was always a rush to the
"road auction." Hector was asked if he secured a section of the road at
the auction; he replied, "Oh, dear, yes, I got as far as I could see of it
Sheriff Laurence had four
daughters and eight sons. The daughters were Mrs. Clough MacKeen, last
keeper of the light on Margaree Island, Mrs. Isaac McLeod of Strathlorne,
Mrs. David Smith (Big) of Mabou; and Eliza at home. The sons were Samuel,
who as a young man went clerking with old Henry Taylor at Margaree, and
afterwards took over that large business; Walter, who acquired wealth as a
merchant at Cheticamp; George C. Jr. who lived at Port Hastings, was
always foremost in promoting this County's affairs, and was Inspector of
Weights and Measures for Eastern Nova Scotia, William who died young in
the West; Henry, who was a harness maker in Truro, James, who did business
at Margaree Forks and Cheticamp; and Frederick A., who achieved Canadian
distinction, and died a Judge of the Supreme Court.
We make no apology for
giving a special space in this chapter to this last named son of Sheriff
Laurence. His exemplary and successful life is our justification. This
writer knew him long.
FREDERICK A. LAURENCE.
The subject of this notice
was the eighth and youngest son of the late Sheriff George C. Laurence,
Senior. He was born at Port Hood on 23rd April 1843. He received his
elementary and High School training in the schools of Port Hood and Truro,
after which he prepared himself for the study of taw. From his very youth
he developed quiet, studious habits; and his presence and physique were
On the 27th day of April
1869, he was admitted to the Bar of Nova Scotia. He read widely of law and
letters, but was scrupulous in the selection of his matter. His strong,
clean and healthy mind, had no place for the mere flotsam of literature.
Immediately after his admission to the Bar he began the practice of his
profession in Truro, where he worked up a very considerable business, and
was for many years the competent Town Recorder.
A man of his prominent
parts and appearance could not long hide from the eye of the country. His
adopted County of Colchester elected him twice to the Provincial House of
Assembly and once to the Canadian House of Commons. He was a clear
thinker, a rich and forcible speaker, a stout friend, and a very
formidable foe. During his second term in the local legislature he was The
Speaker for the House of Assembly. This was a position for which he was
eminently fitted by nature, training and temperament It was after this he
was elected to the Dominion Parliament by his friends in the County of
circumstances contributed to his career. He worked his way unaided from
the ground up, always realizing the need of personal application and
study. He was a solid man, rather than a brilliant one, but you could not
pass him unnoticed in any deliberative assembly. He was a fearless man of
strong convictions, but such was his modesty and his scrupulous desire to
be accurate that he appeared, at times, to lack self-reliance.
At the end of his
parliamentary term in Ottawa, he was raised to the Supreme Court Bench of
his native Province. Men were appointed to that exalted station who had
longer and better legal training than he had, but we believe Mr. Laurence
brought into that high arena an added dignity of his own. He was not
spared to the Bench long enough to enable him to do much that would
distinguish him. We have read a few of his Judgments delivered at the
assizes and on appeal, and they have struck us as being well reasoned and
expressed. Had he lived longer, we have no doubt he would win fame as a
But, alas! only for a few
years was he permitted to enjoy the ermine. His health failed him
suddenly. The rapid breakdown of such a powerful constitution, at a
comparatively early age, seemed like the falling of a tree in Lebanon. But
no personage, no position, no circumstance, no earthly power can stay the
ruthless hand of death. On the 14th day of February 1912, A.D., Frederick
A. Laurence passed away from this life, amidst the genuine sorrow of the
best minds in Nova Scotia.
NICHOLAS H. MEAGHER.
The late Mr. Justice
Laurence was not the only son of Inverness who achieved, on similar lines,
nation wide appreciation. Mr. Meagher, the subject of the present notice,
was we think, the first of our men beyond the Island who came to the
surface in a notable way.
He was born of Irish
parentage at Brook Village, in the district of Hillsborough, Mabou in
October, 1842 A. D., His father, Daniel Meagher, was a respectable Irish
immigrant who had settled here, and obtained a grant from the Crown of a
large lot of land on the plateau of that interesting eminence. At that
time the best that any Cape Breton farmer could expect from life was to
"sit under his own fig tree and owe no man." It was so with old, honest,
Daniel Meagher, who had several other children besides Nicholas H.
The subject of these
remarks received his elementary education in the District School, and his
High School training at Hillsborough. In the then condition of Inverness
it required an effort even to think of going out into the great revolving
world. But young Mr. Meagher did think and act in that direction. "Hope
springs eternal in the youthful breast," and the soul that soars will not
be denied. While yet in his teens he decided to go to a Western section of
the Province where a certain industrial concern was in operation. His
immediate aim was to earn money with which to further educate himself.
In a surprisingly short
time we find him entering into the law office in Halifax of Hiram
Blanchard, as an articled clerk. Mr. Blanchard was at that time a
representative of Inverness in the local legislature, and had a large law
business in Halifax. Here Mr. Meagher fulfilled and completed his full
apprenticeship, apparently to the satisfaction of his employer, for, right
after his admission to the Bar in January, 1872, he was taken into legal
partnership with Mr Blanchard. At this period Mr. Blanchard's time was
much divided between law and politics, and it was not long before the heft
of that large business fell upon the younger shoulders of Mr. Meagher. He
was equal to it all, although for a time, it nearly strained his health.
His industry was of the highest order, and his one ambition was to achieve
efficiency in his chosen profession. The lure of politics fell harmless
upon him. He consecrated himself to his own profession, and went right
ahead, looking neither to the right nor to the left. He never played with
the myrtles of literature. Nor could he be tempted into glittering schemes
for moneymaking. Law was his vocation, his choice, his joy, his life's
After Mr. Blanchard's
death, Mr. Meagher became the head of the firm, and his practice grew
apace. His first partner, after the demise of Mr. Blanchard, was John M.
Chisholm, a good student and capable office man. The firm's name was
Meagher & Chisholm. On the retirement of Mr. Chisholm, Mr. Drysdale, now
Judge Drysdale came in. The firm name then was "Meagher and Drysdale".
Subsequently Mr. E. L. Newcombe, now Deputy Minister of Justice entered
into partnership, the firm name now becoming Meagher, Drysdale and
Newcombe. We have the impression that Mr. J. J. Ritchie now Judge Ritchie
was also, a member of that firm for a while; he was certainly a student in
that office. That law-firm has been famous in Nova Scotia for forty years,
and the "Old Reliable" Hector McInnis is still in control of it, "doing
business on the old stand." We nearly forgot to mention that, for many
years the front window of that great firm in recent years was Humphrey
Mellish, now Mr. Justice Mellish of the Supreme Court. As to all the men
who became Judges and holders of high positions after passing through this
office - see Hillsborough Sketch.
Through all his long years of practice Mr.
Meagher has been an intense worker. He has been engaged on some of the
most important civil cases coming before our Superior Courts in his time.
Frequently he was pitted against some of the best lawyers in Canada. Not
only did he work hard, but he wished to work hard. The urge of legal
effort was food, air and inspiration to him.
He was promoted to the Judiciary in April A.
D. 1890. The industry which he displayed at the Bar was not abated on the
Bench. His decisions as a Judge, like his briefs as a Barrister, not
merely evinced the deft hand of the skilful craftsman, but also manifested
a full, and painstaking investigation into all the phases of his case. His
analysis of facts was remarkable. We have no recollection that he ever
asked or received a single leave of absence during his long tenure of the
Judical office. Emphatically, he has "made good." Even his failings, would
seem to enhance the credit of his success. He had the temper and
determination of the Celt in pronounced form; but generally restrained by
hard work and an abiding sense of personal duty. He retired in honor from
the Bench in 1916.
it be given to man to earn a respite from "the burdens of the day and the
heat," Mr. Meagher has earned that respite. We rejoice to know that he is
still hale and hearty, and actively participating in the higher duties of
the better citizens.
CLEMENT H. MACLEOD, SENIOR.
Another gifted native of Inverness County, who
gave himself unto the higher life of Canada, was Clement H. MacLeod,
Senior. He was the eldest son of the late Isaac MacLeod, Merchant, of
Strathlorne, and a brother to George D. MacLeod, Esquire, of that place.
He was born at Strathlorne on January 20th,1851, and died in his chair in
McGill University, Montreal, on December 26th, 1917.
His early education vas received in the
district school of Strathlorne then in charge of John Y. Gunn a sprightly
young scholar of that period. Subsequently he took a corn se in the Normal
School of Truro, under Dr. Forrester. Quite early in life he developed an
inclination and aptitude for mathematics. In his early teens he resolved
to enter the Engineering world.
In the month of April 1868 he left home to
join the engineering staff of the Intercolonial Railway, under Sir Sanford
Fleming. Having spent quite a period in that outside service, he entered
the college of McGill to study engineering, and remained there until his
graduation. The year after his graduation he spent in Prince Edward
Island. on engineering work in connection with some railways there.
Returning again to McGill, he was taken on as a professor in the applied
science department. Never afterwards, in his lifetime, did he sever his
connection with that great Canadian institution of learning.
He had an acute business mind, and was an
exceedingly practical man. For this reason he was often the agent of
McGill in the acquisition or transfer of large properties. Many instances
could be given to ;how that he was considered high up in his own calling.
Time after time was he called into the courts of Montreal and other
cities, to give expert evidence on questions of engineering. His sudden
death, in the zenith of his strength and usefulness, was a heavy shock,
not only to his immediate friends and McGill, but, also, to the whole
engineering fraternity of this Dominion.
He graduated from McGill in 1873. He joined
the staff of McGill in 1888, his chair being that of Geodesy and
Surveying, becoming Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Applied Science in 1908.
He was the author of a number of short monographs, as well as a standard
text book on descriptive geometry which has, been largely used in applied
science in the schools. He was the only Fellow in Canada of the Royal
Astronomical Institute. He left a widow, four sons and two daughters. His
son Lt. G.D. MacLeod, of the Royal Flying Corps was in Europe when his
father died. He was captured by the Austrians and detained in prison for
about a year. After his release and return home safely and well, he took
sick suddenly and died. Another son W. M. MacLeod who had just graduated
in medicine, enlisted for hospital work in France and Belgium in 1918 and
died in his ship before he reached England.
We take the following from "The Journal of the
Engineering Institute of Canada" for the month of June, 1918.
"In accordance with a resolution passed at the
annual meeting a bronze tablet has been prepared under the direction of
the council and is now placed in position on the wall in the main hall at
headquarters, where it will remain as a silent tribute to one to whom the
engineering profession in Canada owes so much. This is a solid bronze
casting designed and executed by Henry Birk & Sons, Ltd., Montreal."
IN MEMORY OF
PROFESSOR C. H. McLEOD, M. A. E.
Who was for Twenty-Five Years
Secretary of this Society.
GRACE, THE ARCHBISHOP OF TORONTO.
This is one of the great men of Canada. When
we say so, we are but repeating what more competent men have said
repeatedly and advisedly. It is said that the "boy is father to the man".
We knew Neil MacNeil in his boyhood and we believe the saying finds a
striking application in his case.
He was born at Hillsborough Mabou, in November
1851, and was the eldest son of the late Malcolm MacNeil and Ellen
Meagher, his wife. He had the advantage of being carefully reared. No
interest of his was neglected in his youth by his good parents. His
father, though doing some mercantile business, was a blacksmith by trade.
Neil was his eldest son and first help. Being a dutiful son, Neil was
anxious to help his father in the forge, before and after school. In this
way he gained an insight into the trade and could shoe a horse like a
master workman. Indeed, he was beginning to consider the idea of learning
the trade with his father.
The School of Hillsborough was in those days
one of the best in this County. In or about 1871 a young teacher by the
name of Alexander Gillis who had made a course in the Normal School at
Truro and in the College of St. Francis Xavier's, Antigonish, was engaged
as teacher at Hillsborough, and boarding at Malcolm MacNeil's. He was
quick to see that young, quiet, and retiring Neil MacNeil was possessed of
uncommon traits and talents. He got urging the father, first, to keep the
boy regularly at school, and then, to send him to college. These things
were done. At the end of that school year Mr. Gillis told this writer that
"Neil MacNeil was as far ahead as he could put him."
Leaving the Hillsborough school, young McNeil
entered St. F. X. College at Antigonish, where he attracted attention
almost immediately. He was a leading student in languages, but his forte
was mathematics. His application was severe. He was a singularly quiet
student. Neither then nor now could he be termed "a man of words." But
when speech became imperative, he had the splendid faculty -rare in young
or old - of saying just the tight thing, and no more. The late Judge
McIsaac, himself a distinguished alumnus of that college, told this writer
"that young MacNeil was the best all round man ever turned out of that
institution before that time."
After finishing his Arts work at St. F. X., he
set out for the College of the Propaganda in Rome, where he made his full
ecclesiastical course receiving the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Leaving Rome he took a year's post-graduate course in Marseilles, France,
specializing in Astronomy.
Returning home, he was taken on the teaching
staff of his old alma mater in Antigonish. In a short time he was made
rector of the College and editor of the Casket. Although a perpetual
student, and a scholar to his finger tips, he was yet the most practical
of men. His services at this time were of immense value to Eastern Nova
Scotia. Throughout his long laborious life he was a veritable marvel of
Afterwards he was designated and sent as Parish Priest for West Arichat
and later D'escousse in the county of Richmond. The same zeal which he
showed as professor, editor, and administrator of the college he brought
to the discharge of his duties as Pastor. He was respected and beloved of
the people. One day, while attending quietly to the calls of his parish
work, he received a message from Rome, apprising him that he had been
appointed Vicar apostolic of West Newfoundland.
This new field of labor was primitive,
isolated and unorganized. The people were chiefly fishermen. Churches,
residences and schools were urgently needed. Many strong men -would quail
before such difficulties, but Bishop MacNeil was not built that way. He
prepared and designed, himself, the plans for the required buildings, got
his people to haul timber, lumber, stone, sand and lime, and set men to
work with himself as Superintendent, and God as Paymaster. In a
wonderfully short time the buildings were up and completed. In a few years
he wrought marvellous changes in that wild region. Sometime before leaving
he was raised to full episcopal jurisdiction under the title of Bishop of
Again a sudden message,
this time proclaiming him Archbishop of Vancouver, in the Province of
British Columbia. He went thither. The Diocese of Vancouver was also sadly
unorganized and loose jointed. The first thing necessary was to establish
some suitable headquarters as the diocesan seat. Circumstances were
peculiarly adverse, but he succeeded. He then directed his energy to an
effort to get the remote sections of his huge field into working order. He
again succeeded beyond ordinary expectations. He acquired a large tract of
land in the heart of Vancouver City and was getting this into good running
order. A third message from the City of the Seven Hills, now advising him
that he had been elevated to the exalted dignity of Archbishop of Toronto.
It is only a few years since he came to
Toronto, but already Newman's Hall, St. Augustine's Seminary, the Catholic
Truth Society, and all other Catholic interests there have felt the
impetus of his powerful hand. He whom we were wont to call plain Neil
MacNeil now commands the title of "His Grace the Archbishop of Toronto."
He is a great ecclesiastic, a great citizen of
Canada, a great educationist, and withal a great native of Inverness
County. Valued and Venerable Brother, we salute thee!
BISHOP ALEXANDER MACDONALD OF VICTORIA, B.
Of all the men
described in this chapter none is better known than the Alexander
Macdonald noted above.
He is the son of the late Finlay Macdonald -
familiarly called "Little Finlay" - who died at an advanced age at Mabou
Harbour. He was born at the South West of Mabou, where his father first
From that day
to this he has worn "the white flower of a blameless life." To be
convinced of this it is only necessary to see him; but we who are
priveleged to know him, can speak with the authority of unfailing
education was obtained in the district school at the South West, and in
the Port Hood High School. He was a good safe student who worked hard, but
knew how to keep "fit." After school he would roam the hills and woods and
whip the streams for trout. His cure for all lassitude was to drink freely
of the milk of nature. The thirst for books was born in him, and the
wisdom to select. His course in Arts was made in St. Francis Xavier's
College where he is held as an example to young students of what is noble
was sent to Rome where he made his studies in Philosophy and Theology. In
the famous College of the Propaganda he took his degree of Doctor of
Philosophy and Doctor of Divinity. He came back to St. F. X. with which he
was subsequently long associated as professor, rector, writer, and leader
severance from that institution came when he was appointed Parish Priest
of St., Andrews. The people of St. Andrews loved him and shall always
point to him as an ideal Parish Priest. His learned sermons and his humble
Christian zeal, will never die in that intelligent community.
Rev. Dr. Macdonald is a literary man of high
rank. Of course he subordinates all things of that kind to the duties of
his ministry. Nevertheless, he has found occasions to give us some
illustrations of a master intellect. The largest product of his pen is, we
believe, his "Symbols of the Apostles". The philosophical, or even
historical, phases of that book we are not competent to discuss, but we
think its literary character is of a quite superior kind. The fact that it
has been criticized does not detract at all from the merits of that work.
An author without critics may as well sell out. On a visit to Rome some
years ago, Dr. Macdonald wrote a series of letters -we think he called
them "Notes by the Way" - every one of which was a neat little classic. We
wish we had them now. It is not for us to speak of his zeal and his
sanctity in the seats of the mighty, but his human qualities-his humility,
his learning, his strength of intellect, his moral altitude, his clear and
careful mode of expression and his invariable sympathy for all his fellow
men, all mark him as a man apart and one to whom "much is given."
While parish priest at St. Andrews, he was
appointed Bishop of Victoria, British Columbia. He found various
difficulties awaiting him there. The single tax principle obtains there,
and the church property had long been heavily assessed. A large debt has
thus accumulated against the church property for arrears of taxes. The
Catholics there cannot pay that debt at one time without suffering
oppression. Bishop MacDonald has been casting about for ways and means to
discharge this inherited obligation. He left his See for a winter, and
taught in a distant Catholic University to raise some money for the
reduction of this debt. He sent his priests into other lands for money
with which to save his Cathedral from being sold and sacrificed. Surely,
Catholic charity could find no finer purpose. Men of less faith and
patience would abandon the task in despair; but this heroic prelate takes
it all serenely, as '!the cross that wins the crown."
Despite his cares and transient
embarrassments, he usually comes once a year, from the far slopes of the
Pacific, to refresh us down here with the balm of his mild countenance.
Vivat pastor bonus!
Bishop MacDonald felt strongly that this tax from which he suffered was
not a just thing. He took counsel separately with three noted Canadian
lawyers. The first told him bluntly he had no case in law; the second told
him he had a case but would never get a decision in British Columbia; the
third told him he had a good case. The Bishop then submitted his case to
the civil courts of the country, and followed it to the Judicial Committee
of the Privy Council in England. In that court of last resort within the
British Empire. Bishop Macdonald's contention was triumphantly sustained.
At this moment we cannot recall any other single man who won such a signal
legal victory in a cause so important and complicated. We are bound to say
that, in our poor opinion, and under the peculiar circumstances of this
case, it required courage to bring it into the State Courts. But, in the
presence of a great issue, His Lordship has shown us that his courage is
just equal to that noble humility of heart with which he has made us so
familiar. "Truth will prevail."
HON. WM. MacKEEN.
Mr. Mackeen was born in Truro, N. S., August
18th, 1789. When quite young he went to Pictou and engaged in the timber
trade. Later on he moved to Musquodoboit where he married in 1811,
Elizabeth Macdougall. Shortly afterwards he came into the County of
Inverness, locating at the Mouth of Mabou Harbour. Here he carried on for
many years an extensive business in farming, contracting and mercantile
operations. In the latter years of his life he removed to the well known
"Clayton Farm" near Mabou Bridge.
He was the first Custos Rotulorum and the
first Legislative Councillor for Inverness County. He was appointed to the
Legislative Council in 1847, and died in May 1865 in the 76th year of his
Mr. Mackeen was
married twice. By the first marriage he had five sons and six daughters,
among whom were the late James Mackeen, Merchant, of Port Hastings, and
the late Clough Mackeen, first Light House Keeper on Margaree Island. Near
the end of 1834 the first wife died, and a year afterwards Mr.Mackeen was
married again to Christina Smith, daughter of Lewis Smith of Mabou, with
issue, five sons and seven daughters. Among this second family were the
late Governor, the Hon. David Mackeen, the late Lewis Mackeen of Mabou,
the late John Mackeen of Clayton Farm, and the late Dr. Arthur Mackeen, a
popular and successful medical man who practised and died at Glace Bay, C.
B. Lewis was Warden of Inverness County for some years.
Mr. Mackeen was not what would now be called
an educated man; but he was a prudent man, and conspicuously strong in
mind and body. Prior to Cape Breton's annexation to Nova Scotia, the
Governors of the Island were chiefly military men of high rank. One of
these called out the militia, so-called, directing them to assemble for
drill at certain points on a Sunday. Mr. Mackeen announced publicly that
he would not go out drilling on Sunday. A sergeant and several men were
ordered to arrest and commit him to prison at Port Hood. Mr. Mackeen's
position in the case was supported by the public con• science. When he saw
the officers coming to arrest him he locked himself up in his store, but
spoke to them through a window saying, that if the drill was held on any
week day he would attend, but not on Sunday. The officers saw signs that
it would not be healthy for them to attempt breaking into that store. They
retreated; the day for the drill was changed, and Mr. Mackeen went to
drill with the rest. The officer seeing him in the ranks, took him roughly
by the collar, announcing his intention to imprison him. Whereupon Mackeen
took hold of the officer and shook him almost breathless. The officer
called on the men to imprison him; Mackeen told the ranks in Gaelic to
"stand fast:" not a man moved. Mr. Mackeen then asked the officer to
apologise to him before all the men for his misconduct. An abject apology
was made by an angry and humiliated officer in the very terms dictated by
following shows another side of fir. Mackeen's fine character, and
In 1848 there was a failure
of crops in Cape Breton. The following winter was long and hard. A general
famine was threatened. Mr. Mackeen gathered up all available resources,
went to Pictou with his vessel as soon as the ice broke up, loaded the
ship with flour and meal, and returned at once to Port Hood. He parcelled
out all that cargo to the most needy, in moderate quantities, in a few
hours, without receiving one cent therefor at the time. That cargo was not
enough to save the people. Mr. Mackeen returned to Pictou where he was
well known, and bought on credit £700 worth of provisions which he
immediately dispatched to Mabou, and distributed like the first cargo
among the suffering people. In addition, he imported bread stuffs from
Halifax to an extent that nearly exhausted his credit. All was sold on
credit to starving people. None was refused. This was Hon. Wm. Mackeen.
HONOURABLE DAVID MacKEEN
This David Mackeen was the second eldest son
of Hon. Wm. Mackeen by his last marriage. He was a worthy son of a worthy
sire. He received the major part of his education in the district school
of Hillsboro, famous in early times for its efficient teachers. His first
public position was a Crown Land Surveyor for the County of Cape Breton.
Subsequently he was made Assistant Manager of the Caledonia Mines, and
promoted later on to the position of Manager of the Caledonia Mines
Company. In 1891, when the Caledonia Mine was absorbed by the Dominion
Coal Company, he was appointed resident Manager of the latter corporation,
remaining in that position till his resignation in 1896. He then took up
his residence in Halifax where he became President of the Halifax Tram
Company and also a Director of The Royal Bank, retaining the latter
position until his death a few years ago.
During his residence in Cape Breton County he
was U.S. Consular Agent, Sub-Collector of Customs, Warden of the County
for five years, and Councillor for seven years. He was elected to the
House of Commons by the County of Cape Breton in 1887 and 1891. He
resigned in 1896 in favour of Sir Charles Tupper, and not long afterwards
was appointed to a seat in the Senate. In 1915 he was appointed Lieutenant
Governor of Nova Scotia which he held until his death. He had fine
business abilities, and discharged with credit the duties of all positions
held by him. He was married thrice; first to a Miss Poole, next to a Miss
Lawson of Halifax, and last to a Miss Crerar who survived him, together
with three sons and one daughter.
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