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History of Inverness County, Nova Scotia
Chapter XL - Creignish


This district lies on the coast between the district of Port Hastings and that of Judique. A bold and bleak looking country this, reminding one at once of Scott's "Caledonia, stern and wild". It is hard, hilly and rocky, but far from being repulsive in its frowning glories. From all its various parts, and especially from the elevated heights behind it, there is a wide view of the sea which, in summer, is satisfying and grand. When the stones and boulders are removed, the soil is good; but so difficult of cultivation that only the Highland "hearts of oak" would be willing to try it. Comfortable subsistence among these "crags and peaks" would scarcely be possible by means of farming alone. Consequently, from the time of the earliest settlements, the strong young men of this place "went down to the sea in ships". Thus the sea and its perilous pursuits became a charm for the doughty and dauntless sons of Creignish. In the years of their prime physical strength it was their lot to have

"A house upon the ocean wave,
"A home on the rolling deep."

They fished at home and abroad, along the local shores, in the Bay, on the coast of the New England States, or on the treacherous Grand Banks of Newfoundland. In all their marine experience they were obliged to live and work with all classes and conditions of associates. They followed their fare to the markets of Gloucester, where they usually spent their idle winters. They were among the very ablest men this province ever produced. Some of them acquired the name of being famous fighters. It could not well be otherwise, in such environments. We are told that, "when we are in Rome, we must do as the Romans do". Far more domineering and insistent are the driving desperation of the winds, and the wild welter of the waters. Yes; those redoubtable men of Creignish had the reputation of being wild. But that was when they lived in the storms, and mingled with the minions of disorder. The true test of their character is found in their subsequent lives, after the storms had ceased and a calm had fallen on their path. They, then, settled down into homes of peace and good will. In these homes they found fresh air for their souls; they found rest and human sympathy, they found themselves, these noble natives of Creignish. There was love in those homes.

THE MacEACHERNS.

In 1791 Duncan MacEachern (Donnachadh Mac Iain ic Allein) came from Moidart, Scotland to Pictou, Nova Scotia. He took up a lot of land in Pictou County, but his stay there was brief. Mr. MacEachern was a Catholic, and there was no Catholic Church or priest at that time in Pictou County. The immigrant felt the inconvenience of the situation,and was advised by Fr. MacEachern of P.E.I. (afterwards Bishop) to move further East down the Gulf shore. Accordingly, he left Pictou and went to Malignant Brook, in the County of Antigonish, where he took up a lot of land and remained a few years. In 1798 he crossed over to Cape Breton and settled permanently in Creignish.

Mr. MacEachern was married in Scotland to Jessie McDonald, daughter of Allan of Moidart, with issue: John, Allan, Donald, Alexander, Angus, Ronald, Archibald, Flora and Mary. All of these children except Ronald and Archibald were born in the Old Country. Ronald was born in Pictou and Archibald at Malignant Brook in the County of Antigonish. The tract of land on which Duncan MacEachern settled in Creignish was Lot 49, consisting of Five hundred acres, more or less. All of Duncan's children were married and each of them had a family.

John, son of Duncan, took up a farm for himself at Long Point, and was married to Margaret MacInnis, daughter of Robert MacInnis, mason, and a niece of Bishop MacEachern. Their son, Robert MacEachern, was the first ecclesiastical student sent to Rome from Cape Breton. He was sent by Bishop MacEachern in 1828, and died before his course was finished.

Donald, son of Duncan, settled at River Inhabitants, at a place called Kingsville, and was married to Annie MacMaster, daughter of Angus MacMaster of Judique. Alexander, son of Duncan, also settled at Kingsville, and was married to Sarah MacInnis, sister of Alexander MacInnis of Creignish. The place on which Alexander MacEachern lived at Kingsville is now owned and occupied by John B. McLellan, Esquire. Allan, son of Duncan, also located at Kingsville, was married to Jessie MacDonnell, daughter of Allan Ban MacDonnell of Judique. Malcolm MacEachern, merchant of Judique is a grandson. Flora, daughter of Duncan, was married to Neil MacDougall of Judique Intervale, from whom are descended all the MacDougall of that settlement.

Mary, daughter of Duncan, was married to Alexander MacInnis, son of Robert the Mason of Judique.

Angus, son of Duncan, located on the North side of Lot 49 owned by his father. He was married twice, firstly, to Margaret MacEachern, daughter of Donald MacEachern of Creignish. She died leaving a family of three sons and five daughters: secondly, he got married to Annie MacEachern, John's daughter, of West River, Antigonish, by whom he had four sons and one daughter.

Ronald, son of Duncan, remained on the Southern side of Lot 49, which was formerly owned by his father. He was married to Isabel MacEachern, a sister to his brother Angus' first wife, and had a large family well known in Inverness County. His two sons, Big Duncan and "Wild Archie", who died at their homes in Creignish, and another son Donald, who died in California, were well known far and near for their uncommon strength and prowess.

Archibald, son of Duncan, stayed with his father on the central portion of the old homestead. He was married to Mary MacEachern, daughter of Ewen MacEachern and a niece of Bishop MacEachern. This Ewen MacEachern lived for a while in Judique and obtained a grant of six hundred acres of land at Indian Point. He sold out this granted lot to a MacDonnell, and returned to Prince Edward Island where his brother the Bishop lived.

Duncan MacEachern the first settler of Creignish had a brother in P.E.I. Another brother served under General Wolfe in the taking of Quebec. His friends have had no trace of him since. We understand there are old MacEachern families in the Province of Quebec and they may be descendants of that gallant soldier.

DONALD MacEACHERN.

In the year 1801 Donald MacEachern from Moidart came to Creignish and settled on Lot 50. He was married to Jessie MacVarish, and had a family of four sons and three daughters. While a comparatively young man this Donald, with his two young sons, Donald and Alexander, was drowned returning from Port Mulgrave to Creignish. Two of his daughters, Margaret and Isabella, were married respectively to Angus MacEachern and Ronald MacEachern of Queensville. His two surviving sons, Hugh and Angus, settled down upon their father's farm.

Hugh was married to Sarah MacLean, daughter of Hugh Ban MacLean of Judique Intervale, and had a large family of sons and daughters. His oldest son, Donald, remained on the homestead, was married to Mary, daughter of Dougald Smith of Glendale and had a large family. Dougald, of this last family, now occupies the place.

Angus, son of Donald, commonly known as "Big Angus" was married to Annie MacDonald, daughter of Rory MacDonald of Rear Judique Intervale. Two of his sons, John and Angus B., remained on the place; another son, Robert, now lives in the town of Antigonish. At one time there were five MacEachern families settled here side by side. In these five families there were thirty-two husky sons, only two of whom are now living, Robert in Antigonish, and Dan at Port Mulgrave.

DONALD MACDONALD, SON OF RORY.

This Donald MacDonald was the third pioneer settler at Creignish, and he appropriated unto himself Lots 51 and 52. He was married in Scotland to a MacInnis woman, a sister to the first Alexander MacInnis of Creignish, with issue: Archy, John, James, Donald, Rory, Angus, Annie and Catherine. After the death of his first wife he was married again to a daughter of Duncan MacDonald (Ban) of Judique Banks, with issue: Duncan and Mary.

This last named son, Duncan, settled down on the homestead, and was married at the age of seventy-four years to Annie McLellan of Broad Cove. He died at the age of ninety-four years, and his place is now in possession of Allan Gillis. The daughter, Mary was married to Hugh MacInnis of Rear Judique Invervale. Donald and Annie by the first marriage were the only two of the first family that remained on the old homestead till their death at a very old age.

Archy, son of Donald Rory, settled at Glendale and was married to Annie MacEachern, daughter of Peter. Their grandchildren reside there now.

John, son of Donald Rory, was married to Catherine McDonald, a native of Prince Edward Island. They lived for a time at Port Mulgrave, and afterwards moved to Gloucester, Mass. They had a large family. One of the sons, Roderick, lived at Port Mulgrave. Another son, Captain Angus, married an American woman, and settled at Bay View Maine, where he died without issue. Four daughters were married in Gloucester. The daughter Annie was married to Archy MacDonald known as "Handsome Archy" and lived at 20 Shepherd St. where their only daughter, Mary Louise, now resides. Mary was twice married, first to John Cameron of River Inhabitants, by whom she had Mary Ann, now Mrs. Capt. J. A. MacDonald of 80 Duncan St., Gloucester; second to Patrick MacAulay of P.E.I. by whom she had another daughter.

James, son of Donald Rory, settled at Red Head, Guysborough County. Angus married Catherine Gillis, sister of Donald Gillis, Alexander's son. Catherine married Alexander MacDonald of East Harbour au Bouche. The late Dr. P. A. MacDonald of Port Hawkesbury was a son. Rory, son of Donald, settled on Lot 51, was married to Mary MacEachern and had one son, Dan.

THE MACINNIS FAMILY.

The family of John MacInnis of Moidart, Scotland, consisted of several sons and daughters, who helped to swell the early settlers of Creignish. Some of the daughters were married in Scotland. One of them was the first wife of Donald McDonald (Rory) whom we have just described. Another was married to Alexander MacEachern of Kingsville, River Inhabitants/and a third to Allan MacDonald of Judique Banks (Allein Mac Alasdair). One of the sons acquired some land and made his home at Rear Creignish, another at River Inhabitants, and the son Alexander settled on Lot 53 at Creignish. This Alexander was married to Flora MacLean of Long Point, with issue: John, Angus, Dan, Alexander, Duncan, Katie, Mary and Maggie.

Katie was married to a Mr. Gillis of Port Hood; Mary to Angus MacMaster first Postmaster at Low Point; Maggie to Duncan MacEachern of Judique Banks; Donald and Alexander were drowned in the North Bay; Duncan settled in P. E. I.; John and Angus remained on Lot 53 at Creignish. John was married to Jessie MacEachern of Kingsville, Angus to Rebecca MacDougall of MacDougall's Mountain, but neither of them had any family. Their home, however, was a marked place of call for the travelling public. Gillean Alasdair had a wide circle of acquaintances throughout the County of Inverness. Before there was a church or priest in Creignish, mass was often celebrated by visiting clergymen in Gillian Allasdair's barn, it being a larger edifice than any of the neighboring buildings. They were strong in the faith these early Catholics of Creignish. For many years they had to walk seven miles every Sunday to hear mass in Judique. There was no road except the beach, of the shore which was rough in many places. There were also several brooks and streams to be crossed without boat or bridge. Yet, all would have to attend mass, — even all the women. The latter carried their new boots and stockings wrapped in a handkerchief till they got within sight of the church. Then they put them on; and put them off again at the same place returning.

JOHN CAMERON'S FAMILY.

Lot 54 in the district of Creignish was assigned to John Cameron an ex-soldier. The following is a copy of his discharge.

"DISCHARGE."

"His Majesty's seventy-first Regiment of Foot
"Whereof Major General Tho' Sterling is Colonel:—
"These are to certify that the bearer hereof
"John Cameron in Captain Campbell's Company of the
"aforesaid Regiment. Born in the Parish of Kilmorick,
"in or near the Market Town of Fort William in the County
"of Inverness, aged thirty-six years, and by trade a Tailor,
"Hath served honestly and faithfully in the said Regiment
"eight years; but by having served his time is hereby dis-
"charged he having first received all just demands of pay
"and clothing from his entry into the said Regiment to
"the date of his discharge, as appears by his receipt on
"the back thereof.
"Given under my hand and the seal of the Regiment at
"Brooklyn, Long Island this 21st day of October 1782.
"N. B. The seat of the Regiment is supposed to be at
"Jamaica, West Indies."

John Cameron, Tailor, was married twice. His first wife was Ella Muller, by whom he had three children, Colin, Jessie and Maggie. He married his second wife, Mary Campbell, in New York, after which he went to Prince Edward Island. In 1800 he came to Creignish. By his second marriage he had a family of six sons and four daughters, namely: Alexander, Donald, Angus, Hugh, Duncan, John, Katie, Maggie, Jane and Annie.

Alexander married Flora MacMaster of Judique, sister of Big Hugh MacMaster, by whom he had five sons and one daughter. He settled at River Inhabitants.

Donald stayed on the Creignish homestead, and married Ann MacDonald, daughter of Dougald of Low Point. He left six of a family. His daughter Catherine is living yet on the old homestead, and busy weaving on the old hand loom at the age of ninety-one years.

Angus, also, remained on the homestead, was married to Mary MacDougall, daughter of Archibald of Rear Creignish, and had two sons.

Ann married Samuel Cameron of River Dennis, with issue, one son and two daughters. The other daughters died at home unmarried.

Hugh went to the States; Duncan to Ontario; and John was drowned going to Mirimachi.

Colin was a seaman, and was married in England to Mary Ann Gardner, who went to sea with him for a while. They afterwards settled at River Inhabitants, and had a family of two sons and four daughters.

John Cameron, Ex Councillor, and his young old aunt Catherine, already referred to, are the only two of this Cameron family now living in Creignish.

THE MacMASTERS.

John McMaster (Iain Mac Ewen ic Iain) commonly known as "Iain Ruadh'", came, with his first cousin, Donald MacMaster, "Weaver", from Moidart, Scotland, to Antigonish in the year 1801. After a brief sojourn in Antigonish both came to Cape Breton, and settled down, side by side, in the district of Creignish. As a matter of course, their first dwellings here were two of the rude, little, log cabins of the period. Eventually, Iain Ruadh built for himself a substantial stone house, which is still doing duty for his grandson Dan MacMaster. If these century old houses of the pioneers could talk in any modern language, what a story would be theirs?

John MacMaster was married in Antigonish to Mary MacIsaac, whose brother John MacIsaac afterwards settled at Low Point. The issue of that marriage was a family of five sons and seven daughters, namely: John, Duncan, Angus, Hugh, Dan, Catherine, Mary, Maggie, Eliza, Sarah, Annie and Jessie.

John Jr. bought the farm formerly owned by John MacInnis, married Jessie, daughter of Angus MacEachern (Aonghneas Mac Dhonnochadh) and had a large family. The oldest son, Hugh, was a prosperous merchant at Creignish and Long Point for many years. His brother Archy is doing business there now.

Duncan, son of Red John, was married to Cecilia MacEachern, daughter of Iain Mac Dhonnachadh of Long Point. She is now living in the old stone house at the age of ninety-eight years.

Angus, son of Red John, bought a lot of land from Allan MacDonald (Allein Dubh) of Low Point, and married Mary MacInnis of Creignish. He became the first Postmaster of the district, and the present Post Office is held by his son, Alexander.

Hugh, son of Red John, settled on the Rear of Creignish, in a locality now called Rodena. He was married to Maggie MacIsaac of Rear Port Hastings and had a family. His sons Angus and Hugh lived at Newtown, near Port Hastings.

Dan, son of Red John, lived in Mulgrave, and was married to Mary MacDonald of Harbour au Bouche.

The daughter Catherine (of Red John) was married to William MacDonald of Judique. D. J. MacDonald (merchant) is a grandson. Mary was married to Archy Mclsaac of Rear Port Hastings; Maggie to Donald MacDonald of Low Point; Eliza to Hugh McInnis of Rear Creignish (Essex); Sarah to Donald MacDonald, Centennial, first, and second to Lauchlin McInnis; Annie to Hugh MacDonald, Low Point, and Jessie to John MacEachern, Donald's son, River Inhabitants. All had families.

DONALD MacMASTER (WEAVER).

In 1801 the above named Donald MacMaster came to Creignish from Moidart, Scotland, and settled next to John MacMaster just described. He was married in Moidart to Catherine MacEachern (Ni-ghean Aonghneas ic Tearleach) with issue: Angus, John, Duncan, Charles, Jane, Annie and Mary.

John stayed on the homestead, and married Annie Cameron daughter of Alexander Cameron, River Dennis; Angus married Jessie MacInnis, Judique Intervale; Duncan married Mary MacEachern (Nighean Aonghneas Duibh)", Rear Judique Intervale. The Mac-Masters of Hillsdale are descendants. Charlie died young.

Jane was married to John MacInnis formerly of Creignish:—the MacMasters have the farm now. Annie was married to John MacDonald (Iain Mac Ruaridh) of Rear Judique Intervale, and Mary to Hector MacNeil of Rear Creignish. At present there are five Mac-Master families at Creignish, one at Long Point, and one at Sunnyside, near Point Tupper, all lineal descendants of Iain Ruadh and Donald the Weaver.

ALLAN MacDONALD.

This Allan MacDonald, who was married to a Catherine MacLean was a native of Uist, Scotland, and an early settler here. He had spent some time in Prince Edward Island before coming here. The Cove at Low Point known as "Cove Allein" used to be a rendezvous for the fishermen of Inverness and Richmond when the fall school of herring was passing. Allan's family became well known for its hospitality. A grandson, Hector MacDonald, was for a term or two the Municipal Councillor for Creignish. For the rest, this family shared the fortunes of its neighbours.

We have intimated that the background of this district was made of hills and mountains, rising high above the sea level. The blast of the North proceeding from the seas, strikes this coast with force and fury; but the terror of all storms here is the mountain hurricane, roaring seaward down the slopes. The dwellers on these slopes must select the site of their house, and it must not be "a house of cards." There is, also a possible peril of landslides and avalanches.

In 1870 Donald MacEachern, who was a native of Creignish and married to Elizabeth Murphy of Port Hood, came from Gloucester, Mass., and built a small sized house on his father's farm. In the month of February there was an unusually heavy fall of snow, followed by equally heavy rains. Mrs. MacEachern was preparing dinner, husband was in with their five little children, the youngest a baby in the cradle. All of a sudden comes a darkness, — and a noise. The woman fell on the stove, burning and bruising herself. The house was struck and carried down hill, with all that family, and a mass of snow, ice, water and wreckage. Right at the bank of the shore the occupants were spilt out, and the building carried out on the big ice. The husband and children escaped without a scratch, the baby remained in the cradle sound asleep, the woman's injuries were not serious. The dog and cat were killed by shock. Some of the family are living yet, — but not in Creignish.

HECTOR CAMERON FAMILY.

Hector Cameron and his wife Catherine MacDonell emigrated from Glenmoriston, Scotland, in 1801 in the ship "Golden Tent of Aberdeen". Lochaber was the home of Cameron's forbears. Mrs. Cameron was a near relative of Father Alexander McDonell, P. P. Judique. They settled at Creignish. Hector's family were John, Allan, Donald, Duncan, Hector and Margaret.

(1) John married Jessie Beaton, Mabou, with issue Hector, Angus, Donald, John, Allan, Catherine, Charlotte, Mary Anne and Anne.

(2) Allan married Catherine Kennedy daughter of Angus Kennedy and his wife Jessie MacDonald (Taillear Abrach's daughter, Antigonish) and had issue, (a) Hector, who married Anne Gillis (Donald) Judique with issue three sons and one daughter. (b) Duncan who married Catherine, daughter of Donald MacMaster "Ridge" River Inhabitants, — issue five sons and five daughters. Duncan is a merchant at Craigmore. He represented Judique District in the Municipal Council for a number of terms. (c) Catherine who married Donald Chisholm (Big John), (d) Jessie, who married Hugh Gillis (Donald), (e) Christie Anne, who married Alexander MacDonald (James Ronald).

(3) Donald, Duncan and Hector, sons of Hector Cameron, left no issue: Hector Junior was a merchant at Creignish. He and Alexander Grant were drowned on their way home from Port Hastings in December 1851.

(4) Margaret married John MacDonald, Judique, with issue: three sons and two daughters.


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