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The Scottish Catholics in Prince Edward Island 1772 - 1922
Chapter XII


The immigrants of 1790 following the example set before them by their predecessors, did not settle permanently on the Tracadie Estate, but took up lands in other localities, according as special conditions appealed to their fancy, and Father MacEachern, wisely foreseeing what would turn to their ultimate advantage, encouraged them to do so, though he fully realized the additional labor their dispersion would entail upon himself. In the last decade of the eighteenth Century, the years immediately following the coming of Father MacEachern, this movement of population acquired considerable proportions, and settlements were formed here and there throughout Kings County, which eventually grew into flourishing Parishes, and the same is true of Prince County away to the westward of the Province. In this way Scotchfort, which was usually the point to which the early immigrants made their way on their arrival on Prince Edward Island, became for the time being a sort of distributing centre for the Colony, and from there immigrants went forth year after year to establish homes for themselves in whatsoever locality best suited their inclinations. Altogether there were two principal immigrations in the earlier days, that of 1772 in charge of Father James MacDonald, and that of 1790 under the direction of Father MacEachern.

Other immigrations there were, but on a comparatively small scale, and usually consisted of a few families, who taking advantage of the chance voyage of a trading ship made their way to Prince Edward Island. But wherever they landed, they were almost certain to come to Scotchfort, where they were sure of a hospitable reception, and where they usually remained until they had made up their winds with regard to their final destination.

In this way a settlement was formed at Launching Place in Kings County about the year 1796, composed of MacDonalds, MacPhees, MacCormacks and Walkers, all of whom had come from Scotland with Father MacEachern, and had spent the intervening years at Scotchfort. In the year 1802 they built a little log Church close to the shores of Launching Bay, which served them as a place of worship for a quarter of a century, when it was replaced by one of larger proportions, erected about a mile to the Northwest of the original site. To this in time was added a Parochial house, where Reverend John MacDonald of Tracadie took up his residence in the year 1836, and whence he looked after all the Missions of Eastern Kings County.

The settlement at Launching soon attracted other settlers to the neighborhood, and in a short time a number of Morrisons, MacCormacks, MacDonalds, MacInnises, and Campbells arrived, some of whom settled on the Northeastern side of Grand River at a place called Little Pond, thus forming the beginnings of the present Mission of St. Francis de Sales, where a Church was built in the year 1863; whilst to the Westward of Launching along the Cardigan River settlements were formed by MacLeans, MacPhees, MacLellans, MacLeods, Steeles and Campbells. About forty years later MacCormacks and MacDonalds settled farther up the Grand River, at a place called Narrows Creek, and to these were added several families of MacLellans, who with MacIntyres and others formed portions of an immigration that came to the Colony in the year 1848. About the same time a number of Campbells, whose progenitors had come to the Island in 1772 and had settled at Johnston's River on the Tracadie Estate, came to Dundas and settled at the Head of Grand River where their descendants are found at the present day.

By this influx of population, it was brought about that the Church at Launching was no longer centrally situated, but rather it stood practically in one corner of the area, over which the congregation was spread out, and Reverend Father Francis MacDonald, who had succeeded Father John in 1840, reading the signs of the times, decided that it would be better to choose a more central location, where a new Church could be erected within easy reach of all the people. He accordingly selected a site at Narrows Creek, and there a new Church was built dedicated to St. George, Martyr, and opened for Divine Worship on All Saints Day, 1860.

The settlement of East Point on Lot 47, is co-eval with that of Launching. Towards the end of the eighteenth century a Colony of Scottish Catholics, comprising MacDonalds, Beatons' Campbells and MacIntyres took up land at the Eastern extremity of Prince Edward Island.

Soon they were joined by others who settled more to the westward, and this growth of population went on along the Northern sea-board, tending ..ore and more to the westward, till it met the overflow of population from Scotchfort and neighboring places going in the opposite direction, thus forming settlements that in course of time grew into the flourishing Parishes of St. Columba's, St. Margaret's and St. Peter's. Father MacEachern was ever in close touch with these people. He went amongst them as often as possible, saying Mass for them in the principal residence of each settlement, and exhorting them to provide themselves as soon as possible with Churches, for the convenience of public worship. Small Churches were thus put up at St. Columba's, St. Margaret's and somewhat later at St. Peter's which in course of time gave way to more roomy and elegant structures. That of East Point erected in the year 1846 by the reverend Pius MacPhee, was remodelled and enlarged and continued to serve the congregation for upwards of sixty years, till it was destroyed by fire and then replaced by the present Church of St. Columba.

The Church of St. Margaret's erected in the following year stood very close to the shore, and as the Parish developed and land was being cleared further to the rear, it came to pass, as in the case of Launching, that the Church was situated on one side of the Parish to the great inconvenience of the people. This condition of affairs continued until the year 1894 when the people under the guidance of their Pastor, Reverend Alexander P. MacLellan, decided that it would better serve the interests of the whole Parish, if the Church were hauled farther from the shore, and placed in a position more accessible to all, who worshipped within its walls. This task once begun was successfully accomplished, and the Church, the Parochial house and adjoining buildings were detached from their foundations and transported about a mile further inland. Here they were fitted up anew, and all put in excellent condition, particularly the Church that seemed like an entirely new building. Renovated and remodelled it appeared as if it should serve the congregation for many years ; but during the summer of 1821 severe forest fires ravaged that portion of the country, and amongst the ruins left in their wake were the Church and other Parochial buildings of St. Margaret's.

The settlement formed around the shores of St. Peter's Bay, was at first somewhat scattered and unstable, and hence was a considerable time without a place of worship. It was only in the last years of the Episcopate of Bishop MacEachern that the question of building a Church became a live issue in that locality; and the matter had scarcely passed the incipient stage, when the saintly Prelate was called to his eternal reward. However the work once begun went on with becoming despatch, and under the guidance of Father John MacDonald they built a small Church which continued to be their "House of Prayer" for well nigh fifty years. In the year 1881 it was replaced by the present sacred edifice built by Right Reverend Bishop MacIntyre, and which rising over his grave stands a fitting monument to his zeal and devotedness.

About the year 1818 a Colony of Scottish Catholics, composed mainly of MacPhees, MacLellans, MacKinnons and Campbells settled near the shore along the Southern boundary of Lots 45 and 46. They were soon joined by others, and thus was begun a small settlement, that in course of time grew into the populous Parish of Souris. Their first Church was put up in the year 1838, and in it the first Mass was said by Father John MacDonald in January, 1839. A few years later it was destroyed by fire together with the small Parochial house that had just been completed. Father Pius MacPhee, who was in charge of the Mission at the time, commenced without delay, the construction of a new Church, which was opened for Divine worship in the month of November, 1849. This latter Church was in use for many years till replaced by the present stone edifice, which was commenced in the year 1901 and completely finished in a short time.

In the year 1806 Andrew MacDonald of Arisaig, Scotland came to Three Rivers, Prince Edward Island, with the intention of remaining permanently in that locality. He had a large family of boys, who, as they grew to man's estate settled here and there, and whose immediate descendants occupied prominent places in the Civil and Political life of the country. He purchased the whole of Panmure Island, and having settled there with his family immediately opened a general store, that was for years the centre of business activity for that section of the country. About the year 1824 a small Church was built on his Estate, and in it Bishop MacEachern officiated, when his Missionary labors brought him to the neighborhood. Mr. MacDonald died in the year 1833, and soon after, his son Hugh transferred the business to Georgetown, where it would he more conveniently located.

About this time lands were taken up near Georgetown by Scottish Catholics composed of MacPhees, MacAulays, MacDonalds and Morrisons, and it seemed that the neighborhood would become in the near future a place of considerable importance. Accordingly the little Church on Panmure Island was transferred to Georgetown, where it continued in use till the year 1852, when it was enlarged and remodelled by Father Francis MacDonald. It served the purpose of Parish Church for almost seventy years afterwards, and was finally replaced by the present new Church of St. James.


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