Scottish Catholics in Prince Edward Island 1772 - 1922
The year 1822 is memorable
in the annals off the Scottish Catholics of Prince Edward Island. It
witnessed the ordination at Quebec of the first of their number, and the
first native Islander to be raised to the holy priesthood. This was
Reverend Bernard Donald Macdonald, son of Angus Macdonald of Allisary, one
of the original immigrants.
Father MacEachern fully
realizing the scarcity of Clergy in his time, had made it a practice, as
he went from place to place, to call the attention of the people to the
necessity of their doing something, to provide themselves with priests, so
that whatever contingencies might occur by death or sickness, there would
always be some one to minister to their spiritual wants. The people
impressed with the truth of his words, agreed to contribute to this worthy
object and accordingly he selected two boys of good disposition, in whom
he fancied he saw the early signs of a divine vocation. They were Ronald
MacDonald, a native of Saint Margaret's and Donald Macdonald, of Saint
As there was no college
near at hand, they were sent to the Seminary of Quebec, where they entered
upon their studies in the autumn of the year 1812.
Ronald was a brilliant
student, who soon forged to the front in his classes; but unfortunately he
did not persevere in his original intention, and grievously disappointed
his benefactor and friends, by abandoning his studies and -taking up a
secular career in the City of Quebec. Donald on the other hand, never
wavered in his inclinations, but went steadily forward, and having
completed his studies was ordained priest in the month of June 1822. He
then returned to his native Province, and took up the work of the
ministry, in which he was able to achieve a splendid measure of success.
Of him, Bishop MacEachern once wrote: "Reverend Bernard Donald Macdonald,
whose uniform regularity of deportment, and disengagement from everything
but his duty, renders him dear and respected in the community."
Being the first native
priest, he was also the first native bishop, for it was he who was chosen
to succeed to the see of Charlottetown on the death of Bishop MacEachern
in the year 1835.
BOAT USED BY BISHOP MACEACHERN
UNIQUE MEANS OF
BY BISHOP MACEACHERN IN HIS WINTER
JOURNIES THROUGH P. E. ISLAND,
The little boat, of which a
picture is here given, was built by Bishop MacEachern in the year 1812,
and for years subsequent to that date, it was a familiar object throughout
the length and breadth of Prince Edward Island.
It was a composite kind of
a vehicle, half beat and half sled, so designed as to be used whether on
the roads, or on the ice of the bays and rivers.
The primary reason for the
adoption of this strange mode of transportation, was to preserve the
missionary outfit, which Father MacEachern was obliged to carry with him
from place to place as he went on his rounds, through the settlements. On
these occasions, he had to take along with him, all things necessary for
the celebration of the Holy sacrifice, and as these were valuable and
exceedingly difficult to procure, it was imperative that he should take
even extraordinary precautions to ensure their safety; for should they be
lost, they could be replaced only from Quebec, and this meant great
inconvenience and long delay. This difficulty was considerably enhanced
owing to the fact that l-e travelled a great deal on the ice, and
especially during the Spring and fall, this was oftimes very dangerous.
But in his little boat, fastened with iron stayes to the runners beneath,
things were comparatively safe; for should his horse break through the
ice, the boat would float secure, and the valuables it contained, could
easily be saved, from what in other circumstances, might prove a perilous
situation. This little boat, built over a hundred and ten years ago may
still be seen at St. Joseph's Convent in Charlottetown, where it is
carefully and almost tenderly guarded, by the inmates of the institution.
Though not intended for an
ice-breaker, it is without any doubt, the first winter-boat, ever seen in
this part of the Country, and sets forth, perhaps better than any other
testimony, the wonderful improvement in transportation, that has marked
the last hundred years of our Island history.
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