The coming of the Scottish
Catholic immigrants was in reality a great boon to Prince Edward Island.
They were strong men, who feared no hardship, and were therefore well
fitted to cope with the difficulties of the situation, for hardships were
indeed many and conveniences few, when they began to fell the virgin
forest that stood between them and competence. But with the determination
of the Celt they never wavered in their purpose, and with an abiding trust
in the Providence of God they bade defiance to destiny. A strong tie of
fellowship bound them in a bond of genuine sympathy, and they were ever
ready to help one another and make common cause against difficulties.
Moreover, they were men of deep religious sentiment. It is true their
opportunities for education were only meagre; but they made up for their
lack of instruction by a spirit of faith, that was able to draw comfort
and consolation even from the most trying circumstances. Patriotic men
were they too, these stalwart pioneers, whose Country was their idol; and
though they had suffered sorely under English rule, they scorned to harbor
bitter feelings, and never wavered in their loyalty to the British Crown.
Indeed, it was their dream
to found on this side of the ocean a community, that would help to sustain
the arm of Britain in her future struggles in the cause of right. This
spirit of loyal attachment to the Empire they bequeathed to those who came
after them, and these in turn transmitted the same to their descendants,
so that today, after a hundred and fifty years the fire of true
Patriotism, that warmed the hearts of the first colonists, instead of
growing dim with time burns brighter and fresher and stronger than ever.
Hence, when Germany threw down the gage of battle to the world, and the
cry went forth for men and "still more men," none responded to the call
with more genuine enthusiasm than the Scottish Catholic young men of
Prince Edward Island, lineal descendants of the early immigrants. In that
time of stress the injustice from which their forebears had suffered, the
persecutions they had endured, the ill treatment that drove them exiles to
America were all forgotten, and these young men went forth to the succor
of the old land, ready to fight and ready to die for the cause she had
made her own, and today many of them bear in maimed bodies distressing
trophies of their encounter with the enemy, whilst many others made the
supreme sacrifice, and are sleeping their long last sleep in "Flanders
Fields where the poppies grow."
In this way does the spirit
of the pioneers survive in their descendants, and the country is richer,
nobler, better by the fact. Church and State have evidently recognized
this truth, and this is why there is no position of trust in one or the
other that they have not filled, with credit to themselves and profit to
their fellow citizens. The most honorable positions in the Church have
come to them, the most responsible political offices have also been
theirs, and to the discharge of the duties thus imposed on them, they
brought splendid qualities of mind and heart, whose origin they are proud
to trace back to the virile virtues of their forefathers.