DUGALD MIACKENZIE MACKILLOP
ON THE ARRAN CLEARANCES.
Once upon a time—and the
time was 1828—Alexander, tenth Duke of Hamilton, decided that he would
make large farms on his estate, and, of course, the will and wish of a
duke in his own domains must be respected, even though—as in one
instance—the land rented by twenty-seven families was converted into one
For various reasons, the
islanders had for many years been discontented, and there seemed no hope
of a change for the better. If a man worked his place in a progressive
way and made improvements on the farm, the benefit accrued solely to the
landed proprietor, who thanked the good tenant by promptly raising his
rent. If the farmer objected to paying more rent, his only alternative
was to submit to be turned off his holding at the expiration of his
lease ; then the landlord would collect the increased rent from the new
So when the duke made
overtures to a large number of his tenants to the effect that if they
would make room for him by getting away from their ancestral moorings in
Arran, he would see that they were well provided for in the new world,
it is not to be wondered at that they accepted his proposition. It is so
nice when you are cast out to be told where you can go, and be directed
what to do. The Duke promised to secure for each family a grant of zoo
acres of land in Canada, and the same amount of land for each son in
each family who at that time had reached the age of 21.
Arrived at their
destination at Johnston Ford, province of Quebec, each family
constructed a tent by stretching blankets, quilts, etc., over poles
suitably disposed and tied together at the top with withes and ropes.
Fortunately the season was favourable and fires were needed only for
cooking. As just stated, the Duke of Hamilton had promised that each
family and each young man who had attained his majority should receive a
grant of zoo acres of land; but, when the colony was actually on the
scene, the Government officials refused to give a grant except to the
heads of the families.
The matter of grants has
been so variously stated that it is difficult to determine what the
conditions were, but it appears that the actual agreement of the Duke of
Hamilton was that grants should be given for two years only. Those who
came out in 1829 and 1830 secured certain grants after a delay. Those,
however, who did not arrive till 1831 were told by the agents that
grants were no longer to be had.