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Sketches Illustrating the Early Settlement and History of Glengarry in Canada
Chapter 13


Emigration from Kintail and Glenelg, Ross-shire,.—Six-divisions of the County.—Local Nomenclature.—Kenyon, Lochiel, Breadalbane, Dunvegan, Eigg, Strathglass, Cist, Little Knoydart, Laggan, Fassifern, &c., &c.—Members of Parliament to Union of Upper and Lower Canada, 1840—Enumeration of the Clans.

Mr. McLennan, from whom I have previously quoted, states that in the same year and in the same ships that brought out the men of the Glengarry Fencibles and their families, came also a number of people from Glenelg and Kintail and other parts, his father's family being amongst those from Kintail. His grandfather, Mr. Murdoch McLennan, gave up a valuable holding on the Seaforth estate in order to keep with his friends and neighbours, who were emigrating. They were 1100 souls on the vessel, and were four months at sea, encountering wintry weather on the coast of Labrador, which, as he remarks, was a rough introduction to the new world. His father, John McLennan, was but 13 years of age at the time. At the call to arms in 1812 he enlisted in the Militia, and was appointed Sergeant in the Company commanded by Captain Duncan Greenfield Macdonell. He was with the Company at the taking of Ogdens-burgh, and became Lieutenant and Quarter-Master at the close of the campaign. After the War, he taught for several years the school at Williamstown, which continues as a high school under the present system. In 1823 he retired to hew out a farm in Lancaster, and was appointed at the same time to the Commission of the Peace. He commanded a Company for frontier duty in 1838-9, and died in 1866.

In the same immigration was Mr. Donald Fraser, who after some years' residence and business in Williamstown, purchased from Sir John Johnson the property of Fointe-du-Lac (now Fraser's Point), where his son Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander Fraser, of the Glengarry Militia, hale and hearty at the age of 84 years (at the time Mr. McLennan wrote his paper), now resides, and from whom he obtained much of the information afforded in his essay.

I trust Mr. McLennan will not accuse me of piracy if I quote from him still further :—

"The early settlers had many and serious difficulties to encounter, coming, as so many did, with small means and with scarcely any knowledge of woodcraft, and a great proportion knowing very little of farming after they had cleared away the woods; but they overcame them by the courage and endurance of their race. The value of their exportable timber, and the discrimination in its favour in the British tariff, helped them very greatly, as did also the high price for pot and pear ashes, which they manufactured from the timber burned in clearing the land. Fortunately for them (and for their posterity) they were of frugal habits, they followed from the beginning the practice of their country in the establishment of schools, so that their descendents are able to hold their own in the now greatly accelerated pace of development.

"During the lifetime of the first immigrants, the Gaelic language was much in use, so much so that a knowledge of it was considered a necessary qualification for the Presbyterian pulpit. The common school, however, has brought the new generation to use the English tongue, and now a Gaelic sermon is rarely heard, though in some isolated sections the Gaelic language is in some measure of use."

I fear it but too true that the Gaelic language is to some extent being allowed to die out, though man, to their credit has said, still make the language of the household.

In 1798 the rear part of Charlottenburgh (which Township was when originally laid out between the years 1776 and 1778, known as "Township Number One"), was erected into a new Township and called Kenyon, doubtless so named after the celebrated Lord Kenyon, then Lord Chief Justice of England. Charlottenburgh had no doubt derived its name from the Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, the wife of George III.

It was not until 1818 that Lancaster, which was originally known as "the Lake Township," was subdivided, and the rear portion named Lochiel, in compliment to those who had come from that District in Scotland, the Camerons and their clansmen the MacMillans, the latter by the way greatly preponderating. When a census of the Highland clans was taken by the late Colonel Chisholm in 1652, it appeared that of the MacMillans there were in Lochiel 351, while of the Camerons but 43. In Kenvon the proportion was different, there being in that Township 228 Camerons and 138 MacMillans.

Various settlements in these Townships are designated after the districts in Scotland from which the first settlers in the neighborhood came. Thus we have "Breadalbane" where those who reside still maintain the religious and political tenets common to the people of Argyleshire in Scotland (of which Breadalbane forms a not inconsiderable part), with the tenacity of purpose which is one of the greatest characteristics of the Highland race. In and around "Dunvegan" are settled large numbers of the MacLeods, and there they have perpetuated the name of the ancient and romantic seat of their Chief, the patriarchal fortress of Dunvegan in Skye. The name is familiar, and recalls the well-known but sorrowful air, "Cha till mi tuille," or "MaeCrimmon's Lament," the strain with which the emigrants from the West Highlands and Isles usually took leave of their native shore. Sir Walter Scott gives the first verse as follows:

"Macleod's wizard flag from the grey castle sallies,
The rowers are seated, unmoor'd are the galleys;
Gleam war-axe and broadsword, clang target and quiver
As MacCriinrnon sings 'Farewell to Dunvegan for ever!
Farewell to each cliff, on which breakers are foaming;
Farewell each dark glen, in which red deer are roaming;
Farewell lovely Skye—to lake, mountain and river
MacLeod may return, but MacCrimmon shall never!'"

MacCrimmnn, who was hereditary piper to Lord MacLeod, is said to have composed this lament when the clan was about to depart upon a distant and dangerous expedition. The minstrel was impressed with a belief, which the event verified, that he was to be slain in the approaching feud; and hence the words with which the song concludes: Cha till mi tuille; ged thillis MacLeod, cha till MacCrimmon." ["I shall never return; although MacLeod returns, yet MacCriminon shall never return."]

"Eigg" reminds us of another island on the west coast of Scotland, a portion of the estate of Macdonald of Clanranald, where occurred, in a dispute between the MacLeods and the inhabitants of that island, a dreadful episode which had better be forgotten.

From the MacLeods who came from the main shore and were separated from their clansmen by an arm of the sea and that part of the Island of Skye known as Sleat, the property of the Baronets of Sleat, and who settled in the vicinity of Kirkhill, the country thereabouts is known as "Glenelg." They were very early settlers, coming to Glengarry, as we have seen, about 1793.

In "Strathglass" there are, as might be expected, many Chisholms, and I might mention that it was due largely to the efforts and genealogical knowledge of clansmen of that name settled in Glengarry that the late Chieftain of that Clan, James Sutherland Chisholm, then a resident of this country, was enabled to establish his right to Erkless Castle and an estate in Scotland worth some thousands of pounds sterling a year.

"Uist." There was a small settlement in the second concession of Lochiel known as "Uist," from the fact that some families of Macdonalds had settled in the neighbourhood who came from the island of that name on the west coast of Scotland.

In "Little Knoydart," a number of persons from that part of the Glengarry estates, who came to Canada comparatively recently, about the time of the building of the Grand Trunk Railway,, settled, and their Scottish home is thus commemorated, They are good farmers and in most comfortable circumstances.

Some of the post offices and adjoining villages have names more or less familiar, though they were derived, as a rule, more from local surroundings than from Scottish origin, such as Glen Roy, Glen Donald, Glen Norman, Glen Nevis, Glen Sandfield, Glen Walter, McCrimmon, McCormack, Athol, &c., &c. "Laggan" takes its name from the place of the same name in Badenoch, Inverness-shire, Scotland, recently best known probably as having been for many years the home of one of the most accomplished writers of the day, Mrs. Grant of Laggan, the authoress of "Letters from the Mountains," "Memoirs of an American Lady, &c., &c.; "Fassifern' is a name dear to all who cherish the traditions of the Camerons, ennobled especially in the case of Dr. Archibald Cameron of Fassifern, a younger brother of Lochiel, who with the Honourable Alexander Murray, one of Lord Elibank's brothers, and Macdonell of Lochgarry, was at the head of the last Jacobite effort in Scotland, when Fassifern was taken prisoner, sent to London, brought to trial upon the bill of attainder passed against him on account of his concern in the Rebellion of 1745, and upon that charge arraigned, condemned and put to death at Tyburn in June, 1753. Though there may be difference of opinion as to the laudable nature of Dr Archibald Cameron's enterprise (there can be none as to his gallantry, humanity and brave tearing during his trial or his manner of meeting his fate!) all, without reference to politics, will cherish the name of his brave descendant, Colonel John Cameron of Fassifern, so often distinguished in Lord Wellington's despatches from Spain, who fell in action at Quatre Bras (16th June, 1815) while leading the 92nd or Gordon Highlanders to charge a body of cavalry, supported by infantry, and to whom Sir Walter Scott, in the finest portion of "The Field of Waterloo," in enumerating those who fell, thus refers

"And Cameron in the shock of steel
Died like the offspring of Lochiel "

*Dalkeith" is somewhat more Lowland than most other Scottish names identified with Glengarry, though Sir Walter always claimed that the Scotts were at any rate, "a Border Clan." I presume the place is called after the title of the eldest son of the Duke of Buccleuch, the head of the great family of Scott

"Alexandria" (formerly Priest's Mills), took its name from the first Bishop of Upper Canada, Alexander Macdonell, who built the militia there, which was the commencement of the village. It is now the See of another Bishop of similar name, worthy successor of his great namesake.

"Martintown" was so called after an officer of that name, Lieutenant Malcolm McMartin, of the King's Royal Regiment. One of his family at one time represented Glengarry and was Sheriff of the United Counties.

"St. Andrews" is not far off, but lies in the adjacent County of Stormont. The original settlers in the neighbourhood were all Highland United Empire Loyalist soldiers. The name requires no explanation—the good people of the vicinity have commemorated the name of Scotland's patron saint, not only in the name of their settlement but by erecting one of the finest churches in Eastern Ontario.

It s greatly to be regretted that no complete list can be obtained of the members of the Legislature of Upper Canada during each parliament from 1792 until the Union of the Provinces of Upper and Lower Canada in 1841. The destruction of all the parliamentary papers when York was burnt by the Americans in 1813 partly accounts for the scarcity of accurate and complete information of this nature. Again, in early days the members of Parliament drew their expenses a^d indemnify from the county treasurer on their return from Parliament, and Judge Pringle, who has made a careful search of the records, informs me that it is apparent that most of the earlier members for Glengarry evidently considered the honour of representing the County sufficient, and declined to accept or omitted to procure the indemnity to which they were entitled, and their names cannot therefore be obtained from that source, as in the case of the County of Dundas for instance, where the members were as regular in drawing their indemnity as in their attendance on their duties. Since the Union, I believe, members of both branches of Parliament have been somewhat more attentive to the duty they owe themselves in this particular, and the cases are few in which the people's representatives have done themselves the slightest injustice!

Until the Union of 1841, 'Glengarry had two members, and although the following list, for the reasons stated, is not complete, il is as much so as can now be ascertained:

I cm find no record of any militia regiment earlier than 1803.

From the nature of the population of the County, all its inhabitants having previously, almost without exception, borne arms either in the Revolutionary War, in the Second Battalion Royal Canadian Volunteers (disbanded, as we have seen, in the previous year) or in the Glengarry Fencible (British Highland) Regiment (whose men this year arrived in Glengarry), there could have been but little difficulty in organizing a militia regiment in the Country.

In 1803, the officers of the Glengarry Militia Regiment, which appears to have been one of the most complete in the Province, were as follows:

Many of these officers had already seen service. Thus Colonel Macdonell had served through the Revolutionary War in the K. R. R. of N. Y. and Butler's Rangers, and was stated by Col. Mathews Military Secretary to Sir Guy Carleton, to have been "an active and distinguished partizan," who, with other members of his family and their adherents, "had united the Indians of the Five Nations in the interest of government, and in a great measure preserved the upper country of Canada." He had also commanded the 2nd Batt. R. C. V. R. of Foot during its period of service, and while on the regular establishment of the British Army from 1796 to 1802.

In 1852 a list was prepared by Colonel Alexander Chisholm, when taking the census of the County, giving the number of the various Highland Clans in Glengarry at that time. The families of most of these people had come to Canada long before, and previous to 1812; and although the numbers may have been somewhat less at the earlier period, and may have increased considerably since 1852, the proportion is but little changed. This enumeration does not, however, give all the clans represented in Glengarry, a few having been omitted by reason of the Government requiring Colonel Chisholm to make his return before he was able fully to complete his interesting enumeration. It was always a matter of regret to that gentleman that he was thus unable to perfect his self-imposed task.

Judge Pringle gives the list at page 196 of his book as follows:

Friends and connections of the original settlers belonging to the various Highland Clans from time to time joined them, and when in 1812 war was declared by the United States, it was found that on Canadian soil there was a great colony of Highlanders prepared to maintain the traditions of their race, and to lay down their lives, if necessary, to preserve the connection with the land they had left, but still loved so well. And so I trust it may always be.


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