"Again I behold where for
hours I have ponder'd,
As reclining, at eve, on yon tombstone I lay;
Or round the steep brow of the churchyard I wander 'd.
To catch the last gleam of the sun's setting ray."
Although the French
cemetery, situated on the McMillan farm near Halliday's wharf, was used as
their first burial-ground a new one was soon established at Mount
Buchanan. There Dr. Angus Macaulay set aside a parcel of land from his
estate for a cemetery, and there that good man was buried. This
burial-ground was called Cleachd an' leighaich (the Doctor's
first person buried in it was one of the Doctor's infant children. It
continued to be used by many families for years after the new churchyard
beside the church was opened, and is used by some families today.
On the Macaulay tombstone in the Mount
Buchanan burying-ground is the following inscription:
In Memory of
ANGUS McAULAY, M.D.
Chaplain of H. Majesty's First West
settled Belfast with emigrants from
Scotland in the memorable ship
"Polly" in 1803. He died Dec. 6,
1827, aged 67 years.
Also his wife, Mary, died April 9,
1857, aged 99, daughter of Samuel
McDonald, of Sartle, Scotland, Capt. in
H. Majesty's Army during the American Revolution.
The first person interred in the burial-ground
about the Belfast church was, according to some, Mr. Beaton of Flat River,
while others aver it was John Gillis of Orwell Cove. Almost as early must
have been the following, to whose memory existing stones bear witness:
died Feb. 28, 1824, aged 76.
died December 16, 1824, aged 54.
Native of Skye.
French cemetery is today in a neglected and ruinous condition. On October
21, 1928, there was one headstone only standing erect in this historic
cemetery. Of Wallace freestone, it bore in legible characters the
In Memory of
A native of Skye, Invernesshire, who
departed this life 26 September, 1820,
aged 40 years.
wife Mary Nicholson, who died
3rd May, 1854, aged 65 years.
And their daughter Isabella, who died
November 16, 1844, aged 25.
In the same cemetery two months earlier, there
stood erect, in good repair, a marble stone inscribed as follows.
In Memory of
departed this life July 1, 1861,
Aet 78. Emigrated to this Island 1803.
And our souls are in eternal rest.
For our bodies are here asleep
Dear friend for us do not weep
Also his wife Ann, departed this life
April 8, 1850, Aet 65.
In the intervening two months this stone had
been thrown down and broken, leaving as sole watchman to mark the last
resting place of sharers in an experiment noble in its philanthropy, but
one poor slab of stone.
Sleeping in the old graveyard beside the church are many whose careers at
the time aroused interest and curiosity, and whose characters now evoke
Campbell, daughter of Hugh Campbell, Killundin, Marvin, Argyleshire,
married one Allan Macdougall, and in the early history of Belfast, settled
at Flat River. She is said to have been connected with the noble house of
Argyle. Her early training unfitted her for the pioneer life of Belfast,
and existence there was a sore trial to her. Her proud spirit and
dauntless courage surmounted every obstacle, and although suffering great
hardships she refused to leave the land of her adoption. She died on
November 10, 1863, at Union Road, Lot 51, aged 70, and was buried in
The late Mrs. Donald Ross, of Kinross, lived beside them as a young girl,
and recalled late in life how they stood for courtesy and refinement in an
age and situation when the outward expression of those virtues was
difficult. Mr. MacDougall was not suited to the environment in which he
lived. Incapable of earning with his hands, there was no outlet for his
talents. "If only there was someone to talk with!" was the plaintive cry
uttered by his superior and finely educated consort, pining in the
isolated forest of the new land for old friends and the culture of the
homeland. When one of her neighbors urged her, in her distress, to write
to her brother for aid, she proudly replied "Never, I will die first." And
so Harriet Campbell, scion of one of Europe's noblest and most
distinguished houses, suffered and endured, and finally met her end with
unflinching courage. Old residents even yet recall many interesting
stories of this proud and highly educated couple, and the hardship they
endured in the rude surroundings in which they were placed.
More tragic still was the case of Lord
Selkirk's only daughter Mary. She was placed by the Earl in care of Thomas
Halliday, a skilled Scottish stonemason of good education and excellent
character. When he and his family arrived in Belfast in 1806, accompanied
by their adopted child, then seven years of age, he was given a farm near
the present Halliday's Wharf. Mary was also dowered with certain adjoining
lands. At an early age she married a son of her foster parents.
Descendants of this union, Hallidays, McLennans, McTavishes, and others
still live in this district, and are highly respected.
A tombstone in the old Belfast churchyard
marks the grave of Mary, daughter of the Earl of Selkirk:
In loving memory of
only daughter of Lord Selkirk, died
October, 1859, Aet 60.
Blessed are the dead,
Who die in the Lord.
Erected by her daughter,
to mark the centenary of the founding of the Belfast district, the
descendants of the pioneers and their friends, at the entrance to the
graveyard around Belfast church, erected a monument bearing the following
inscription, with one in Gaelic to the same effect:
of the arrival of the Scottish Immigrants
who came to this Island by Lord Selkirk's
ships, The Polly, Dykes and Oughton, in
August, 1803, and made homes for
themselves and their children in the woods
to the records of the Belfast congregation, now in the possession of Mr.
R. E. Macdonald of Pinette, the following were the ministers of the
John Maclennan - September 1823 to September 1849. (Aberdeen).
Rev. Alexander MacKay - August 1855 to June 1859 (Univ. in Scotland,
Rev. Alexander MacLean - August 1859 to September 1877 (Glasgow, D.D. Pine
Rev. Alexander Sinclair Stewart - March 1879 to January 1887 (D.D. Pine
Rev. Alexander MacLean Sinclair - May 1888 to June 1906 (D.D. Pine Hill,
LL.D. St. Francois Xavier).
Rev. Samuel D. MacPhee - November 1906 to December 1909 (B.A. Dal.-Pine
Rev. James W. MacKenzie - July 1910 to July 1925 (B.A. Dal. Mont. Pres.
Coll.) Present incumbent.
Rev. T. A. Rodger - June 1928.
Mr. Maclennan was born in
the Highlands of Scotland in 1797, and is believed to have graduated from
Aberdeen University. He was sent by the Church of Scotland to Prince
Edward Island to minister to the emigrants from the Highlands and Islands
of Scotland who had settled in various parts of the Island, the largest
number being in Belfast. He preached in Georgetown, Wood Islands, Murray
Harbor, and occasionally in Charlottetown, Cherry Valley and New London.
When he arrived in 1823 the first and only Protestant clergyman on the
island was Rev. Theophilus DesBrisay.
The manse was not ready, and perhaps it was
not even started, when the new minister and his wife [Catherine McNab,
died Oct. 24, 1890, aged 86.] arrived. For the first few months at least,
they were guests of Hector Mackenzie, Flat River. Mrs. Maclennan brought
her piano with her. It may be assumed that for many long years it was the
only instrument of the kind in the whole countryside. The house was small
and there was difficulty in getting it through the narrow hall to a room.
It is hard to imagine today what this piano must have meant to the
now living who knew her testify to the beauty, charm and happy disposition
of Mrs. Maclennan. The moral ascendancy acquired by her husband during the
course of his ministry in Belfast, was due in no small measure to the
talented and wise companion who brought so much sunshine into the life of
stipend was a matter of indifferent speculation to the minister. He never
knew what he would get, and cared less. Those who could pay in cash gave
what they could afford. Those who had no money, and they were in the
majority, contributed freely from their store of potatoes, meat, butter,
eggs, fish and such other farm products as they raised.
In sickness he helped the afflicted with
simple remedies, and on more than one occasion he nursed patients through
their critical illness. He settled differences and promoted harmony. Many
a disputed line was rectified according to the just decision of that wise
man. He drew their wills and advised in business affairs. His sympathy was
so wide and his understanding so deep that he became the trusted friend
and beloved companion of the whole community. Over them all his influence
was unchallenged and supreme. Finally, after years of arduous toil he felt
the need of rest and change. The grief expressed by men and women alike,
as in 1849 he passed along the road on his way to visit his native land,
never to return, was long remembered by those who shared it. Each family
waited at the gate to bid a fond farewell, men, women, and children in
One of their
three striking and talented daughters married Daniel Miner Gordon, for
many years the Principal of Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario.
While yet a mere child, one of the daughters
of Rev. Mr. and Mrs. Maclennan met a tragic end. Following her nurse, who
had gone to a neighbors, she got mired in attempting to cross the then
exposed river flats. The incoming tide engulfed her. When it had receded
her body was recovered from the slimy river bottom where she had sunk
beyond her frail power to release herself.
"Kilmeny looked up with a lovely grace.
But nae smile was seen on Kilmeny's face;
As still was her look, and as still was her e'e,
As the stillness that lay on the emerant lea,
Or the mist that sleeps on a waveless sea."
The following inscription is on a monument
erected to his memory in the Belfast churchyard:
To the Memory of
The REV. JOHN MACLENNAN,
who died at Kilchernnan, Scotland, on
the 11th February, 1852, aged 55
years. He was the first minister of this
congregation, being settled in 1822
and for 26 years amidst trials and
difficulties laboured unweariedly in his
within the church is a tablet, placed by a descendant of one of his
parishioners, on which is inscribed:
To the Memory of
REV. JOHN MACLENNAN,
First Minister of this Church
Born in Ross-shire, Scotland, in 1797,
died in Argyleshire, Scotland, 1852.
He served this parish from 1823 to
1849, a period of 26 years. He was
a beloved and faithful servant of the Lord.
Mr. Mackay is believed also to have been born
and educated in Scotland.
Mr. Maclean was born in Pictou County, Nova
Scotia, and died there a few years ago. His first wife was Miss Matheson
from Pictou County, N.S. His second wife was Matilda Brown, from
Charlottetown, a lady highly esteemed and beloved by the congregation.
Mr. Stewart was born in Tiree, Scotland. This
kindly, lovable pastor, after leaving Belfast, ministered in adjoining
parishes until a few years ago. He now lives at Montague Bridge, P.E.I.,
in retirement, enjoying the respect and affection earned by a long life of
unselfish labor devoted to helping others.
Mr. Sinclair was a nephew of his predecessor,
Mr. Maclean, and came from Nova Scotia, a province which has given Sir
William Dawson, Simon Newcomb, and many other illustrious men to our
country. Mr. Sinclair in later life lectured on Celtic language and
literature, in Pine Hill College, Halifax, and Saint Francois Xavier
University, Antigonish, N.S., a subject on which he was regarded by many
at the time as the greatest living authority. He died a few years, ago. A
son, Donald M. (B. A. Dal.; Ph.D. Edin.), is now minister in Valleyfield,
Mr. Macphee, a
son of Donald Macphee, Miller of Heatherdale, and his wife Margaret,
daughter of Donald Nicholson, Miller of Orwell, was the first descendant
of a pioneer of Belfast to become minister of the parish. He died in
Ontario a few years ago.
Mr. Mackenzie lives in retirement in
Rodger, the present minister, was born in Kingson, Ontario.
Although Belfast has been notable for the high
character of her ministers all the clergy who labored on Prince Edward
Island were not saints. Some were very human and exhibited traces of those
less amiable qualities that one more often looks for in the laity. One of
these gentlemen possessed to an unusual extent the desire, and developed
to an artistic degree, the art of teasing, not only his fellow men, but
members of the lower animal kingdom as well.
On one occasion, arising from morning prayer
with the faithful adherents whom he was visiting, he said to a member of
the household gathered around, "Did you notice the dig I gave John in my
prayer?" Later, on going from the house to the barn yard, he met the lord
of the sheepfold. Mutual antagonism at once declared itself. To meet the
oncoming rush the clergyman raised a heel, and as the dazed ram passed
beneath the unstable object of his attack, the clergyman wheeled about to
receive a second charge in the same spot. Thus the battle raged, until,
amazed and confounded, the bellicose guardian of the barnyard had spent
his baffled fury in futile rushes and shaking of head. By mutual, if
silent, consent a truce was declared, and the woolly champion of his flock
withdrew to his seraglio, whilst the shepherd of his flock betook himself
to his books.