Electric Scotland News
The Flag in the Wind
Poetry and Stories
Book of Scottish Story
The Concise Household Encyclopaedia
Social Life in Scotland
The Writings of John Muir
Fraser's Scottish Annual
The Autobiography of Dr. Alexander Carlyle of Inveresk
Wonder Tales from Scottish Myth and Legend
Robert Burns Lives!
Among the Forrest Trees (New Book)
Alberta, Past and Present, Historical and Biographical (New Book)
Beths Newfangled Family Tree
Scottish Clan & Surname DNA Projects
ELECTRIC SCOTLAND NEWS
Been a quiet week and in some ways a disapointing one as I hoped to
get an advertising contract with the Province of Alberta but at the
last minute they got a cut in their budget which has meant they've
had to cancel. I have actually been working on the history of
Alberta and thought it would be great to compliment that with
information on tourism in the Province. We were to get 88 x 20,000
word articles complete with pictures. Oh well... these things happen
Got in an email telling me about a HIghland Clearances documentary
on youtube in two parts which you might find interesting.
We hope to be doing some work with FamilyTreeDNA over the coming
weeks and it was Julie who pointed me in this direction as she is
very active in DNA aspects of genealogy. For example she told me...
From DNA records, we now know that the current chiefly line of the
Mathesons from Murchadh Buidhe, who lived in the 1500's and what we
have recently discovered to be the old chiefly line of the
MacKenzies from Alexander Ionriac 1401-1491 are not the same.
The Mathesons of Lochalsh, Ross-shire descended from Murchadh Buidhe
are R1a Viking. The Mathesons of Shiness, Sutherlandshire descended
from Col. George Matheson lv. 1600's (whose descendant was Sir James
Matheson, Bart. of the Lews) are R1b Celtic Picts. The Mathesons of
the Isle of Lewis, descended from Dugald MacIain Og through his son
Murdoch Mor who was tacksman of Arinish in 1658 are R1b Celts.
There are statements that the Mathesons were related to the Earls of
Ross. There are some Rosses in America who are also R1a, like the
Lochalsh Mathesons, but they cannot trace their lines back to
Scotland. The current line of Earls of Ross do not match the
Mathesons. My guess is that the Ross line that died out with
Euphemia may have been distantly related to the Mathesons.
The bottom line is that DNA has disproved many of the early stories,
but has also proven a lot of the more recent genealogies.
I have often said that it is worth doing a DNA test as it's also a
good thing to hand on to your family. Some time ago I did a DNA test
and you can see what happened at
Lora Cline sends me in from time to time a YouTube video link and
they are usually quite good. This week she sent me in...
This video was made in the Antwerp, Belgium, Central Station
(train). On a
Monday morning, with no warning to the passengers passing through
station, a recording of Julie Andrews comes on the public address
singing "Do, Re, Mi." As the bemused passengers watch in amazement,
some 200 dancers begin to appear from the crowd and station
ABOUT THE STORIES
Some of the stories in here are just parts of a larger story so do
check out the site for the full versions. You can always find the
link in our "What's New" section at the link at the top of this
newsletter or on our site menu.
THE FLAG IN THE WIND
This weeks Flag is compiled by Richard Thomson who talks prospects
of Scottish Independence.
In Peter's cultural section he tells us more about Beltane...
Today is Beltane Day and an appropriate time to look at traditions
surrounding 1 May in days langsyne.
In her splendid four volume series 'The Silver Bough' F Marion
McNeill in volume four 'The Local Festivals of Scotland' published
in 1968 described the, then, Beltane Rites in Edinburgh :-
'Arthur's Seat, a hill of over 800 feet, behind the Palace of
Holyroodhouse, is one of the traditional sites on which our
pre-Christian forebears were accustomed to light their Beltane fires
at sunrise on the first day of May, to hail the coming of summer and
to encourage by mimetic magic the renewal of the food supply.
"For the growth of vegetation, not only sunshine, but moisture is
necessary; hence not only fire but water had its place in the
Beltane ritual. To the Druids, the most sacred of all water forms
was dew, and to the dew of Beltane morning they attributed special
virtue, gathering it before dawn in stones hollowed out for that
purpose. May dew, in a word was the 'holy water' of the Druids.
Those on whom it was sprinkled were assured of health and happiness
and tradition has it, where young women were concerned, of beauty as
well, throughout the ensuing year."
To this day, all over Scotland numbers of young girls rise before
dawn on the first of May and go out to meadow or hillside to bathe
their faces in the dew. Arthur's Seat is a favourite meeting-place,
and nearby is St Anthony's Well to which many resort to "wish a
wish" on this auspicious day. This picturesque survival of the old
pagan rites, together with the Christian service on the summit of
the hill, draws hundreds of people to the site. As dawn approaches,
numbers of young girls dally on the slopes of Arthur's Seat,
laughing and chattering as they perform the immemorial rite, and are
regarded with amused tolerance by the majority of the arrivals as
they climb to the summit to join in the Sunrise service.'
What holly is to Yule, rowan is to Beltane as the practice was to
collect rowan branches on Beltane Eve to hang up in the home. Not
only in the house but in barns, byres, sheep-faulds and stables, and
special care was always taken to insert a rowan branch in the midden.
Middens were supposedly a favourite meeting-place of the 'black
sisterhood' and as Beltane eve was believed to be a time when
fairies, witches and all other uncanny creatures, who sought to harm
mere mortals, were especially active then every precaution had to be
taken to ward them off. Rowan was seen as the greatest protection.
Above we noted the practice of young girls washing their faces in
the May Day dew and, especially in the Highlands, they always
carried a sprig of rowan when carrying out this task. Obviously you
couldn't be too careful.
Beltane Day was also the day for many centuries that cattle were
moved to the summer sheiling. This age-old migration was carried out
in The Hebrides until the 19th century as described by Alexander
'On the first day of May the people of the crofter townland are up
betimes and busy as bees about to swarm. This is the day of
migrating, from townland to moorland, from the winter homestead to
the summer sheiling..... All the families of the townland bring
their different flocks together at a particular place and drive the
The crofting way of life still exists and is the inspiration for
this week's recipe, the haggis-based Crofters Pie.
Ingredients: 1 lb (450 g) haggis; 8 oz (225 g) mince, cooked and
cooled with 2 oz (50 g) mixed vegetables; 1 lb (450 g) potatoes; 1
lb (450 g) turnip; 6 oz (150 g) cheddar cheese, grated; 1 oz (25 g)
butter; 4 tablespoons milk; seasoning
Method: Mix haggis and cooked mince then place in bottom of an
ovenproof dish. Peel and chop potatoes and turnip and cook in
boiling salted water for 15 to 20 minutes until tender. Drain well,
then mash with butter and milk until smooth. Add seasoning. Mix the
cheese with the potato mixture and spread on top of the haggis and
mince. Bake in the centre of the oven, 200 deg C/ 400 deg F/ Gas
Mark 6, for 15 to 20 minutes.
You can read the Flag, listen to the Scots Language, enjoy the Scots
Wit and lots more at
Christina McKelvie MSP's Weekly diary is available at
Poetry and Stories
John sent in another poem this week...
"Oan Sang" at
You can also read other stories in our Article Service and even add
your own at
Book of Scottish Story
Our thanks to John Henderson for sending this in for us.
This week have added a new story which is in 2 chapters...
Richard Sinclair; or, the Poor Prodigal
by Thomas Aird
Here is how it starts...
With many noble qualities—firmness, piety, integrity, and a thorough
affection for his family—the father of the poor prodigal, Richard
Sinclair, had many of the hard points of the Scottish character ; a
want of liberality in his estimate of others, particularly of their
religious qualities; a jealousy about his family prerogative, when
it was needless to assert it ; and a liking or discipline, or, as he
styled it, nurture, without tact to modify its applications. Towards
his eldest son—a shy and affectionate youth—his behaviour, indeed,
seemed distinctly opposite to what we may characterise as its usual
expression—overbearing gravity. Without this son’s advice, he never
ventured on any speculation that seemed doubtful. He was softly
amenable to the mild wisdom of the lad, and paid it a quiet
deference, of which, indeed, he sometimes appeared to be ashamed, as
a degree of weakness in himself. But the youth had never disobeyed
his parents’ will in any one particular ; he was grave and gentle;
and his father, who had been brought up amidst a large and rugged
family, and was thus accustomed to rather stormy usages, was now at
a loss, in matters of rebuke, how to meet this new species of
warfare, which lay in mild and quiet habits, and eventually became
afraid of the censure which was felt in the affectionate silence of
his eldest son.
This superiority might have offended old Sinclair’s self-love ; but
the youth, as already stated, made ample amends, by paying in his
turn a scrupulous and entire deference to his parent, whom he thus
virtually controlled, as a good wife knows to rule her husband, by
not seeming to rule at all. From this subdued tone of his favourite
prerogative in the father before us there was a reaction—something
like a compensation to the parental authority — which began to press
too hard upon his second son Richard, who, being of a bolder
character than his brother, was less scrupulously dealt with;
besides that the forward temperament of this younger boy frequently
offended against what his father honestly deemed propriety and good
The rest of this chapter can be read at
The other stories can be read at
The Concise Household Encyclopaedia
Added four more pages which include Crate, Crawfish, Crayfish,
Crayon, Crazy Paving, Cream, Cream Bun, Cream Cheese, Cream Jelly,
Cream Jug, Cream of Tartar, Creche, Credit, Creeper, Creeping Jenny,
Creeping Sailor, Cremation, Creme de Menthe, Creosote, Crepe de
Chine, Cresol, Cress, Cresting, Cretinism, Cretonne, Cribbage,
You can read about these at
Social Life in Scotland
From Early to Recent Times by Rev. Charles Rogers in 3 volumes
Now on the third and final volume of this publication with...
Humour and Eccentricity
Here is how the chapter on Humour and Eccentricity starts...
THE hilarity of every country is moved by influences of its own.
Thus, while the American laughs at the idea of a very tall man
ascending a ladder to shave himself, or the companion of a rapid
driver mistaking the milestones of a road for monuments in a
cemetery, the Briton listens to these extravagances unmoved. And few
save natives of Erin may enjoy the bull, when in answer to the
remark, "One man is as good as another," his countryman answered,
"Aye, and much better, too!" By pleasant word-playing the Englishman
cheers and gives pleasure, but the northerner values only such
verbal conceits as are forceful and stirring. When Charles Lamb
remarks that his grandmother was a very tall woman, since she was a
"granny dear," the Scotsman smiles, but it is in derision. Nor does
he discover any real wit in the reproof addressed to Swift, when he
was censuring his uncle Godwin for educating him like a dog, that he
himself "had not got the gratitude of a dog." Reproved by a Scottish
humorist, Swift could have found himself in a fire which he might
not readily extinguish.
Scottish jocundity is bracing, as are the northern breezes. If his
national comedy is 'confined to one drama—the "Gentle Shepherd "—the
native of the north has a. wealth of dramatic power in the weird
utterances which start up everywhere. Even in the names of places is
depicted the humour of the race. The gloomy vale is the fairy dell,
the dismal grotto the goblins' cave. Edinburgh, in old and squalid
times, was Auld Reekie. Even the source of evil is in Scottish
parlance less associated with malice than with a, mirthful rendering
of the terrible. Thus, the "Devil's Glen" is a valley at
Lochgoilhead; the "Devil's Staircase," a steep pathway at Glencoe;
the " Devil's Caldron," a cascade on the Lednoch; the " Devil's Beef
Tub," a hollow among the lloflht lulls; the "Devil's Elbow," a
perilous turn of the road at Glenshee; the "Devil's hill" and the
"Devil's Punch Bowl," portions of the wild scenery on the Devon.
When surnames came into use, the Caledonian had recourse to his
humour that he might distinguish and individualise. Malcolm III.,
with his superior wit, was styled "Canmore," that is, of the big
head, and Malcolm IV. was the "Maiden," that is, one of feminine
aspects; then followed Alexander I., called the "Fierce," because of
his impetuosity; and William, brave and adventurous, who was
designated the "Lion." In like manner James V., who rejoiced to
wander about among his subjects in disguise, was popularly known as
the "King of the Commons."
Those who bear aristocratic names might hesitate to admit that they
owe their appellatives less to Norman descent than to Scottish wit.
But the house of Avenel was founded by one who struck powerfully
upon the anvil. The family of Howe lived in a hollow; and the
earliest Landale in the "lang dale." From "cow-herd" came the
fancily of the Cowards, and from "stot-herd" the race of Stodart.
The dealer in good wine became Godwin; the brewer's son, was Bryson;
and the vendor of good ale was styled "Goodall." The stone-builder
who became superior to a common operative was called "Latomus," and
his descendants Latto.
You can read lots more from this chapter at
You can get to the index page of the book at
The Writings of John Muir
Completed Volume 3, Travels in Alaska with...
PART III. The Trip of 1890
Chapter XIX. Auroras
and now started Volume 4 - The Mountains of California
The Mountains of California, John Muir's first book, was published
in New York in 1894, by The Century Company. It is included in this
complete edition of his works by their permission, and to it are
added nine chapters of his later book The Yosemite, also by
arrangement with The Century Company. Six of the fifteen chapters of
The Yosemite, being repeated virtually word for word from the
earlier book or from Our National Parks, are omitted. The careful
reader of these volumes will still find here and there a sentence or
even a paragraph duplicated, but he will perceive that this
duplication could not have been avoided without mutilating the
author's text. The duplication in the books as originally published
was natural and; indeed, practically unavoidable, the three volumes
having been written to serve different purposes and each needing to
be complete in itself.
Chapter I. The Sierra Nevada
Chapter II. The Glaciers
Chapter III. The Snow
Chapter IV. A Near View of the High Sierra
Chapter V. The Passes
Chapter VI. The Glacier Lakes
Here is how the first chapter starts...
Go where you may within the bounds of California, mountains are ever
in sight, charming and glorifying every landscape. Yet so simple and
massive is the topography of the State in general views, that the
main central portion displays only one valley, and two chains of
mountains which seem almost perfectly regular in trend and height:
the Coast Range on the west side, the Sierra Nevada on the east.
These two ranges coming together in curves on the north and south
inclose a magnificent basin, with a level floor more than four
hundred miles long, and from thirty-five to sixty miles wide. This
is the grand Central Valley of California, the waters of which have
only one outlet to the sea through the Golden Gate. But with this
general simplicity of features there is great complexity of hidden
detail. The Coast Range, rising as a grand green barrier against the
ocean, from two to eight thousand feet high, is composed of
innumerable forest-crowned spurs, ridges, and rolling hill waves
which inclose a multitude of smaller valleys; some looking out
through long, forest-lined vistas to the sea; others, with but few
trees, to the Central Valley; while a thousand others yet smaller
are embosomed and concealed in mild, roundbrowed hills, each with
its own climate, soil, and productions.
Making your way through the mazes of the Coast Range to the summit
of any of the inner peaks or passes opposite San Francisco, in the
clear springtime, the grandest and most telling of all California
landscapes is outspread before you. At your feet lies the great
Central Valley glowing golden in the sunshine, extending north and
south farther than the eye can reach, one smooth, flowery, lake-like
bed of fertile soil. Along its eastern margin rises the mighty
Sierra, miles in height, reposing like a smooth, cumulus cloud in
the sunny sky, and so gloriously colored, and so luminous, it seems
to be not clothed with light, but wholly composed of it, like the
wall of some celestial city. Along the top, and extending a good way
down, you see a pale, pearl-gray belt of snow; and below it a belt
of blue and dark purple, marking the extension of the forests; and
along the base of the range a broad belt of rose-purple and yellow,
where lie the miner's gold-fields and the foothill gardens. All
these colored belts blending smoothly make a wall of light ineffably
fine, and as beautiful as a rainbow, yet firm as adamant.
When I first enjoyed this superb view, one glowing April day, from
the summit of the Pacheco Pass, the Central Valley, but little
trampled or ploughed as yet, was one furred, rich sheet of golden
compositae, and the luminous wall of the mountains shone in all its
glory. Then it seemed to me the Sierra should be called, not the
Nevada, or Snowy Range, but the Range of Light. And after ten years
spent in the heart of it, rejoicing and wondering, bathing in its
glorious floods of light, seeing the sunbursts of morning among the
icy peaks, the noonday radiance on the trees and rocks and snow, the
flush of the alpenglow, and a thousand dashing waterfalls with their
marvelous abundance of irised spray, it still seems to me above all
others the Range of Light, the most divinely beautiful of all the
mountain chains I have ever seen.
You can read the rest of this chapter at
The rest of the chapters can be read at
Sketches of the early days of New Zealand, Romance and Reality of
Antipodean life in the infancy of a New Colony by John Logan
We have now completed this book with the following chapters...
BOOK THE FOURTH.
HOW A NEW COLONY IS BORN TO AN OLD NATION.
The Capital of Poenamo in 1811.—how we Lived then
An Episode.—Our First Maori Scare. — Conclusion
Here is how Chapter XI starts...
Forty years ago it is now, and yet how vividly does the dawning year
of 1841 and the primitive capital with its handful of people rise
Ah! how many have passed away, and how few remain to me now with
whom I acted as the pilgrim fathers of those days! Few indeed are we
now; on the fingers of one hand almost can I number them. We are
even as so many moss o'ergrown milestones, ancient relics which
marked the road for a past generation which has already travelled to
the journey's end.
Yes! the wintry snow of age has blanched our heads, proclaiming the
many years which lie buried in the past, and that our course has
Yet how vividly rises before me the picture as I used to look upon
it when, rising from my fern bed, I folded back my tent-door, and
smelt the sweet fresh dew-scent in the air, and saw the rippling
tide- wave wash the beach.
How calm and dreamy and peaceful was the primitive life, waiting in
expectancy—all waiting in expectancy—such a bright future conjured
We were all squatting, each in the little spot which fancy had
dictated, and the day of rivalry was still in the future; there was
no envying of a neighbour's superiority or greater fortune; we were
all steeped in a passive equality, all hail fellow well met; we were
as one family, with a distinction—and that distinction was only the
Red Tape one! But we all smiled benignly on the little airs Red Tape
put on in the attempt to enshrine itself in a very milk-and-water
exclusiveness; for from the top-sawyer of Red Tape down to the
veritable top-sawyer and his mate below in the Government sawpits we
all gave each other le beau jour, and had a passing word of kindness
to say when we met among the high fern footpaths or at the
landing-place at the beach.
It would have been useless for Red Tape to stand on its dignity; we
all elbowed each other so intimately and were so isolated that
familiarity ceased to breed contempt and happily engendered the
feeling of that good-fellowship which arises where any small band of
men are thrown together far away from their other fellow-men and
You can read the rest of this chapter at
You can read the rest of the chapters at
Fraser's Scottish Annual
These are articles from the 1900 - 1904 issues of Fraser's Scottish
Annual. This week we've added...
The Ontario Farm
St Andrew in Canada
Odds and Ends
Here is how the article on "The Ontario farm" starts...
ONTARIO, with its wide, fertile plains, its well-watered,
well-sheltered stretches, is eminently an agricultural country. In
this province the substantial tenant-farmer from the Old Land has
found a most desirable field for the investment of his means, and
the skilled farm-worker, in a land, in which by energy and industry,
a comfortable home could be carved out with comparative ease. The
Government of the province has ever looked upon the farmer with
kindly eyes, and what has been done, and is being done, for the
advancement of his interests deserves brief recital in these pages.
Ontario contains an area of 128,000,000 acres, lying between the
latitudes which would be formed in Europe at a point between
Cambridge and London, for a northern, and between Rome and Naples
for a southern boundary. Of this area 22,000,000 have been settled,
the remainder, including mineral and forest lands, and many large
districts suitable for farming in all its branches, is open still to
the pioneer; on terms that are entirely reasonable. Settlement in
these unappropriated lands is governed by the "Free Grants and
Homestead's" Act, under which a settler, if a single man, obtains
100 acres free, and if the head of a family 200 acres free, the
settlement duties being five years' residence, the clearing and
cultivating of at least fifteen acres, and the erection of a
habitable home, which conditions having been fulfilled the title to
the holding issues. Lands more favorably suitable in these districts
are sold for fifty cents per acre, and lighter settlement duties.
The climate differs but slightly from that of the fully settled
southern portion of the province. The winters are invigorating and
pleasant, the atmosphere being light and dry, and the temperature
quite pleasant; the summers are warm, bright and sunny, conducive to
the cultivaton and growth of all ordinary farm products and fruits
to a perfect maturity.
The Government of the Province gives every encouragement to
settlers. The easy terms of settlement referred to are but a small
portion of what is done to render the lot of pioneer farmers not
only comfortable but desirable. Settlement is preceded by the
construction of roads and bridges, forming means of communication
with the village markets, the railways and the lake waterways, which
are numerous. Assistance is given by the disemination of reliable
information on practical questions of living, and a friendly
attitude and good relations are maintained in connection with
settlement and development intercourse and transactions.
The great development of agriculture, however, has been in the
southern counties of the Province, where farming has reached a high
standard, where agriculture is a science, and where the remarkable
evolution of husbandry has been unsurpassed on the American
The rest of this article can be read at
The other articles can be read at
The Autobiography of Dr. Alexander Carlyle of Inveresk (1722 - 1805)
It is said that this is one of the top 5 books to read if you wish
to understand more about Scottish Life.
We have now completed this book with...
Domestic affairs—Henry Dundas—Harrogate revisited—Adventures with a
remarkable bore—The author of Crazy Tales — Ambassador Keith —
Education of the Scots gentry—John Gregory—Mrs. Montague and her
coterie—Death of the author's father—Sudden death of his friend
Visit to Lord Glasgow with Robertson—Convivialities—Synod
business—Dr. Armstrong—An excursion to Tweed-dale and across the
border—Adventures in Carlisle—The Duke of I3uccleuch and festivities
at Dalkeith—Adam Smith there—Professor Millar of Glasgow.
The clergy of Scotland and the Window-tax--Carlyle appointed their
champion—Sojourn in London—The Scotch dancing assembly—Dr. Dodd
preaching to the Magdalenes---The career of Colonel Dow—Anecdotes of
Wolfe and Quebec—Garrick and John Home's plays —Decision of the
Douglas Cause—Lord Mansfield—Conversation at Mrs. Montague's — The
return home —Back to London about the Window-tax—Anecdotes of the
formation of the North Ministry—Conclusion.
His correspondence on Church matters—His influence—His lighter
correspondence—The great contest of the clerkship—The augmentation
question—Politics—Collins's Ode on the superstition of the
Highlands—Carlyle and poetry—Domestic history—His personal
appearance—The composition of his autobiography—Condition and
editing of the manuscripts—His last days—His death.
Here is how Chapter XIV starts...
The window-tax alarmed the clergy more and more, and as I had been
the great champion in maintaining on every occasion that the
Scottish clergy by our law ought to be exempted from this tax, on
the same grounds on which they are exempted from paying the land-tax
for their glebes, while one of our meetings were deliberating what
was to be done, I told them that as I intended to be in London in
the spring on private business, I would very gladly accept of any
commission they would give me, to state our claim to the King's
Ministers, and particularly to the Lords of the Treasury; and at
least to prepare the way for an application for exemption to the
Parliament in the following year, in case it should be found
expedient. Robertson, who had thought it more advisable to pay
rather than resist any longer, was surprised into consent with this
sudden proposal of mine, and frankly agreed to it, though he told me
privately that it would not have success. The truth was, that Mrs.
Carlyle's health was so indifferent that I became uneasy, and wished
to try Bath, and to visit London, where she never had been, on our
way. The clergy were highly pleased with my offer of service without
any expense, and I was accordingly commissioned, in due form, by the
Committee on the Window-Tax, to carry on this affair. We prepared
for our journey, and set out about the middle of February. We had
the good fortune to get Martin, the portrait-painter, and Bob Scott,
a young physician, as our companions on our journey. This made it
very pleasant, as Martin was a man of uncommon talents for
conversation. We stopped for two days with the Blacketts at
Newcastle, and then went on by Huntingdon, and after that to
Cambridge. As I had not been there when I was formerly in London, I
was desirous to see that famous university; and besides, had got a
warm exhortation from my friend Dr. Robertson, to diverge a little
from the straight line, and go by Hock-well, where there were the
finest eels in all England. We took that place in our way, and
arrived long enough before dinner to have our eels dressed in
various ways; but though the spitch-cocked had been so highly
recommended by our friend, we thought nothing of them, and Mrs.
Carlyle could not taste them, so that we had all to dine on some
very indifferent mutton-broth, which had been ordered for her. I
resolved after this never to turn off the road by the advice of
You can read the rest of this chapter at
You can get to this book for the other chapters at
Wonder Tales from Scottish Myth and Legend
By Donald A MacKenzie
We have now completed this book with...
Chapter XII. Story of Thomas the Rhymer
Chapter XIII. The Maid of the Wave
Chapter XIV. Exiles from Fairyland
Chapter XV. Friends and Foes of Man
Chapter XVI. The Land of Green Mountains
Here is how "Exiles from Fairyland" starts...
The Fairy Queen banishes from Fairyland any fairy who disobeys her
orders. Then the exile wanders about alone through the land in
search of companions. As the queen's subjects shun the banished
fairy man or woman, he or she must needs make friends with human
The Goona is the name given to one class of fairy exiles. A Goona is
very kindly and harmless, and goes about at night trying, to be of
service to mankind. He herds the cattle on the hills, and keeps them
away from dangerous places. Often he is seen sitting on the edge of
a cliff, and when cattle come near he drives them back. In the
summer and autumn seasons he watches the cornfields, and if a cow
should try to enter one, he seizes it by a horn and leads it to hill
pasture. In winter time, when the cattle are kept in byres, the
Goona feels very lonely, having no work to do.
Crofters speak kindly of the Goona, and consider themselves lucky
when one haunts their countryside. They tell that he is a little
fairy man with long ;olden hair that falls down over his shoulders
and back. He is clad in a fox's skin, and in wintry weather he
suffers much from cold, for that is part of his punishment. The
crofters pity him, and wish that he would come into a house and sit
beside a warm fire, but this he is forbidden to do. If a crofter
were to offer a Goona any clothing the little lonely fellow would
have to go away and he could never return again. The only food the
exiled fairy can get are scraps and bones flung away by human
beings. There are songs about the Goona. One tells:
He will watch the long weird night,
When the stars will shake with fright,
Or the ghostly moon leaps bright
O'er the ben like Beltane fire.
If my kine should seek the corn
He will turn them by the horn,
And I'll find them all at morn
Lowing sweet beside the byre.
You can read the rest of this at
The other chapters can be read at
Robert Burns Lives!
By Frank Shaw
In this article "Chat with Robert Crawford author of "The Bard". It
Q: How important to your book and to the world of Burnsians are the
Macdonald papers in the St. Andrews Library?
A: Macdonald’s journal gave me the initial impetus, and remains the
document which contains the most unambiguous statement of Burns’s
republicanism towards the end of his life.
Q: Will the Macdonald papers ever be made public in transcript or
pamphlet form for those of us who would like to have them for our
own personal study and Burns collections?
A: That will depend on whether increased resources become available
to digitize some of the treasures of St. Andrews University Library.
Q: Why do you “confess to being wary of many self-professed
Burnsians”? Does your statement have to do with their knowledge of
Burns or their misinformation or disinformation regarding him?
A: I tend to be wary of people who are interested in Burns but have
no interest in poetry or in literature beyond Burns. Yes, there are
Q: Since you have written about Robert Burns and have spoken about
him to various groups, including the Library of Congress in
Washington, D.C., what do you consider to be the most important
subject in his life that you want to make certain your audience
takes away from your lectures?
A: I want people to realize that Burns matters most because he is a
great poet – a remarkable practitioner of a great art form – rather
than simply because he was Scottish, or had a dramatic life,
including an energetic sex life. The drama of his life and his
status as a Scottish icon are fine subject matter for a biographer,
but it would be daft not to try and show also what makes him such an
excellent poet. I want to reinstate the complexity and subtlety of
his personality, parts of which can too readily get lost if he’s
just seen as a laddish Scottish mascot.
and you can read the rest of this at
Bookseller in Detroit, has published several volumes of his poetry
and won a wide circle of readers. He was born at Longformacus,
Berwickshire, in 1825. In 1851 he settled in Toronto, where he
engaged in business as a bookbinder, but was burned out and lost his
all. In 1861 he removed to Detroit, and slowly but surely recovered
his losses. He is not only a poet, but an authority on poets,
particularly Scotch, and he discusses their merits with rare
critical acumen and with a fund of story and illustration which
makes him a delightful conversationalist. All his own poems are
Scotch, and he handles "our mither tongue" with the ease of a
Thanks to John Henderson we discovered a pdf of one of his books of
poems and we've made it available at
Among the Forrest Trees
or How the Bushman Family got their Homes, by being a book of facts
and incidents of pioneering life in Upper Canada, arranged in the
form of a story, by Rev. Joseph H. Hilts (1888)
This is another new book we're embarking on and here is the
Introduction to get you started...
AVERSE criticism has sounded the death-knell of so many literary
productions, that I felt many misgivings when I sent out my first
book, "Experiences of a Backwoods Preacher," to seek a place in the
arena of Canadian literature. But the favorable comments of the
Press, and the hearty commendations of hundreds of the readers of
these "Experiences," have encouraged me to try and produce a work
that would be more worthy of public favor than my first effort can
claim to be.
Acting on the advice of persons of large experience in the book
trade, I have written "Among the Forrest Trees," in the form of a
story. The book is really a narrative of facts and incidents, around
which the imagination has been permitted to throw some of the
draperies of fiction. But truth is none the less true because some
fancy pictures are found in its surroundings. A good piece of cloth
is no less valuable because, by coloring, it is made beautiful. And
although a man may be as good a man in an outfit made of sail-cloth,
or of an Indian blanket, as he would be if he were dressed in the
finest production of the weaver's and the tailor's art, yet no one
will say that he would be just as presentable in the one case as In
the other. So facts may become more impressive, when nicely clothed.
In writing the following pages, three things have been kept steadily
in view. 1st. The facts and incidents must be substantially true.
2nd. All the drapery and coloring must be in strict harmony with
pure morality, and with the demands of a sound religious sentiment.
3rd. And the whole must be illustrative of pioneer life, in its
conditions and surroundings, and calculated to show something of the
toils, privations, hardships, difficulties and sorrows of the early
Keeping within these limits, I believe that I have produced a book
that can with entire safety, and not without profit, be put into the
hands of either young or old, since there is not one line from the
beginning to the ending that will excite bad passions or mislead the
,judgment. And while this is true, there is much that will touch the
finer sensibilities and sympathies of the reader.
It will be observed that the author has recorded the narrations and
conversations as though they were the utterances of others. Hence
the first person is generally left in the background.
This method was adopted, because by it a great variety of characters
could be brought on the scene, and a larger diversity of style could
Another thing to which I would call the reader's attention is the
fact that dates and localities have mostly been left out of the text
of the book. Where these are given they are found in the explanatory
notes. This plan was adopted to afford greater facilities for
grouping together facts and incidents, that were separated by time
and distance, so as to give an aspect of unity to the whole
The reader will also observe that the names of persons and places
are mostly taken from trees and shrubs and plants and flowers, as
these are found in the forest wilds. It may be a mere fancy of mine;
but I thought that it would acid to the attractiveness of the book,
if the names found in it coincided, as far as possible, with the
subject treated of in its pages.
John Bushman is a fictitious name. But he is by no means a
fictitious character. If you asked me where he lived, I would
answer, you might as well try to confine the most ubiquitous John
Smith to one locality, as to settle the question where John Bushman
lives, or more properly, to say where he clout live. Every township
and every neighborhood have, at some time, had their first man and
first woman, their John and Mary Bushman.
Another thing that is to he noted is this: among the varied
characters, and diversified actions described in these pages, there
is not a wicked act, nor a vicious person mentioned in the whole
book. All the actors are strictly moral if they are not pious, and
all the actions are virtuous if they are not religious. I have no
sympathy with that style of writing that gives more prominence to
the bad than to the good, in human character. Therefore I resolved
that, so far as myself and my book are concerned, the devil shall he
left to do his own advertising.
And now as to why the book has been written. Since the thousands of
refugees, known as the U. E. Loyalists, came to this country a
little over a hundred years ago, wonderful changes have been
effected. And these will continue in the future. In the race for
ease and opulence, on the part of the people of this country, there
is danger that the brave pioneers and their works may be forgotten,
unless some records of their noble deeds are handed down to the
Not very few persons had better facilities than the writer to gain
front personal experience a practical knowledge to pioneer life.
Both of my parents were born on the Niagara frontier soon after the
Loyalists came to this country. I was but three years old when my
father cut his way to his shanty through seven miles of unbroken
wilderness: and five-sevenths of my whole life have been spent among
pioneer settlers. So that if a personal knowledge of the things
Written about be of any advantage. I have that knowledge.
One word more. To those readers who, like myself, make no claim to
classical learning, I wish to say that I have tried to produce a
book that would at the same time both please and instruct you. How
far my effort has been successful can he decided only after you have
To my scholarly readers, if I should be so fortunate as to secure
any such, I wish to say, Don't use a telescope in searching for
defects; you can see plenty of them with the naked eye. And when you
find them, which no doubt you will, don't be too severe with your
criticisms. But remember that the writer never saw the inside of a
college in his life. Remember that he never attended a high school
until he went as a member of a school board to settle a. rumpus
among the teachers. And remember that he never had twelve months'
tuition in any sort of school. His book-learning has been picked up
by snatches of time and while other people slept. No, don't be too
severe in judging, nor too quick in condemning. Please don't!
J. H. H.
October 1, 1888.
From the "Toronto Mail."
"'Among the Forest Trees; or, How the Bushman Family got their
Home,' by Rev. Joseph H. Hilts, is a book of pioneer life in Upper
Canada, arranged in the form of a story. The author, whose former
work, 'Experiences of a Backwoods Preacher,' has had many readers,
has spent five-seventh's of his life among the pioneer settlers of
Western Canada. It is needless to say, therefore, that the book
possesses much historic value as a picture of Canadian life in the
early days of this western peninsula. The story, moreover, is
interesting and most wholesome in tone, and as it will, no doubt, be
widely read, it cannot fail to serve the author's purpose, which is
to prevent the deeds of the pioneers from being forgotten."
We have the first few chapters up and these can be read at
Alberta, Past and Present, Historical and Biographical
By John Blue, B.A. (1924)
Another new book we're starting and here is the Foreword to read
The design of this work is to give a readable and comprehensive view
of the history of Alberta from the earliest times. The author has
divided the history of the province into three periods. The first
period will cover the early explorations and rule of the Fur
Traders. The second period concerns rival fur companies, the Selkirk
Purchase, etc.-1811-1821. The third period, which in many ways is
the most wonderful of all, deals with the events since 1821—tells
the story of the marvelous transformation of the Great Lone Land
into the rich and populous Alberta of today.
The story is one of intense and instructive interest to the student
of Canadian history. To trace the development of the political
institutions of the newest province of the Dominion and compare it
with the development of similar institutions in the older provinces
of Canada, is an interesting study in comparative politics and
highly illustrative of the manner in which responsible government
grows in free communities.
The wonderful material development of the province since it was
opened for settlement is a story of enthralling interest. Less than
fifty years ago the Blackfeet and the Crees roamed the plains and
camped on the sites of the principal cities of the province. They
hunted the buffalo and the antelope over the unploughed acres that
now comprise the farms and homesteads of half a million people. Elk
and deer by thousands found shelter in the foot-hills and mountain
passes where now scores of mining towns and villages prosper and
flourish. Less than fifty years ago there was not a mile of railway
between the Red River and the Rocky Mountains. Today there are over
six thousand miles of railway in the province of Alberta alone,
connected with all the great transcontinental systems of Canada and
the United States. Men traveled by dog sleighs, canoes or Red River
carts. The only civilized persons who had penetrated the Great Lone
Land were the Hudson's Bay traders, the hunters and trappers, the
missionaries and the prospectors on their way to the gold diggings
of Yale and Caribou.
Today there are nearly three-quarters of a million of a population
within the area that now comprises the province. Many of the old
Indian trails have been surveyed and have become permanent highways.
The people have schools and churches; colleges and universities;
municipal institutions; thousands of miles of telephone
communication; banks and great commercial and trading houses. The
province, through its vast resources and the energy of its
people—drawn from the great races of the world—is rapidly becoming a
powerful factor in the commercial and political life of the Dominion
The story of this wonderful transformation is worthy of record. An
earnest attempt has been made by the author and the publishers to
present the great mass of facts with a sense of their due proportion
and ultimate value as the true material of history. The author has
had the advantage of a long residence in Western Canada, and has had
the resources of the Provincial Library at Edmonton, the library of
the University of Alberta at his disposal, as well as the excellent
collection of Canadiana in the possession of Hon. Dr. A. C.
Rutherford, the first Premier of Alberta. Many valuable suggestions
have been received from the Officers of the Alberta Historical
Society, and from many of the old-timers to whom the rapid
development of the last few years is more make a dream than the
natural events of history.
We have the first couple of chapters up which you can read at
Beths Newfangled Family Tree
The May edition is now available at
Please note that as I checked the links I note that for some reason
Section 1 seems to be last years edition so don't download it right
away as I've emailed Beth and I'm sure I'll get the correct issue in
some time in the next 24 hours. Section 2 is fine.
Scottish Clan & Surname DNA Projects
We got in a list of connections to DNA resources for Scottish Clans
and Families and as I understand the list each link takes you to a
site where there is information on DNA for that clan or family
group. You can get to this at
And finally... I got an email in which seems to give one of those
A holy man was having a conversation with God one day and said,
'God, I would like to know what Heaven and Hell are like.'
God led the holy man to two doors.
He opened one of the doors and the holy man looked in.
In the middle of the room was a large round table. In the middle of
the table was a large pot of stew, which smelled delicious and made
the holy man's mouth water.
The people sitting around the table were thin and sickly. They
appeared to be famished.
They were holding spoons with very long handles, that were strapped
to their arms and each found it possible to reach into the pot of
stew and take a spoonful.
But because the handle was longer than their arms, they could not
get the spoons back into their mouths.
The holy man shuddered at the sight of their misery and suffering.
God said, 'You have seen Hell.'
They went to the next room and opened the door. It was exactly the
same as the first one.
There was the large round table with the large pot of stew which
made the holy man's mouth water.
The people were equiped with the same long-handled spoons, but here
the people were well nourished and plump, laughing and talking. The
holy man said, 'I don't understand..'
'It is simple,' said God. 'It requires but one skill.
You see they have learned to feed each other, while the greedy think
only of themselves.'
And that's it for now and hope you all have a good weekend :-)
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