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Mini Biographies of Scots and Scots Descendants (Mc)
The Bogainn MacDonalds


John MacDonald (Pioneer) was born in the 1740’s probably of a Moidart family.  He was the son of Domhnuill mhic Raonuill mhic Uillean mhic Calum of the Clanranald MacDonalds.  He lived on the island of Eigg in the Hebrides from where he is supposed to have emigrated to Nova Scotia. 

He married Effie MacDonald of Glencoe, Scotland about 1770.  He may have joined an overseas regiment for service in North America during the American Revolution about 1780 (possibly the 82nd Hamilton) and received a grant of land in Nova Scotia near Pictou.  John emigrated to Pictou about 1791.  He brought Effie and his young children there and they began to clear land at Fisher’s Grant (this land was part of the allotment given to disbanded soldiers of the 82nd Hamilton Regiment.)  Effie died here in the 1790’s and John left his farm in the hands of Donald Ruadh, his eldest. 

John went to Arisaid, Antigonish County where he met and married Annie Flora MacKinnon.  John and his new wife moved across to Cape Breton in 1798 and took up 323 acres of land at Little Judique ponds.  He and his wife had three more children and about 1809/10 John died.  His wife remained in possession of the property. 

John’s first family gave up the farm near Pictou and joined their father at Judique in 1798 where Donald Ruadh took up a grant of 380 acres on the South side of Little Judique Harbour.  He built a one-room log cabin just above the  shore (where the Lower Shore Road turns towards the wharf) in that year and married Mary MacDonald, daughter of Alasdair (son of James of Baillie).  After an initial period of settlement, Donald Ruadh would have grown some corps and also fished out of Little Judique Harbour.

He was known as an industrious man.  When his children were quite small, his wife was alone in their cabin and some Micmacs came to pay a visit (the Indians often can to camp above the harbour in the summer).  According to oral tradition, when the Indians spied a barrel of potatoes near the door, they picked them up and wondered at what they were.  After puzzling over this a minute, they began flinging them at one another which apparently terrified Mary and her small children. 

Donald’s family grew rapidly and soon he built a second house (probably of framed lumber) above the bank near the shore where the small ponds are.  A number of years later, the family moved into a bigger house closer to the present Lower Shore Road (none of these early houses stands today but their foundations can still be found).  He was known to have gone spearing eels every year at Livingstone Pond and would salt the eels in large barrels for the winter.  No doubt, his family’s reputation as the “bogainn’s” meant that he had many skills as a fisherman. 

In the 1830’s he began to divide up his land among his three sons, having deeds drawn up and giving each son an equal share.  By this time, he was probably retiring from full-time farming.  Donald Ruadh lived to be a very old man and when he was dying, his daughter-in-law Anne (wife of John Jr.) sent for the priest, Father Kenneth MacDonald.  When the priest arrived, the “dying man” got up to greet the priest who exclaimed in surprise, “A n’e seo an duine tinn?” (Is this the sick man?)  Despite this, however, Donald Ruadh took the sacrament of the dying and not long after this, he died.  Thus were all of Pioneer John’s family re-united at Judique.

Information taken from pages 43 & 44 from the book, Fair is the Place which was written and compiled by John Colin and Mildred MacDonald and Catherine MacDonald of Little Judique, Inverness County, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Copyright 1985, 2nd Edition ISBN – 0-9692277-0-1


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