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History of Inverness County, Nova Scotia
Chapter XI - Port Hastings

The Municipal District of Port Hastings extends from the Richmond County line and the town of Port Hawkesbury along the shore .of the Strait of Canso and St. George's Bay, toward the north west, to the borders of the Municipal District of Creignish.

The front lots extend a mile and a quarter to the rear. The rear settlements are Melville and Barberton to the rear of Port Hawkesbury; Crandall Road, N. W. Arm, Sugar Camp, Mackdale, Lake Horton, Lexington, Queensville and South Rhodena to the rear of Creignish.

The only village in this District is Port Hastings, beautifully situated on a hill side on the north west side of Plaster Cove, and commanding a good view of the Strait of Canso to the south and south east and faced directly across by the bold promontory of Cape Porcupine about a mile distant.

For a long time Port Hastings has been a busy place, the central spot of the District for business activities. Among the leading business men of former years were pioneer Hugh MacMillan, James G. MacKeen, Geo. C. Laurence, William M. Clough, A. B. Skinner, A. H. Sutherland, Hugh MacLennan and R. J. MacDonald. Of these, Mr. MacDonald survives and conducts a strong general business at the old stand.

R. J. MacDonald, who has been the leading merchant at Port Hastings for many years was the son of Donald MacDonald one of the pioneers of Whycocomagh. Donald MacDonald, when 24 years of age, in North Uist, Scotland, married Ann Morrison, aged 19 years, and in three days they sailed for America. The sea-voyage over, they landed at Sydney and found their way to Whycocomagh. There they bought a little home at Salt Mountain from an Irishman, house, field, crop and all, and there for a time they enjoyed the sunshine of heaven. And then dark days came. When Ronald John was six years old and his brother James four, their father died. The brave mother had her hands full. She did her part nobly. Her family became prosperous. Peter at Whycocomagh; James at West Bay, and later in the House of Assembly and a member of the Local Government; and "R. J." at Port Hastings.

"R. J." opened his first lot of goods for sale at Port Hastings on May 6th, 1879. Mrs. R. J. MacDonald was Elizabeth C. MacPhie whose father, the late Angus MacPhie came to West Bay from Pictou in 1844. Of their children one daughter, Eva G., survives and lives. with her parents at Port Hastings.

James G. MacKeen, son of Hon. William MacKeen, Mabou, was. doing business at Port Hastings in the early forties and down to the early eighties. He married Mary Ann, daughter of Nathaniel Clough, pioneer. His first daughter, Sarah Jane, was born in 1844. She became the wife of Henry A. Forbes, son of Rev. William.G. Forbes of the Strait. Children: Wm. J. died young; Mary Ann, William G., Harry, Elizabeth, David. The last two died young. Mary Ann married Aubrey Laurence, son of George C., Port Hastings. Children: Gerald, Arthur Craig, Aubrey Forbes, Mary, Roland Hadley. Their home is now in Toronto. William G. and Harry, sons of the late H. A. Forbes are on the old homestead.

James G. MacKeen's second wife was Charlotte Sophia Whidden, daughter of Rev. Mr. Whidden, Baptist Minister, Antigonish. Children: Sophia, Hattie, Margaret, Ella, Emily, Bertha Lavinia, Wellesley and William J., Civil Engineer. Of these Sophia married T. C. James, Charlottetown. Children: Margaret and Tom. This Margaret married Rev. George Millar, B.A., P.E.I.

Hattie MacKeen married Capt. George Mitchell, Brooklyn, N.Y. No family. The rest of this MacKeen family died single.

The other business men of Port Hastings today are W. H. Skinner,. W. H. Clough (Postmaster), Geo. L. MacLean and J. B. Chisholm.

For a number of years, after the laying of the first Atlantic Cable, Port Hastings could boast of a large cable and Telegraph Office with a large staff of operators, which added considerably to the prosperity of the place. Prior to the laying of Telegraph Cables a wire was laid across the Strait from the top of Cape Porcupine to a tall mast or tower at Port Hastings. Great difficult was experienced in maintaining it. It sagged greatly and was often caught by the topmasts of large ships going through the Strait and broken.

Another factor in its prosperity was the large number of American fishing vessels that made Port Hastings a port of call to secure fishing supplies and men on their way to the Magdalen Islands in the Spring and the various banks. Those were the happy old days of friendly reciprocity.

Another factor in the prosperity of Port Hastings and the district was the conveying of Her Majesty's Mails and the carrying of passengers. The late Mr. Henry A. Archibald was the contractor for many years before the railways were built to Inverness, Sydney and St. Peters. His lines extended to Cheticamp, Baddeck and North Sydney, and he took great pride in rendering satisfactory service. At one time, he had about one hundred horses. Many of his old drivers are still living and often speak very highly of the kindly interest he took in their affairs and the generous treatment accorded them.

When the first immigrants arrived at the Strait of Canso about a century and a half ago the district was all well-wooded, and good hunting ground for its Mic-Mac inhabitants. The great struggle between the British and the French for possession of the country was over. Britain was left in undisputed possession by the Treaty of Paris in 1763.

To clear the land and bring it to a state of respectable cultivation, and at the same time to erect more comfortable dwellings and more suitable barns, and to open and build roads to facilitate intercommunication, besides all the other work necessary to provide food and raiment was a task that called for an amount of labour and toil which the present generation cannot well understand. We understand enough however to make us devoutly thankful for all they accomplished. We admire their courage and bravery, their devotion to duty, their indefatigable labors to lay a good foundation for their children and their children's children, and we are prompted by their example to see to it that we too may do our best to leave to succeeding generations a worthy and an enduring heritage.

Today Port Hastings is in close touch with all routes of trade and travel. Its three telegraph offices, its government wharf, its railway station, its shipping pier, and its telephones are only a few miles from the government railway at Point Tupper, and are within easy reach of all manner of shipping in the Strait of Canso. - a wonderful contrast to the conditions that prevailed in pioneer days of 150 years ago, or even 100 years.


While our farmers generally are in fairly comfortable circumstances and the farms away in advance of those left behind in Scotland by the early pioneers, farming in this district can never bring in the large returns which are so common in Western prairie provinces. Our land here is too stoney to be well-suited for agricultural purposes.

For that reason farmers, as a rule, have to avail themselves of various other means of adding to their income. Some near the shore combine farming and fishing. Some are farmers and carpenters. Some find work at industrial centres. Some sell railway ties, pit props, timber and firewood. And then by earning a little here and a little there, and by the constant practice of careful economy, they are able to enjoy the necessaries of life, but by no means many of its luxuries.


The Presbyterian Church in Port Hastings ministers to the spiritual requirements of the Presbyterians of the district and to a few of other denominations. The Methodist Church in Port Hawkesbury does the same for Methodists and some others. The Roman Catholics are ministered to by two churches of their own-one in Port Hawkesbury and one in Creignish.

That the work of the churches has been a decided success is manifest from the high type of morality that prevails in the district, and the extent to which the principles of Christianity are carried out in the daily life of the people, socially and spiritually.

The first Presbyterian minister of Port Hastings was Rev. Dugald MacKichan, 1832-1840, who also ministered to River Inhabitants. The second was Rev. Wm. G. Forbes, of whom some account is given elsewhere in this history. The third was Rev. Donald MacDonald, B. D., a native of Big Intervale, Cape North, C.B., (Highland genealogy: Domhnull Mac Ra'ill 'Ic Iain 'Ic Dhomhnuill Bhain 'Ic 'Illeasbuig a bha'n Cillebhacastair au Cillemhoire au, Trotarnaish 'san Eilean Sgiathanach).

Mr. MacDonald was ordained and inducted at Port Hastings Sept. 7th 1887, and ministered there to Dec. 31st, 1893. The fourth minister was Rev. H. K. MacLean, a native of Middle River, a few years. The fifth was Rev. L. H. MacLean, M. A., a native of Strathlorne, C.B. The sixth was Rev. J. C. MacLeod, B.A., of Dominion No. 6, C.B. After Mr. McLeod moved to the West, Port Hastings was supplied for over two years by Rev. John Murray, Glace Bay. The seventh settled minister was Rev. D. MacDonald, B.D., who was cal-led a second time, and settled there Feb. 1st. 1917 and is in charge to date, 1922.


Nearly all the people of the district are Presbyterians and Roman Catholics. The MacQuarries, MacKinnons, MacFadyens, MacLennans, Foxes, Kennedys, Reynolds, Skinners, Campbells, Forbeses, Kings, MacVicars are all Presbyterian, and most of the MacDonalds MacLeans and Camerons.

The MacIsaacs, MacMillans, MacEacherns, MacIntyres, MacNeils, MacDougalls, MacLellans, Chisholms and Grants are all Roman Catholics, and some MacDonalds, MacLeans, and Camerons.

Religious convictions are mutually respected and seldom interfere with cordial harmony throughout the entire community.

Among the main contributory forces working for friendship and goodwill between Roman Catholics and Protestants are their mingling together in the public schools, as children, and their close association afterwards as neighbours, business men and co-workers in various relationships in ordinary life. The public schools are doing a splendid work in this way for the common good besides the training they give in the various branches of a common education. Almost everybody now is able to read and write, and the great majority have an intelligent grasp of their duties to one another, and to Church and State and. God.


The Scottish immigrants who settled in the Hastings district were, largely from the island of Rum, some from Lochaber, and a few from other parts of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, and nearly all spoke the Gaelic language.

Immigrants of English descent were but few in number, and as most of them came at an earlier date, they were able to secure homes, nearer the shore. Before long both began to mix up. The English made slow progress in picking up Gaelic. Gaelic folk did better in picking up English. Then schools were established and English became the medium of instruction. Today the use of English is general. Many of the older people however, show a very decided preference for the Mellifluous Gaelic,-and still use it as the language of the home. A large proportion of other adults can speak it fluently. But among the young people generally it is practised very little, and in a few years, will not likely be understood by the great majority.


For service and sacrifice in the late war, posted in the Presbyterian Church, Port Hastings.

John Hector MacKinnon
Peter Norman MacKinnon
Daniel Archibald MacIntosh
John Duncan MacDonald
Walter James MacKinnon
John Allan Laidlaw
Edward L. MacDonald
John Murdoch MacQuarrie
Henry A. Archibald
Rod H. MacLean
Walter MacLennan
Walter Archibald
Gordon Archibald
Dan MacKinnon
Gordon MacPherson
Allan MacLean
Gordon Martin
Arthur Taylor
Colin Dickson
Malcolm MacLean
Malcolm MacSwain
Ernest W. MacCully
Allan MacKinnon
Dan A. MacDonald, Killed
Alex C. MacKinnon
John MacPherson
Gordon MacQuarrie


The MacIntoshes of Port Hastings are descendants of Neil MacIntosh of Canna, Scotland.

Norman MacIntosh, son of Neil, came from Canna when a boy and found his way to River Deny's. Some time later he married Margaret Black of River Inhabitants and had a family at River Denys of eight daughters and three sons. After his death, the widow and all the family moved to the United States, excepting one son, Donald, who started a small business for himself at Port Hastings and made hiss home there. His wife was Catherine, daughter of Neil MacCuish River. Denys. They had a family of six daughters and two sons. Two of the daughters, Catherine (Mrs. MacFadyen) and Elizabeth, and one brother, Daniel A., are living at Port Hastings with their mother.

Another daughter, Sarah, married G. B. Philpot, Glace Bay, and has seven children; Catherine G., Viola E., Evelyn F., Gonville K., Harold A., Donald M., and Sarah M.

Kenneth MacIntosh married Catherine, daughter of Angus MacLeod, Hardware Merchant, Sydney, and lives in Halifax.

Margaret MacIntosh, Donald's daughter, married G. A. Cowdrey, and has two children: Kenneth MacIntosh and Kathleen Elizabeth. They all moved recently to the United States.

Two other daughters of Donald MacIntosh died some years ago. The father passed away in 1901. The second son, Daniel A., was. overseas with the 185th Battalion in the Great War, was a long time at the front, and was severly wounded, but made a good, though not a perfect, recovery.

Neil MacCuish, father of Mrs. Donald MacIntosh married Annie MacDonald in Uist, Scotland, and had two sons coming to River Denys, Duncan and James. Duncan has a comfortable home in the Annapolis Valley. Finlay, another son of Neil MacCuish, lives on the old home stead with his two sons.


The MacIntyres of Queensville, in the District of Port Hastings are descendants of Roderick MacIntyre and Mary MacEachern, his. wife, South Uist, Scotland. This Roderick had a large family, viz.: Archibald, Norman, Alexander, John, Donald, Colin, Mary, Dorothy and at least two or three others.

Of these Archibald, married Mary Steele, Uist, and had a large family: Donald, Alexander, John, Catherine, Jessie, Archibald, Mary, Roderick, Anna, Sarah, Donald. Of these John remained in Scotland and made his home in Glasgow. The rest came to America over -a hundred years ago.

Donald, the oldest, married Christina MacDonald, and made his home on MacIntyre's Mountain now North Rhodena.

Children: Alexander, John, Donald, Dougald, Norman and Dan. ,Of these, Alexander and Donald raised families on MacIntyre's Mountain, and John and Norman made their homes in Port Hawkesbury. John had one daughter, and Norman, who was twice married, had :seven sons and three daughters.

Alexander, son of pioneer Archibald, married Mary MacDonald. Children: Norman, Donald, Alexander, John, Archibald, Jessie, Anna, Mary, Kate, Katie Ann, Jessie.

Of these, Norman made his home in Port Hawkesbury and had two daughters and one son. Alexander had four sons and five daughters. Donald, had no family. Archibald, Jessie, Anna and Mary died young unmarried.

Katie married Dan MacDougall, North Rhodena and had two daughters and one son.

Katie Ann married Norman MacIsaac, North Rhodena and had five sons and four daughters. Jessie married George Cochrane, Port Hawkesbury, and had one daughter.

Catherine, daughter of pioneer Archibald MacIntyre died unmarried. Jessie married Donald MacDonald, West Bay Road, (Donald Myles) Children: Mary, Ronald, Donald, Jessie, John, Archibald and Alexander.

Archibald, son of pioneer Archibald MacIntyre, married Kate Cameron. Children: Donald, Roderick, Margaret, Duncan, John, Archibald. Their home was at Queensville.

Of these, Donald married Anna, daughter of Angus MacIsaac Judique. Children: Archibald, Duncan, Angus, Dan Archie, Marcella, Maggie and Katie, at Queensville. Rockerick married Mary Campbell of Mabou. Children: Malcolm and Katie Jane. Margaret married Donald MacDougall, and had two daughters and one son. Duncan married Christina Grant, Port Hawkesbury, and had six or seven children.

John too, made his home in Port Hawkesbury and had seven children. Archibald married a Miss Ross of Whycocomagh and made his home at Orangedale, C. B., and had a large family.

Mary, daughter of pioneer Archibald MacIntyre, married Angus. MacKinnon of Antigonish and made their home in Gloucester; all deceased.

Roderick and Anna died young. Sarah married Ronald Howlett, West Bay Road, and had two daughters. Donald, son of pioneer Archibald MacIntyre, married Catherine, daughter of John Allan MacDonald, Mabou. Children: Mary, Sarah, Archibald, John, Mary Ann, Katie Ann, Mary Ann, Jessie and John.

Of these, Mary married John MacInnis, Low Point, Children: Duncan Alex, Cassie, Maggie Ann, Mary Jane, Sadie, Donald Angus and Archie Dan.

Of these Duncan Alex married Belle Robertson and lives at. Elkhorn, Man. Sarah, daughter of Donald MacIntyre, married Dan MacInnis, Kingsville, and had three sons and three daughters. Two, of the daughters are married. Archibald, son of Donald MacIntyre, married Mary, daughter of Alexander MacInnis, Judique and made his home in Boston and has six children.

John, son of Donald Maclntyre, married Kate, daughter of Peter Campbell, Glencoe, has six children, and lives in Boston. Katie, Ann married Hugh MacDonald, Whiteside and has six children. Mary Ann married William Chisholm, Boston, and has eight children. Jessie is single in Boston. John, the youngest, married Cassie, daughter of Donald MacDonald, Sugar Camp, and lives with his father and mother on the old homestead. Children: John, Mary, Jessie, Donald A., Donald Angus, Duncan Archd., Sarah Catherine, and Alex Joseph. Norman MacIntyre, son of Roderick MacIntyre, South Uist, Scotland, and brother to pioneer Archibald, married Anne Morrison and had a son and daughter, Donald and Mary. Donald married Mary MacLeod and made his home at MacIntyre Lake. Children: Norman D., and Roderick. Norman died young. Roderick married a Miss MacCormack and has two daughters. Mary, daughter of pioneer Norman MacIntyre, left no family.

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