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History of Inverness County, Nova Scotia
Chapter XI - River Inhabitants

This district is old, solid and strong. It is a rural community of the good natural type. The rugged and racial qualities of the people would seem to be a reflex of the stern, impressive, landscape. Looking towards the North you imagine the bold mountains of River Dennis are gazing down upon you with lofty disdain. Towards the South and Southeast there are vistas of virgin woods and wild spaces awaiting the sealed orders of the future. On the low-lying levels the mighty river, from which the district takes its name, is speeding along with the irresistible dash of a young and proud democracy going to vote. All along this river (you fall) now and anon, upon large areas of productive meadow lands. Even the uplands here are heavy and fertile. Given suitable markets and transportation here, we can see no reason why the farmers should worry. The settlements adjoining the river, and those within easy distance thereof, are comparatively prosperous, and very pretty.

The inhabitants are all, or nearly all, of Scottish descent. They are physically strong and utterly fitted to the burdens of their lot. The language, customs and traditions, of the ancient Sireland are dear to them still, as evidenced by their fondness of Gaelic, Highland Games and Ghost stories. To their matured and trained legendary min ds, such a Ghost as "the innocent Ellen of Antigonish" would not be worth wintering.

The MacGregors of Askilton, C.B. were early pioneers from Loch Torridon, Scotland. The father and mother passed away many years ago. John, Roderick, Anne, Jessie, Jane, Kate and Maggie were well known to many of the past generation. Maggie was married to John Gillis, W. Bay Points. Her son Alexander Gillies is now on the old homestead, and his daughter, Barbara Jane is Mrs. David M. MacPherson on the adjoining farm. Alexander Gillies had two sons and three daughters.


Alexander MacPherson came from Caithness, Scotland to Cape Breton among the early pioneers. He was the father of Adam Macpherson and grandfather of the late David, Roderick and William MacPherson, of the same place. Great grandsons of Alexander are on the old homestead now.

Alexander MacPherson's children: Adam, David, Alexander, Adam lived at Askilton, David at Sunnyside, C.B.; Alex. at Manchester, Guysboro Co.; J. D. MacPherson, Port Hawkesbury is a son of James son of David.


Patrick Dowling from Ulster, Ireland settled at N. W. Arm, River Inhabitants, sometime before 1800. He received a letter from the Old Country in the old days with a charge for postage of three shillings and six pence! This was via Plaster Cove. Another letter about the same time was in care of Mr. Bellam, Merchant, Arichat. This Patrick was supposed to be lost at sea near Scatterie, C.B., coming from Newfoundland with Capt. Landry in the great gale of 1811.

His son, John, was about six months old and Alex. about seven years when their father was lost. Their mother and Mrs. Captain Landry were left widows at the same time. Mrs. Landry had two sons, Simon and Abram and lived in Arichat.

Patrick Dowlings' wife was Isabella daughter of Alexander MacPherson of Caithness, Scotland, who made his home at River Inhabitants.

John Dowling, Patrick's son, married Betsey MacIntyre, River Denys, Children: Dan, Peter, Archibald, Alex. John L., D. B., Wm. (a sea Captain), Isabel, Margaret and Mary Ann.

Mary Ann married Scott Heughan Port Hastings and left one daughter, Bessie, who lives with her father at the old Heughan home on the Hawkesbury Road.

Alexander Dowling, pioneer Patrick's son, married Annie MacIntyre, River Denys and made his home at Riverside. Children: Peter, James, David, Archie, and Donald John, and a daughter, Mrs. Wm. MacPherson, Askilton; David still lives at Riverside.

John L. Dowling and Peter L., N. W. Arm had their father's homestead.

There are Catholics and Protestants in this district, the former, we are advised, predominating numerically. We are not aware that there is a Protestant minister within the district, but we know some of the non-Catholics there and can vouch for their average intelligence and respectability. We presume they are affiliated with some neighboring congregations who are fortunate enough to have a resident Pastor. We regard it as a great loss to any body of Christians to be without the light and leading of an interested and resident spiritual guide.

There is a fine Catholic Church and presbytery at Glendale, together with a valuable glebe farm, all of which is very creditable to the Catholics there. Before Glendale was erected into a separate and independent ecclesiastical division, it had to be served by priests from other parishes, as the R. C. churches at Princeville and the Basin are still served. In the year 1874 Glendale was made and constituted into a distinct mission by itself, and given the Reverend Donald MacIsaac as its first resident parish priest in 1875. The present church edifice in Glendale was built in 1877, and the present presbytery in 1890 under the direction and administration of Reverend Donald MacIsaac,. a native of our county, and a holy priest now deceased. Before coming here Father MacIsaac was parish priest at Ingonish for a short period, and for a long term of years at the Grand Narrows.

He remained and labored at Glendale continuously from 1875 to 1901 or until his health got so impaired that he was obliged to retire from the official service of the ministry. Then, he returned to his people and built for himself on the farm formerly owned by his father, a beautiful house in which he died. He was the first person that was buried in the cemetery of Stella Maris at Inverness. That cemetery is a part of the farm which was originally his father's, and on which he was born. Upon that same farm are built and situated the Catholic church building (Stella Maris), the Glebe House, the Convent, the two large Convent Schools, the Public Building (comprising the Post Office, Custom House and Telegraph Office) all the plant of the Inverness Ry. and Coal Company at No. 1, and a large section of the town of Inverness, and all within sight of good Father Donald's grave.

Father MacIsaac was succeeded at Glendale by Reverend Donald MacPherson, a young priest of remarkable zeal and energy, who is now in charge of the parish of Port Hood. At the beginning of the horrid war in 1914, Fr. MacPherson was one of the very first of the Catholic clergy of Nova Scotia to offer his services as Chaplain to the noble young forces, who were hurriedly and peremptorily called out to defend the Sovereignty of our common Empire. He faced that terrible conflict in its worst climes and conditions, and has bravely earned the best that can be given him. A serious token of more serious service are, in his mouth, the words. Pro Deo et Rege.

It was after Fr. MacPherson had enlisted in the biggest crusade• of civilized humanity that the present pastor, Reverend John MacLennan, was designated as a parish priest for Glendale. He is a native of Broad Cove in this county, and a worthy one. We have had the privilege- of a brief acquaintance with him, and the great pleasure of sharing his fine Celtic hospitality; but we had longer and more intimate acquaintance with the good old people of whom he comes. We are not, therefore, surprised to learn that he is highly appreciated by the fortunate flock whom he is commissioned to serve. He is, perhaps, too young yet, and too keenly alive, to be put away in history; but if the beginning of his priestly career be an index of what is to follow, he is destined to command some space in the annals of the time to come.


In 1819 four brothers-stalwart Lochaber Highlanders - Hugh, Angus, John and Donald sons of Donald MacMaster (Duncan) settled at Queensville. They were known as "Ridges". (1) Hugh's wife was Isabel Cameron of Lochaber. They had issue (a) Donald who for over forty years conducted a mercantile business at Princeville. His wife was Jessie daughter of Ronald MacEachern (Duncan). She was a sister of "Wild Archie" and of Big Duncan MacEachern. It is generally thought in Inverness County that "Big Duncan" was turbulent and aggressive. He was altogether the reverse. He was never known to seek a quarrel but woe to him on whom his wrath descended once a quarrel was begun. Donald's family were Angus, Allan, Daniel, Hugh. Ronald, Duncan, Andrew, Isabel, Margaret, Mary and Catherine. Angus resides at Port Hood. His first wife was Flora daughter of Alexander MacDonald (Red Sandy) Judique Ponds. He married secondly Catherine daughter of Archy son of Donald son of Donald Ban MacDonald, S. W. Mabou. (b) John married Margaret Chisholm with issue: Hugh, Jessie and Catherine.. (c) Angus married Margaret MacEachen, Judique, with issue: Hugh, Angus, Alex. Jessie, Catherine Anne (wife of Daniel MacIsaac, Port Hood). (d) Duncan married Miss MacEachen, Creignish, and had three sons and seven daughters. (e) Catherine married Angus MacIsaac, Creignish Ponds, with issue: five sons and three daughters. (f) Mary married Donald MacEachen son of John son of Peter MacEachen (Ban) and had three sons and two daughters. (g) Anne married Angus MacEachen, Glendale, with issue three sons and two daughters. (2) Angus (Pioneer) married a Miss MacEachen, Creignish, and had six sons and four daughters none of whom left issue excepting James (Orangedale), Isabel wife of Captain Angus MacFarlane and Catherine wife of Angus MacEachen (Archy) River Inhabitants. (3) John (Pioneer) married a Miss MacDonald, Rear Creignish, with issue: Hugh (whose son John is a merchant at Queensville), John, Angus, Alex. Donald and two daughters. (4) Donald Pioneer married Mary MacDonald of Antigonish with issue: Hugh, Duncan, Alex. Angus, Donald, Samuel, Anne (Mrs. John MacDonnell, Farquhar) and Jessie (Mrs. Hector MacDonald);. Alex's daughter Mary MacMaster is proprietress of the travellers' haven "The Farquhar Hotel", in the charming town of Port Hawkesbury.


One of the first settlers of Glendale was Archibald MacEachern-Gillesbeag Ban. He was married twice. By his first wife, who was a Gillis woman from Antignish and a grand-aunt of Dr. Hugh MacPherson's of St. F. X. College, he had six sons and two daughters. From this family are descended all the MacEacherns in around and Glendale. After the death of his first wife, Gillesbeag Ban got married again to the widow of Donald Shaw. This widow had by her first husband two little children named John and Sarah. The mother and two children were staunch Presbyterians; Gillesbeag Ban and his eight children were strong Catholics. A conference concerning Home Rule was in order, and duly held. The result was that the widow and two children embraced the Catholic religion. The little boy (John Shaw) afterwards became a respected Catholic Priest in this Diocese. He had charge of the following parishes in the order named; Cape North, Glace Bay, New Glasgow, and Lakevale. In the last named parish he crowned a good life by dying the death of the just.

Another early family deserving of notice here was that of Hugh, MacEachern who came from Arisaig, Scotland. Three of his sons Alexander, Allan and Ronald, came with him to River Inhabitants Another son, Reverend Donald MacEachern, a priest, remained in Glasgow, and never came out to this country. The maternal uncle of these three sons, Alexander, Allan and Ronald, was the late Father Allan MacLean P.P. of Judique. Like their celebrated uncle, both Allan and Ronald MacEachern, could, and did, compose some lilting Gaelic songs of distinct merit. Some of these songs are still sung with relish in this district. The lore, wit and song, of these two MacEachern brothers were much in demand at all the Scottish gatherings of the olden times. All of that generation have passed away.

Of Alexander's family we have Hugh E. MacEachern of North Sydney and his sister Sarah in Boston. Allan's family are dead, save one daughter, Mrs. Luffey of Alliston, Massachusetts, and "she is a hostess in herself. A visitor to her beautiful home in Alliston is sure to meet a happy, Highland, welcome. Not a word of English will be spoken if Mrs. Luffey can have her way.

Patrick MacEachen (Padruig Ban) was one of the first freeholders at Upper River Inhabitants. He was a Highland immigrant, was married to a Boyd woman, and had a family of two sons and five daughters. The names of the sons were John and Donald. John was a man of immense size and power. He was married to Margaret MacMaster of Judique, and had five sons and four daughters. It were difficult to find, even in the days of giants, a family of such physical size and strength as the family of lain Mac Phadruig. The names of the sons were: Peter (Padruig Mor), Angus, Donald, Charles and Ronald,-all magnificent types of the best old Highlanders. And the beauty of it all was that every one of these men took pains to show that his special strength and power were given him to help, rather than to hurt, the neighbors. No rowdyism for them: they were the friends of honor and good conduct.

Donald, the second son of Padriug Ban, was married to a Mac-Donnell woman, and had four sons and four daughters. And like unto the family last described, this family of Donalds were, also, noted for their strength, stature, and fine qualities. The women in these two families were just as large and noble in soul and body as were the men. A grandson of Iain MacPhadruig is the Reverend Donald C. MacKay, the present parish priest of Brook Village.


Among the. early settlers of some of the shore districts of this county, a group of MacEacherns came to Creignish. (See sketch of Creignish). Some of these moved later on into other districts. The Alexander noted above went from Creignish to River Inhabit-ants, and settled down on a Five Hundred acre farm which his father had secured for him by Grant. We understand this is the farm now owned and occupied at Kingsville by John B. MacLellan Esquire.

This Alexander MacEachren was familiarly known and described as, Allisdair Mac Dhonnachaidh ic lain ic Aillein. He was married to Sarah MacInnes by whom he had eleven children, namely: John, Donald, Angus, Archie, Alexander, Duncan, Annie, Jessie, Maggie, Mary and Katie. He worked hard and got along well on his farm at River Inhabitants. He used to keep eighteen milch cows, and a proportionate stock of horses, swine and sheep. All his daughters got married except Jessie.

The daughter, Annie was married to Dongald Smith, a school teacher, who lived at Glendale, with issue, three sons and six daughters.

Maggie was married to Hugh MacEachern of Glendale and had three sons and four daughters.

Mary was married to Alex MacEachern of Glendale and had three boys and one girl; Katie was married to Samuel MacDonald of River Dennis Road, with issue four sons and four daughters.

Of the sons of Alexander MacEachern four were married and two, Alexander and Archie, remained single. Alexander Jr. taught school for quite a number of years, and Archie went to sea in his young manhood.

Angus was married to a Miss MacDonald and had four sons and four daughters, to wit; Mrs. Alexander MacDonald of Princeville; Annie, who was married in Gloucester, Mass.; Katie, married in Boston; and Jessie, single; Alexander, Allan, Duncan and Angus.

Donald was married to Catherine MacEachern and had a family of five sons and two daughters, namely; Mary who was married to Mr. Landry of Gloucester, Mass.; and Sarah married to Hugh MacEachern of Queensville; Donald of Montana, U.S.A.; Duncan of Gloucester; Angus who is dead; Captain Alexander of Gloucester, who was well to do and is now dead; and Johnnie, who was a successful manufacturer in Gloucester, and died there, leaving quite an estate to his brothers and sisters.

John, son of Alexander Senior, took up 200 acres of land on the rear of Kingsville, now called Maple Brook, which he converted into a fine, productive farm. He was married to Mary MacInnes and had three daughters and five sons namely: Jessie, who was drowned in the river at the age of two years; Sarah, who died at the age of three years; Jessie, who is still living unmarried at an advanced age; John, Robert, Hugh, Alexander and Donald.

John died unmarried at the age of 35.

Robert took up 200 acres adjoining his father's lot and made a good home for himself and family. He was married to Margaret MacDougall of North Highlands, with issue: three sons and three daughters namely: Mary who is Mrs. Wentzell of Gloucester; Maggie, who is Mrs. Hugh MacEachern of Port Hawkesbury; and Jessie of Boston. The boys were Duncan, John and Dougald. The son John, who was employed as shot-firer at Marble Mountain was accidentally killed there on the 11th of August 1910. He was not married. Duncan is on a part of the old homestead, married to Sarah MacNeil with issue: Neil, Robert, Alex. D, Maggie Bell and Elizabeth. Dougald resides on another part of his father's property, and is married to Katie MacEachern with issue: Margaret Marie, Mary, Sarah Ann, Jessie May and John Robert.

Alexander, brother of Robert Senior was killed by falling from a building in Boston.

Donald and Hugh got their father's property and resided thereon. Hugh a plasterer was married to Isabel O. Henly with issue: John, Angus, Duncan, Bella and Mary Ann. Donald was married to Kate Chisholm and had John Hugh, John A., Archie, Donald A., Duncan, Mary, Katie, Mary K., Jane, Jessie and Lizzie.

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