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History of Inverness County, Nova Scotia
Chapter XLI - Poplar Grove

You must travel this district to see it. Not that it is small or unimportant. It is neither; but the most of it is concealed from distant view by heights of land surrounding it. There is a main public thoroughfare starting at Mabou Bridge leading Northwardly to Margaree. That road forms the Southeastern boundary of Poplar Grove,, until it strikes the district of Strathlorne at the head of Glenville, thence to the Gulf St. Lawrence this district is bounded towards the East by the district of Strathlorne. On all other sides it is bounded by the sounding sea. It comprises several sections, namely: Beatonville (a portion of the Black River Settlement) Glenora Falls, all of North East Mabou, Mabou Harbour, South Highlands, and Mabou Coal Mines. We shall take the last first. In 1804 two brothers; Alexander Beaton and Finlay Beaton, came with others from Lochaber, Scotland, to Prince Edward Island. In 1809 these same two brothers crossed over to Cape Breton and settled at the Coal Mines of Mabou. They were the first white men to settle there.

These two Beaton brothers were grandsons of one Alexander Beaton from the Isle of Skye, who had gone to Lochaber about the middle of the 18th century. This Alexander Beaton was a Protestant when he left Skye but became a Catholic in Lochaber and married Ann Mc-Bain by whom he had four sons, namely: Donald, John, Finlay and Alexander.

Donald was the oldest son of Alexander Beaton (from Skye). This Donald's son, Angus, settled in Judique and had six sons and four daughters. The sons were: Alexander, Finlay, John, Angus, Archibald, and Donald (Indian Point Mabou.)

From John, the second son of Alexander, from Skye, are descended the Beatons of South West Mabou, the Beaton masons of the Coal Mines, and the Beatons of Mull River.

Finlay, the third son of Alexander from Skye, had four daughters and no sons. The daughters were: Isabel, Jessie, Mary and Catherine. Isabel was married to Donald MacDonald great-grandfather of Bishop MacDonald of Victoria, British Columbia; Jessie to John Rankin, the common ancestor of all the Rankins of Poplar Grove: Mary to Angus Cameron from whom all the Camerons of Mabou and the Southwest; Catherine to Tailor McInnes, the grandfather of the late Rev. A. T. McInnes.

Alexander, the youngest son of Alexander from Skye, had four sons, namely: Donald, John, Alexander and Finlay. Donald, the oldest was born in 1746, came to East Point, P.E.I., and from him are descended all the Beatons there now. John went to Glasgow, Scotland, and stayed there. Alexander and Finlay came as we have seen, to Mabou Coal Mines.

The history of the Beatons in Scotland is very interesting, and we are much tempted to give some touches of it here; but the scope of our work is limited by metes and bounds to a history of Inverness County. Return we, then, to the first two Beaton brothers of the Coal Mines.

The brother, Alexander, had four sons, to wit, Donald (Dhomhnull an Tailler), John (Iain un Tailler), Angus (Aonghas Ban), and Alexander (Alasdair Ban).

John took up a farm at North East Mabou and had five sons and three or four daughters. The sons were: Alexander, Donald (the Miller), John, Angus and Dan. The daughters were: Ann, married to the late Hon. John McNeil of Mabou; Mary, married to the late Donald A. McLellan of St. Rose, and Catherine, married to a Mr. MacIsaac of Port Hastings. It is like a dream to us that there was another sister married to a Mr. Campbell of Mabou Ridge.

Donald (Domhnull Tailler) took up a farm at Mabou Harbour and had sons and daughters in comfortable circumstances.

Alexander (Alasdair Ban) lived on a pretty farm under the lee of a prominent elevation called, Ben Alasdair Bhan, and had three sons and five daughters, viz: Ronald, Alexander, John, Mary, Catherine, Isabel, Ann and Margaret.

The other first settler, Finlay Beaton, (Fionnladh Mor), had three sons, John, Angus and Archibald.

The son John was one of the first Catholic Magistrate appointed for this County. The following is a copy of the petition praying for his appointment:

To His Excellency Lieutenant General Sir Colin Campbell, K. C. B., Lieutenant Governor and Commander in Chief in and over His "Majesty's Province of Nova Scotia and its Dependencies &c, &c."

"The Petition of the freeholders of Cape Mabou and Broad Cove "in the County of Inverness, Cape Breton.


"That petitioners have for many years past labored under great
"disadvantage for the want of a resident Magistrate in the populous
"settlements of Cape Mabou and Broad Cove, as they are frequently
"sued for small sums either to Mabou or Margaree, places distant from
"each other 33 miles, and that on many occasions the travelling expen
"ses of Constables serving Summons in those settlements amounted
"to enormous sums which the poor inhabitants could ill afford to pay
"and which would not be the one-third of the amount if there was a
"Magistrate appointed in this District.

"Petitioners further beg leave to state that their situation is pec
"uliarly distressing and severe, that they have no Magistrate appointed
"who understands the Gaelic language, the only tongue spoken in this
"district, and it frequently happens that they are obliged to appear
"before a Magistrate in matters which most seriously affect their per
"sons and property, who does not understand a single word that is
"spoken during the suit, unless through the medium of an interpreter
"who possesses frequently but a very imperfect knowledge of the Eng
"lish language, and is incompetent to convey the true sense and mean
"ing of the deposition.

"Petitioners confiding in Your Excellency's goodness, and the
"promptitude Your Excellency has shown in forwarding the interest
"of the Island at large, sincerely hope Your Excellency may be pleased
"to appoint John Beaton, son of Finlay Beaton, Magistrate for the
"District of Cape Mabou and Broad Cove in the County aforesaid:
"he is the son of a very respectable farmer and proprietor of landed
"property, well qualified to discharge the arduous and responsible duty
"of a Magistrate, resides in a central part of the district, is of an un
"blemished reputation which we consider paramount to every other
"qualification in a Magistrate.

"Sincerely hoping Your Excellency will accede to the earnest desire of the settlement.

"Your Excellency's Petitioners as in duty bound, will ever pray

"Cape Mabou January the 12th, 1838."

Mr. Beaton did receive the requested appointment, and performed a great deal of useful magisterial work in his day and generation.

Squire John Beaton took up a large tract of land "beyond the mountain", so called, was married to a daughter of Captain Angus MacDonald (Tulloch) of West Lake Ainslie, and had a family of five sons, namely: Donald, Angus, John, Ronald and Alexander, and we think an only daughter that was married to the late Duncan McKillop of Mabou Ridge.

Donald, the oldest son, bought a farm at Port Ban on which he lived and died. He was married to Jessie Kennedy, daughter of Red John Kennedy of Broad Cove Marsh, by whom he had a large family of sons and daughters. Donald was a model farmer, even in the olden times, shrewd, thrifty, industrious and good living. His farm was a dry and hilly one from which it would seem difficult to eke out a living. But he raised a large family well, lived comfortably and respectably, and saved money enough to buy three good farms for three of his sons. Three of his grand-sons, Rev. Duncan J. Rankin, Rev. Ronald Rankin, and Rev. Peter A. Rankin, became priests, and two of his grand-daughters are nuns of the order of the Con. de Notre Dame.

Angus, the second son of the old Squire taught school in his young days, and afterwards bought a farm on the Strathlorne road on which he lived and raised a large family. He was married to Margaret Campbell of Rear Port Hood. A man without guile was this honest Angus Beaton.

John Jr., son of the old Squire, with his brother Alexander, remained on the old farm "beyond the mountain", each owning and controlling his own moiety thereof. John Jr. was married to Catherine Rankin, daughter of the late Hugh Rankin of Broad Cove Banks and had a large family of sons and daughters. Rev. Donald Beaton, P.P. of Lakevale, Antigonish, is a son. Hugh R. Beaton of West Lake Ainslie, Merchant, is another son, and another J. P. John Jr. was, himself, for many years one of the Justices of the Peace in and for the County of Inverness. In his advanced age he sold his farm "beyond the mountain" and bought a more fertile, and a more easily worked farm at Smithville where he died. His brother Alexander and wife died on their farm "beyond the mountain", and their children have all moved away from there.

Ronald, son of Squire Beaton, bought the farm once owned at Broad Cove by Red John Kennedy, and died there. He was an indefatigable worker, and a good man.

Angus Beaton (Finlay) and his brother Archibald selected farms adjoining one another in the centre of the Coal Mines proper. At this spot in the settlement the natural scenery was particularly charming. In the olden times the Coal Mines settlement was renowned for its wheat yield; and, also, for its delightful fishing stations.

Angus Beaton (Finlay) was married twice, the first time to a daughter of Angus Cameron of Upper South West Mabou, and the second time to Margaret Stewart, a native of North Uist, who came with her father Donald Stewart to America in 1832, and became a convert to the Catholic religion. The issue of the first marriage consisted of two daughters, one of whom was married to Archibald Kennedy of Broad Cove Chapel. The other died unmarried. By the second marriage there were four daughters and four sons. One of the daughters was married to the late Donald Boyle of Glenora, another to John Rankin, Hugh's son, of Broad Cove Banks: the other two remained unmarried.

The sons of Angus Beaton (Finlay) were: Alexander, Donald, Finlay and Archibald. Alexander lives at Beatonville, was married and had a large family. Two of his sons have joined the Jesuit Order, and two of his daughters are nuns of the order of St. Martha.

Donald (son of Angus Finlay) lived and died on the old homestead at the Coal Mines. He was married and had a small family, one of whom is the respected Father Angus Beaton, P.P., of Port Hawkesbury. The Post Office at the Coal Mines was efficiently kept and conducted by him for many years before his death. He was a rarely intelligent farmer, who always seemed to realize his responsibilities as man and citizen.

Finlay (son of Angus Finlay) resides on a fine farm which he owns at Beatonville, and where he, also, keeps the district Post Office. He, also, has long been a Justice of the Peace in and for the County of Inverness. He is married to Mary, daughter of the late Ronald MacDonald of Broad Cove Chapel, and has a talented family of sons and daughters. The learned priest Rev. Ronald Beaton, a graduate of the College of the Propaganda in Rome, is a son. Rev. Patrick Beaton, at present the parish priest of Medicine Hat, in the Province of Alberta is another younger son. A daughter by the Religious name of Sr. St. John Gabriel is a nun in the Order of the Cong. de Notre Dame in Montreal.

Archibald the youngest son of Angus Finlay, is the well known piper of the Coal Mines. His health has not been good, and he never got married.

The family of the Beaton Masons consisted of three sons, Alexander, Angus and Donald. Alexander was married, but we are not aware that he left any sons, but had three daughters. Angus was married to a daughter of Roderick McNeil of Mabou, and had a large family, some of whom are now on the homestead doing well, and some more away doing equally well. Donald was married to a daughter of Hector McLean (Callum Gobha), and left a large family, some on the old farm, and some away, all doing well.

Archibald Beaton (Finlay) lived alongside his brother Angus's farm. He had four sons and one daughter, viz: Alexander, Angus, Finlay, Sandy and Margaret. Alexander was married to a daughter of Little Duncan Rankin of Sight Point,and lived on a farm which he bought at Dunvegan. Angus remained on the homestead at the Coal Mines, married Katie, daughter of Hugh Rankin of Broad Cove Banks, and had several children. Dr. Archibald Beaton of Boston is one of his sons. Finlay, son of Archibald, bought a farm at Beatonville, married a daughter of the late Donald Rankin of the Coal Mines and had a family. Sandy, the youngest son of Archibald, died young and unmarried. Margaret married big Alexander Rankin, Donald's son.

The next family after the Beatons to settle in the Coal Mines was the Rankin family. John Rankin emigrated from Lochaber, Scotland, in the summer of 1819. They sailed from Greenoch in a ship which had been captured from the French in the Napoleonic war, and probably renamed "Speculation." John Rankin's family consisted of five sons and two daughters. The sons were: Angus, Donald, John, Duncan and Hugh. The daughters were Margaret, who was married to John McPherson of Black River, and Mary, who was married to Angus McDonald of Coal Mines Mabou.

A cousin Angus Rankin, took up a large tract of land at Mabou Harbour and had quite a family. His two oldest sons; Alexander and Duncan (Big) bought two farms adjoining each other at Sight Point, and each of them left a large family.

Donald and Finlay remained on the farm at Mabou Harbour and were two of the strong freeholders of Mabou. Each of them left a family, some of whom are now in charge of the good old farm.

John (son of Angus) had a farm and family at Mabou Ridge, but was not as thrifty and successful as his brothers.

Donald Rankin and John Rankin (Junior) (Sons of John the Immigrant) lived side by side on the old farm at the Coal Mines.

Donald had a family of five sons and four daughters. The sons were Alexander (Big), John (Big), John (Little), Angus and Donald. The daughters were: Jessie, married to Ronald Beaton (Sandy Ban); Catherine married to Alexander Cameron of South West Mabou; Catherine, Jr. married to John Campbell (Brewer's son) and Mary, married to Finlay Beaton (Archy) late of Beatonville.

Alexander (son of Donald) was married to Margaret Beaton, daughter of Archibald Beaton (Finlay) but died within a year or two after his marriage. The issue was one daughter who is married to Angus Beaton (Donald Og) North side Mabou Harbour.

John (Big) son of Donald, was married to a daughter of Angus Cameron of South West Mabou, and had a family. He is living still on the homestead, now a very old man.

John (Little) son of Donald, had a farm at North East Mabou, was married and left a family. One of his sons is now on his father's farm, another bought a farm in Judique.

Angus, son of Donald, had a farm at Mabou Ridge, died comparatively young, leaving a family.

Donald, the youngest son of Donald, was a mason by trade, worked hard all his life, bought a farm at Little Mabou, has a very clever family, and is still living.

John Jr., son of John the immigrant, lived alongside his brother Donald at the Coal Mines, was married to Mary MacDougall daughter of Angus Ban MacDougall of West Lake Ainslie, and had the following family of sons and daughters: John, Donald, Alexander, Angus, and Dan: Margaret, married to Archibald McDonald of Broad Cove Banks, Catherine, married to John McMillan (Dancer) Rear Port Hood; Ann, married to John McDonald (Ban) Coal Mines, Margaret Jr. married to Archy McInnes, Broad Cove Banks, Jessie married to Donald McDougall of Broad Cove Banks; Elizabeth married to Donald Gillis of Little Judique, and Jessie Jr., married to Angus Gillis of Dunmore, Port Hood.

Duncan Rankin (Little) bought a large tract of land at Sight Point was married to Mary Cameron of Mabou, and had the following family: John, Angus, Andrew, Dan, Angus, Jr., William and Peter; Catherine, Mary, Margaret and Jessie and Annie.

Catherine was married to Alexander Beaton who lived in the stone House at Dunvegan; Mary was married to Alexander Mclsaac (Rory) of Broad Cove Banks; Margaret married to Finlay Rankin of South East Mabou, and Annie to John B. McIntyre formerly of Port Ban, now of Broad Cove Banks.

John, the oldest son of Little Duncan, was married to Mary Beaton Donald's daughter of Port Ban. Two of their sons are priests, namely: Reverend Duncan J. Rankin of Arisaig, Antigonish, and Rev, Ranald Rankin of Saskatchewan.

Angus Sr. was first married to Margaret Beaton, daughter of Donald Beaton, of Port Ban. Their son Reverend Peter is now Parish Priest of Creignish.

Andrew, Donald and Peter (sons of Little Duncan) died young and unmarried. Angus, Jr., and William, each with a large family, are on the homestead.

Hugh Rankin (son of John) took up a farm at Broad Cove Banks, had a family of one son and two daughters. John J. Rankin, Postmaster at Inverness, is a grandson of Hugh Rankin. The old homestead at the Banks, once so fruitful and flourishing, is now deserted and vacant.

The family of Hugh MacEachern (Ewin Dhu) was one of the first families that settled at Mabou Harbour and the North East. There were Andrew, John, Angus, Ronald, and Alexander, all able sons of Ewin Dhu. Some of their descendants are yet at Mabou Harbour and the North East, but many of them are scattered all over the continent. The distinguished Father MacEachern of Ohio, U.S.A. is a brilliant scion of this sturdy family.

Another of the first families to settle around the Harbour of Mabou was the McLean family of (Callum Choba). There were several sons of Callum Choba, as well as several daughters, the sons were: Hector, Angus, Alexander, and John, all with large families. There were also, several McPhee families in this district One at the Harbour, two at the Upper Coal Mines, and two "beyond the mountain". The last two named families, namely: those of John and Donald McPhee, have left their farms "beyond the mountain", and none of them is now in this District. There were also, old Angus McPhee, and young Angus McPhee at the Upper Coal Mines. They each had a family and a beautiful farm. Some of their descendants are there still. There was a Donald McPhee at Mabou Harbour, on the farm now so prosperously operated and owned by his sons Neil and John.

One of the most important families that ever lived in this District was that of the late Hon. William McKeen of Mabou. Mr. McKeen came here from Pictou and, for many years, carried on, at Mabou Harbour, a mercantile business which at that time was considered quite extensive. He was the first Custos Rotulorum for the County of Inverness, and the first resident of this County to be appointed to the Legislative Council in Halifax. In addition to his other works and business, he owned and operated a fine farm at Mabou Harbour. He was married twice and had a very large family of sons and daughters. The sons who lived to be known of the public were James, who was a merchant at Port Hastings, Clough, who kept the Light House at Margaree Island, and afterwards went out West; John and Lewis who were admired citizens of Mabou for half a century; Arthur, who was a clever young doctor and died in the prime of life in Glace Bay, C. B., and the late Senator David MacKeen, who died a Governor of his native Province of Nova Scotia. The MacKeen family will live, and deserves to live, in the memory of Inverness.

South Highlands is a fine looking piece of country. You must climb some towering hills to get there. It is level on top, and the natural view from the summit, on all sides, is really exquisite. It is the best grazing ground in Canada, the soil is rich and heavy, and the growth is as good as the best in the land. But the difficulty of access to this isolated plateau, and the hard climatic conditions, are disadvantages to which modern men are not easily reconciled. Of late years the brawny husbandry of this section have been casting in their lot with other industrial pursuits in other places. It is pathetic to see the fine old farms of South Cape Mabou, which brave and loyal Scotsmen in earlier times did so much to clear and cultivate, now deserted and forlorn. One feels sorry for the daring and devoted pioneers, the Frasers, McKinnons, McQuarries, McKays, McLeans, McInnises, the Burkes, McNeils, McDonalds and McIntyres.

We are not finding fault with the younger generation of South Highlands for trying to better their conditions. Indeed, we hope very sincerely that they have been guided by the counsels of wisdom. But there is one thing we wish to impress upon them. When they make up their minds to leave the old homes and farms, they ought to put forth all reasonable efforts to get other suitable people to buy and occupy them. Do not throw away those farms like burnt boots? Every foot of tillable land is intended for the foot of man. Pray, do not depopulate our rich rural districts?

The Ben Virich and its immediate vicinity belong to this municipal district. The old residents on the Eastern side were John McEachern (Iain Mac Ewin Dhu); Archibald McDonald (Big) and Allan McDonald (Big), two brothers. Those three men have long since passed off the stage. Each of them had a family, but the most of these families have died or dispersed in all directions. We are not aware that any one now occupies the MacEachern property. The McDonalds are still represented by surviving members of their respective families; Allan by his aged son Angus, who has a nice family of his own; Archibald by his son, John, by the last marriage (lagan Mashac). Sight Point is a hilly rocky region which does not yield a living without coaxing. The good people there fulfil the letter, and the spirit of the law. They "eat their bread in the sweat of their brow", and not a bite otherwise.

On the western side of the Ben Virich the first settler was a Barra man by the name of Hugh MacKinnon. He had three sons, Angus, Roderick and Neil. Angus afterwards removed to Margaree Harbour where he and his family were highly respected for their honour and industry. Besides operating a farm at the harbour, they engaged with singular success in Salmon fishing (netting) on the Margaree Shore every summer. Rory and Neil spent their lives at the Ben Virich, but all their families moved away in quest of fortune elsewhere, with one single exception. Hugh, son of Rory, now does the honours, alone, at Ben Virich for those energetic McKinnon families of other days; and Hughie is right on to the job.

We omitted to refer to one certain family in the Coal Mines, that of Donald MacDonald (Dhomnull un t'Saor). He had three sons living at the Coal Mines, named, Angus, Archibald and Ronald. Angus was married, as we have seen, to Mary, daughter of the first John Rankin, and died while his family was young. His widow was locally referred to as (Mhari nic Raing), and his sons Donald and John were usually identified as Domhnull eig Mhari and Iain eig Mhari. These sons became very successful, independent, farmers.

Archibald, son of Donald, was a farmer and a miller. He was the owner of a grist mill and saw mill, and made quite a noise in the Coal Mines. His way of saying and doing things were all his own. Argument and contention were his first and middle names, bu1 he was kind, honourable and just. His wife was an estimable McDonald woman from Mabou, sister to Donald Cross, so-called. In some respects she was the very antipodes of Archy, but they were one in their pleasant, large-hearted hospitality.

Ronald, son of Donald, died unmarried. He was wedded to the mills. A part of his younger life was spent in the lumber woods of New Brunswick. He loved to talk of that period. His conversation was usually interesting, though he was cranky in his temper. But he had his deep thoughts, and his admirable qualities. There was another brother Alexander lost at sea in 1852. We refer to him and his family elsewhere.

We have already alluded to the Beatons of Beatonville. Although they were the first to live on the lands they own here they were not among the pioneer settlers.

The first settler of what is now called Beatonville and Glenora was, we think, John Campbell (Big Donald's son). He took up a wilderness farm at the foot of South Cape Mabou, sloping down to the plains below. He had three sons, Angus, Dougald and Donald. Donald died young and unmarried. Angus and Dougald, who were married and had families, developed that farm into one of the prettiest and most productive farms in that region. Dougald sold his portion of the farm and he and his family moved away from there. When Angus died his son John (Red John) took hold of the farm with skill, vigor and success. Now the intelligent widow of Red John and her two sons operate that farm on modern principles.

We think the next settler after John Big Donald was Dougald McDonald, Tailor (An Tailler Cumenach). Some may think this Gaelic definition was a nickname given to this man. Not so. Like many another Scotsman, he carried the name of the place from which he came. That place was situate halfways between Fort William and the Town of Inverness, and was called "Kilcumein". It was here that Port Augustus was built, and fast by was the cave in which Prince Charlie was in hiding after his disaster at Culloden. The name was no reproach to Dougald the Tailor. This Dougald McDonald had only one son, but had several fine, clever, daughters. When comparatively young the son left home and never returned. The daughters continued on the farm with courage and credit. One of them got married to Arch'd Mclsaac, Og, of Broad Cove Banks, another to Hugh McLellan formerly of Antigonish, who had been doing business with his brother Donald at Mabou Bridge. Mr. McLellan settled down upon that farm with his wife and sisters-in-law had a small family of his own and lived in quiet comfort for the rest of his days. The farm is now owned and operated by Hugh McLellan's son.

The next settler in this region was Archibald McDonald (Big) who had several sons and one daughter. The sons were: John, Alexander, Angus, Donald and Dougald. John, Alexander and Dougald are dead, and all the family have long since abandoned the farm. One of the sons, Angus, who was a blacksmith, lives in Truro with a smart family in comfortable circumstances.

Further up the valley of Glenora lived the two Beaton brothers, Dougald and Donald Red Sandy. They came from the South West of Mabou, and we have indicated their origin in a previous page. They bought a fine farm here and owned two mills. They were good millers but better men. Donald was the father of that splendid young priest, who ruled the parish of West Arichat for several years, and has since died. When the health of this young priest gave way and the Great Twilight appeared in the vista, he, like Jacob of old, returned to his people. He closed his eyes to this life under the paternal roof at Glenora. Two thrifty sons of Dougald now own those mills and farms. Still further up this deep, dark ravine the first settler was Angus Boyle, tailor. His name suggests an Irish origin, but we think he was born in Lochaber, Scotland. He came to America with a body of Scottish immigrants in 1821, and took up his abode in this forbidding hollow. Fortunately the glowering Gulch was much better than it looked, and Tailor Boyle was able to make a comfortable, home for himself, and raised a large hearty family in peace and plenty.

He was married to Isabel McDonnell of South West Mabou with issue: Duncan, Archibald, Alexander, Donald, John, Angus, Dougald and Norman, Catherine, Ann and Mary.

Catherine was married to Donald McPherson late of Black River, and two of her sons are now on the old homestead there. Ann was married to John Beaton (Dougald's son) of North Bast Mabou, and subsequently removed with her husband and family to West Bay where she died. Mary was married to Angus Cameron, Jr., blacksmith, of Mabou Bridge, and died without issue.

Some of this family were nicely educated, and all were people of sturdy intelligence and solid common sense.

Duncan the oldest son did business at Strathlorne for a time, after which he and his brother Archibald bought a fine farm there on which they afterwards lived and died. Duncan was married to Mary Campbell, daughter of Angus Campbell (Aonghas a'n Aridh) of Black River with issue: Angus, Alexander, John, Margaret and Catherine.

Archibald was a carpenter by trade in his younger life. In that way he earned the money to buy the Strathlorne farm with his brother Duncan. He was married to Mary Cameron, daughter of Hugh Cam-eron of South Highlands, with issue: Alexander, Murdoch, Angus and Hugh, Bella and Mary. Archibald was a Justice of the Peace and did much magisterial work at Strathlorne. Both he and Duncan were tireless workers, and better neighbours never lived.

Alexander died unmarried.

Donald and John lived all their lives on the old farm at Glenora Donald was married to Flora Beaton, daughter of Angus Beaton (Finlay) of Mabou Coal Mines, and had a family, only two of whom are now living two sons on the farm. John was married three times, first to a daughter of Widow Isabel Campbell of Glencoe, second to a Miss Beaton of North East Mabou, third to another Miss Campbell of Glencoe. He had issue by the first and second wives, but several of them are dead.

The son Angus, who was, also, a tailor, kept a shop and carried on his trade at Mabou Bridge the most of his life. He worked hard and made money. He was married to Catherine Cameron, daughter of the late Alexander Cameron of South West Mabou, with issue: Alexander, Duncan, Angus, Katie Bell and Veronica.

Dougald was a school teacher of a high grade the most of his life. For a series- of years he taught a very large school at Mabou Bridge. For a still longer period he had charge of a heavy school at West Arichat. At the latter place he owned real estate of considerable value. He was married to Mary Ann Tyrrel of Arichat by whom he had quite a family of sons and daughters. In the afternoon of his life he was for a number of years a Fishery Overseer in the County of Richmond. Neither his wife nor himself lived to an old age, although they both were strong and well constituted. They died within a few months of each other not many years ago. In his younger years this Dougald was specially happy minded and cheerful and as good hearted as they make them. The doleful dumps had no "look in" within the sound of his rippling laughter.


In 1835 the above named Angus MacDonald came, with his wife and family, from Scotland to Mabou Bridge in this County. He was called "Angus Cross" from the name of a farm, near a crossing or ferry, which he occupied in Scotland. He was an architect or building contractor. It is on a part of the farm which he took up at Mabou that the present Catholic Church, Convent and Presbytery at Mabou are now built.

His family were the following: (1) Alexander, who died young; Donald, who married Flora, daughter of Finlay MacDonald, with issue Angus Alexander and Ann. (3) Ann, who married Charles MacNeil, blacksmith; (4) Mary married to Archibald MacDonald (Big) Ben Virich: (5) Marcella, married Archibald MacDonald (Big John): (6) Jessie, married to Arch. MacDonald, miller, Coal Mines.

The "Cross" family was one of the finest families in Mabou. The daughters were pleasant and pious, and as useful as they were both. In his time, the son Donald had but few peers as man, citizen and christian.

It is not extravagant language to say that Popular Grove is a truly Christian community. The majority, but not all, of its people are Catholics. There is, and always has been, complete harmony among the different denominations here. Protestants and Catholics live together, work together, do their duty, and leave the rest to God. There is no Protestant Church in Poplar Grove. Men of that creed who reside here belong to the Congregation of either Hillsboro or Strathlorne. The Catholic Church of Mabou is within this district.

At first the Catholics here, as elsewhere, had to depend on the irregular and occasional visits of missionary priests. There was an Irish priest by the name of Father Lawlor who used to officiate in Mabou and Broad Cove, but was never a regular parish priest of either place. He was handicapped here because he could not understand the language of the people, nor they his.

The first resident priest of Mabou was the late Most Reverend Alexander MacDonald, Vicar General. A noble Gael was he. He was born in the district of Lochaber, Scotland, in 1801, received his primary education at Lismore, entered the Scots College of Valladolid, Spain, in 1816, and departed therefrom in 1822. He was ordained priest by Bishop Ronald MacDonald in 1824, taught at Lismore for two years, and was priest at Moidart for nine years. He came to Mabou in 1842 and remained till his death on May 21, 1865. His jurisdiction here as Parish Priest extended over the parishes of Mabou, Port Hood, Brook Village and Glencoe.

All denominations within his jurisdiction honoured his prudent. practical counsel, and his generous, manly instincts. He was called Mhaistir Alasdair Mhor, not only for his stately and commanding appearance and size, but, also, for his qualities as a wise and lovable ruler. Nothing that was of common interest to the people was foreign to him. He identified himself with the interests of the colony without reserve.

He did a vast deal in the founding of schools and other necessary institutions. His labours and leadership in Mabou are still bearing fruit. To him as to no other single man can be traced the sound sanity of Catholic Mabou. This broad sanity of soul is evidenced by the ready obedience of these people to all properly constituted authority, and by the exceedingly large number of superior young men and women whom this section has given to the exclusive service of souls. Bravo, men of Mabou! Think not that your strivings and sacrifices shall go unseen or unknown to your great leader of "a day that is dead".

"Break, break, break,
"At the foot of thy crags, oh sea!
"But the tender grace of a day that is dead,
"Will ne'er come back to me."

The successor of the late distinguished Vicar General, as pastor of Mabou, was the late Reverend Kenneth J. MacDonald. No man could be more zealous and sincere than was father Kenneth. He was an apostle of temperance when the cause of temperance did not have the support of a strong popular sentiment. Like the most of militant reformers, he may, at times, have run into extremes. But his motives are not to be questioned. It may be possible that his ultra zeal did not strengthen his authority over his people. The good man found it difficult to denounce sin without denouncing the sinners. Preaching for the people, is not quite the same thing as preaching at them: but that poor Father Kenneth worked hard and accomplished a great deal of good cannot be gainsaid. He was not, however, of the same type as the cooler and larger visioned Vicar General.

The present devoted pastor of Mabou is Reverend John F. McMaster, who is dearly beloved of the people. He works quietly and courageously, and with happiest effect. He is young, and not yet ripe for history, but the sands of time are ever running, and his day shall come. In the meantime, "his works do praise him."


In the month of August 1802 a large number of immigrants came to Pictou from Scotland, three hundred and seventy of whom were natives of Barra, and Roman Catholics. As they were accustomed to the service of the sea and fishing, Governor Wentworth located them for a time on Pictou Island and the shores thereto adjacent; but subsequently they all moved away Eastwardly to Antigonish and Cape Breton.

Neil MacNeil, the first of the name to settle in Mabou, Inverness County, was of the number. He came from a modest village in Barra called Pearson. He was married and had two children coming to this country. After leaving Pictou he spent the first winter with friends from Barra who came to the Gulf shore of Antigonish in 1791. The following spring he came to Mabou and began to clear up a home for himself. It was in 1805 he settled permanently on the farm at Mabou Bridge part of which is now held by his great grandson, Roderick MacNeil (Rory Lauch.)

In August 1811 Alexander MacNeil and James MacNeil, cousins of Neil, came to Mabou from Barra. Alexander settled at South side of Mabou River, and James took up a lot of land at Whycocomagh, which he afterwards exchanged for a farm at Iona.

In the fall of 1812 Neil and his cousin Alexander went to Malignant Cove in the County of Antigonish with grist to a mill there. Arriving at the Cove Neil went ashore and Alexander remained in the boat. Shortly afterwards Neil, accompanied by the miller, set out to return to the boat. There were no roads then. Near the mill they had to cross a deep gulch or ravine on poles. In the act of crossing Neil slipped, fell headlong to the ground, and was killed. He left two sons, Roderick and Alexander, and one daughter, Christina. The son Roderick was married in 1820, at Judique, by Rev. Alexander MacDonnell, to Kate Campbell, daughter of Colonel John Campbell and Janet Livingstone of Cape George. His wife became a convert to the Catholic faith on the eve of her marriage. The issue of that marriage consisted of the following family, namely: Neil, Donald, Malcolm, John, Lauchlin, Alexander, Janet, Kate, Margaret and Flora.

The son Neil was married in Boston to Mary Dwyer and had four sons and four daughters, viz: Roderick, Mathew, Alex, Dan, George, Kate, Mary Jane, Bessie and Christina. They lived at Centreville.

Donald was married in California to Mary MacNeil, daughter of Rory MacNeil of Antigonish Harbor, and had one son, Roderick.

Malcolm was married to Ellen Meagher of Brook Village, sister to Hon. N. H. Meagher of Halifax. (See Hillsborough).

John was married in 1857 to Ann Beaton, daughter of John Beaton of N. E. Mabou, with issue: John, Roderick, Alexander, Daniel, Daniel Alexander, Kate, Mary, Flora Bell and Janet.

John, the father of this family, was the late Hon. John MacNeil M.L.C. He had a contract for many years for carrying the mails by stage coach from Port Hastings to Margaree, conducted mercantile business for quite a while at Mabou Bridge and Mabou Cove Mines, and was a Municipal Councillor for the Poplar Grove District for several successive terms. His son, Roderick, mentioned above, is the Reverend Roderick MacNeil P.P. now of Georgeville, Antigonish; and his son Alexander is Dr. A. J. MacNeil now practising at the Village of Mabou. All his other sons are dead, and all his daughters are married.

Lauchlin (son of Roderick) was married at Judique on 24th February 1865, to Ann MacDonnell, daughter of Christopher, with issue: Roderick, Alick, Christopher, Malcolm, Doctor Dan, Mary, Kate, Margaret and Catherine.

Alexander, (son of Roderick) died in California, unmarried. Janet was married to Angus Beaton, mason, of Mabou Coal Mines with issue: Alex, Roderick, Daniel, James, John, Archy and Katie.

Kate was married to Colin Gillis late of Margaree and had: John, Johnnie, Alick, Roderick, Annie, Katie, Mary Jane, Mary Bell and Margaret. Flora died young, and Margaret died unmarried.

Alexander MacNeil (son of Neil and brother of Roderick) was married twice; firstly, to Mary MacDonald, daughter of Neil MacDonald (Finlay) of S. W. Mabou, with issue: Neil, Alex. Donald, Annie (Mrs. Jas. Campbell, S. W. Mabou) and Mary (Mrs. MacMillan of Judique). He was married a second time to Sarah MacNeil, daughter of Lauchlin MacNeil of Mount Young with issue: Lauchlin, Michael, Rory, Annie and Kate. After the death of the father, Alexander, this family moved to Minnesota, U.S.A.

MacNeils of this family, who attained to some prominence in Church and State:

Hon. John MacNeil, son of Roderick, son of Neil; merchant, mail carrier, Legislative Councillor. Died September 2nd, 1914. Was mail contractor 25 years, appointed to Legislative Council in 1888.

Most Revd. Neil MacNeil D.D. Archbiship of Toronto, son of Malcolm son of Roderick, son of Neil, born at Hillsborough, Inverness County, in November 1851. Got his elementary training at Hillsborough School; his classical training in St. F. X. College, Antigonish was sent to Rome in January 1873; ordained in 1879; took post graduate course of one year in Astronomy and higher Mathematics at the University of Marselles, France. Returning home was appointed Rector of St. F. X. College. Was raised to the Episcopal office and placed over St. George's Nfld, Oct. 1895: was made Archbishop of Vancouver B.C. in 1900; and on death of Archbishop McVey was made Archbishop of Toronto.

Hon. Judge Daniel MacNeil, son of Malcolm, son of Roderick, son of Neil, born at Hillsborough C. B., January 31st, 1853 studied law with N. H. Meagher of Halifax and Samuel MacDonnell of Port Hood. Practised alternately at Port Hood, Halifax and Inverness; served several terms as representative of Inverness in the House of Assembly; was for years a member of the Fielding Government; elevated to the County Court Bench in the fall of 1917, and died at Antigonish in 1920.

Reverend Roderick MacNeil, son of John, son of Roderick, son of Neil, entered St. F. X. College in 1884. In September 1889 he began his theological studies in the Grand Seminary, Montreal, where he was ordained December 17th, 1892. Was parish priest for years at Grand Narrows, and is now in charge of the mission at Georgeville, Antigonish.

Alexander MacNeil, son of Malcolm, son of Roderick, son of Neil, born at Hillsborough C. B. in 1866; entered St. F. X. College in 1883; studied law and practised in Halifax in co-partnership with his brother Daniel; was owner and publisher in Halifax of a handsome periodical called "The Suburban", removed to Washington, D.C. some years ago.

Alexander MacNeil, son of John, son of Roderick, son of Neil, entered St. F. X. in 1866; studied medicine in College of Physicians and Surgeons, Baltimore; graduated in 1904; practised first at Grand Narrows, then at Margaree, and now located and practising at Mabou.

Donald MacNeil, son of Lauchlin, son of Roderick, son of Neil, educated in St. F. X. studied medicine in Halifax; graduated in 1912 practising in Cape Breton Co.


Allan Cameron was a son of John Ban of the Lochiel branch in Scotland. In 1821 he came to America in the ship "Tamarlin," landing in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He came into the county of Inverness and started a small business at the South West of Mabou. Su bsequently he removed to North East Mabou, near the harbor, where he acquired and developed one of the handsomest farms in Mabou. He was married to Flora Beaton, daughter of Alexander Beaton (tailor) of Mabou Coal Mines, and had a family of two sons and eight daughters, as follows: John, Alexander, Mary, Ann, Flora, Sarah, Catherine, Sarah Jr., Margaret and Ann. He (Allan) died in 1872.

The son John died young and unmarried. The son Alexander was married to Mary Beaton (Donald Og) with issue: seven sons and three daughters. This son, Alexander is also dead, but his fine property is occupied and well used by some of his sons. Alexander's family were: John, Angus, Allan, Dan, Alexander, Angus, John A., Mary and Ann.

Mary (daughter of Allan) was married to Argus McPhee of Mabou Coal Mines, with issue: Archibald, Alexander, Allan, Angus, John, Margaret, Mary and Katie.

Ann married Angus Beaton, tailor, of S. Mabou, with issue: John, Municipal Clerk, Port Hood: Alexander, Allan, John, Angus and Donald all died young men Alexander on the homestead: Katie and Sarah, died young: Sister Mary Agatha, Wellesley Hills, U.S.A. and Katie.

Catherine was married first to Angus Cameron, blacksmith by whom she had Donald, who was the Reverend Donald Cameron, P.P. who died at River Bourgeois. After the death of her first husband she was married again to Dougald Beaton miller of Glenora Falls, and had Alex. D. and Allan Beaton, and two daughters who are Nuns.

Flora, married Angus McPhee of Little Mabou, with issue: four sons and six daughters. Sarah died young and unmarried.

Sarah Jr., married Angus Rankin of S. W. Ridge with issue: Donald, Alexander, Allan, Alex. Jr. Kenneth, John, Kenneth Jr., Jessie, Flora and Annie.

Margaret married Finlay Cameron of Mabou Bridge with issue: Angus F., John A., Mary and Mary Laura. Annie died young and single.


Michael MacDonald (Micheil MacAlasdair 'ic Gill-easbuig 'ic Alasdair 'ic Aindrea) and his wife, Catherine MacIntyre, and their two children, emigrated from Barra, Scotland, to Mabou Mines in 1817 on the ship "William Fell". They settled on the farm known to this day as "Beinn Mhicheil Mhor". Their family were: Alexander, Archibald, James, Allan, Michael, John, Christina and Mary all of whom, excepting Michael, married and left families. After a residence of ten years at Mabou Mines, Michael MacDonald and his family moved to Upper Washabuck at which place three of his brothers settled in 1811. Among Pioneer Michael's descendants are Captain Michael A. MacDonald, who was first Master of the Steamer "Cape Breton" and who had the honour of selecting the Steamer's name, and the brothers, Major M.A.J, and Lieutenants Alexander J. and John A. MacDonald, Iona. The late Michael B. MacDonald, who during fifty years taught school in the Counties of Victoria and Cape Breton, was a son of Pioneer Michael's son, Alexander.


Angus Nicholson (John Patrick), a native of the Isle of Barra, was an early pioneer at Cape Mabou. His wife's name was Mary MacDonald. They had seven sons, Roderick, Neil, George, Michael, Hector, John and Neil (Junior) and several daughters. Roderick and Neil were stone cutters, George a ship-wright and Michael a carpenter. Roderick's son, Colin (Sergeant Major) served overseas during the Great War. Angus Nicholson had a brother, who settled at Boisdale, C.B. Rev. P. J. Nicholson, M.A., Ph.D., of St. F. X. College, Antigonish is a grandson of this brother.

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