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Fair is the Place

These are some excerpts taken from the book "Fair is the Place" about early Cape Breton life.

Most of what follows is taken from "Fair Is The Place", by Mildred and John Colin MacDonald of Judique, Nova Scotia.

Ranald MacDonald (Pioneer) was born on Eilean Shona, Scotland, on the Baillie farm there. He was the son of James of Baillie and he followed his father and brother Alasdair to Canada about 1796. Ranald was probably married when he emigrated but his wife's name is unknown, and unfortunately, nothing more is known of her. When Ranald came out to Nova Scotia, he was more than likely accompanied by his wife and also by his brother, Donald Ban. They probably landed at Pictou and then made their way to the Arisaig area of Antigonish County where they would have met up with other brother Alasdair (1730 - 1820's) and his family. No doubt, their father James was either dying or already dead when they arrived, so this must have saddened them. In 1798, Ranald and his family crossed over to Long Point, Cape Breton, where he took up 180 acres just south of his brother Alasdair's grant. Ranald's name and his son James both appear in the 1818 census of Cape Breton.

In the years that followed their initial settlement, the "Clann Sheumais" MacDonalds of Judique (named for James of Baille) developed a reputation as strong fighters. Their men were considered proud and because they were so often of such massive stature, they were rarely challenged lightly.

Ranald was of the first generation of our ancestors to be born in Canada. When his generation came of age, there was no place left along the shore to establish their homestead, so they were forced to clear the lands in the back and build their homes there. So it was that Ranald and Sarah settled in Rear Centennial where, it is believed, they built their house in the 1820's. Ranald took over the property originally granted to his brother James. Their house was built all of wood and there wasn't an iron nail used in its construction. The house never know the luxury of running water or electricity. There was not even a water pump in the kitchen. Water had to be drawn from the well outside.

At some point in time, Ranald gave a half of his land to his son John and the other half to son Joe and they, in turn, raised their own families next door to each other along the Centennial Road.

Ranald and Sarah had seven children, four boys and three girls. Sarah was born in Scotland in 1812 and was listed as a widow at age 59 in the 1871 census and head of house.

Another Ranald!!!!!!!
27. RANALD MACDONALD (JOHN, RANALD, RANALD, JAMES OF BAILLIE, DONALD MÓR, ALAISDAIR, RUAIRI, ALAISDAIR, IAIN OG, IAIN MUIDEARTACH, ALAISDAIR) was born 1872 in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, and died July 10, 1938 in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. He married MARY JANE CHISOLM January 10, 1909 in St Paul's Church, Dorchester, Mass., daughter of ALLAN CHISOLM and MARGARET GILLIS.

      Ranald preferred fishing to farming and so he tried to spend most of his time in pursuit of the former. As a result, most of the farm chores were left to Mary Jane, the children, and an occasional hired hand. Ranny, not unlike many other men from the rear, would leave his home on Sunday night and not return until Saturday evening. He would walk the five miles or so to the shore where he had a shack equipped with a bed and a stove. He would take with him provisions for a week's stay. He fished mostly for lobsters from a dory in the waters in and around St. George's Bay.

      Ranald, his wife, Mary Jane, and their family were the last of their people to work the farm in Rear Centennial. Life on the farm had been extremely harsh and difficult but because everybody around them lived under the same conditions, the difficulties of everyday life were hardly considered unusual. The farm was self-sustaining and, in spite of the long, severe winters, there was usually ample food and wool to feed and clothe a large family.

      Mary Jane didn't leave the property for good until sometime in the mid-sixties. By this time, most of the people had stopped farming for their livelihood and had moved into newer homes with modern conveniences closer to the main road, (Route 19).

One of the first ancestors to emigrate to the United States below.

MARIAH MACDONALD (JOHN, RANALD, RANALD, JAMES OF BAILLIE, DONALD MÓR, ALAISDAIR, RUAIRI, ALAISDAIR, IAIN OG, IAIN MUIDEARTACH, ALAISDAIR) was born 1874 in Centennial, CB, NS, and died February 7, 1944 in Portsmouth, NH. She married JAMES (SHEMAN GOUL) MACDONALD May 10, 1893 in Immaculate Conception Church, Portsmouth, NH, son of DOUGALD MACDONALD and CATHERINE MACDONALD.

      Mariah MacDonald m. James MacDonald on May 10th, 1893 at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Portsmouth, N. H. She was one of at least eight children (four boys and four girls) born to John MacDonald and Catherine MacEachern. She was born in the house believed to have been built by her grandfather Ranald in the early 1820's. Her father was a farmer as were all their neighbours and their house was located on the Centennial Road between her uncle Joe's place on the south (her cousin, Mary Jess O'Brien's family), and the MacInnis farm (more cousins) to the north.

      Her husband, James, was known by his Gaelic nickname, "Sheman Goul" (i.e., Jimmy, son of Dougald). He was the grandson of Peter and Margaret MacDonald and the oldest of at least twelve children born to Dougald and Katherine MacDonald of Creignish Rear and they lived on a farm at the northeast quadrant of the crossroads in the Rear. However, when the Empire census was taken in 1891, James was listed as a fisherman while all his siblings were enumerated as farmers. James was the first of his family to emigrate to the States. Local tradition has it that he captained a fishing boat out of Gloucester, Mass. We know that his brother Roderick (Rory) settled in Gloucester and he had at least one son, Douglas, who visited Portsmouth a number of times. His brother, Dan H., (the sixth son and eighth child), remained in the Rear and ran a grocery store and post office at the crossroads.

      According to Ann MacDonald Burke, Mariah's niece and daughter of Ranald, James went off to the States to find work. When he was established, he sent home for his young bride to be, Mariah, who was then nineteen years old. They lived most of their years together at 30 Burkitt Street just a few houses away from her sister, "Katie Bill" O'Brien. He died in N. H. in December, 1943; she in early February, 1944.

Notes for J
James MacDonald m. Mariah MacDonald da. of John (Ranald) MacDonald and
Catherine MacEachern of Rear Centennial. (See pg. 399 Fair Is The Place by Mildred and John Colin MacDonald). James was the only one of his family listed as a fisherman. Local oral tradition has it that James captained a fishing boat out of Gloucester, Massachusetts and when he had enough money settled in Portsmouth, New Hampshire where he married Mariah and raised his family. See also Notes on Mariah MacDonald.

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