Submitted by Bonnie Swingle - firstname.lastname@example.org, With corrections and additions by Jane Ramsay, email@example.com
Bonnie has transcribed the following article appearing first in the Daily Patriot dated July 5, 1895 concerning the Strathalbyn Jubilee 1845-1895. It contains a wealth of information about founding families of Lot 67 and their settlement in the area. Use this as a guide only - always refer to the original article whenever possible!
The Daily Patriot, The Strathalbyn Jubilee, 1845-1895.
Historical Paper by the Hon. A.B. Mackenzie
Speeches by other Gentlemen
Powerful Sermon by Rev. Alex. Sunderland in the Evening
"The Strathalbyn Jubilee, 1815-1895" was the device on a large flag which waved over a beautiful field adjoining the Presbyterian church, at Hartsville, on Wednesday, the 3rd of July. The British ensign was also unfurled in the breeze in several parts of the grounds, indicative of the sturdy loyalty of the son of the heather and their descendants. The weather was charming and the arrangements admirable. There was a large booth in which the tea tables were spread, and a refreshment stand, both of which were well provided and liberally patronized. There was also a convenient platform for the speakers covered with leafy boughs and comfortably seated.
The attendance was good; Strathalbyn itself was en fete, and there were representatives from the neighboring congregations and a few from distant localities. Foremost among these was Rev. Alexander Sutherland, from Ripley, Ontario, Pastor of Strathalbyn during the greater part of the fifties. Though advanced in years he is still fresh and vigorous. He received the hearty greetings of many of his old parishioners, by whom he was deservedly held in high esteem. The other ministers present were Rev. A.B. McLeod, formerly of Mt. Stewart, now of Coldstream, Nova Scotia; Rev. David Sutherland, Charlottetown; Rev. D.B. McLeod, Orwell; Rev. J.W. McKenzie, St. Peter’s Bay; Rev. Joseph McKenzie, St. Peter’s Bay; Rev. Joseph Johnston, pastor-elect of Covehead and Rev. Malcolm Campbell, now the minister of Strathalbyn, who presided. Among outside gentlemen present were: Hon. A.B. McKenzie, Hon. D. Laird, B. Rogers, James McDonald, James McLeod, J.T. McKenzie, John M. Campbell, Charlottetown; D.A. McKinnon, M.L. ? Georgetown, William Ross, New London; John F. McLeod, Orwell Mills; Wm Laird and Jno McDonald, New Glasgow; Murdoch Ross, Bedeque, Herber Haslam, Springfield; Murdoch McLeod, Argyle; Robert B. Stewart, Strathgartner; Wm. Simpson, Lot 16; Donald C. Heartherdale, Lot 59; Alex. Bruce, Valleyfield; William Fraser, South Wiltshire; William Henderson, North Wiltshire; Murdoch McLeod, West River; Hugh McMillan, New Haven; John McLeod, Crapaud; Neil Shaw, DeSables, John McLean, Long Creek; Alex. McKenzie, Bedeque; John McKenzie, Summerfield; Dr. Henderson, Union Road; Donald McLaughlin, St. Peter’s Road; Donald Nicholson, W.D. McKay and J.T. Crockett, Charlottetown and many others.
About noon Rev. Mr. Campbell opened the proceedings by giving out the grand old paraphrases beginning with the words—
O God of Bethel!
By whose hand Thy people still are fed;
Who through this weary pilgrimage
Hast all our fathers led.
After the paraphrase was sung, Rev. D. Sutherland offered and appropriate prayer. The chairman then called upon Hon. A.B MacKenzie, now of Charlottetown, but long a resident of Strathalbyn and still identified with its people to treat the Pioneers of the settlement.
Hon. A.B. MacKenzie Historical Paper.
Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen—I presume it is unnecessary for me to apologize to you as being the first to address you on this auspicious occasion, for nothing short of a stern sense of duty to you, and responsive obedience to the kind request of your managing committee, could induce me to undertake the pleasant but arduous task of giving you within the short compass of time necessarily allotted to me, a consecutive and correct account of the pioneers of this congregation. More especially as I have not had at my disposal more reliable data from which to collect such materials as would be at once interesting, profitable and instructive to you, than my own recollections of facts and circumstances that came under my observation, as well as a vivid remembrance of matters and events related in my hearing during my early school-boy days by many of the first settlers themselves. I have, therefore, to solicit your generous forbearance and ask you to attribute any slight errors in dates or the occasion of any name dear to any or all of us, relative to any circumstance I may have occasion to refer to, rather to an error of the head than of the heart.
Though not a native of Strathalbyn—a matter in which I had no choice—where my early childhood as well as many of my maturer year were spent, as among the most happy and eventful period of my life; and though now absent from among you for a period of twenty-eight years, I may truly say, as the shadows of evening begin to lengthen and as the years roll swiftly by on the never-ceasing current of time, carrying us all, rapidly towards the bourne from which no traveler returns, my mind often roams around the scenes and associations of early childhood—clustering in and around these hills and dales, the rilling brook, the old smithy, the old schoolhouse, the gleeful children. Yes, even the stones and old rampikes along the newly opened turnpike were objects familiar and of pleasant remembrance.
The scene is now changed, apprising us in solemn tones of the transitory nature of all earthly pleasures and amusements. Where are all the happy throngs of school children with whom we strolled in sweet innocence in the woods—hunting for birds nests and chasing gaudy butterflies? Ah! Alas, few, very few of them are here today. While some are scattered in different parts of the world, many of them have joined the great throng beyond the swelling river. Where? Where all the aged sires and noble matrons of those early days? All gone to their eternal home, save and except two men, namely Alexander McLeod, the nestor of the parish and Alexander McIntosh and seven women, namely Mrs. Donald McDonald, Mrs. John Cameron, Mrs. Roderick McIntosh, Mrs. John McIntosh, and Mrs. Donald McKinson (Little), Mrs. Murdock McLeod and Mrs. Alexander McIntosh. To prevent wrong impressions respecting the first ? in this parish as well as the three succeeding bands of immigrants which in the year 1838 closed up the settlement of this ? congregation, I wish to state here, in the outset, that not one of them was of that pauper class of immigrant from different parts of the British Islands whose passage money and other expenses to this province, and other parts of the Dominion were either paid by the parish from whence the came or by the Government. On the contrary, many of them were in such fair circumstances at home as to land here with considerable amounts of money for themselves and their families, in ships freighted by themselves, in fact, they were all of the best blood the Highlands produced; of that class from which Wellington and other great British generals drew their best and bravest soldiers.
Early in the summer of 1831, a large band of stalwart young Highlanders, chiefly from the Isle of Skye, accompanied by their families—emigrated to Prince Edward Island, at that time sparsely settled with a population of about thirty-two thousand people, while Ch’town was but a village, with a population of about twenty-five hundred people, some of whom settled in the Southern part of Queen’s County, while some twenty families, induced by the prospect of purchasing land in fee simple, and on easy terms, decided to settle on Lot 67, which at that time, with the exception of the Haslam family on the north end of it, was an uninhabited and unbroken wilderness, covered with a beautiful dense forest of heavy hardwood, spruce and pine. Unmolested, save by the paw of wild animals, the enjoyed its Sabbaths.
Taking into account that these people were unaccustomed to the use of the axe and other conditions unavoidable in their new and untried circumstances, and taking into further account that the only approach to their new quarters was by a bridle path, along blazed trees, from Alexander Johnston’s on the Princetown Road---a distance of seven miles to Springton where now your beautiful manse stands. The pioneers must have been endowed with more than ordinary courage to face the hardships and trials confronting them; but as the most of them had some means to tide them safely over the first year, as well as pluck and self-reliance, the prospect of buying their farms at reasonable rates more than outweighed their doubts and fears.
The names of the first pioneers given were Miles McInnis, Donald McKinnon, James Nicholson, Donald and Alexander Martin, John Ross, Peter Stewart and his son John, Malcolm McDonald—a grand type of the old venerable Highland Chieftain, and his three sons, Donald, John and Alexander, Malcolm McLeod, John McLeod—another type of the Highland hero, and his son Donald, lately deceased, Lodwick McIntosh (MulDonish), a man of patriarchal bearing and appearance and his four sons, Roderick, John, Alexander and Donald, and John Matthewson and his father Jonathan, who was the first man who died and was buried at Springton, Murdock McLeod (joiner) and his brother Alex, who is still hale and hearty though over eighty years of age, he is the father of education in the settlement, and Donald and Angus Beaton. These were joined a year or two afterwards by Angus McDonald, John McDonald, Angus and Ronald Stewart, John Cameron, George Cahill, Nathaniel Kelly, Robert Todd, Neil McKinnon, Donald McLeod, Malcolm McLeod and his brother Alexander, and John McLeod.
As all the northern part of Lots 31, 65, 29 and 30 save a small portion at the north end—as well as the eastern ends of Lots 23, 26 and 27 were still and for some years after an unbroken wilderness; their nearest neighbors to the west were the Wrights of Middleton, on the south Victoria, on the east the McNeil’s of North River and Alexander Johnston and the Haslams and the Bagnalls on the north.
Their effects had to be carried on their backs from Johnston’s during the summer months, until the Anderson Road was opened in the years 1833-34. Their first care was to clear a little patch of ground whereon to erect their first cabins, which consisted of small structures of round logs—twelve by sixteen feet covered with spruce bark-the interstices between the logs being stopped with moss or clay with a small hole dug in the ground for a cellar and a capacious chimney, the lower part of which was built of rough stones with a wooden mantle piece, and the upper part or smoke stack of cats, which consisted of pats of clay mixed with straw fastened on small round sticks placed horizontally tier after tier until it reached about two feet above the roof. This superstructure in a very short time became so very flammable that great care had to be exercised to prevent a general conflagration. I am not informed as to how these hardy veterans endured the rigor of the first winter in their new quarters, but one thing is certain they did not suffer from cold as they had abundance of the best fuel at their doors.
Towards the month of April however, the settlement was the scene of much activity. The men and boys busy from sunny morn till dewy eve chopping trees and clearing the land to plant their first vegetables in, while the brave women and young lassies were equally busy making maple sugar. Being an enterprising race of men they set to work in dead earnest clearing the forest; as the land at that time was very productive, the following autumn yielded to them an abundant return for their spring’s labors. In a very short time many of them were proud possessors of square log houses, covered with either boards or good split pine shingles. After getting well settled their next care was to build a schoolhouse at Springton on a plot of land given to the settlement for that purpose. Their first schoolhouse was a rather primitive and crude structure, but it was an earnest of better things yet to come. Well do I remember the ruins of this old school house, which in after years was used as a temporary lodging place for some new arrivals who afterwards came to the place, Yes, I believe it was the birthplace of at least one prominent man who may now be within the reach of my voice. It was a round log house, twelve by sixteen, covered with bark or turf. It had one window of six panes 8 x 10. Their first teacher was Mr. Alexander McLeod (Alaister Beag), who is still alive. As the tenure of his office was before I was born I am not informed as to his success as a knight of the birchen rod. He was associated with Mr. Nels Arbuckle of classic fame.
During the first few years the people had no slated mean of grace among them. Mr. James Nicholson, who was a bosom friend of the Rev. Dr. Roderick McLeod of Snizord, from the ? of the settlement and for some years afterward held a prayer meeting alternately in his own house and Lodewick McIntosh’s every Sabbath, where he read and expounded the word to those who came to ?
The Rev. Robert Patterson, of ? visited the settlement in the summer of 1837 and preached a sermon in the open air near James Nicholson’s house on which occasion he baptized several children. I am informed that the Rev. John McLennan of Belfast visited the settlement the same summer but held no public religious services. In the year 1837, the Rev. Donald McDonald visited the settlement and preached then and occasionally for some years afterward in Donald McLeod’s house, until his people built a church in the year 1847. Many of his hearers came under the power of his preaching. Their old church was torn down about 30 years ago—but I understand his adherents have a new one in course of construction in Stanchel, a new school district, carved out of Springton and Rose Valley school district. In the year 1837 a larger and more commodious schoolhouse of square logs covered with shingles was built. It was about twenty-four by thirty feet and had two windows of 12 panes, 8 x 10. It was used the following seven years as a meetinghouse as well as a schoolhouse. The first teacher who taught in the new schoolhouse was James Douglas, of Stanhope. As he could not speak the language of Eden and but very few of his scholars could speak any other language but the vernacular, his task from the outset was not an easy one, but with the small advantages they had and a keen thirst for knowledge they soon made rapid progress in acquiring a fair command of the English language. Mr. Douglas remained with them for three years. After him they secured the services of Malcolm McDonald, a prim little body, who had just arrived from Scotland and who was equally at home in speaking Gaelic, English and Latin. Being a strict disciplinarian he very often got himself into trouble with some of the larger boys, who very often became impatient at being flogged by so diminutive a specimen of humanity. Rather than submit to the degradation of being denuded of their breeches, his efforts to chastise them, in that primitive war, frequently resulted in the culprit showing flight, and if not strong enough, some of his boon companions who had frequently submitted passively to a similar ordeal, would come to the rescue, when poor Neby would have to beat an inglorious retreat a wiser if not a better man. As he was not the proud possessor of a watch, to gauge the time for dismissing his weary and listless flock, in the autumn days, when the sun was overclouded, he resorted to a very strange devise to obviate the need of a timepiece. He would send one of the boys out for and armful of dry ferns, which he would burn in the chimney and then he would turn to look at the window, and if he could see the reflection of he blaze on the window glass he would dismiss them at once, assured that it was near sundown. But on dark and very cloudy days the experiment often turned to the advantage of the boys who sometimes got home some hours before sundown. As he always boasted of being a good Latin scholar, when any of the boys wished for leave to retire he would have to address the master thus, "Magister, ? mihi exere." If leave was granted the master would say "Eveleto". If permission to leave was not granted he would look the trembling suppliant sternly in the face and say "Evaleto toti vos."
In the year 1833-34 the new Bedeque Road, or as it was afterwards called for many years, "The Anderson Road", named after the Hon. Alexander Anderson of Bedeque, who surveyed the line was opened, from McNeill’s, North River towards North Wiltshire, which was then unbroken forest, thence to Scotch settlement, thence to through to what is now called Southwest or Bedeque.
The opening of the new road was a great boon to the settlers, as it not only gave them means of communication with the outside world, but also afforded them an opportunity of replenishing their exhausted exchequers—by earning money at building the road. About this time some of them had so far advanced in material prosperity as to have a horse or a yoke of oxen, with which to haul their grist to the nearest mills. Previous to this time querns or hand mills taken from the old country were used by some to convert their grain into meal. In a very short time some of them had become expert shingle makers and others became adepts at sawing boards with the whipsaw. The lucky owner of a horse, a cart or a wood-sleigh, became freighters and charged five shillings, or eighty cents for bringing a load of shingles, boards or any other commodity to Charlottetown. In addition to the eighty cents he was to have three treats of rum or whisky, one on arriving in the Town, and the second on leaving and the third on the way home, but very often these terms were not strictly adhered to, by some of the more generous carriers, as very often they would draw on the five shilling so much that both got gloriously happy over the proceeds of the load that they returned home as empty handed as they left.
Their farming implements were chiefly made up of the following articles, a good Roger’s or Weatherby narrow axe, a hoe, a reaping hook, a grubbing hoe, a flail, a frow and spoke shave. After a few years a yoke of oxen, a straw collar and wooden hames for the horse, a pair of cart wheels, wood sleigh and slide ear, a V shaped harrow with wooden teeth, a hand rake and a big pot for the double purpose of making soap and boiling maple syrup were added.
(To be concluded in the next issue)
The Daily Patriot, July 5, 1895
The Strathalbyn Jubilee 1845-1895 Good Attendance
Historical Paper by Hon. A.B. Mackenzie
Speeches by Other Gentleman
Powerful Sermon by Rev. Alex. Sutherland in the Evening.
Mr. McKenzie’s Historical paper concluded. In the summer of 1838 another ship band of emigrants from Scotland landed in Charlottetown of whom some thirty or forty families cast in their lot with their fellow countrymen in Scotch settlement. These late arrivals settled in what is now called Hartsville, Johnson Road, Lot 22, Rose Valley, Lot 67. Though they had in a measure to contend against similar hardships with the first settlers, yet they had the advantage of the friendship, experience, and assistance of those who came first, as well ass the advantage of the new road, opened some six years before. Among these people were a considerable number of God-fearing men, men who were converted under the preaching of such men as Dr. Roderick McLeod (Maister Ruaread) of Snizord, Skye, Dr. Kennedy, of Red Castle, (An Chaistel Ruadh), Rev. Mr. McRichard-recently deceased, and Dr. McDonald of Farintosh.
Among these I may mention the names of Alexander McLeod, the Preacher, and his brother, John, John Gillis (A Seream) and John Matheson, the father of the late Angus Matheson. Immediately after his arrival Alexander McLeod took an active lead in conducting religious meetings, not only in the Springton schoolhouse, but also in private houses, in the different localities, in which his countrymen had settled. Often preaching in the open air, or in a grove of woods. In the summers of 1840-41 there were still a further accession of some fifty families of emigrants from Scotland who joined their old neighbors in the new settlement; these settled in the western part of Rose Valley, Johnston Road (east) Brookfield, West Line Road, East Line Road, Hazel Grove, Junction Road, Colville Road, and Dock Road. Among these new comers were also men of eminent piety, notably, the late Allan MacSwain of pious and immortal memory, afterwards an elder for forty-eight years; his brother Murdoch McSwain, Donald Buchanan and Murdoch Buchanan, who for three or four years had settled in Bonshaw, after which he removed to Springton, and was one of the first three elders who composed the first session at the formation of Strathalbyn Congregation whose Jubilee are today celebrating. Although Mr. Buchanan could not read, I believe he could recite from memory the greater part of the old and new testament; also Murdoch McLeod (Murach-eadh Beag) who settled in New London, but who from his arrival in the country closely identified with himself with his countrymen in the Scotch settlement. He was a man of rare intelligence, a good Gaelic and English scholar, equally conversant with both languages, but above all, he was a true and honest Christian, in every sense of the word. He was an orator of no mean order. He was really the first evangelist to Strathalbyn, and was for some years engaged in catechizing and preaching the word in the different settlements I referred to. When he would be on the rounds both old and young, would be in a flurry refreshing their memories on the question of the shorter catechism. I believe he was instrumental in doing more real good in the place than perhaps any other man. Mr. John McNeill, a Gaelic and English teacher, sent to Cape Breton by "the society for the propagation of Christian knowledge" in Glasgow Scotland, in the year 1830, who, after remaining in Cape Breton for a few years in a place now called Orangedale, removed to this Island, and settled in Bannockburn, where his religious influence was soon felt for the good, among the scattered children of the Presbyterian families, in that and the adjacent settlements, of West River and Long Creek. During the summer months of the following six or seven years he preached to large audiences, in the Scotch settlement. He was a profound reasoner, and mighty in his exposition of the scriptures and earnest in his exhortations and direct appeals to the heart and conscience of his hearers. Under his able preaching of the word, as well as that of the fore mentioned Murdock and Alexander McLeod, a wave of religious awakening passed over the place and scores of men and women, who afterwards became pillars and shining lights in the congregation, of whom the most have gone home to glory, ascribed their first awakening about their soul’s salvation, to the faithful preaching of these lay preachers. Among these men I might recall the sacred memory of James McLeod, John Cameron, John McLeod (Ban Saor), who afterwards became on of the ruling elders. Murdock McLennan, (Ruadh) Roderick Gillis, Brookfield, John McInnis, (? Mac Eoghan) Alexander McLennan, Malcolm McLeod, (Callum Ruadh), elder, the late Angus Matheson, of fragrant and pious memory, Allen McLean, John and Donald Matheson, Malcolm, Murdock, and Donald Gillis, Roderick McLeod, (Ruadhuh Mor) and Donald Nicholson. Of the heads of families of those who arrived in 1840-41, only the following are yet alive, Donald Nicholson, John McLeod, Alexander McPherson and wife, Donald McDonald and wife, Rose Valley; Mrs. Murdock McKinley, Malcolm Gillis, West Line, and John Geo(?) McLeod, Breadalbyn; Mrs. John Matheson and Mrs. Murdock Gillis, Rose Valley; and John McKay, Hartsville.
About the year 1843, the year of the disruption of the Free Church from the Church of Scotland, the Quarterly questioned meetings, which, I understand, have been kept up in the congregation to the present time, were established. These meetings continued for some days and were made the occasion for many years afterwards, of scores of pious men and women to assemble together from Cardigan, Dundas, Brown’s Creek, Wood Islands, West River and New London. This practice was more closely attended to afterwards during communion seasons.
In those early days instead of what is now, alas, the too common practice, even among professing Christians, of reading newspapers or other light literature on the Lord’s day, their reading consisted on that sacred day of the Bible, the shorter catechism, Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, Boston’s Fourfold State, Dodridge, The Scotch Worthier, Baxter’s Saints Rest, Dyer’s Believer’s Golden Chain, the Spiritual Hymns of James McGregor, Dougald Buchanan and Peter Grant.
At the time of the disruption the people here were generally so well posted on the questions agitating the mother church that they without hesitation decided to throw in their lot with the Free Church party.
In the summer of 1844 a public meeting was held at which it was unanimously agreed to commence the building of a church forthwith, and within a short time the contract was let to John McKensie (Saor Mor) a native of Pictou, N.S. for a handsome amount, considering the scarcity of money, at that early stage in their history. He prepared the building material during the fall and winter and commenced building early in the spring of 1845 and towards the first of July had progressed so rapidly with the work that the outside of the building was finished in that month fifty years ago. Before the floor was laid in it a Mr. McMillan from Scotland preached a sermon therein, the people being seated on the floor beams. After laying the floor and building a pulpit, Mr. McKensie took up his bag and baggage and went to New Brunswick, leaving the interior of he building to be finished some years afterwards. Though not built after the model of modern buildings yet it was a substantial structure, thirty-five feet by forty-five feet, twenty feet post, two large windows in each side and one large window in each gable end to give light to the galleries. It had a door at each end. When well seated it would hold from five to six hundred people. For some years after it was first occupied the seats consisted of pieces of scantling, planks, or boards laid on blocks of wood.
The sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was dispensed for the first time in the congregation in July 1845, by the Rev. Alexander Farquharson, of Middle River, Cape Breton. He was one of that small band of the Church of Scotland ministers in Nova Scotia and P.E. Island who came out with the Free Church party at the disruption. He was assisted on this occasion either by the Rev. Murdoch Stewart of West Bay, C.B., or the Rev. John Stewart, New Glasgow, N.S. As hundreds of people came together from different parts of the Island to celebrate the solemn occasion, the congregation assembled was large. The services commenced with the fasting and prayer on the previous Thursday. Friday was occupied in discussing the questions, Saturday in preparatory services; the Sabbath, the day of ordinance, was a memorable day followed by thanksgiving on Monday. All services were solemn and impressive, the evening services continued till late in the night. On the occasion the solemn rejoicing and religious fervor that pervaded the assembled multitude would aptly remind one of the return of the children of the Captivity from Babylon to build the walls of Jerusalem. Methinks that this was one of the songs which they sung:
"When Zion’s bondage God turned back
Like men that dreamed were we.
Then filled with laughter was our mouth.
Our tongues were melody.
They ‘mong the heathen said
The Lord great things for them has Wrought,
The Lord for great things has done,
Whence joy to us is brought."
Some eighty or a hundred people sat down to commemorate their Savior’s dying love. Three elders were ordained on this occasion, namely Alexander McLeod, Murdoch Buchanan, and Allan McSwain. Some fifty or sixty children were baptized on this occasion, many of whom were in their teens. The next minister that visited the congregation was the Rev. Sinclair, of West Cape, followed by the Rev. John Stewart, of New Glasgow; Rev. Dr. McLeod, of Sydney, Cape Breton and in 1848, by the Rev. John McTavish, delegate from the Free Church of Scotland. He is now pastor of the East Free Church Inverness, Scotland. Rev. Dr. D.B. Blair, of Barney’s River, N.S. visited the congregation about this time. The first ordained missionary was Rev. Alexander McIntyre. He came from Scotland in 1848, and was stationed for two or three years between Brown’s Creek, New London and Scotch settlement. He was a powerful and zealous preacher. He left this Province in the 1850 or 57 and emigrated from Scotland to Australia where he died ten years ago.
The first regular ordained minister settled over the congregation was the Rev. Alexander Sutherland. He was settled over the congregations of Clifton, New London and Scotch Settlement in the fall of 1852. He preached Gaelic and English alternately every Sabbath in each place for seven years. He was an able preacher, full of zeal in the Master’s service. He was instrumental in doing a great deal of good in the congregation. His name will be long remembered as one who did not give an uncertain sound when he blew the gospel trumpet. He it was who arranged the purchase of the glebe on which the manse now stands. Though now in his eightieth year, he is still hale and hearty, having charge of a large and flourishing congregation in Ripley, Ontario. In the year 1856 the Rev. Andrew Noble, one of the ablest preachers that ever visited the province, preached in Strathalbyn church. He was a delegate from the Free Church of Scotland. Mr. Sutherland was succeeded, as pastor of this congregation as a separate and independent charge, by the sainted and revered Donald Morrison, of pious memory; he was inducted over the congregation in the autumn of 1859. At his ordination and induction the late Rev. Dr. George Sutherland, of Sydney, New South Wales, presided. He suggested that the name of the congregation be changed from "Scotch Settlement" to that of "Strathalbyn", which name was heartily adopted by the show of hands of the large congregation assembled to welcome their new minister, who proved to be a man after their own hearts. He went in and out among them, visiting from house to house; his presence inspired confidence, love and esteem of old and young. His very look was benediction to all who came in contact with him. He was instrumental in doing much good in the congregation. In the spring of 1861 he offered his services to the Presbyterian church which had advertised for a missionary to the New Hebrides. His services were cordially accepted; and severing his connection with his people, who, as reluctantly parted with him as with a right hand. After a session studying medicine in Edinburgh he returned to the Island in the Spring of 1862; and after visiting the churches in the Maritime Provinces he sailed in the fall of the same year, in the Dayspring for the New Hebrides, in company with the late James Gordon who afterward fell a martyr on the island of Erromanga-and Rev. Mr. McCullagh. Mr. Morrison was stationed on the island of Efate for three years, but being predisposed to lung trouble, the grim and insidious disease, consumption, claimed him as a victim. He was compelled to return to Australia with his wife and two little children, where he succumbed after a few months to the fatal disease. He died early in the year 1868; he was shortly afterwards followed to the grave by his noble wife. His two orphan children, a boy and a girl, have been educated by the church in Australia. The son is at present following the footsteps of his father as preacher of the everlasting gospel. It was through Mr. Morrison’s influence that the Ch’town market was changed from Saturday to Friday. Mr. Morrison was succeeded by Mr. Donald McDougald, student of Divinity during the summer of 1862, and the following year, by Mr. Alexander Farquharson, the former of whom is now a successful minister in Baddeck, C.B. Mr. Farquharson was afterwards for many years a minister in Sydney, C.B., where he died a few years ago much lamented by the congregation and the church at large. He was succeeded by the late Rev. Alexander Campbell, who was inducted over the pastoral charge of Strathalbyn in October 1864, where he remained for a period of fifteen years. He was a faithful preacher and was beloved and respected by all until the infirmities of declining years compelled him to omit the charge that was ever dear to his heart. He died in the year 1891, at Lochaber, N.S. He was succeeded by the Rev. John McLeod, in whose time the new church which now crowns this hill was built-under the shadow of whose spire lie waiting the resurrection morn, the sacred dust of many faithful witnesses who were near and dear to many of us. He is now minister of a large church in Lewis. He was succeeded by the present incumbent, the Rev. Malcolm Campbell, whose virtues it will be the duty and pleasure of future historians to chronicle at the next Jubilee, fifty years hence.
Before closing, you will pardon me for referring to the noble band of Christian women, who fifty years ago were real mothers in Israel in the congregation and whose lives shone like stars in the darkness, but who have since gone home to glory, to bask forever in the refulgent rays of the Son of Righteousness.
Without making individuous distinction, I might mention among many other excellent women, who through faith obtained a good report in the Strathalbyn Congregation, the names of Mrs. John Mathewson (Bean Choir Eion Mich Eion), Mrs. James Nicholson (Beaninilleil Ruadh), of hospitable fame, Mrs. John McDonald (Fiona Galla Bean Eion Oig), Isabel McLeod (Nighean Domhail Gobh), Catherine McLeod (Bantrach Antralair), Mrs. Neil McKay (Mary Og), Mrs. Malcolm Nicholson, Springton, Mrs. John McLeod (Bean IanBhan Shoar); Mrs. Margaret McLeod (Merreadh Ruadh), Christy McLean, Margaret McLean, Rose Valley, Mrs. Murdoch McKenzie (Bean Mureacheadh), Rose Valley; Mrs. Donald McInnis, (Bure Donalog), and I think I might with becoming modesty include among these faithful one, who though dead yet speak to us by example of their pure lives, as well as their unswerving devotion to the cause of pure and undefiled religion, my own dear mother, (Catherine Nighean S’heoras). In those early days of fifty years ago the people in this parish lived like one large and happy family, in sweet accord and harmony, each neighbor bearing one another’s burdens. Brotherly love and good will ruled supreme. They were always ready to forgive and forget each other’s foibles and shortcomings. When one member suffered all the members suffered.
Contrasting the scanty privileges and opportunities enjoyed by our noble sires and grandfathers with the glorious ones we now enjoy, we may well blush with shame that we do not improve them as we ought. To think for a moment of the hardships encountered by these hardy pioneers in making a comfortable livelihood for their families would today make the heart of the bravest of us quail. So much so that if the Herculean task of clearing the forest were left to the present generation of young men, instead of our beautiful Island home being the gem of the Gulf, the beautiful garden of the Dominion, as it certainly is now, it would forever remain covered with its primeval forest, the abode of wild animals.
Fifty years ago when this large parish was all closely settled, there was only one schoolhouse, where there are ten today. Just think of the boys and girls traveling from the west end of Rose Valley, East and West Line Roads, Junction Road and Hartsville to Springton school, many of them barefooted in summer and but lightly clad in winter, then you will better appreciate your own opportunities and admire the pluck of the young boys and girls of those early days. When you consider the scarcity of money to purchase school books, you will not be surprised to hear that as many as half a dozen boys and girls would be reading out of the same class book and studying out of the same old ear-clipped grammar and perhaps as many more ciphering on the same old slate, which was perhaps borrowed from an older boy who could not attend school. With all such disadvantages and drawbacks many of those noble and true-hearted boys and girls kept abreast of the times and succeeded in elbowing their way to respectable positions at home and abroad.
Since the days I am speaking of, arts and science have made such rapid progress that newspapers and books treating on almost every imaginable subject are now within the reach of everybody. New inventions and discoveries have in a great measure revolutionized every branch of industry as well as fields of knowledge and research. By the new mechanical contrivances manual labor is greatly minimized. Farming is now classed as among the most genial and lucrative avocations of life. The sickle and the scythe are superseded by the self-binder, the flail by the threshing machine. By the application of steam and electricity distance is to a great extent annihilated, by which means the nations of the earth are drawn nearer to one another, in sympathy and brotherly love, hastening the time, the good time coming, "that man to man the warld o er shall brithers be for a’ tha’," the time when the knowledge of Christ shall be carried by the faithful heralds of salvation to the darkest corners of the earth, when moral darkness shall vanish before the Son of Righteousness-the time when all the nations and kingdoms of the world shall do homage to the Prince of peace, whose right it is to reign. It behooves us then to weigh well our great responsibilities; in the light of our grand privileges and opportunities to do our part, to hasten on the consummation of the glorious prospect. Let us with generous emulation imitate the virtues, shun the failures and avoid the mistakes and shortcomings of those faithful ones who have gone before us-in the great battle of life. Let us endeavor to keep abreast if not in front of the great march of progress going on around us in the world, and armed with the panoply of the Christian soldier, with the word of God in our hand; as a lamp to our feet and a light to our path, we can fearlessly and resolutely face the great problems of life. With patient perseverance in well doing, we may rest assured of such a glorious and triumphant future as will not only make ourselves happy, but will reflect the honor and renown on the noble ancestry from whom it is our proud boast to have descended.
After Mr. McKenzie’s paper was concluded there was a recess of two hours, during which tea was served to all comers by the kind and attentive ladies of the congregation. There was excellent and simple provision for all, Mr. Quirk of Charlottetown, who was the caterer, upholding his good reputation in that line.
The proceedings were resumed by singing the 100th Psalm. Then the subject announced was - Reminiscences of Olden Times
Mr. James McDonald, of the Custom Charlottetown was the speaker and began with a few sentences in general and then referred to the classic hills and valleys of Strathalbyn, the place of his birth and the home of his youth until he reached man’s estate. The settlement was peopled with the same class of men and women as fought at Alma, and the sound of the pibroch relieved Lucan and conquered on the Plains of Abraham. And if proof be needed that they are of the blood and courage still, we have it in fact that when the dusky half-breeds and Indians broke out in rebellion in the Northwest, Daniel McKenzie, a native of Strathalbyn, was the first to fight and fall into the struggle. Mr. McDonald then recited from Lord Byron, Burns and etc. stanzas suitable for such a celebration, and so varied his remarks with prose and poetry, English and Gaelic, that he baffled the reporter. He related some amusing anecdotes about the pranks of boys and the foibles of schoolmasters. One day at the old school, the visitor was expected, one of the boys was sent out on the road to watch his coming. As soon as the visitor was seen approaching the boy rushed in with news when the whole school was set reading as loud as they could, making a perfect babel. The style of reading from of the Murray first book was imitated, and the amusements of the people, such as their shopping and their spinning and other frolics referred to Mr. McDonald’s remarks about the old times lit up many a countenance.
When he had concluded, at the request of the chairman, he read the following beautiful and appropriate lines: -
Respectfully dedicated to Rev. M. Campbell, Strathalbyn, PEI
By John Imrie, Toronto, Ont.
Hail to the Pioneers: Strathalbyn’s men!
On whom, and their descendents God doth smile
Who left old Scotland’s shores to plant again
Free homes and hearts on Lone Prince Edward Isle
They brav’d the dangers of the mighty deep
For months they sailed the Atlantic’s misty way
But well they knew their God, His watch would keep
Their Polar Star by night, their guide by day.
Much names are sacred to our ears
Martins, Mathesons and Stewarts -
The clans McDonald, MacKenzie and McLeod.
Whose years of faithful service future success plans!
All honor to those noble pioneers!
Whose sons and daughters are now gather’d here
To give three hearty loyal British cheers
For names they hold in memory ever dear
Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!
Be ours to emulate our father’s name
And build the superstructure still more fair
Prince Edward Isle not unknown to fame
Her sons their country’s honor duly share
God bless the church our fathers loved so well
And shed their blood to keep intact and pure
Be it a Bethel, where our children dwell
In freedom, love and harmony secure.
Excelsior! Our watchword ever be!
In God we trust! And crave his blessed smile
Thus all our sons be ever brave and free!
God bless Strathalbyn and Prince Edward Isle!
The Religious Progress During the Last Fifty Years
This subject was spoken to by the Rev. A.B. McLeod, a native of Strathalbyn, now pastor of the Coldstream congregation, Nova Scotia. He said many thought there had been little religious progress during the past thirty years. But when the facts were examined a great improvement could be seen. In regard to the use of strong drink alone there was a vast change for the better. There was also a marked improvement in church buildings; instead of the barn-like place of half a century ago, this settlement had now two fine churches, the one close by the costing $3,500. Now they had service every Sabbath, where formerly it was only about once a month. Fifty years ago they had no Sabbath schools, now they have five. Then they could pay only a few hundred dollars for a portion of a minister’s time; now they raise $1400 for religious purposes, the contribution to the ? of the church last year being 81. Now they has 139 communicants,? of whom have received since the present pastor was in settled five years ago. All these facts showed progress for which we should be thankful to the Great Head of the Church.
Progress of Education During the Last Fifty Years
In the absence of Mr. D.J. McLeod, Superintendent of Education, Hon. ? Laird briefly dealt with this subject. He referred to Mr. McLeod’s unavoidable absence owing to department work, and said it was a credit to the settlement that a native thereof fill the high and responsible position of Superintendent of Education, the duties of which he performed satisfactorily. The fact as instanced by Mr. A.B. McKenzie, that there were ten schools within the area of the settlement when there was only one fifty years ago showed the progress that had been. Each one of the ten, too, was a much better school. The population of the Island had only doubled in fifty years, but our schools had increased from about 100 to 450 and our teachers to 533. Fifty years ago there was no ? education- the Government only paying $13 to each teacher. The whole government expenditure for education in 1843 was about $3,000; this year will be about $122,000 or twenty-four times as much. The number of pupils enrolled in school fifty years ago was about 4,000; last year it was 22, 221. The proportion of children in school in 1845 was about 1 in 12; now it was 1 in 4.9 of the population. He congratulated Strathalbyn on its Jubilee and hoped that the young people present who will live to see the centenary of the congregation, may have as glorious a story of progress to tell as we had heard today.
Our Advantage as Compared with Crofter Population of Scotland
Rev. D. Sutherland gave an eloquent speech on the disadvantages under which the crofters in Scotland labor. They were virtually serfs of the landlords. He referred to a well-known case where fifteen families were ejected from their holdings to make room for deer forests, and these families had to take refuge in a churchyard. He congratulated the farmers in Strathalbyn for being so much better circumstanced than the crofters in Scotland, though he was glad to hear that most of the pioneers to this settlement had not belonged to that class, yet they had doubtless experienced the evils of landlordism in Scotland.
P.E. Island and Western States Compared
Rev. D.B. McLeod, of Orwell, though not a native of this settlement was glad to be here today. He had spent about fifteen years of his life in the Western States. Many left this Province to go to the West. The only advantage of the Western States over this Island was a richer soil. The disadvantages of Nebraska were many. In 1874 they had grasshoppers from the Rocky Mountains which ate up every green thing. Then there were blizzards in the winter, hot winds in the summer and cyclones at various times. He related how people in building houses there dug a hole off from the cellar and bricked it up, into which they could escape when they saw the cyclone coming, which would probably sweep the house from its foundations. He advised Islanders to stay at home, for though there was sometimes a loss in one crop, there was never a failure in the whole.
In the church at 7:30 o’clock, Rev. Alexander Sutherland preached an appropriate and powerful sermon from Jer. 24-7. He pointed out that in a preceding verse, the Jews first carried away to Babylon, were sent from Jerusalem "into the land of the Chaldeans for their good." In like manner the pioneers of this congregation had been sent to this land for their good. God had sent prophets with the first captives to Chaldea by whom they taught in worship of the true God. God had also given pastors to the people here and amid outward prosperity they had enjoyed means of grace. In a most solemn and earnest manner he impressed upon his hearers the words of his text, "And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the Lord; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, for they shall return unto my their whole heart."