History of St. Margaret’s Parish – Bear River – P. E. Island

Recommend Me! Suggest This Page To A Friend!

Transcribed by Fran MacDonald MacPhail - mcphee98@yahoo.com

History of St. Margaret’s Parish – Bear River – P. E. Island Up to 1982

(Written in 1982)

Compiled by Mr. Roddie J. MacDonald, Charlottetown, a native of St. Margaret’s, Roddie was Roddie "Josie Joe" MacDonald, the son of Joseph "Josie Joe" Donald Hector MacDonald. Roddie passed away about 20 years ago. In life, he was said to be a great scholar and a quiet and observant man. Roddie always loved to read and of course write.

St. Margaret, Patron Saint of the Parish was Queen of Scotland around the same time as William the Conquerer was King of England 1066 – 1087 – the very middle of the middle ages.

Among her other many virtues, she had great charity and hospitality and Scotland was blessed spiritually and temporally during her reign and ever since due to her good reign.

Her daughter Queen Matilda married King Henry I of England, son or grandson of William the Conquerer. Our present Queen, Elizabeth II, it seems near almost certain, is a direct descendant of St. Margaret and of William the Conquerer.

The kingdoms of England and Scotland were joined in 1603 as "Kingdom of Great Britain" and James VI of Scotland became James I of Great Britain.

St. Dunstan, Patron Saint of Diocese of Charlottetown, PEI and also of the Basilica Cathedral Parish, Charlottetown was Archbishop of Canterbury, England at the time that the "Seven independent kingdoms of England Heptarchy" joined as Kingdom of England and St. Dunstan crowned the 1st King of "All England" around 975.

The first church was built at St. Margaret’s around 1803 – but it was made an official parish or mission sometime between 1772 and 1780.

It could be the third oldest English speaking parish in the diocese or at least the 4th or 5th oldest English speaking parish in the diocese.

Gaelic was spoken a lot among the early parishioners of St. Margaret’s Parish, quite frequently and commonly from 1772 until around 1850 and 1860 and even now can be spoken and understood by many of the natives and parishioners at home and abroad.

But from the very beginning of the parish everyone could all speak and understand and read and write English.

The first church was built at St. Margaret’s in 1803 close to the North Shore, about ¾ mile due north of where the present church is situated where the old cemetery is situated. This old cemetery was one of the improved cemeteries, improved and renovated, a few years ago, by the government – Heritage Foundation and historic sites. This old cemetery was blessed and first used in 1792, and being enlarged from time to time was in use until the church was moved south from the shore in 1898. Opposite the entrance gate of the old cemetery, there was and perhaps still is a graceful white cross, commemorating a mission at St. Margaret’s given by the Redemptorist Fathers in 1884. Some of those more recently buried in the old cemetery were moved to the present cemetery in 1898 when the church was moved south from the shore. The cross donated by the Redemptorist Fathers in 1884 may also have been removed to the present cemetery in 1898.

St. Margaret’s Hall which is an old building was also improved and renovated by a government loan a few years ago. The hall served very satisfactorily as the new church for 10 to 15 years after the old church and all the other parish buildings except the hall were destroyed by fire on June 10th, 1921. Part of the hall was used as a cheese factory some 60 to 85 years ago. The hall was built to serve the social and business needs of the parish and vicinity and was and still is used for concerts, entertainments and social and business meetings and gatherings. It has served all these purposes and still serves them successfully and well. For the last few years the Poll is held in the hall on election days.

The oldest part of St. Margaret’s Parish, - the first part to be settled was the eastern part of what is now Monticello District, between Cow River and Naufrage River around Naufrage Harbour. When the first Scottish settlers arrived in 1771 and 1772 – there was evidence of an earlier French settlement and their cemetery was there.

Naufrage Point which is in English Ship Wreck Point was so called in memory of the ship wreck of French ships and sailors at an earlier date. The survivors of the ship wreck settled around Naufrage and are part of that early French settlement. They went to Mass to Rollo Bay about 4 or 5 miles further south Rollo Bay church was then 2 or 3 miles west of where the present St. Alexis church is situated (in Rollo Bay West and Fortune) at the south end of Bear River Line Road on the south side road. There is also an Indian cemetery near Naufrage light house.

So the area of the present St. Margaret's Parish has been settled off and on for many years.  The original settlers of St. Margaret's Parish were 5 or 6 families or individuals of those who landed at Scotchfort on the Alexandria [Alexander] from the highlands and islands of Scotland in 1772.  These 5 or 6 families or individuals went straight east to Naufrage, almost immediately after landing at Scotchfort.  It looks or seems as if there were 2 or 3 families or individuals who came out to the Island a year or two before the Alexandria [Alexander] to look over and check the place.  One of these, "Donald MacDonald" came to Naufrage in 1771.  The 5 heads of the families or the individuals who came to Naufrage in 1772 are: John MacCormack, Donald MacCormack, Roderick MacDonald, Roderick MacIntosh and Angus MacIntyre.  Between 1772 and 1802 six more families or individuals arrived from Scotchfort.  They settled for four or five years at Savage Harbour and then moved east again and settled at Big Pond at the east end of St. Margaret's Parish.  Savage Harbour is about twenty miles west of Naufrage and is now in St. Andrew's Parish.  The names of the heads of families or individuals who came to Big Pond in 1778 are: Hector MacDonald, John MacPhee, Donald MacPhee, Neil MacPhee and Archibald MacPhee.  Allan MacDonald came to Big Pond in 1802. Between 1772 and 1802, besides those twelve or so heads of families or individuals from the east and from the south part of P.E.I. came to what is now St. Margaret’s Parish and in 1803 there were around 40 families and they built their first church, at the shore about 3/4 mile due north from where the present church is situated. This first church was a beautiful little log building 20 ft. x 30 ft. with a 10 ft. post. All the labour and materials were given generously and willingly by the parishioners who were so glad and grateful to get their own first church.

This has been the rule, without any exception during the 211 years of St. Margaret’s Parish history and is still the rule today. The parishioners always cooperate willingly and generously with their time, labour, material, and spiritual and financial assistance for the spiritual and temporal welfare of the parish and of the parishioners.

Between 1771 and 1803, Mass was offered by different priests including Bishop MacEachern in stations at the homes of the parishioners. Among the homes or stations where Mass was offered before 1803: Angus Campbell, East Pt., Uriali Coffin, Surveryor’s Inlet, Roderick MacIntosh, Naufrage, Roderick MacDonald, Naufrage, Roderick MacKinnon of MacAskill River, Angus MacIntyre, Cable Head, and Donald MacDonald, St. Peter’s Lake. The tables used as an altar is still at the home of Roderick MacKinnon of MacAskill River now in St. Peter’s Bay Parish. Some of the priests who held stations and offered Mass at the home for St. Margaret’s parishioners from 1771 to 1803: Fr. James MacDonald, first English speaking priest on P. E. Island – Bishop MacEachern, before and after he became a bishop – Fr. Augustine MacDonald brother of the "Laird of Glenaladale". The Laird helped many Scotch to emigrate to PEI and helped to get them started successfully on the Island when they got there. In 1797 Bishop MacEachern engaged a lay man John MacDonald as Catechist, -- he assembled all the parishioners from time to time at the home of Roderick MacDonald, Naufrage,and taught them catechism and christian doctrine or reviewed it with them and encouraged them in the practice of prayer, devotion and virtue. Although Fr. James was the first English speaking priest on the Island – all or at least some of the French priests and Bishops could speak and understand English.

Parish priests who were at St. Margaret’s 1803 – 1982:

Bishop MacEachern

1803 – 1835

Fr. John A. MacDonald

1835 – 1844

Fr. Francis J. MacDonald

1844 – 1845

Fr. Pius MacPhee

1845 – 1852

Fr. Daniel MacDonald

1852 – 1861

Fr. James Phalen

1861 – 1863

Fr. Dougald MacDonald

1863 – 1867

Fr. William Phalen

1867 – 1893

Fr. John C. MacLean

1893 – 1900

Fr. D. J. G. (Gregory) MacDonald

1900 – 1903

Fr. J. F. Johnstone

1903 – 1905

Fr. K. C. MacPherson

1905 – 1937

Fr. George MacDonald

1937 – 1956

Fr. Joseph MacLeod

1956 –

Fr. Lea Gillis


Fr. Paul Egan


Fr. Andrew MacDonald

1980 – present [1982]


It is probable that Fr. MacLellan and Fr. Gillis also served St. Margaret’s Parish for short periods in the last half of the 19th century. Fr. Pius MacPhee who was Parish Priest at St. Margaret’s 1845 – 1852 was a native of Big Pond in St. Margaret’s Parish. Some of the native priests of St. Margaret’s Parish now deceased: Fr. Stephen J. (Bornish) MacDonald, Monticello who died in 1930 and is buried at St. Margaret’s, Fr. Angus MacIntyre who was buried at St. Columba's, East Pt. His last parish, he was born in Monticello, Fr. Dolphus MacIntyre, Armadale who worked in a diocese in British Columbia and died and is buried in B.C. Fr. Dolphus MacAdam, Armadale, who also worked in Western Canada and died and is buried in Western Canada. Fr. Kenneth (Frank) MacIsaac sic. [Rev. Monsigneur James Kenneth MacIsaac] who died two or three years ago and is buried in Winnipeg, Manitoba where he worked. He was gone from Bear River North. There are probably other living and deceased native priests from St. Margaret’s Parish than those that are listed here. Living native priests include: Fr. Wendell P. H. MacIntyre, Armadale, Parish Priest at St. Michael’s Parish, Corran Ban, PEI, Fr. Floyd MacGaugh, Bear River North, Parish Priest at St. Columba's Church, East Pt., PEI, Fr. Daniel O’Hanley, Monticello, teaching in Ottawa, Ontario, Fr. Hugh John MacPhee, S. J. Hamilton, Ontario. He celebrated his Jubilee in the Jesuit Order a few years ago in 1976 in St. Margaret’s church. Fr. John Kelly – retired since last year, living at the palace, priest’s residence, St. Dunstan’s, Charlottetown.

Frances MacGaugh, Margaret MacGaugh, and Kathleen MacDonald are sisters in some of the other provinces. There are also probably other sisters, living and deceased, natives of St. Margaret’s Parish. Also, Fr. Joe MacPhee (Roddie Joe’s nephew) deceased, Armadale – who served in the USA and who died and is buried in the USA.

The present boundaries of St. Margaret’s Parish: the parish extends for about 12 miles along the north shore of P. E. Island with the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the north – the eastern boundary is Big Pond. The pond itself is the boundary between St. Columba's Parish, East Point in the east and St. Margaret’s Parish.

It extends about 12 miles along the north side to Goose River, which is the boundary between St. Peter’s Bay Parish on the west and St. Margaret’s Parish – part of Goose River School District is in St. Margaret’s Parish and is counted in with Monticello District for Parish purposes on the south, the railroad is the boundary line, with the following parishes south of the railroad: St. Mary’s Parish, Souris, St. Alexis Parish, Rollo Bay and St. Charles Parish. There are seven school districts in St. Margaret’s Parish and with the establishment of the consolidated school system within the last 15 years or 20 years St. Margaret’s Parish is in UNIT FOUR and the children and students go to school to Souris, Rollo Bay, St. Peter’s Bay, and Morell etc. according to location, grades, etc. The seven districts are integral parts and units of St. Margaret’s Parish for parish purposes. The seven districts of St. Margaret’s Parish are Big Pond – named for the ponds in the area, Black Bush or Hermanville – named Black Bush for the fine primeval stand of black spruce in the area when the first settlers arrived, named Hermanville for Herman MacDonald, one of the first settlers, who had the post office, a store and hotel or inn – before the rural route system in Canada – there was a post office in every school district – Herman MacDonald’s son or grandson was John Alfred MacDonald, first class land surveyor. Clear Springs District is named for the water springs in the area. Monticello District – Monticello is the Spanish word for big cape or high hill etc. and the district was formerly called big cape, for the high cape along the shore in parts of the district. Another possible reason for the name Monticello is that years ago, some person or group visited the area on business from Monticello, Virginia, USA and they named the district after them or their home. St. Margaret’s district is named for the parish and for St. Margaret’s.

Selkirk railway station is named for the home in Scotland of some of the early settlers. Armadale District is also named for the home in Scotland of some of the early settlers. When the rural route system was introduced in Canada 1912-914 – No. 2 post offices in Canada had the exact same name and since they had a Selkirk P. O. in Manitoba, they called the one in PEI Armadale and the school took the name of the post office. There was a Souris P. O. in Manitoba and Island P. O. in Souris East. St. Peter’s P. O. in Nova Scotia – PEI P. O. St. Peter’s Bay. Bear River north district because there were so many bears along the river and in the area, another possible reason for this name once Roderick MacDonald one of the early settlers fought with and killed a large bear with his bare hands.

The names of the seven districts in St. Margaret’s Parish are – Big Pond, Black Bush or Hermanville, Clear Springs, St. Margaret’s, Monticello, Armadale and Bear River North. These seven districts are still units in the consolidated school and has members and representatives on the school board and executive. St. Margaret’s Parish is around 12 miles long and 4 to 5 miles wide in area. At one time after the parish areas were first defined – the churches along the north side from St. Columba's, East Pt., to Stella Maris, North Rustico, were around 12 miles apart – later on, other parishes were formed between these original parishes. St. Margaret’s parish at one time extended about 5 to 6 miles west of the present western boundary and took in Goose River, MacAskill River and part of Cable Head district. The last house east in St. Peter’s Bay Parish was Annie O’Hanley and Joe O’Hanley, Cable Head.

There was a church about half-way between St. Peter’s Bay village and Morell Village called St. Pierre or St. Peter’s Church and took in part of Cable Head District and west part of the present St. Peter’s Bay church was built between 1837 – 1840.

St. Margaret’s Parish also at one time extended 4 or 5 miles further south, than the present south boundary, from the railroad, south to the site of the present St. Charles church. St. Charles was made an official parish shortly after 1882 when 25 or 30 families moved east from Rustico to the Burke Road and since then also called New Acadia. The first and present St. Charles Church was built in 1902. St. Margaret’s Parish is around 100 years older than St. Charles Parish. Fr. Kenneth C. MacPherson was parish priest at St. Margaret’s and St. Charles 1909 – 1927. In 1927, Fr. Louis Callaghan was made parish priest of St. Margaret’s parish and of St. Charles parish and at present Fr. Andrew MacDonald is parish priest of the 2 parishes. Besides the Burke Road District, St. Charles Parish was part of the Fortune Road and Selkirk Road (Armadale District) from the railroad to the St. Charles Church. The first 1803 church at St. Margaret’s was a nice little church, well finished inside and out and had a nice altar. The head carpenters employed on this first church were two brothers from Rollo Bay, Joseph and Simon Burgoyne and other carpenters contributing were two families of MacPhees from Big Pond, four families of MacPhees from Bear River, six families of MacKinnons from MacAskill River and four families from Cable Head as follows: The four families from Cable Head were John MacKinnon, John MacDonald, Angus MacIntyre and Neil MacCormack. Sometime between 1803 and 1837 when the population of St. Margaret’s Parish increased from around 40 families to over 60 families they built a larger church. Bishop MacEachern imported the frame of this new church from Nova Scotia. It was a beautiful church adorned with a spire. In 1837 when Fr. John A. MacDonald was parish priest, this church was enlarged, by the addition of two lateral wings. Fr. John A. MacDonald was a nephew of John A. MacDonald who took the first settlers to Scotchfort on the Alexandria [Alexander] in 1772. In 1857, when Fr. Daniel MacDonald was parish priest at St. Margaret’s, it was necessary to build a much larger church. The designer and architect of the 1857 church was Ronald Ban MacDonald, a descendant of the original settlers of 1772. He was a first class architect. This church built in 1856 was 75 ft. x 48 ft. It had a belfry and spire and organ and a gallery all around and could hold 700 people. The pews and wainscoting were of pine with black walnut trimming relieved by touches of crimson. The altar was white and gold, very elegant in design and finish and was designed by Mr. Hubert Perry of Charlottetown. There were beautiful stations of the cross, and they were blessed and placed in postion in 1885. There were designed and painted in the style of Frere Athanase. There were in the vestry of this church, a rich set of vestments and an old chalice and paten in solid gold. These were used on solemn occasions and were given to the parish at the erection of the first church in 1803. It is almost certain that these vestments, chalice and paton were donated to St. Margaret’s Parish by "Abbe Fr. de Calome, who was a priest in Charlottetown around 1800-1810. Fr. John A. MacDonald, parish priest at St. Margaret’s 1835 – 1844, at one time had charge of all parishes from East Point to Murray Harbour, and lived some times at Launching and at other times at St. Margaret’s. Above the altar in this 1857 church was hung an exquisitely wrought piece of tapestry portraying "The Agony of Our Lord in the Garden." The coloring was soft and delicate. The shading strong and well defined, bringing out the figures boldly. This tapestry was woven by women and girls in France in the 18th century (1700’s) and donated to Bishop MacEachern by friends in France and Bishop MacEachern donated it to St. Margaret’s Parish. Bishop MacEachern also donated to St. Margaret’s Parish four pyramid-shaped "Reliquaries" containing relics of the two saints – St. Modestus, early Roman Martyr and St. Clement I, 4th Pope, 3rd after St. Peter. The reliquaries was opened and inside was a paper with the following message: "Le vingt quatre juin 1805, J’ai avec la permission de mgr. de Canalitic – co adjuteur et vicar general de Quebec, extract une parole de reliques de St. Modeste martyr pour etre expossee a la veneration de fideles dans l’eglise de arrichat et lai scelle du sceau de seminaire de Quebec." Robert Pitre Supereur, Seminaire de Quebec.

Translated into English this message will read something like this: "June 24th 1805 – I with the permission of Fr. De Canalite, co-adjutor and Vicar General of Quebec, take and send you this parcel of relics of St. Modestus, Martyr to be exposed for veneration of faithful of the church of Arichat, N.S." Robert Pitre, Superior, Seminary of Quebec.

There was always a tradition at St. Margaret’s that Bishop MacEachern had brought an old altar with all its trimmings from Arichat, Nova Scotia.

In 1885, they built a new vestry, a building separate from the main church. The vestry was 24 ft. x 36 ft. with a 15 ft. post. It had a nice altar, confessionals, baptismal font and wardrobes.

The first parish house was built at St. Margaret’s around the same time as the second church was built between 1803 and 1837. In 1840, there was another parish house built and the third, a lovely cottage style building was built in 1878. This third was the parish house moved south with the church in 1898. This third church built in 1857 and all the other parish buildings were moved south ¾ mile in 1898. There were not too many expenses as the parishioners, once again, as usual gave all their time, labor and financial help possible. In 1801 before their own first church was finished, the people of St. Margaret’s Parish started traveling in their horse and wagons to Tracadie. They started on the afternoon of October 31st and were at St. Bonaventure’s Church, Tracadie on All Saints Day for Mass. They were closely related to the people of Tracadie at that time and still are, but not so closely. There was midnight Mass in all the churches around the world at the change of the centuries December 31st 1900 to January 1st 1901, New Year’s Day 1901. When the St. Margaret’s people were going to Mass that night, they were around half way to the church around 2 or 3 miles yet to go. There was a bright rather weird, eerie vision or light appeared to them in the sky. It continued ahead of them almost in the same route they would travel to the church and when they started to enter the church, it disappeared as quickly as it came after leading them to the church to end the Old Century and begin the New Century in Mass, like the star that led the Three Kings 1900 years ago.

On Friday, June 10, 1921, the Feast of St. Margaret’s, this beautiful church with all other beautiful parish buildings except the house was completely destroyed by fire. It was the week of the priest’s annual retreat in Charlottetown and when Fr. K. C. MacPherson got home Friday evening, the chuch and other buildings were all burnt. The only other building burned in that fire were the home and store of Mr. Francis Feehan directly west of the church across the Bear River Line Road. Since Fr. MacPherson was not yet back from the retreat, Mr. Ronald Donnelly MacDonald took the Blessed Sacrament to his home, until Fr. MacPherson got back later that evening. Mr. MacDonald’s home was the next west of the church. Most of the furnishings and furniture of the church and other buildings was burned. They saved the main altar, organ, some seats or pews and a few other articles. Fr. MacPherson and the parishioners were all very sad at the loss of their old church, and the St. Margaret’s natives and parishioners living in other places in Canada, USA and other places were even sadder. It was like losing an old friend to all at home and abroad. Those living away sent lots of help and donations home to St. Margaret’s Parish to help in building and furnishing the present church which is built on the exact site of the old church. The architecture and structure of the present church are also similar to that of the old church. St. Margaret’s Hall was saved and served very well as a church for around 10 to 15 years until the new church was ready for use. Sunday, June 12th, 1921, they had two masses in the hall and every Sunday and Holy Day from then on there were two masses on every Sunday and Holy Day to accommodate everybody. All the other masses and services were held normally and regularly – weekday masses every day without exception. No one complained in thought nor in word, and apart form the sadness in losing the old church and some slight inconveniences, people carried on successfully until the new church was ready for use.

The first two baptisms were held in the hall on Sunday, June 19th, 1921, Miss Lillian MacDonald now Mrs. Daniel MacIsaac and Miss Johanna MacInnis now Mrs. Angus Joseph MacDonald. The first funeral mass was on Monday, June 20th, 1921, for Mr. Timothy MacCormack of Armadale. 1921 was Confirmation year and the St. Margaret’s confirmation class went to be confirmed with St. Charles class at St. Charles’s church on Friday, June 17th, 1921. Fr. MacPherson was parish priest at St. Margaret’s and at St. Charles at that time, 1909 – 1927. Bishop Louis O’Leary preached two good sermons at the confirmation in St. Charles’ Church, June 17th, 1921. One sermon in English. The other in French.

The first confirmation in St. Margarets Hall was on June 25th, 1924. There were around 55 confirmed that day. The largest number to be confirmed at one time from St. Margaret’s since 1891 or 1894.

The fire which destroyed St. Margaret’s church in 1921 started around the last week in May and is thought to have started from a spark from the train back of Ashton railroad station around 9 or 10 miles south west of the church. It burned for about 2 weeks and several houses especially in the Armadale and Bear River North are were always in danger and the men kept busy going from house to house to protect the homes. It then died down for 2 or 3 days and everyone thought it was out for good and then sprang up suddenly again and before people realized and before many got to the church, it was burned too far to save. They just saved the main altar, organ, some of the pews and a few other articles.

The new present church at St. Margaret’s is a wooden structure on the exact same site as the old church that was burned and is of similar architecture and structure. Since the hall was quite satisfactory in every way as a church, it was a blessing in this necessity and the new house and other buildings could be built gradually without having to go in debt and when it was finished and consecrated in 1949 when Fr. George MacDonald was parish priest, there was little or no debt on the parish. It is a beautiful church from the interior and exterior and has a nice main altar, two side altars, statues, stations, etc. It is fully renovated according to the suggestions of Vatican Council II and English instead of Latin was first used at the funeral of Miss Bessie (Joe) MacDonald when the "Kyrie Eleison" was sung in English at her funeral mass. This was 1965 or 1966. The bell in the present church was donated by Mr. Lawrence MacDonald in memory of his wife nee Miss Deagle from Rollo Bay. Lawrence kept a store at Bear River Station and also the Bear River Post Office. There was a large crowd present for the blessing of the bell and laying of the corner stone of the new church. Fr. MacAuley, Parish Priest at St. Peter’s Bay preached an excellent sermon at the blessing of the bell.

The picture above the main altar in St. Margaret’s church was drawn and painted by A. J. MacAdam on the occasion of the ordination and first mass of Fr. John Kelly in 1936. It was donated to the church.

A communion set, chalice, paten, communion place, was donated to the church by the parishioners at home and in Boston, Mass, USA, in memory of Mrs. A. J. MacMillan nee Alva MacDonald, a native of St. Margaret’s Parish, buried in Boston. Some, if not all of the side altars, statues, stations of the cross, etc., were all donated by parishioners at home or away.

Like all the other parishes in the diocese, there are missions given at St. Margaret’s regularly, at least every 10 years. There are almost 100 percent attendance at all these missions for all the services. This is also true for all Sunday and Holy Day Masses and all special services and occasions.

A lot of the present day natives and parishioners of St. Margaret’s Parish are descended from the original settlers of 1772-1802.

Since 1802 until the present, there are always people – Scotch, English, Irish, French, Indians and of other national and ethnic origin coming to make their home in St. Margaret’s Parish and they all, always had and still have the same strong faith, charity, hospitality and trust in Divine Providence of the original settlers and of their Patron Saint, St. Margaret.

There are native and adopted parishioners from St. Margaret’s Parish and their descendants in every province and territory in Canada. In many if not every state in the U.S.A., and in other parts of the world. They get along well wherever they are and get along well with and are respected by all with whom they come in contact with, loved and liked by all. They never forget for long at a time their native or adopted parish nor the native or adopted parish of their ancestors.

It’s a great advantage to St. Margaret’s Parish to have the sea "Gulf of St. Lawrence" for it’s northern boundary and to have the railroad for its full southern boundary. No part of the parish is far from the sea nor from the railroad.

The lighthouse was built at Naufrage Harbour early in this twentieth century. The first lighthouse keeper was Frank (Joe Allen) MacKinnon, second keeper Peter Hugh MacKinnon, third keeper Daniel L. O’Hanley, fourth keeper Hugh B. MacDonald. The light in the lighthouse is now an electric light. The first keeper Frank MacKinnon was drowned as he put out the lines on the first day of the lobster season years ago.

Between November 1 and November 8, 1906, there were four vessels wrecked on the eastern north side of P.E. Island. The "Savinto" and another vessel at Priest Pond. The "Olga" at Black Bush and another vessel at Cable Head. Mr. MacLean a resident of Black Bush drew a portrait of the scene of the wreck and sometime after those seeing the portrait for the first time identified nearly all the people in the portrait.

Fishing was carried on all along the north side of St. Margaret’s Parish. Until about 40 or 50 years ago, there were boats fishing out of 12 or 15 different ports from the east to the west end of the parish and there were 3 lobster canneries at Naufrage Harbour,and 12 or 15 others along the north side from east to west. There were and still are also other kinds of fish caught, processed and cured – cod, herring, hake,mackerel, haddock, etc. More recently, Naufrage Harbour had become one of the favoured harbours in the province and there are about 100 boats every year fishing out of Naufrage. Lobsters which are now canned in Souris and some are shipped alive to other places. They also continue to fish all the other kinds of fish, cod, hake, haddock, mackerel, etc.

For several years they used to harvest help and other kinds of seaweed for the land to enrich it. For the last 30 or 35 years they harvest Irish moss commercially to sell for to manufacture into food, medicine, etc.

They always did and still do carry on farming mostly mixed farming in all sections of the parish very successfully – mixed farming in all its branches. The railroad was always so handy for the people to ship their farm products and to receive all kinds of other articles.

The post offices were also near the railroad to get the mail off the train. After the rural route mail system was established in Canada, there were two post offices in St. Margaret’s Parish, Armadale PO with two routes and Bear River PO. Part of the parish always got their mail from Souris east or Elmira Post Office – Lawrence MacDonald was Post Master for a long time at Bear River PO and the two post masters at Armadale PO were Alexis MacPhee and Mr. & Mrs. Michael R. MacIntyre. On rural route one Armadale the mail was delivered by Hugh R. MacDonald, John P. C. MacDonald and Hugh Joseph MacDonald and R.R. 2 Armadale by Daniel Allen MacInnis and by Allen Mathias MacKinnon. Some years ago, both the Bear River P.O. and the Armadale P.O. were closed or incorporated into Souris East P. O. as rural route 4 and rural route 5. All the roads in St. Magaret’s Parish are paved now. When the original settlers came to the parish in 1771 and 1772, the roads were not very good. For the first few decades after 1772, they made a couple of trips to Charlottetown each year with all their products of the farm and of the sea to sell them and buy all the other necessities of life. One of these yearly trips to Charlottetown was always made in mid winter and the sea and bays and lakes and rivers were all frozen over with thick ice and the ice was bushed with small trees and branches, to mark out the routes or roads and to make the ice last longer into late winter or early spring. Several of the people of St. Margaret’s would start out for Charlottetown with their horses and sleighs and a good part of the trip was made over the ice. They would start on the sea ice from North side of the Parish – go on the ice to Cable Head – by land from Cable Head to St. Peter’s Bay and on the Bay ice to the "Joggins" and to Savage Harbour and go by land from Savage Harbour to Hillsborough River and from there on the ice to Charlottetown. The ice was frozen thicker than it is now and lasted longer in the later winter. Before the invention and development of refrigeration – automation refrigeration the ice was cut and preserved in saw dust for use in ice boxes, fridges, dairies, cellars, etc.

Between 1830 and 1835, Bishop MacEachern got a grant from the government and it enabled him to get the Morell River and other rivers bridged and to get a carriage road built right to the east point. By then or shortly after there were several shops or stores throughout the Parish and people could go to the town of Souris or the village of St. Peter’s Bay to do business. The railroad from Charlottetown to Souris was completed in the early 1800’s and all the people of St. Margaret’s Parish were close to and could take full advantage of the railroad. Now the people of St. Margaret’s Parish can and do take advantage of all the modern inventions and developments in farming, fishing, passenger service, transportation, travel, co-ops, and credit unions, etc.

The soil in the parish is fertile and suitable for nearly all kinds of crops – potatoes, wheat, oats, barley, garden crops, hay, clover, legumes, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, cranberries, fruits, etc.

In 1773, a century before Prince Edward Island entered confederation and the next year after the original settlers landed at St. Margaret’s in 1773, the Island divided into 67 lots or townships. One lot, on the County Line between King’s County and Queen’s County was reserved for Crown Land. These other 66 were raffled or drawn by lot. The 3 country towns – Kings’, Georgetown, Queen’s, Charlottetown, and Prince, Princetown. These three town s with their royalties were not in any lot. Princetown was later replaced by Summerside and since the last 10 years or so, the three county towns and royalties were put in lots. There are now 72 lots on PEI. Summerside was always in Lot 17. Each Lot had a Post Office, school, poll, or polling station, store, etc. Each group of 3 or 4 lots had a church "Catholic" or Non-Catholic according to population, and two churches, one for each if necessary.

These groups of lots also had stores, inns or hotels, blacksmiths, tailors, carpenters, etc., almost like a village. This was the ideal, although it varied somewhat due to changes back and forth of population, etc. Now there is at least one Lot and one Poll that is still identical – Lot 42 – Monticello Poll. About half of Monticello Poll is in St. Margaret’s Parish

In 1922, the 150th anniversary of the first settlers at Scotchfort, St. Margaret’s Parish was officially represented at the celebrations by Mr. Archie Ronald MacPhee and in 1972, at the celebrations for 200th anniversary, St. Margaret’s Parish was again represented. It was in 1922, that the monument to the first settlers was laid at Scotchfort. There is also a monument erected in St. Andrew’s Cemetery, Mt. Stewart to the memory of Bishop MacEachern. This was erected around 20 years ago.

In the year 1922, celebrations, St. Charles’ Parish was represented by Mr. John Gabe MacInnis and St. Peter’s Bay Parish by Dr. Roddie MacDonald, Mr. Sutherland, Mr. Angus (Young John) MacKinnon and one other representative.

There was always an excellent choir at St. Margaret’s and the Holy Name Society, Women’s Institute, Catholic Women’s League, League of Sacred Heart always flourished in St. Margaret’s Parish.

All the suggestions of Vatican Council II are brought into effect successfully at St. Margaret’s Catholic Women’s League and Parish Council, etc.

As in all other parishes, Districts, Settlements and sections of Prince Edward Island, there were always and still are lots of good vocal and instrumental musicians in St. Margaret’s Parish and they put on concerts, plays, etc., with the parishioners furnishing all the music and parts and acts and roles in the plays, etc. – all local talent. Several violin players from St. Margaret’s Parish participated in the Island wide fiddler’s concert in 1926 and in several other musical contests, concerts, events, etc. before and since 1926.

Sometime in the 19th century, before the modern electric and gas lights and heaters and even before the invention of the Lucifer match and safety match, fire and light were obtained by the steel and tinder box, rubbing the steel together to make the spark and flame. In some summer at Naufrage the steel and tinder box were lost and the fires allowed to out all over the settlement. Several young people from Naufrage went to Cable Head to get the spark to start the fires. They had to carry flaming torches high above their heads, renewing them as they burned down. It is thought that this is the first torchlight procession on Prince Edward Island.

St. Margaret’s Parish and the natives and parishioners with all their descendants at home and abroad are all going strong spiritually, temporally, materially after 211 years, keeping up always with all the developments of the 19th and 20th centuries with the same strong faith, charity, hope, hospitality and trust in God’s Providence that they always had since the original settlers of 1771 – 1800.

God’s special blessing has always been on St. Margaret’s Parish and all the parishioners, natives and descendants since the first Scottish settlers landed in 1771 and 1772 and on the French and Indians who were there earlier and is still on them all today and in the future. This blessing follows them through life wherever they go. It follows them to the grave and beyond until they all, without exception, be together in Heaven with St. Margaret, their Patron Saint.

[Used with Permission]

Dave Hunter and The Island Register: HTML and Graphics© 2004

Last Updated: 02/11/2004 4:34:00 PM
Return to Top!
[ Return to Fenceviewers and Lists Page!] | [Return to Main Page! ]