Published in Chicago " THE HIGHLANDER "
could be of interest rto members
From "THE HIGHLANDER" published in Chicago. The Perth County Pioneers
source: Archie McKerracher
John Campbell, second Marquis of Breadalbane, was a man of
austere countenance and commanding presence. He succeeded to
the Marquisate in 1834, aged 38, and was inordinately proud of
his ancestry and his exalted rank. Amongst his many other titles
he was also fifth Earl of Breadalbane and Holland; Lord
Glenorchy, Benderloch, Ormelie and Wick; Viscount Tay and
Pentland; Baronet of Glenorchy and Nova Scotia; and 15th laird
of Glenorchy. His Gaelic patrynornic was Mhic Chailean mhic
Dhonnachaidh and he was second only to the Duke of Argyll as
Chief of all the Campbells. His ancestors had put together an
estate of almost half a million acres in Perthshire and Argyll,
by fair means and foul, and in 1834 the second Marquis could
ride fifty miles north and south, and a hundred miles east to
west, without leaving his land.
But by 1834 the Breadalbane estates had become greatly
overpopulated. There were 3500 people living on the north and
south shores of Loch Tay in Perthshire who had between them 2000
head of cattle, 600 horses, 500 unbroken horses, 6000 sheep and
400 goats. The poor soil could not support so many and there was
The first Marquis of Breadalbane had recruited 1600 men from
his estates into a Fencible Regiment for the Napoleonic Wars.
When the men returned home he divided farms into smaller units
to give the veterans land, whether or not they were due to inherit
as eldest sons. This well-meaning deed caused even worse poverty as
the plots became uneconomic in size.
His son, the second Marquis, listened to the fashionable
liberals of the day who said that poverty stricken Highlanders
should be removed from their miserable existence, and settled
elsewhere. The younger sons of Highlanders had always had to
leave home to seek their fortune elsewhere because the land
could not support them. The terrible mistake of the new policy
was to remove an entire stock of people and replace them with
sheep, which were more profitable.
On the advice of his factor the second Marquis evicted fourteen
families from Rhynachuilg, twelve from Edramuckie, thirteen from
Kiltyrie, nine from Cloichran, and nineteen from the farm of
Acharn, all places lying at the west end of Loch Tay. The farm
walls were levelled and the fields between turned into grazing
for blackface sheep imported from the Borders.
Next to go was the entire population of Glenquaich, a lovely heather
clad glen running inland from Loch Tay to the hamlet of Amulree, and
where over 500 people lived. The evictions were carried out before
the houses were set alight. The people decided to emigrate to Canada,
and in particular to an untamed area of Ontario owned by the Canada
Land Company. Eight or nine families had arrived here voluntarily in
the summer of 1832 after a voyage lasting three months. Amongst
these was John Crerar from Amulree who was older than the
average immigrant. He was a tall, well built man who had been
factor on the Shian estate in Glenquaich, and also a whisky
smuggler, running distilled spirit from illicit stills in the
glens to the towns. The excisemen were closing in and John Crerar
emigrated to Ontario to avoid arrest. Here he found
employment constructing the Twentieth Line Road into an untamed
region of 44,000 acres known as the North Easthope Concession,
in south Ontario. This was named after Sir John Easthope, a
director of the Canada Land Company and had first been surveyed
just three years before in 1829.
The road began at Bell's Corner, named after David Bell from
Dumfries who was the first to settle here in June 1832, and was
driven in through dense forest and brush. An area was cleared
for farming and Crerar named the first settlement 'Amulree'
after his old home in Scotland. Indeed, the central part of
North Easthope is hilly and closely resembles Perthshire. In his
first winter here John Crerar lived in a log shanty, with a roof
only half covered, and with beds made from the branches of
trees. He eventually settled on Lot 21, Concession 3, Twentieth
Line Road, North Easthope along with his two sons and two
daughters. His wife had died of cholera during the journey and
many of the Perthshire Pioneers died of the disease, dying by the
roadside in the forest wilderness, and buried in lonely unmarked graves.
After the Breadalbane evictions began in 1834 more and more
families from central Perthshire began to emigrate to North
Easthope. They left with great sadness ... as Duncan MacGregor
The story of Anne Menzies is typical. She was born at Shian,
Glenquaich in 1839. Her father was a local school teacher who also
had a small croft. Out of this he had to provide the Marquis with
two cartloads of peat, so many skeins of wool, so many pounds of
butter and cheese, and 16 rent every year. Anne's family were
forced to emigrate in 1842 and sailed from Greenock on the Clyde.
The voyage was long and stormy and the ship was three times blown
back to the Irish coast. Every one on board did their own cooking
and ate their own supplies. There was much sickness and many died.
Cholera was the scourge on the emigrant ships and over 20,000 victims
of the ship-borne disease lie buried at Grosse Island, Quebec.
The Merrilees famly eventually arrived at Quebec and then
travelled overland to Hamilton where they were quarantined for
measles. Then they moved on by ox drawn wagon. There was no room
for Anne so they tried tying her to a box on the wagon but in
the end she walked beside her mother all the way from Hamilton
to North Easthope. Anne's uncle was already settled on Lot 22,
Concession 7, and he made them welcome before they moved on to
their own shanty on Lot 37. This had no windows or doors, and
for chairs the family used three-legged stools made from
saplings and for tables they used packing cases. Cooking was
done over an open fire.
Anne's father, assisted by his brother and neighbours, cleared a
hundred acres of brushland. A passing American showed them how
to cut down trees for such skills were unknown in Scotland. In
1934, when Anne Merrilees was ninety five, she recalled. 'To
us, North Easthope was a land of milk and honey, but we had to
work for it. In the spring we gathered the sap from the trees
and made every year about 300 pounds of maple sugar and 20 gallons
of molasses. With this we preserved the wild berries which grew
in abundance. With yarn spun from the wool of our own sheep both
men and women knitted, for we had to make everything we wore,
wearing wool in summer and winter. The year I married (1865)
I spun 60 pounds of wool and made two pairs of blankets and a
fancy web plaid. I have seen Stratford grow from a few shanties
to a beautiful city and an important railroad centre. In
the early days, many a time I walked six miles to Stratford
market, carrying my basket of eggs and pail of butter, and
paying one penny for the privilege of selling it there. I saw
the Prince of Wales (Edward VII) shortly after the railway was
built as far as Stratford. What a pokey little station it was
then! We stood on logs to see him'.
Another of the pioneers was Peter MacTavish and his wife Helen
MacLaren who came from Achnafauld, Glenquaich, in 1845, along
with their four sons and four daughters. They settled on Lots 24
and 25, Concession 8, which was a farm of 200 acres. The
MacTavishes were strict Presbyterians and so the children had to
go to church every Sunday and then do their Scriptures at home.
Whistling or whittling wood on the Sabbath was forbidden and the
children had to hide down the lane if they wanted to indulge in
such pastimes. The children had to walk six miles to school and
six back, as well as doing chores before and after. The school
was a log hut some thirty feet square and had a hundred pupils.
The pupils spoke only Gaelic in their homes and had trouble
mastering English grammar. Peter MacTavish's grandson John
returned to Glenquaich, Perthshire, Scotland, in 1865 and saw
his grandfather's old farm at Achnafauld. The buildings were
still intact but unroofed and falling into ruin and the six acre
farm swarmed with sheep. John MacTavish related later he was never
so glad in his life to get back to Canada.
The new way of life was alien to many of the immigrants from
Perthshire. The winters were much harsher and longer than in
Scotland and the crops were different. They did try and keep up
many of the Highland customs, particularly that of calling
uninvited on their neighbours. Mary MacNaughton from Glenquaich
had been a great socialiser in the glen and continued the habit
in her new homeland. The only difference being that instead of a
few hundred yards between the crofts, there was now a great
distance between the homesteads. But Mary thought nothing of
walking miles through the forest to visit friends. On one
occasion she called at a distant shanty and chased away what she
thought was a large shaggy dog. It was only later she discovered
it was a black bear, the first she had ever seen. Another time she
was helping her husband cut down a tree beside their hut. The
following day they started on the branches, and when they came
to the last branch, out sprang a wolf, which had been hiding under
it all the time. Inexperience of living in a wilderness caused many
to lose their lives, and several were never seen again after going
into the forest to hunt game.
But the immigrants buckled down to the task of carving a new
homeland out of the wilderness. The population of North Easthope
had reached 2000 by 1850 and had 10,605 acres under cultivation.
About this time the enormity of the evictions from the
Breadalbane estates had dawned on the people of Scotland. The
Marquis was condemned in the press and tried in vain to defend
his policy. But the figures spoke for themselves. Out of 3500
people on Loch Tayside only 100 were left. In Glenorchy in
Argyll only 6 people were left out of a population of 500. The
Marquis endeavoured to raise a Fencible regiment from the estate
in 1850 but where his father raised 1500 willing men his son
could only find 100, and none of them volunteered. 'Put your red
Coats on the back of the sheep that have replaced the men!'.
cried one old man as the Marquis tried to recruit.
It was one of the evicted tenants who wrote the famous poem of
which the first verse is quoted at the beginning of this
article. The remaining verses read .............[snip]
These were prophetic words. The Second Marquis of Breadalbane
died a lonely unmourned death in Switzerland in 1862. On the
death of the third Marquis in 1922 the vast estate began to be
broken up and by 1948 not a single inch remained out the half a
million acres built up over 500 years by the family of Campbell
of Breadalbane. 'The castle ha' sae big and braw' - Taymouth
Castle - lies empty. Only the ruins of the deserted crofts
remain in the empty glens.
In 1936 a memorial cairn was erected beside No.7 Highway at the
village of Shakespeare, Perth County, Ontario, (originally
Bell's Corner) to commemorate the pioneers from Perthshire,
Scotland. It was unveiled by Lord Tweedsmuir (the novelist John
Buchan), Governor General of Canada, who said in his speech,
'100 years ago this was a land of mostly swamp and forest. Today
it is a smiling country-side. It has blossomed like a rose. I
have a strong personal feeling because I was born in Perthshire
in the homeland and many of your great grandparents came to this
land from Perthshire. Perth is a great county and in one way it
is closely linked with this part of Ontario. Perthshire in
Scotland was the meeting place of the Highland and Lowland
people. Canada has followed that example. May this cairn be
always here as a memorial to that of which you people are so proud'.
The plaque on the cairn is inscribed, '1832-1936. In Memoriam -
The Pioneers of North Easthope'. Then follows a list of nearly
200 names. Mary MacLennan of Stratford, Ontario, published a
book in 1936 containing reminiscences of the early pioneers.
This includes photographs of the graves of the pioneers in St.
Andrews churchyard, North Easthope, with the caption, 'Where
sleep the brave pioneers to North Easthope, Perth County,
Ontario, Canada, who came from Perthshire, Scotland, from
1832-33 and 1841-45, principally from Glenquaich,
Annatfauld, Shian, Aberfeldy, Amulree, Kenmore. 300 in all who
came to North Easthope'. The story of the Perthshire pioneers is
also told in the novel 'Sheila', written in the 1930's by the
famous Scottish author Annie S. Swan.
By this time most of the original Scottish settlers had moved on
to other parts, principally Manitoba, Toronto and Chicago, and
North Easthope became mainly a German settlement. But as the
ballad says, 'God's mills are slow but sure', for the
descendants of the evicted Perthshire crofters have prospered
greatly in their new homeland in Canada and the United States
while 'Breadalbane's land-the fair, the grand'- is no longer
aye the Marquis's!
Till we meet again - Regards - edmondsallan