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> A Connection To Past And Place, Scots in North America
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Posted: 12-Jun-2005, 02:19 AM
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Here is another recent article on my new Book, "1851 Exiles" and the Isle of Lewis Settlement of Huron Township, Bruce County, Canada. The story appeared as the cover feature for the Owen Sound Sun Times "Our Times" Section in the May 17, 2005 edition of the newspaper.

All the best,
Angus Macleod
WEBSITE: http://www.torquil.net

A connection to past and place

Angus Macleod?s examination of the clearance of the Isle of Lewis and settlement in southern Bruce County started as a CD and grew into a book, Don Crosby finds.

What began as a CD chronicling the clearance of Scottish crofters on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides 150 years ago has grown into a book about the survivors of the expulsion and the hardships of pioneer life in Huron Township.

1851 Exiles is Angus Macleod?s tribute to the collective memory of his forefathers who were among the 109 families that formed the Lewis Settlement around Ripley.

The CD, The Silent Ones, was released in 2001 and describes in song the injustices of mass evictions during the Highland Clearances of the mid 19th century and the deplorable conditions of travel ships that transported reluctant émigrés to Canada.

?The book is more focused on the amazing things that they did once they got here. It emphasizes the positive,? said Macleod, a musician and writer who lives on Kincardine?s North Line.

Many of the crofters who were forcibly relocated to Canada settled in Quebec?s eastern townships.

A large group who arrived in 1851 made their way to Upper Canada, where they helped build part of the Great Western Railway near Hamilton before moving north to homesteads along the heavily wooded shores of Lake Huron.

The seeds for the book were planted in Macleod?s youth during summer trips his family made on their annual pilgrimage from the Ottawa Valley to Huron Township ? trips that instilled an appreciation for the heritage that he shares as a direct descendant of one of the Gaelic pioneers of the area.

?There we would rekindle family ties and reconnect with our Hebridean heritage,? said the author, who recalls his grandfather Macleod lapsing into Gaelic songs and thinking the old man was senile or making up some strange language.

Information for the book came from family histories of the descendants of the 109 families who settled in what is now Huron ? Kinloss.

?I was surprised at how much knowledge people still have of their past,? said Macleod.

1851 Exiles draws of the diary of school teacher Aeneas McCharles in his portrayal of the daily lives of settlers.

He describes the back ? breaking work of clearing land with an axe and a hoe.

He captures what it was like for a people steeped in maritime history, with a livelihood of fishing and gathering kelp, being thrust into a land of dark forest and learning to become farmers.

?They were dumped into 19th century Upper Canada where there was nothing but forests and trees. They didn?t know anything about clearing land or how to survive in the wilderness,? Macleod said.

But they were a hardy lot. Women would walk 15 miles to Kincardine, each one carrying a two ? bushel bag of hard wood ashes on her back for sale at the potash works to buy a little salt at 10 cents a pound to eat with their potatoes.

They read their Gaelic Bibles while resting their burdens on stumps and logs along the roadside.

On one occasion three MacDonald women were being followed by a tramp as they made their way through a densely forested area.

The grandmother retrieved a pistol from her pocket demanding that the vagabond leave, which he did with great speed. He was unaware that the gun wasn?t loaded.

Although the settlers were deeply religious, ?like most Gaels they also possessed a pagan and mystical side and were superstitious to the extreme,? Macleod relates.

He describes the ritualistic activities of a woman known simply as the Lewis witch who also appears in a number of local historical publications and the folklore of several Huron Township families.

In one case she intervened to help a childless couple. Within a year from the night of a clandestine fertility rite that she performed the wife bore twins and went on to have a large family.

Religion and rivalry figured large in the people of the Lewis Settlement, where two Presbyterian churches thrived ? The Huron Presbyterian Church based with its repressive Calvinist values and the more progressive Knox Presbyterian Church.

The Lewis settlement?s first church built on Concession 6, is long gone, with only part of an old burial ground hidden in a remote bush where Macleod gleaned information about the early settlers and drew inspiration for the CD and the book.

In 1975 much of the cemetery was lost due to erosion of the bank of a nearby river. Headstones and coffins were carried away including those of the author?s great great grandparents, Murdo and Annie Macleod.

At least half of the grave markers of the 63 families represented in the first Lewis cemetery are missing and many of the original headstones are completely illegible.

1851 Exiles contains family names of the Lewis Settlement, the concession where they lived and the names of the villages they came from in Scotland. It also includes a list of those buried in the old Lewis cemetery.

Information about the book is available at Macleod?s website, http://www.torquil.net or by calling (519) 396-5368.


1851 Exiles

"1851 Exiles" is available from Angus Macleod?s website located at http://www.torquil.net where there is secure online credit card sales (all major credit cards accepted) or by sending a cheque or money order to

Torquil Productions
P.O. Box 303
Kincardine, Ontario
N2Z 2Y8
Webpage: http://www.torquil.net
Telephone: (519) 396-5368

"1851 Exiles" is $29.99 including taxes, shipping and handling. Cheques and money orders payable to Torquil Productions.


Silent Ones Sale

Angus Macleod?s critically acclaimed CD, The Silent Ones, A Legacy of the Highland Clearances is now available at a special reduced pricing. For a limited time only, The Silent Ones can be purchased at a sale price of $12.95 (US). See website for details. The Silent Ones tells the story in song of Huron Township?s Lewis Settlers. The CD includes a 20 page booklet with a complete history of the Isle of Lewis Clearances.

"The music of The Silent Ones is absolutely stunning, both in performance and content, more so, because it comes from deep within the soul of Angus Macleod. Perhaps all Celtic music flows from the heart, but very little of it has the heartfelt quality of The Silent Ones."

Frank A. Mills Celtic Heritage Magazine Halifax, Nova Scotia

"one of the greatest works from or about Scotland in many years"

Dave MacLean ScotRadio

Torquil Productions
Official Website of Angus Macleod
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