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Siol na Fear Fearail: The Scots in Canada. Dr. Edward Brash Scottish Society Meeting January 7, 2009. The First Scots in Canada. In 1621, Sir William Alexander was granted a charter for Nova Scotia, and established settlements on Cape Breton and on the Bay of Fundy

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siol na fear fearail the scots in canada

Siol na Fear Fearail: The Scots in Canada

Dr. Edward Brash

Scottish Society Meeting

January 7, 2009

the first scots in canada
The First Scots in Canada
  • In 1621, Sir William Alexander was granted a charter for Nova Scotia, and established settlements on Cape Breton and on the Bay of Fundy
  • The settlements did not flourish, and were surrendered to France in 1632
the hudson s bay company
The Hudson’s Bay Company
  • Beginning in about 1720, a small flow of men from Orkney began; they were recruited by the HBC for service in Western Canada
the highland regiments
The Highland Regiments
  • Defeated the French in the Seven Years War (1756-1763)
  • Led by Simon Fraser of Lovat at Louisbourg and Quebec (Plains of Abraham)
  • After the war, each soldier was given a land grant in Quebec, and together with other Scottish immigrants dominated commercial life and the fur trade.
1770 1815
  • About 15,000 Highland Scots came to Canada, mainly to PEI, Nova Scotia, and Upper Canada (Southern Ontario).
  • Throughout the 19th Century, Gaelic was the third most popular European language spoken in Canada!!!
  • One of the first ships was The Hector, that brought 178 settlers to Pictou, NS …
the hector
The Hector
  • The ship was owned by a merchant in Greenock, Scotland. Together with a Dr Witherspoon, Pagan bought three shares of land in Pictou. They hired a John Ross to act as their recruiting agent for settlers. The offer to the settlers was free passage, free provisions for a year, and a farm.
  • The Hector recruited settlers first at Greenock, then Lochbroom (Rossshire). Most got on at Lochbroom; only 3 familes and 5 single men took up the offer at Greenock.
  • The unnamed piper in the passenger list came on board at the last minute.
the hector7
The Hector
  • The voyage lasted 11 weeks. In many places the wood in the Hector had gone rotten. A gale off the coast of Newfoundland drove them backwards; it took them 14 days to regain the progress they had made. Dysentry and smallpox took 18 of the children. 
  • Upon arrival, there was no cleared land waiting for them, no shelter and the promised provisions did not materialize. Winter was approaching, and there was no time to plant crops that year. As the lands promised to them were three miles into the forest, so that they wouldn't even be able to fish the harbour, the settlers refused to settle those lands.
  • When the provisions did arrive, the company therefore refused to give them any provisions. They then seized the provisions.
post 1815 emmigration
Post-1815 Emmigration
  • Following the War of Southern Agression (1812-1814), the British Government recognized the need to defend the Canadian border through increased settlement.
  • From 1815-1870, some 170,000 Scots emmigrated to Canada, most settling in Ontario.
the scotch line
“The Scotch Line”
  • In 1815, my ancestors settled in Eastern Ontario, founding the town of Perth, in the Country of Lanark.
  • My 7th great-grandfather, John Brash, from Glasgow, together with his wife, Catrìona NicGhilleEathain (Catherine MacLean) from the Isle of Coll, cleared the trees on their land, which returned as lumber to Scotland.
  • The routine became familiar - arrive in late spring, clear the trees, and plant potatoes and some oats - enough to last the winter. Then, the following year, remove the stumps and plant more grain for sale at market, and to raise cattle and other livestock.
the scotch line10
“The Scotch Line”
  • Over the years, the railway that ran from Brockville, Ontario on the north shore of the St. Lawrence, up to Ottawa, became known as “The Scotch Line”, after the names of the towns that it passed through …
  • Glengarry, Perth, Lanark, Glendale, Glen Norman, Glen Robertson, Elgin, Braeside, Glenburnie, Inverary, MacArthur’s Mills, McDonald’s Corner, Tweed, St. Andrew’s, Westport

Caledonia … Kincardine … Renfrew … Drummond

post conferation 1867
Post Conferation (1867)
  • Active in politics
    • James Glenie and John Neilsen led the criticism of the elitist political structures
    • John A. MacDonald and Alexander MacKenzie were the elitist polticians, and the first two prime ministers of Canada!
  • Dominated in business
    • Fur, timber, banking, and railway management
    • In 1880, nearly 50% of Canada’s industrial leaders had recent Scottish origins (15% of population)
immigration patterns
Immigration Patterns
  • Some historians account for the success of Scots immigrating to Canada in part due to the relative constancy of the immigration rate
    • 1815-1840: 85,000
    • 1841-1870: 85,000
    • 1871-1899: 80,000
    • 1900-1914: 200,000
    • 1919-1930: 200,000
    • 1946-1960: 147,000
influence on social and moral philosophy
Influence on Social and Moral Philosophy
  • Canada has been, in many ways, always more Scottish than English
    • Sabbath Observance
    • Temperance Movement
    • Scottish Philosphers heavily influenced Canadian Philosophy teaching
gaelic music
Gaelic Music!
  • The music of Canada is rich and diverse, but has always been strongly influenced by the Scots in Canada.
  • The first known Gaelic song composed in North America is “A’ Choille Ghruamach”, written by the Bard MacLean, who came to NS in the late 1700’s.

Gu bheil mi 'm ònrachd 's a' choille ghruamach I am alone in the gloomy wood

Mo smaointinn luaineach, cha tog mi fonn My mind is restless, I cannot raise a tune

Fhuair mi 'n t-àite seo 'n aghaidh nàduir I found this place unnatural

Gu'n thrèig gach tàlanta 'bha nam cheann And my mind's every talent has deserted me

Cha dèan mi òran a chur air dòigh ann It cannot create a song for me

Nuair nì mi tòiseachadh bidh mi trom When I begin one, I am filled with sorrow

Chaill mi Ghàidhlig seach mar a b’àbhaist dhomh My Gaelic is nothing compared to what itwas

Nuair a bha mi 's an dùthaich thall When I was in yonder country

bagpipe music
Bagpipe Music!
  • Of course, the Scots brought their instruments with them!
  • One particular bagpipe musician and builder was praised in song:

‘S mor an onair do na Gaidheal It’s a great honour for the Gaels

A tha tamh an Albainn Nuadh Who are living in Nova Scotia

Donnchadh Taillear ‘bhith ‘s an tir seo That Duncan Taylor should be with them in this country

Cumail ciuil ar sinnsreadh buan. Keeping the music of our ancestors alive

‘S tric a dh’uraich fuaim nam pioban Often the skirl of the pipes has aroused the

Caileachd nam fear rioghail suas- the spirits of those kingly men-

Clann an Gaidheal o n fraochan The Highlanders from the heathery heath

Fir mo ghoail-sa, laoich nam buadh The people I love, the excellent heroes

prominent scottish canadians
Prominent Scottish Canadians
  • Tommy Douglas - Socialist Premier of Saskatchewan, father of socialized medicine in Canada, grandfather of Keifer Sutherland
  • William Lyon MacKenzie - journalist and rebel leader (1858)
  • William Lyon MacKenzie King - longest serving Prime Minister
  • James Naismith - inventor of basketball
  • And perhaps most importantly …
prominent scottish canadians17
Prominent Scottish Canadians
  • “Rowdy” Roddy Piper - Professional Wrestler
scottish canadian military history
Scottish Canadian Military History
  • The military in Canada has a long been influenced by the Scots …
  • In addition to the Highland regiments already mentioned, Canadian Scottish units have made important contributions to almost every major conflict worldwide in the last 200 years …
scottish canadian military history19
Scottish Canadian Military History
  • Ypres - WWI
    • The Royal Highlanders of Canada, and the 48th Highlanders of Canada
    • In WWI, the 11,954 soldiers of the Black Watch lost 2163 men, and another 6014 were wounded. They received 821 decorations and 4 Victoria crosses.
  • Dieppe - WWII
    • 5000 men of the Essex Scottish, the Cameron Highlanders, and the Black watch participated in the battle - only 2210 returned.
scottish canadian military history20
Scottish Canadian Military History
  • The exemplary service of the Canadian Scottish regiments continues to this day, with the deployment of the 1st and 2nd Royal Canadian Regiments in Aghanistan
  • Since 1991, their have been 96 Canadian casualties …
  • - Nova Scotia Heritage
  • Charles W. Dunn, Highland Settler: A Portrait of the Scottish Gael in Nova Scotia
  • - The Canadian Encyclopaedia
  • Jenni Calder, Scots in Canada
  • John Kenneth Galbraith, The Scotch: A wryly affectionate account of growing up in Canada
  • Lynnette Fitch Brash, Nancy Montgomery, and Marcey Hunter, for providing me with the books used for this research.
  • Ian McCulluch, for information and data related to Canadian military history.
  • MacKenzie Landry, formerly of the 2nd Royal Canadian Regiment, for his photographs, advice, and friendship.