MacMillan Forefathers and Connection With Beaver Cove
Our connection with Beaver Cove goes back to 1836 when our forefathers arrived from Scotland and the Island of Barra, a small island of 60 Sq. KM with only 1,200 inhabitants in 2011. The Island is the closest European land to Nova Scotia.
The island is very remote and the weather is whatever the North Atlantic offers up. It has been inhabited for thousands of years. Today there is only one other business enterprise other than fishing and that is a small company that creates handmade caramel candy.
For many hundreds of years our forefathers worked as sharecroppers. They lived in dark, cold and damp stone houses and tended the land, sharing their skimpy earnings with the Laird who owned the entire island. It was an extremely poor existence.
A tough way to make a living.
One of the crops they gathered was seaweed. The not only gathered it but they would burn it and once it dried they would gather up the ash and put it in bags for shipment. The ash was very light and as the water supply was poor they would stay dirty for weeks at a time.
As the market prices for the ash fell the Lairds soon realized that there was more money in raising sheep so they forced the people out of their hovels and put them on ships for America.
The people also decided to go voluntarily since they were not making ends meet.
The new land offered a much better chance to make a living and they were also offered free land once they arrived.
What more could they ask for?
Iain Mac Eoghainn (John MacMillan) was born in Scotland around the year 1792. He was married, in Barra, to Seonaid MacKinnon, a sister of Iain Mac Eoghainn Ruaidh, the famous
Barra strong-man. All of their children were born in Barra and they emigrated in either 1832 or 1836. They came to
Cape Breton and settled in Rear Beaver Cove. Their 8 children were Caitriona, Eoghann, Willeam, Anna, Calum, Iain, Ruairidh, and Uilleam.
At this time Gaelic was the language spoken, thus the names are Gaelic. It was only when people had to purchase goods in the populated areas that they ran into those who spoke English. Then they had to learn the language.
The first connection we have with Beaver Cove was when Caitriona married Alasdair Nicholson in Barra and settled in the Rear Beaver Cove around 1836. They had 8 children.
A son, Eachann, married Bridget Johnston of Beaver Cove. The had 6 children but 4 died of diptheria at an early age. Rod Francis never married. Roddie, as we knew him was a blacksmith, carpenter, fiddler, singer and a treasure trove of Gaelic songs and a welcome visitor to every ceilidh.
He owned the property in Beaver Cove.
For some years he had a living arrangement with George and Vonnie MacLean. After they moved he sold the property to Joe T. MacMillan and Margaret and he lived there until stricken with a severe stroke. He then lived in an extended care facility in North Sydney until his passing.
Roddies sister, Katie, was married to Mick (MB) MacLean who owned the property next door.
The second connection we have to Beaver Cove is with the 6th. child whose name is Iain.
Iain was born in Creagantillidh, Barra, in the year 1822. He married Sarah MacNeil of Boisdale and settled in Rear Beaver Cove. They had 6 children. Michael, Annie, Rory (Rod) , John, Jonathan and Jane.
Michael married Ann Crowdis and settled in North Sydney. They had a son John C. who owned and ran a very successful lumber business John C. MacMillan Lumber Lt. His daughter Lynn married Rube Chislett and settled in North Sydney.
Annie and John never married. They eventually settled in Beaver Cove next to Rod Nicholson.
After their deaths, Joe T. and Margaret owned the farm but when they needed money for the purchase of their new home on George St. New Waterford, they sold the farm to Adam and Hilda Boyd and Hector MacMillan (no relation) of Sydney.
Rory (Rod) married Agnes MacIntyre of Boisdale and settled in Sydney at 495 Charlotte St. They had 7 children. Sadie, Lizzie Pauline, Mary (May), Mike, Joe T., Teresa and John.
Sadie married William Lynch of Sydney and they had 6 children. Jim, Donald, Mary, Joseph, Terrence and Vaughan.
Jim married Lexie MacDougall of Glace Bay and had 9 children. William T. Glennon, Mary Belle, Sadie, Jane, Elizabeth, Joseph, Stephen, Terrence. After Jim died suddenly during a dance at Monastery Nova Scotia The whole family moved to Prince George, BC.
Mary taught at the St. F. X. Junior College, Terrence became a priest, Joseph became a priest, Vaughan never married.
Donald married Phyllis Sullivan and settled in Sydney where he owned Pan Dandy Bread Co. They had Mike, Pat, Tim and Casey.
Donald and Phyllis had a beautiful summer home in Beaver Cove. Patrick married Paula MacCormick of Sydney and retired to a new home on the front part of his father’s property in Beaver Cove.
Lizzie Pauline married Big Alex MacDonald of Port Hastings and settled in Sydney. They had 2 children.
Derrick married Margaret MacMullin of Sydney and had, I believe, 6 children. Shauna, Terry and Anselm.
Shauna married Ed Doolan of Sydney.
Stanley married Jeanette and settled in Toronto and retired in Dartmouth NS. They had 1 child, Claire.
May married Bill Tripp of Boston and they had 3 children. Bill, Bob and Joe.
Mike never married and died in his twenties.
Joe Thomas. married Margaret MacGillivray and settled in Sydney before moving to New Waterford in 1935. They had 5 children. Isabel, Mike, Joe, Ray and Teresa.
Isabel married Russell MacNeil of New Waterford and settled in Joe T’s former home on George St. They had 4 children. Bruce, Gordon, Pamela and Darrell.
Bruce married Chrissie Horchuk and they had 1 child, Marley.
Gordon married Sheila and they had 2 boys.
Pamela married David Howell of new Waterford and they had 2 children. Jenna and Dominic.
Daryl married Tracy and they had 2 boys.
Mike married Helen MacInnis of Sydney Mines and they had 4 children. Dianna, Danena, Douglas and Darcy and settled in Dartmouth. After they divorced Mike married Cindy Bishara of Yarmouth.
Dianna married Joe MacDonald of New Waterford and they had 2 children. Kaylee and Cameron.
Danena married Scott wells and they had 3 children. Cassie, Thomas and Lauren.
Doug married Lorie and they had 3 children.
D’arcy married Judy and they had 2 children . Jamie and Michael. He then married Tammy and they had 1 son, Lukas.
Joe married Irma Cormier and settled in the Vancouver area. They had 4 children. Linda, Sandra, Colette and Nancy.
Linda married Kirk MacDonald of Halifax and settled there. They had no children.
Sandra married John Ferguson of Sydney and settled I Toronto. They had 2 children. Leslie and Leisha. After they divorced Sandra married John Ewles of Ajax. John had 2 children. Robby and Johnnie.
Colette married Ed. Cameron of Margaree and settled in Whitehorse. The had no children. After they divorced Colette married Roy Slade of Whitehorse. Roy had one daughter, Rhea. Colette had one son, Andre.
Nancy married Jeff Sheldon of Whitehorse and settled in Langley BC. They have no children.
Ray married Beverly Kendell of New Waterford. They settled in Trenton Ontario and had two children. Judy and Brenda.
Judy married Paul Couture of Cornwall, ON, and they have 2 children. Beth and Maddi. They settled in Kingston Ontario.
Brenda married Darrell Foulkes and settled in Belleville and they have 2 children, Kyle and Jake.
Teresa married Ozzie Wolk of Montreal and settled in Kelowna, BC. They had 2 children. Robbie and Jerry. After their divorce Teresa married Bob Jobe of glace Bay and settled in Salmon Arm, BC.
Robbie married Natalie Noz and settled in Salmon arm.
Jerry married Caroline Jackson of Kelowna. They have 2 children. Jackson and Nicholas.
The Connection is complete.
Well almost complete, that is. These connections were only for 2 of the 8 children born to Iain and Seonaid MacMillan. To outline the family connections of the other 6 children would not only take up a great volume of space, but to do so would give you a good understanding of how the planet becomes occupied.
It was not uncommon for families to settle near to each other. In the beginning of the great migration to our shores a grant system was introduced. A single person could apply for a grant of 100 acres and a married man 200 acres.
Why Was it Named Rear Beaver Cove?
With the first wave of immigrants, the land fronting along the shore of St, Andrews Channel was quickly taken up. As more immigrants arrived, the only land available was to the Rear of the lakefront properties. The lakefront properties extended 1 ¼ miles deep. The Rear Beaver Cove properties began at this intersection. Other properties bounded upon the intersections of the Rear properties as well.
Many of those were easier to visit by accessing the Bourinot Road beginning behind St. Andrews church at Boisdale, and heading for Loon Lake, Lost Lake and MacMullin Lake and the land lying within the boundaries of Eskazoni and the rear of the Lakefront Properties.
The land herein was substandard for farming, and only good for raising livestock. There was a large area where all the families would gather each summer to gather and feast on blueberries. It was called the Blueberry Barrens. It was a tough existence. To purchase supplies meant a full day of driving with a horse and wagon to North Sydney. At least a return trip of 18 to 20 hours over rough trails. The barter system was used extensively at that time.
People needing basic goods would trade their butter, cream and baked goods for clothing, hardware and flour etc.
I remember reading about one old bachelor who lived at The Rear of Beaver Cove. He loved his booze. He would travel to North Sydney for his supplies and of course would load up with plenty of spirits and dig right into them for the trip home. Regularly he would pass out in the wagon, and even though it was pitch black at night, his horse would take him home. He would wake up at daylight none the worse for wear.
As soon as possible the residents would leap at the chance to gain some kind of employment.
Once the rail line was built from Sydney to Halifax, the people who were living along the lakeshore were able to gain employment as part of the deal for allowing the tracks to cross their property. This allowed these folks to be able to hire those who lived at The Rear to do their farming and chores for very low wages. But every penny counted in those hard times. Many of the people found work in the coal mines in Sydney Mines, New Waterford and Glace Bay.
For the people at The Rear a day of labor on a lakefront farm was a hard one to bear. They would need to be up and ready to head out to work very early as they perhaps lived 5 or 6 miles away. Once the days work was completed, that long walk home was awaiting them. The elevation between the Lakefront and The Rear was over 700 feet, to add to the misery.
Most of them built rough boats and would fish the lake for cod. They would salt the fish, laying their catch out on flakes to dry in the summer sun and wind. This catch would be added to their larder for the winter consumption.