WEST WORD
COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER OF THE YEAR 2005 & 2008
Community paper for Mallaig, Morar, Arisaig, Lochailort, Glenfinnan
Glenuig, Knoydart and the Small Isles

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May 2015 Issue

Contents of the online version:

Top stories
Monthly news from Knoydart, Muck, Canna, Rum, Eigg
Harbour & lifeboat news
Railway news - Crofting - Birdwatch - Personal Angle
Local Genealogy

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All photos are copyright either of the individual photographers or West Word.
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Welcome to Mallaig reads the sign - it's rarely been more heartfelt!
Photo Robert MacMillan

BACK ON TRACK
At the 11th hour - or to be accurate, at 00.01 on Friday 8th May - the ban imposed on Jacobite operator West Coast Railways was lifted by Network Rail, allowing the season to start on Monday 11th May as hoped.
There had been fears locally that, if the ban continued after the start date, it could mean the end of steam train tours to the Highlands, which would have had a devastating effect on Fort William and Mallaig. The train brings 300 passengers a time to Mallaig, totalling many thousands over the course of the season, making a huge difference to the local economy.
The suspension of West Coast's licence in April this year followed a SPAD (Signal Passed At Danger) incident near Swindon on 8th March, when a steam special operated by WCR overran signals and came close to colliding with a First Great Western HST. The incident ended without injury or damage, but safety inspectors from the Office of Road and Rail (ORR) then launched an investigation into whether there had been a breach of health and safety law.
Network Rail is now satisfied that West Coast Railways have addressed all of the actions set out in the suspension notice that took effect on Friday 3rd April. Let the season commence!

IAN BLACKFORD - OUR NEW MP
The General Election on Thursday 7th May 2015 saw SNP candidate Ian Blackford elected with a resounding majority.
Ian, who lives on a small but busy croft on Skye with his wife Ann, collected 20,119 votes, 5124 more than Charles Kennedy, who came second.
Ian said 'There have been many highlights throughout the campaign but the sheer hard work done by so many people, usually with smiles on their faces has been my highlight. I am honoured to be your MP and I will work as hard as I can to show I am worthy of the trust you and the voters have placed by electing me.'

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Ian Blackford MP

MACKINTOSH CENTRE UPDATE
In last month's West Word we reported that NHS Highland had hopes that, with new staff being appointed, the Mackintosh Centre would re-open in June.
Now it is July at the earliest, as one of the new staff needs extended training. They have the numbers they need now; let's hope no-one resigns in the interval before re-opening.
We asked Tracey Ligema, Area Manager West, NHS Highland, a few questions.
We were told by a local woman who has cared for her elderly mother for some time that she applied for a post at the Centre through the NHS website but didn't even get an acknowledgement.
All recruitment is dealt with by the NHS Highland Employment Services team for Adult Social Care. Applicants are not contacted unless they are shortlisted for interview. Acknowledgement of application forms is not normally provided to individuals. All applications are anonymised (i.e. personal /identifying details removed) and are shortlisted on the basis of skills, knowledge and experience which matched the Job Description and Person Specification. Applicants can contact Employment services to receive feedback in respect of why their application may not have been shortlisted.
When I spoke to Joanna MacDonald last month she assured me that letters to the families were going out on Tuesday 7th April. The families didn't receive this letter until Saturday 2nd May and were upset by the reference in it to being a further update when they had had nothing for a very long time.
There was a delay in letters going out to staff and families as a result of staff sickness during the process of finalising the recruitment. Letters could not be sent until the final information was available in respect of the outcome of the recruitment process. I wrote the letter and my reference to a 'further update' was in relation to previous updates that people will have received. I fully acknowledge that it had been some time since a previous update and I am sorry about this. During this period, however, there has continued to be opportunities for staff or families to meet or communicate directly with us, including drop in sessions for families/staff. A number of people have taken advantage of these opportunities.
The local community is calling for the investigation into the two members of staff to be completed - the police have no further interest and it would either solve the last delay in staffing if they were reinstated or at the least put an end to the awful situation they have been in for nearly a year.
Whilst I clearly cannot respond in detail in respect of a confidential internal investigation I can confirm that there is a process ongoing in accordance with NHS Highland policies and procedures and that I would expect this to be concluded in the near future. The individuals themselves will be aware of which stage this process has reached however despite community or other interest this is a matter around which the confidentiality of those concerned should be maintained.
Thank you Tracey. Let us hope July brings the desired result.

HOUSE FIRE HORRIFIES COMMUNITY
A blaze reduced a guest house to rubble on Sunday 3rd May at Glenancross, Morar. The fire broke out just before midnight on Saturday 2nd May at Caorunn House, owned by George and Lorraine Pendreigh. Fire crews from Mallaig and Fort William, using breathing apparatus, spent five hours battling the flames but could not save the house.
Lorraine and son Jorge were away but George and two B & B guests were in the house when the fire was discovered. All three were uninjured but escaped only with what they were wearing.

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One of the guests, Amelia Calvert from Edinburgh, contacted West Word. She writes: 'After a very sad night staying at Caorunn House B&B I wanted to say that I was very grateful for the kindness of the local police and community who supported my friend and I once the fire was underway. We were relocated to the Chlachain Inn in Mallaig where, although I didn't sleep a wink due to high adrenaline from the night's dramas, we were fed tea and Twix's at 3am then given a full breakfast at 9am. We were also lent cash for our drive back to Edinburgh, otherwise equipped with just our pyjamas, shoes, one coat and one mobile phone between us. The experience will stay with me for a long time, not because I lost a number of my possessions but moreover because I saw with my own eyes how fire can gather speed at an extraordinary pace. If you do nothing else today, please all check that you're smoke alarms work for without them we might not all have walked out of the house 100% injury free.
'Meanwhile, my heart goes out to George and Lorraine Pendreigh as they rebuild the lives that they'd come to know at Caorunn House. We have been thinking about them a lot and I wanted to express my gratitude to the community at a difficult time. I know your community will support them to rebuild their lives.'


KNOYDART
Hi Folks,
What a cracking start to April it was, with clear blue skies and bright sunshine for days on end. Easter weekend was a busy one, with the craft fair during the day which offered all the wonderful local crafts and produce and then the Cask Strength Ceilidh band providing an absolutely fantastic ceilidh. On the first dance they managed to get nearly everyone on the dance floor, and kept them there for the rest of the night! It was definitely the most jumping ceilidh we have had in a while! The start of the Easter holidays saw an influx of tourists, and the season officially began. It did quieten off a wee bit again but saw another surge at the end of the month with it being the May bank holiday. I was impressed by the amount of brave campers on the beach, considering we have now reverted to winter again, with temperatures dropping low enough that the hills once again have snow on them (not to mention the actual snow showers we had at ground level!) In three days we had gone from braving the summer wear to digging out the down filled jackets again. What is it they say about April - In like a lion and out like a lamb?! Aye, right. Definitely the other way round this year.
Speaking of lambs, the first ones have appeared at Inverguserain, so hopefully the weather improves and they get a good start to life this year!
The kids had a good time of it over Easter, with a den building course held in the first week of the holidays and had a great turnout of all ages, including visitors from Mallaig. There was also a "stories of the sea" workshop, which I hear was good fun for all involved.
It was definitely the month for Northern lights, with a couple of cracking clear nights. I still haven't actually witnessed this for myself but Iain Wilson provided some excellent photos!
Paul the roofer has been back working for a few weeks and had his 50th birthday during that time. It was a great party, and there was definitely more than a few sore heids the next day! (or at least for those who didn't stay on the sesh!)
Now, I don't know if I mentioned before, but the total raised for last months International Women's Day events was £628 overall. A grand amount I'm sure you will agree but unfortunately we fell a little short of the £850 we had hoped to make. This money is to pay a midwife's salary for a year, in the village of Jarrol in Gambia as well as donating £100 to Lochaber Women's Aid so if anyone would still like to donate they still can…
And on a final note, I would to say a huge welcome back to Tommy, who reappeared out the blue for a three week visit. Good to see our former postie back!
Heather Gilmour
P.S. Congratulations to Koa and Nadia who got married on Easter Saturday!

ISLE OF MUCK
It has been a tough winter - we all know that but nothing indicates the ravages of the gales and hail showers than the trees and shrubs throughout the island. The flowering Japanese cherries which at this time are normally loaded with pink blossom are but a shadow of normal. At the grounds of Gallanach Lodge which last year were dotted with beautiful shrubs from Wes Fyffe on Eigg, almost all have survived at base but they are not the same as last year. Perhaps the site is too exposed for any but the very toughest but they cannot be replaced for Wes is retiring. Sad.
They say that if you keep anything long enough it is bound to come in useful And that must apply to tractors for when Allan Wilkinson came to the island during April we had a Ford 4000 sitting in a shed as well as several others of similar vintage. The Ford arrived aboard wave in 1975 but is not an ideal candidate for restoration for this is the machine that went for a swim off the new slipway and was rescued by the Spanish John and Jamie Robinson in his diving gear. But Allan seems keen to give it a go so if you see a very rusty tractor on Loch Nevis in the coming months you will know it is bound for Kinross.
Lambing is almost over and though good the numbers are not as good as last year. However the team once again enjoyed excellent lambing weather with only two poor days. Plenty of stirks heading for Fort William on the 29th including quite a number of cross Simental heifers. Still in their winter coats but they are OK underneath. And if anyone is looking for black (or white) weaner piglets there are a number here which will soon be for sale.
The Open Day is approaching and the date is 7th June. Hoping to see you then.
Lawrence MacEwen

We had a warm welcome back after the summer term on 20 April when we had a shared Assembly with Eigg Primary School, where we exchanged our news. We used technology to see and hear each other. We liked it because we could speak to our friends. Jasper was able to share that he had a wonderful adventure in New Zealand and he has shared his journal with us each day, as our book of the week.
We were fortunate to have a visit from the Revd. Ogden on Tuesday 21 April, and we had a service where we learned about the Good Shepherd. We enjoyed the puppets because they were funny. We also sang a hymn we had been learning which was good fun.
As we are learning about life cycles we are looking after caterpillars in class which we hope will transform into beautiful butterflies and then we will set them free.
Our Poly Tunnel has arrived and parents are going to help to prepare the ground for us which is exciting.
Today we walked over to the farm and met Colin and Hannah in the sunshine to learn about lambing. Firstly, we saw a ewe who was adopting a lamb because her lamb had died. Then, we went to see the different sheep and lambs. We saw one ewe who was about to give birth. We learned a great deal and found out the answers to our many questions. We really enjoyed the visit and we were interested to hear about the adoption of lambs, and how important it is that the lamb has a good start with feeding and bonding. We were able to have both break time and lunchtime on the beach which was a real treat as well. During lunch we found out that the ewe, that we had seen earlier, had given birth to twins. Thank you very much to Colin and Hannah for taking the time out of their day, at this busy time, and for being so informative.
David, Katie and Mrs Baker, Muck Primary School

ISLE OF CANNA
This month on Canna is the start of a new joint venture by Island Residents Denise Guthrie and Colin Irvine. They have combined their talents and are busy preparing and painting the Pier shop for their new business called Hebridean Beauty. They will be selling handmade soap, body and hair products, candles and artisanal teas using local herbs, flowers and seaweed as well as inspiration from their natural surroundings. The grand opening was on Saturday 25th April at 2pm with bubbly and canapés (see photo below). If you are visiting the Island please do drop by and take a look. Have a look at the website at www.hebrideanbeauty.com

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Julie has also been busy with her wool and also both herself and Stewart with weaving and has sent batches of beautiful hand dyed wool out to the other small isles and Mallaig. You had better be quick as it sells fast so have a look in the island shops. To see their products please visit www.cannacreationsbyjulie.scot
This month heralds the start of our arts season with a performance of Ordinary Madness by Kidder theatre Company on Saturday 9th May at 2pm in the Camus Arts centre. Tickets are priced at £12 and £8.00 concession and are available by phoning 01687462474 or emailing camusartscentre@yahoo.co.uk If you are visiting the island please come along and support this event.
On the Farm there have been lots of cows calving and there are some beautiful specimens dotted around the island. The Highland Cow calves love to hang around by Tighard and make a great photo opportunity for visitors.
Lambing has started too with some born on Sanday and we can't wait to see lots of lambs bouncing around on the Island. Springtime is here at last.
Colin Irvine

ISLE OF RUM
April on Rum kicked off with the summer ferry timetable change and a fantastic Easter ceilidh, Sorcha's 18th birthday and the start of Rumbling Tum cafe in the village hall along with the first flood of visitors. There was an audible gasp and a step back from the Rum folk meeting the boat on Good Friday at the huge number of people on board heading towards us - we'd not seen that many people in well over six months!
The island was rocked by the sad news of long term Rum resident Norman Webber passing away on 9th April. Anyone who has visited Rum would have met Norm, probably at the shop with a can of T in hand, accompanied by his beloved dog Zappa. Tributes and memories of regular Rum visitors and previous residents are still rolling in. Norman was a huge character and is much missed. Norman was cremated at a family funeral in South Shields but his ashes have been brought back to Rum and a memorial services is planned for 15th May. All welcome.
The new improved track to Kilmory is being much appreciated by the walkers, runners, cyclists and visitors to the island, I am told it is possible to cycle across in under half an hour. SNH and Rum community welcome our two newest residents - Doug and David who join the SNH reserve team.
Despite the crazy unseasonal weather swings which saw temperatures requiring sun tan lotion and snow fall within the space of a week, spring really does appear to have sprung at last and the first shearwaters, swallows and cuckoos have been seen and heard. Lambing has been happening on Croft 1 with Neil playing daddy to a rejected lamb. On Croft 3 a litter of super cute piglets are frolicking about, the first hatchlings of ducklings and goslings are in protective pens secure from the hooded crows and ravens and hopefully broody chickens will soon be hatching eggs too. Croft 3's Nic, Ady, Davies and Scarlett are recovering from the exhausting experience of having a film crew follow them for a week with a 48 hour visit from Ben Fogle. They have also been playing host to the first volunteers of the season who have been doing great stuff helping out on the croft.
Ranger Trudi's 2015 events programme has kicked off with astronomy, wildlife watching, walks and talks, and the first Sheerwater seabird trip of 2015 saw sightings of gannets and porpoises. Rum Primary School roll will increase as Andrew Beaton starts in the nursery this term.
Rum's Anniversary ceilidh takes place this year on Saturday 16th May with a fab line up of music - hope to see you there!
Nic Goddard

ISLE OF EIGG
An April with a real identity crisis weather-wise seemingly unsure if it was almost summer or mid-January. With conditions alternating between warm sunshine & bitterly cold sleet and hail it was hardly surprising that bird migration was a bit stop-start on Eigg. Nonetheless by the end of the month many of the regular migrants had appeared with first dates being as follows: Manx Shearwater (1st), Common Sandpiper (18th), Cuckoo (18th), Sand Martin (23rd), Swallow (9th), Whinchat (May 1st), Grasshopper Warbler (23rd), Blackcap (11th), Chiffchaff (13th) & Willow Warbler (15th). Passage birds were generally rather scarce but several locally interesting records did occur. A Wigeon on the 18th was rather unusual for Eigg whilst passage waders included a few Dunlin, several Whimbrel and Greenshank, a Sanderling on the 22nd & a Bar Tailed Godwit on the 23rd. Other odds & ends included the first Arctic Skua on the 29th, an Iceland Gull on the 5th, a Great Spotted Woodpecker between the 9th & 15th, a Tree Sparrow on the 21st - 23rd & a couple of Yellowhammer sightings.
Offshore cetacean sightings were, Porpoises apart, non-existent. Butterflies though began to appear during sunny spells with Peacocks, Red Admirals, Small Tortoiseshells and Green Veined Whites recorded & the first Green Hairstreaks seen on the 22nd.
Botanically things progressed slowly with Primroses and Bluebells emerging in increasing numbers throughout the month. Purple Saxifrage flowered well on the Ben Bhuidhe cliffs & the first Early Purple Orchids appeared late in the month."
Thanks go to John Chester, our SWT warden, for this wildlife report.
Meanwhile, here is how we coped on Eigg with this April identity crisis: first of all, we had our Easter Ceilidh, which was very well attended, with a band that did manage to keep a good bit of stamina to keep us going all night, despite playing on Rum the night before (and we know this means all night as well!). Thanks also to those that tidied the hall in time for the first of our Summer Monday markets. This one was a fund-raiser for Feis Eige and turned out to be very successful indeed. For those of us who like singing, that holiday week was a treat, as Candi and her singing group were back again. Unfortunately, they also brought a particularly virulent bug strain which then made its way slowly but surely through the island. It affected one little child so badly that her condition necessitated a trip by helicopter to a pediatric hospital in Glasgow. A big thank you goes to our First Responder team for doing exactly what the situation required. On the other hand, most people on Eigg think the medical provisions for the Small isles are still ropy, mainly because of the disruption to the service caused by weather which has led to many surgery cancellation. The Eigg residents association has now led its own poll over the service which has been forwarded to NHS.
On the historical front, it was pleasure to see so many people coming over from the mainland to attend the guided walk to Eigg' s holy wells on the south side of the island and the St Donnan seminar on Sunday 19th and the mass dedicated to St Donnan on Monday 20th with Father Tony and Father Joe, followed by a guided tour of the Kildonnan grayeyard. Our thanks goes to our academic team which showed how important interdisciplinary communication can be to fully understand an archeological site. Prof Clancy of Glasgow university Celtic department showed us how important the impact of the killing of St Donnan and his 52 monks had been in Ireland and Scotland where they were at one time celebrated alongside St George and St Peter and the feast of the Innocents on 20th April, and how we needed to look again at the importance of the monastery that followed on in terms of dissemination of the cult of St Donnan along the western seaboard, both to the north and to the south. Dr Sally Foster from Stirling University made a very useful and well illustrated comparison of the site with other Highland monastic sites, and her conclusions was that there is more yet to be discovered about the extent and importance of the site at Kildonnan. An extract of both their papers will be found on the Kildonnan project facebook page. As to the Funeralscape team, we are grateful for their gift of their excellent interpretation panels which will be on show in the hall for the summer months.
One place we were supposed to go to was the Massacre cave, as one theory is that St Donnan actually stayed in it, but report by alarmed visitors that three huge boulders had fallen from the roof of the cave narrowly missing them, is now leading to the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust warning that the cave is now dangerously unstable and should not be visited for the foreseeable future.
On the farming side, the lambing is in full swing, with a record amount of triplets being recorded at Sandavore farm in particular. New crofter Celia Bull was also very pleased with her Shetland lambs, so cute with their white faces and black ears.
On the construction side, it's all go, with the Laig beach bothy now finished and Johnny and Sarah's house not far behind. Pascal and Catherine are also about to start on their house at 5 Pennies if they can actually get Hebridean Homes to deliver the material to the site from the pier! Marketing the island producers was also in focus this year, with new island dweller Owain Wyn-Jones, providing a useful and free two days workshop to local producers both on Eigg and on the mainland through Eigg Box and Honeycomb partnership.
And finally, the big news: Eigg has a new islander: Colm Nelson, born on 18th April, the son of proud parents Frances Carr and Stephen Nelson, making Marie and Colin Carr grandparents for the second time! Congratulations to Frances and Stephen from all of us.
Camille Dressler


ROAD TO THE ISLES AGRICULTURAL SHOW
Spring/Summer has finally arrived and we are preparing once again for the Road to the Isles Agricultural Show which is being held on Saturday 13th. June at Camusdarach, Arisaig, by kind permission of the Stuart family.
There are livestock classes for Blackface and Non-Blackface Sheep, and also for Commercial Cattle, including two classes for 'undressed' cattle. There is a beautiful trophy for the winner of this section, so please do put in your entries! The judging of the livestock classes commences at 10.30a.m. Entries were down a bit last year but we are hoping for a good turnout this year. Please telephone Audrey MacDonald on 01687 450267 if you wish to enter any of these classes and have not yet received a schedule. Entries are open to all on the Ardnamurchan and Morvern peninsulas, all communities along the A830, and also Knoydart, the Small Isles and the Isles of Skye and Mull.
The judging of the Baking, Handicrafts and Floral Decoration classes begins at 11a.m. Entries are taken on the day and should be brought to the Handicrafts tent between 9.30 and 11a.m. on the morning of the Show. We are hoping for plenty of support for these classes, so please bring along as many entries as you can. Schedules are available in local Post Offices and shops, or telephone 01687 450655 for information.
The afternoon's entertainment begins at 1.00p.m. with a piping recital by a group of young pipers from Skye and then we are pleased to welcome back to our show Mark Wylie and his famous 'Drakes of Hazard'. Mark's display of his sheepdogs and ducks is always a crowd pleaser, and promises to be very entertaining.
There will also be a display of Birds of Prey who may even fly, depending on the weather, and we are pleased to have Iain Chalmers back again to show off his chain saw carving skills. Let's not forget too the ever popular Dog Show, so smarten up your pooch and you could win a prize! There are prizes for both local and visiting dogs!
During the afternoon there will be a display of wood-turning, and there will also be stands for agricultural implements and garden plants.
The catering tent, bar and barbecue will be open for all with lots of good things to eat. This year the proceeds from the sale of baking in the catering tent will go to the Mallaig Swimming Pool, so we are appealing for donations of baking for this worthy cause.
All in all, there should be something for everyone to enjoy so please come along and support your local Show and we hope that you all enjoy a good day out! We look forward to seeing you there!


NEWS FROM MALLAIG HARBOUR - May 2015

Open Meeting
An opportunity to meet the Board Members of the Mallaig Harbour Authority will occur on Friday 5th June 2015 when the harbour is set to host an early evening reception in the West Highland Hotel, Mallaig.
Members will be pleased to meet, greet and discuss issues with harbour stakeholders including fishermen, ferry operators, pier users, marina users, local businesses and other local users. Your input on the future of Mallaig Harbour and the Village of Mallaig is important and this will be an ideal opportunity to discuss the Authority's Ten Year Development Plan.
The reception, to which everyone is cordially invited, will take place between the hours of 5pm to 6.30pm on the evening of Friday 5th June 2015.
Robert MacMillan
CEO
01687 462154
info@mallaigharbourauthority.com

Mallaig & North west Fishermen's Association appoint new Chairman
Gardenstown skipper/owner Mark Robertson (47) was recently appointed as the new Chairman of the Mallaig & North West Fishermen's Association, reports David Linkie. Mark Robertson, who succeeds Ross Skinner, was elected to the post of Chairman at the Annual General meeting of the Mallaig & North West Fishermen's Association Ltd held in Inverness on Saturday 18th April 2015.
Mark Robertson, who together with his sons Adam and Paul skipper the 24.85m Fraserburgh based twin rig trawler Zenith BF106, is looking forward to the challenges and responsibilities associated with his new role, and working closely with M&NWFA CEO Tom Bryan-Brown to represent the views if his fellow skippers.

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LIFEBOAT LOG

Tuesday 7th April
Launched to the assistance of a local trawler by Stornoway Coastguard at 10:00hrs. Whilst fishing two miles NW of Mallaig Harbour casualty suffered a failure of her steering gear. The skipper contacted the Coastguard as there were no fishing vessels in the locality that could render assistance. A cargo boat on passage responded to the casualty and stood by until the Lifeboat arrived on scene at 10:10 hrs. Minutes later the casualty was under tow for Mallaig. Lifeboat and casualty alongside at 11:10hrs in the harbour. Lifeboat ready for service at 11:20hrs.

Thursday 9th April
Launched to the assistance of the fishing vessel Investors at 03:40hrs by Stornoway Coastguard. Whilst returning from a night fishing on the creel grounds the Investors suffered a steering failure. Whilst trying to rectify the fault the Investors drifted dangerously close to the shore on the East side of Brittle Point, Isle of Skye. Unable to steer themselves clear of the shore the crew put the anchor away and stopped the casualty drifting any closer. When the Lifeboat arrived on scene at 04:36hrs conditions could not be better with flat calm conditions and decent moonlight in the small bay where the casualty was located. Once the tow rope was passed over and made fast the casualty's crew retrieved their anchor and the tow commenced for Elgol, the Investors home port. The Investors was brought to her mooring at 06:00hrs in the Bay at Elgol. Once secure and details exchanged the Lifeboat returned to Mallaig and was moored and ready for service at 06:45 hrs.

Sunday 12th April
Launched by Stornoway Coastguard to convey Ambulance crew to the Isle of Eigg at 18.45hrs. A child was showing signs of possible meningitis and was in need of medical treatment. Arriving at Eigg at 19:16hrs the Lifeboat was met by Coastguards and the parents with the child. As a precaution Rescue 948 from Stornoway was also dispatched for Eigg arriving shortly before 20:00hrs. After assessment the child was transferred to the helicopter in a nearby field. After boarding the child and its mother Rescue 948 departed for Glasgow's Hospital for Sick Children. As soon as the medics returned from the landing site the Lifeboat returned to Mallaig, fueled and ready for service at 21:10 hrs. As a footnote to the efficiency of helicopter evacuation, Rescue 948 was landing in Yorkhill Hospital before the lifeboat was fuelled and ready for service at the pontoon.

Tuesday 21st April
A mobile call to the Harbourmaster was received at 10:00hrs from a vessel registered in Fraserburgh. It had another Fraserburgh trawler under tow with a fowled propeller. The skipper asked if the Lifeboat would meet them off the harbour and assist with the docking of the casualty. Once the Local Operations Manager agreed to the request and the Coastguard at Stornoway notified it was just a matter of waiting until the casualty was brought to outside the harbour. The Lifeboat met the vessel and the casualty off the green light at 13:20hrs. Initial plan was to act as a brake at the stern of the casualty but due to weather being flat calm it was decided to strap the Lifeboat alongside the casualty and see how both vessels would behave due to their difference in drafts. As the casualty vessel was fitted with a bow thruster forward as well as the Lifeboat, forward movement and steerage was attained. Slowly but surely the casualty was brought alongside at the fish pier at 14:30hrs. Lifeboat squared away and ready for service at 14:45.

Wednesday 22nd April
As with the previous day the harbourmaster received a call from a trawler. It was inbound for Mallaig with another trawler under tow. It was expected to reach the Harbour at 10:30hrs and requested assistance in bringing the casualty alongside in Mallaig. Again weather conditions were benign with large banks of sea fog. Again the lifeboat was strapped alongside and the tow dropped from the trawler. With the trawler following close behind, the Lifeboat succeeded in bringing in the casualty to the fish pier. Lifeboat ready for service at 11:45.

Wednesday 22nd April
Minutes after re-mooring the Lifeboat after bringing in a vessel the pagers were activated again by Stornoway Coastguard at 11:50hrs. A report from the Police alerted the Coastguard of a missing person in a fragile state of mind in the area of Loch Nan Ceall, Arisaig. As the Lifeboat entered the Loch, Coastguards informed the crew that the person had been located thankfully safe and well. Lifeboat returned to port berthing at the pontoon at 13:30hrs.

Wednesday 22nd April
Seconds after debriefing the Coastguard on the two previous call outs of Wednesday the 22nd April 2015 the Coxswain received a call on his personal mobile from a local skipper. The skipper of the small vessel requested assistance as he had grounded on a reef on the falling tide. The Coxswain immediately informed the Coastguard, passing on the location and the casualties' mobile number. The pagers were activated again to summon a crew. As the Lifeboat was about to pull off the berth the pagers transmitted a Cancel Launch. The casualty had freed herself from the rock and no longer in need of assistance. The skipper and his crewman although a bit shaken had decided to continue with their day's creeling and conveyed their thanks to all concerned. Lifeboat ready for service at 14:00
Jim Morton


On & Off the Rails

News from Corrour Station Restaurant
Firstly the good news. Some time ago it was reported in the National Press and on several Facebook pages that ScotRail had refused to send the occasional parcel of groceries via the Fort William to Glasgow train to the restaurant at Corrour Station. An unwritten agreement was always understood (going back even before the Morgans ran the Corrour Bunkhouse and Mrs Morgan was the Postmistress). On this one occasion the restaurant needed an urgent delivery from their suppliers in Fort William. It was reluctantly put on the train to be met and taken off at Corrour but a sarcastic note was written on the box that this was 'a one off' and therefore the last time that this favour would be honoured. The whole incident climbed out of all proportion. But, the good news is that a truce has been announced and the new ScotRail train operators (Abellio) have agreed to allow the occasional unaccompanied delivery 'in tradition of the old Highland way'. Good news for both parties!
Secondly, some not so very good news. Some of you that have visited the Corrour Station Restaurant will have been greeted on your arrival by Archie, the Station dog - a very large wolfhound. He is very much part of the restaurant, along with his owners Lizzie and Ollie, and even commands his own website! (www.archieofcorrour.com). Unfortunately Archie has a very inquisitive nature and has recently applied this to opening shut doors!
On Saturday April 25th (whilst Lizzie's attention was averted to serving guests in the dining room) Archie managed to open a shut door that allowed him to access the railway station and track in search of a deer carcass which had previously been hit by a train, unaware that the Glasgow-Mallaig Sprinter train was bearing down on him!
Fast forward to May 2nd and Archie is surviving in 'intensive care' in Glasgow's Veterinary Hospital with a broken ribcage, internal bleeding and many cuts and bruises. All being well he will get well soon and make a full recovery. If so, he is a very lucky wolfhound indeed! As Lizzie says on Facebook, 'Archie always learns things the hard way!' Progress of Archie's recovery can be seen (along with many photos and messages of good will) by going to www.facebook.com/CorrourStationHouseRestaurant.
Lizzie and Ollie would like to thank everybody who sent get well messages to Archie via e-mail, text and telephone, and to say in no way was the driver of the train to blame for what happened to Archie, he wandered onto the track by his own doing.
The latest news on Archie before I hand my copy to the Editor on Sunday 3rd May is that he is due to go home to Corrour on Monday 4th May. He is refusing to eat normal dog food but is managing to eat cooked chicken livers only if he is hand fed, a custom that he is obviously used to in his usual surroundings!

Royal Scotsman's first visit to Mallaig in 2015
After cancellation of its first visit Royal Scotsman finally visited Mallaig on Saturday 2nd May. As the regular traction for the train is supplied by West Coast Railways (usually Class 47 or 57 locos) a substitute had to be made due to WCR's operating licence suspension following an incident on the 7th March near Swindon in Wiltshire.
Until at least 15th May or further notice by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) all WCR trains will have to use licences of other train operating companies (TOC). So on Saturday 2nd May the Scotsman was hauled by a Class 55 English Electric 'Deltic' and a Class 66 General Motors Diesel.
To my knowledge it is only the second time that a 'Deltic' has been to Mallaig. The first time was in 2003 when a train was top and tailed by two Deltics, D9009 Alycidon and D55019 Royal Highland Fusilier.

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Deltic No 55003 Meld stands behind Sonia’s double-headed barel train at Mallaig. A case of ‘little and large’!
Photo courtesy of Steve Roberts

The most interesting feature of Saturday's Deltic was that it had suddenly changed name and number. The actual loco was in fact number 55022 Royal Scot Grey originally numbered D9000, but on Saturday's Scotsman it appeared as D55003 Meld!
All 22 of the Deltic Class locomotives were built between 1961 and 1962, and Meld was withdrawn on 31st December 1980, and was scrapped soon after that, so the 'ghost' of Meld appears in Mallaig. More of that story next month!
On departure from Mallaig at 11.43 on the 2nd May The Scotsman was hauled by G B Railfreight Class 66 no. 66735, with the Deltic at the rear.
This was the first time a Class 66 has been on the Mallaig branch. These locos have been excluded due to their heavy axle loading and are normally only allowed on the West Highland main line on fuel tank and alcan Alumina bulk workings, from Hythe to Fort William.
For any of you readers interested in diesel locomotives, Saturday 9th May should see both locomotives back working the Fort William to Mallaig section of Royal Scotsman, so hope you have your cameras at the ready!

Latest news on The Jacobite
As I write my column for this month's West Word, I still don't have any official news as to the start date. The train is due to start operations on Monday 11th May, but the WCR licence is suspended until 15th May or until the ORR sees fit for the suspension to be lifted. I understand that most of the stipulations (7 in number) laid down by Network Rail have now been satisfied and that the final decision is now with the ORR.
The best that we can hope is that another train operator (such as GB Railfreight, DB Shenker or DRS Direct Rail Services) will lend their licence to WCR and that the service will start on time on 11th May and possibly be diesel hauled, either by Class 37, 55 or 66 locos.
The Deltic 55003 Meld finishes its duties on Saturday 9th May at Fort William and would normally run light engine on Saturday afternoon to Craigentinny. As this loco is on permanent hire to GBRF it is a suitable position to be on standby or operational duties for The Jacobite. It could be a suitable stand-in until steam is reinstated on The Jacobite.
Only a week later (18th May) the afternoon Jacobite is due to start, so suitable traction will have to be found also.
I understand that The Jacobite carriages, both Mark 1 and Marks 2's, are all ready and awaiting at WCR's depot in Carnforth.

Are you feeling lucky?
Congratulations go to... Margaret Andow, The Sounds, Glasnacardoch, who was the first name drawn from the many correct entries submitted for the competition prize donated by Rannoch Railway Station Tea Room owner Jenny Anderson of a complimentary lunch for two persons. The answer to the question 'Who opened the section of the Rannoch Station Building dedicated to flora and fauna of Rannoch' in April's West Word was 'David Bellamy'. Thanks to all who entered.
Another competition to follow next month.

...and Finally!
The cold, blustery, but recently sunny weather is annoying to say the least as I try to plant up Mallaig, Morar and Arisaig Railway Stations. I still have many seedlings still under fleece, but the bigger shrubs and trailing plants are surviving.

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An addition to the barrel train fleet at Morar!
Photo courtesy of Steve Roberts

My extra whisky cask barrel trains are now delivered to all three stations and at Mallaig and Arisaig look splendid with double headed engines and four barrel wagons. They are ballasted, filled with a soil/compost mixture and ready to plant. At Morar I have two separate trains - the latest one is on ground which had not been cleared for twenty years. The fossilised tree stumps have been dug out and the ground improved. That probably means more planting! You will truly see me on the train in my wellies, sometimes with Steve backing me up as I divide my time to the timetables of the trains!
See you on the train.
Sonia Cameron

CROFTING ROUNDUP - Joyce Wilkinson, Crofters Commission Area Assessor and Scottish Crofting Federation Area Representative
On Friday 10th April we held a practical Lambing course at Traigh farm. The weather was ideal, unlike the Basic vets skills course earlier this year, and a good attendance of young, older, experienced and beginners turned out. The tutor was Andrew Millar MRCVS of Ardene House vet practice in Aberdeen, who regularly tutors for Xcel vets. We spent a few hours in the Astley Hall learning from Andrew the basics of good ewe nutrition and sharing experiences.
Lambs were put into the simulators in various positions and lambers were shown how to reposition and get them out with ropes and a snare if needed.
Then onto the basics of docking, tagging and injecting, as well as administering stomach tube, glucose and magnesium or calcium. There was plenty of hands-on practice with the two lambs kindly donated by Achnacone farm, and a ewe brought in by Mairit needing calcium . Andrew gave everybody notes and handouts to refer to; I think I will stick to cows and ponies having had an earful of all the things sheep like to die of.
The SCF funding for training has ended now but hopefully there will be a new source and I can run further courses through next winter. If I could have names for the Animal transport certificate that would be the next course proposed.

BIRDWATCH April 2015 by Stephen MacDonald
Lots of birds on the move again this month with many of our summer visitors arriving and others m oving out or passing through.
The first Warblers noted were Chiffchaffs seen and heard at Morar railway station on the 8th and also near Woodside the next day. The following day the first Willow Warblers were reported from Woodside, Morar, and over the next few days they were reported from throughout the area.
Blackcaps were seen and heard in the Beoraid - Woodside area of Morar from the 21st and the first report of Grasshopper Warbler was from the Coteachan Hill - Circular Walk area, Mallaig, the same day.
The first Swallow noted was a single bird over the 'lily pond' between Mallaig and Morar on the 12th.
Most people's harbinger of Spring, the Cuckoo, was first reported near Suinsletter, Kinloid, on the 15th, then the next day there were reports from both Mallaig and near Loch nan Eala, Arisaig.
A single Whimbrel on the shore near Camusdarach on the 21stwas the first report of Spring. Another was seen there a couple of days later, then two were seen near Torr Mhor, Loch nan Ceall, on the 28th. A Common Sandpiper near Traigh boat shed on the 21st and two seen on the Morar Estuary the following day were the first records.
An Arctic Skua seen between Eigg and Arisaig on the 29th was the first of the year. The first Common Terns were reported on the 30th, when a group of 5 were seen just off Luinga Mhor from the MV Sheerwater.
Quite a few waders starting to move through, with flocks of Golden Plover seen in fields at Back of Keppoch, Invercaimbe and Traigh throughout the month. On the 13th there were 26 Golden Plover, 12 Turnstones and singles of Greenshank, Redshank and Curlew at Traigh.
Woodcock were noted 'roding' on several evenings during the month in the Morar area and Snipe were heard 'drumming' near Loch nan Eala, Arisaig.
The first Redwing were reported early in the month, stragglers that were still to head North. A pair of Tufted Duck that were on Loch nan Eala on the 23rd were probable migrants passing through. Still a lone Whooper Swan on Loch nan Eala till the month end.
Plenty Finches and Buntings reported from gardens throughout the area. Lots more reports of Redpolls, Linnets were back in gardens at Fank Brae, Mallaig and also in Morar. Twite were reported from gardens in Mallaig and Morar. Several of the Twite have been noted using the hanging bird feeders, a behaviour that is unusual for this species. It will be interesting to see if this type of behaviour becomes more common and widespread in the future.
Barn Owls were reported from the usual Mallaig site and also from the Woodside area, Morar. Tawny Owls were heard frequently in Morar and Arisaig.
Sea Eagles were reported from several locations in the area throughout the month.


TWENTY YEARS OF WEST WORD

From the May 1995 edition of West Word: pictured above on the far left is Sgt Bob Poole. Other members of the Para Training School in Italy in 1945 are (l to r) CSM Donald MacDonell MM, Sgt Charlie Wingrove, Lt McHale, with Capt. Temple in the driver's seat. The dogs are Bruno and Bruce. Photo was courtesy of Mallaig Heritage Centre and Donald MacDonell.
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Twenty years ago - May 1995
VE Day Celebrations, Mallaig, May 1945, was the cover story of the 32 page West Word from May 1995. Sprinkled throughout Issue 7 Volume 1 - cover price (appropriately?) 50p - were references to this special time with Paul Galbraith, who served five years with 6th. Airborne Division, recalling VE Day Memories, a photograph of Local Air Cadets on the Mallaig line, a poem about the Arisaig Home Guard by Arisaig Station Master Sandy Mac, and personal recollections of VE Day came from Bob Poole, Parachute Instructor with SO Unit in N. Italy. Adverts and information on the planned VE Day commemorations for the area were carried in West Word with street party events, bonfires, etc, lined up for Mallaig, Morar, Arisaig, Inverie and the Small Isles.
On Page 3 Highland Councillor Charlie King thanked everybody who supported him in the local election via his Council Corner and there was local controversy regarding the change over from Ambulance Drivers to Ambulance Technicians.
'Steam Trains Return to the West Highland Line' was the headline on Page 5 alongside an In Memoriam for Margaret Joan Becher. Morar Village Centre Improvements were detailed, Hugh Allen of the M&NWFA reported on good landings of prawns and whitefish by the local fleet, and Mission Superintendent Murray Campbell took over from Robert MacMillan as a member of the Local Health Council.
Small Isle Primary School pupils visited Mallaig Police Station and the Muck, Eigg and Rum children told of getting their fingerprints taken and of visiting the cells!
Morar's Molly Grigor recounted more tales from her South American trip in the Andes Mountains, whilst Mallaig Heritage Centre's Malcolm Poole produced a page on the history of Knoydart subtitled 'A Paradise Lost'.
The closure of the Morar Shop was lamented by locals who feared that the Post Office would also close, while Traigh Golf Club, Morar Angling Club and Mallaig Football Clubs were all featured in the Sports Section, along with a description of a game of football on Muck by John Morris.
Robert MacMillan (written in May 2005)

Ten years ago - April 2005
West Word ten years ago was a bargain at 75p for 36 pages.
The front page story concerned the purchase of a boat called 'Arisaig' for a family in Sri Lanka, which had suffered from the tsunami at Christmas 2004 with the promise of a second boat called 'Morar' to follow. Collections in the local area for victims of the tsunami, which devastated areas around the Indian Ocean, raised more than £2500 which was sent free of charge bythe Bank of Scotland to a friend of Ranald and Su Coyne's in Sri Lanka who is purchasing the two 19ft boats for local fishermen.
Other front page stories were that a new trail bike club in Mallaig was being formed and Lochaber Communications Network Ltd, the charitable IT project, closed because its funding was stopped. It had a Resource Centre in the Community Centre and provided free webpages to local groups.
In last month's 'Ten years ago..' I mentioned a mystery object which had appeared on Loch Morar. All was revealed in May 2005, It was a Rotary Screw Trap, whose job was to work out the marine survival of the salmon and sea trout smolts, an experimental 5 year programme.

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The strange object on Loch Morar

The death of Jim Porteous Wood at the age of 85 was marked by an obituary and a piece in Personal Angle. Jim, who lived in Arisaig, had an international career as an artist and designer, exhibiting at the Royal Scottish Academy and the Royal Academy in London amongst other prestigious galleries. At a local level, Jim designed the logos for the Mallaig & North West Fishermen's Association, the Land Sea & Islands Centre, the Arisaig Marine map and the original publicity drawing of the Old Library.
And I said Morar Filed Club in last month's look back-of course, that should have read Field Club, in May 2005 now the North Morar Field Club and planning an expedition across Loch Morar to Retland.
Ann Martin


Wide World West Word

David and Jenny Sharpe of Arisaig packed a copy for their trip to Rome, where they visited the Vatican - and saw the Pope! (but did he see them?)
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Amelia MacKinnon, Glasgow, loves her West Word and her great granny Ellen Kennedy - who she doesn't see often enough because of the Mackintosh Centre closure.
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Ranald and Su Coyne took their copy from Arisaig to China, where they shared it with their Chinese hosts.
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West Pets
Thanks to Alycia Poole, Bracara for sending us these photos of the family pets:
Mina the Wauzer asleep with her toy ham in her paws
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Luna the (very large!) rabbit, feeling happy in her indoor hutch.
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Eddie Lee, Arisaig, sent us the picture of Remie and Copperpot enjoying the West Word on their trip to Morroch!
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Why not send us a photo of your pet?


Personal Angle
I hereby reprint an item from my Personal Angle column in the March 2010 issue of West Word.

The old 'Clinic', a feature of the Mallaig landscape for nigh on 90 years, is now no more. As of Monday 22nd February, the building was consigned to history and memory as it was demolished with a few sweeps of a mighty JCB Bucket!
Although eventually it was to become outdates and more than a bit dowdy looking, in its time with the District Nurse located next door and within easy walking distance of the village, it was extremely well utilised by the local populace. Pre-natal, ante-natal, chiropody and lots of other 'clinics' were organised at The Clinic and it dispensed with the long trek up to the Doctor's Surgery!
It is certainly worthwhile remembering and noting for posterity how and why the Clinic came to be built, and the legend on the plaque which adorned the door of the Clinic throughout its working life tells the sad story neatly and succinctly.

This hut was presented
to the Morar and Knoydart
District Nursing Association
by
M.H. Bird and V. Shaw-Stewart
in memory of their brother
Lieutenant J.H. Caldwell
Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders
and Royal Flying Corps
killed on active service in
Mesopotamia January 1918

However, the present whereabouts of the plaque is a bit of a mystery. I believe it was the intention of the authorities to restore the plaque and display it in a prominent location in the new Mallaig Health Centre. Indeed I seem to recall that there was a space reserved for it with two spotlights to highlight its message. For whatever reason, this has clearly not been carried out and the current location of the plaque is unknown.
Someone, somewhere, must know where the plaque is and it would be nice to know as it is after all a part of Mallaig's history and heritage!

Well, I'm delighted to reveal that some fifteen years after the plaque was sent away to be restored, the mystery of its whereabouts has been solved and although there remains one or two gaps in the story the GOOD NEWS is that the plaque has been found and is now back in Mallaig! There will be more about is in next month's West Word.
It was handed over to me last week in the Nevis Radio Studio by Catriona McIntyre who works for Ord Industrial & Commercial Supplies Ltd in Muir of Ord.

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Catriona McIntyre handing over the plaque to Robert MacMillan at the Nevis Radio Studio in Fort William on Sunday 3rd May 2015

I'll let Catriona - who has family connections in Ardnamurchan - take up the story in the email she sent West Word:
'It gives me great pleasure to end the mystery of the missing plaque after reading the (online) March 2010 copy of West Word.
'We recently moved premises and in the move the plaque was rediscovered in the clear out.
'Rather than it being disposed of, I said I would attempt to reunite it with the rightful owners and went about googling on the internet to discover the article about it.
'Part of our company is confidential shredding and it would seem it came into our possession some time ago when the RNI hospital in Inverness was being cleared out and several bags of shredding came to us for disposal.
'The plaque was found in one of the bags, removed and I guess stuck in a cupboard.
'I would be delighted to have it returned to its rightful owners.'
Catriona deserves great praise for her detective work and its thanks to her - and search engine Google - that the valued plaque is now back where it belongs! Thanks Cat, it was nice meeting you!
(More about the plaque next month)

There's a new 177 page book out containing lots of anecdotes and tales about Mallaig. The book is titled Footballosophy and charts the formative years of Ian 'Rogie' Gillies growing up in Mallaig in the 40's and 50's and, as the title of the book would suggest, the important role that football played in his upbringing and early life.
The book (published by Rogue Monster Books) is subtitled A boy's odyssey from the Highlands to Celtic Park to New Zealand and is available to buy in the Mallaig Heritage Centre. A full review of the book will appear on next month's West Word!
RMM


Kin Connections by Marlene (Màiri Éilidh) MacDonald Cheng (mcmcheng@shaw.ca)
In the last column I promised to find information on Ann "Nancy" Gillis, daughter of John and Ann Gillis who settled at Gillis Lake. Nancy was born about 1817 in Scotland and came to Cape Breton with her parents, John and Ann Gillis, about 1826. About 1850 Nancy married Charles "Tearlach mac Sheumais" MacDonald, son of James "Seumas" MacDonald. Charles was born in Prince Edward Island (PEI), Canada, about 1811, and it is likely that he went to Cape Breton with his parents sometime between 1812 and 1825, as many others were doing. Charles and Nancy had four children: (1) Margaret who was born about 1851 at East Bay, Cape Breton; (2) Ewen "Hugh" who was born about 1853 in East Bay, Cape Breton; (3) Mary who was born about 1855 in East Bay, Cape Breton; and (4) Annabella "Bella" who was born about 1861 in East Bay, Cape Breton. I can find no trace of Charles and Nancy's family in either Cape Breton or PEI. Perhaps they moved elsewhere. More on them later...
Now, I expect that you are all getting a bit tired of looking at lists of people, so this month I would like to share with you some everyday stories of the people who came to the area surrounding the Bras D'Or Lakes near East Bay, Cape Breton. Most of the first Scots who went to the East Bay area were those (or their grown children) who had come to St. John's Isle (later Prince Edward Island) as Glenaladale settlers in 1772. By about 1790, the first settlers in PEI were becoming restless, realizing that they were not being treated as they had hoped by John MacDonald of Glenaladale. They were hearing from some of their relations that land grants could be had on Cape Breton Island, east of the mainland of Nova Scotia. By about 1812 or so, the people started to move in droves to Cape Breton Island. The land around East Bay and the Bras D'Or lakes wasn't very good for farming, but they were mostly fishermen and had ready access to good fishing. The small lakes, like Gillis Lake, provided many fish, mostly specked trout, smallmouth bass, and herring from the partly salty Bras D'Or Lakes.
The native Mi'kmaq people had been living on Cape Breton Island for at least 1,000 years and they very much resented sharing their land with newcomers. They were also angry that the government of the time was handing out land lots to the new settlers, ignoring the fact that the land had belonged to the Mi'kmaq for so long. The Scots found the Mi'kmaq "arrogant" about the land issue. For a number of years, Rev. Michael was Parish Priest at East Bay. He left a story in the Parish records; it goes like this: "When fishing or spearing in water through ice, as soon as a white man would cut a hole in the ice, the 'Indian' would come and put his spear in it and tell the Scotchman, 'This is my hole. You go makum more holes'." The numerous Mi'kmaq men were quite sturdy; they almost always got what they wanted! However, over time, the Mi'kmaq folk began to take an interest in the ways of the white man and their attitude changed somewhat. For one thing, they learned to speak a bit of English and some even learned Gaelic. The Scottish people relied quite a bit on the native people in the first years of their existence in the wild forests of Cape Breton. Over time, some families became quite good friends with the Mi'kmaq folk.
One story was told about Theresa Gillis, daughter of Donald and Mary Gillis, who was born in 1815, the first white child born in the East Bay area. Her father, Donald, received a land grant at Tweednooge (East Bay), located at the head of the channel, and he called his land "Gilliss Mór". When Theresa was born, the Mi'kmaq people were fascinated with the white-skinned child. They would come around to visit Theresa's mother and her new baby on a regular basis. Very concerned about the baby, they would use sign language to instruct her mother how to help her baby survive. If Theresa became ill, they would scurry away and come back with some of their own medicine to help the child. Theresa became a legend among the Mi'kmaq people of East Bay. She married Donald MacDonald and they had eight children.
The first few years were quite difficult for new settlers. The forests were thick right down to the water of the Bras D'Or Lakes. The land grants were about 100 acres per family. They needed to clear land on their acreage so that they could build homes for their families, as well as to plant vegetables and grains. The most important chore was to build a house to shelter their family during the long winter ahead. They cut down trees and stripped most of the branches. They then fashioned a very small hut out of logs they had felled. The Mi'kmaq people showed them how to use bark and moss to help to keep out the cold in the winter. They also built a fire pit in the centre of their hut that would be kept going all night long. Vegetables like carrots and turnips would be put in a cold cellar underneath the house, food for the winter months. They mostly ate fish, either fresh or salted, that they could get all year round. If they went far from home, they might not be able to find their way back. The Mi'kmaq people taught them how to cut notches in trees along their path, so that they could find their way back home. Even then, quite a few of settlers died trying to get back home on cold and stormy nights. In addition, there were wild animals in the woods - wolves and bears had to be avoided if possible, but there were deer that could be killed for food. Theresa Gillis's mother, Mary, had an experience with a bear. One day while she was at home with the children, Mary could hear something scratching at the door of the hut. Through the small window she could see a huge black bear trying to get inside. She looked around for a weapon to use, and grabbed shovel of hot cinders from the fireplace. Quickly she opened the door and threw the hot cinders in the bear's face. He bellowed a huge cry, and took off running away from Mary. She never saw that bear again! What a brave woman she must have been!!! More next month ...


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