Family Reunion – July 25, 2006

Well, I’m back after a couple of interesting days.

On Sunday we left Moncton and headed up the coast to New Mills, New Brunswick. This whole coastline has a rich Acadian heritage and the French influence is very evident. We wove up the coastline very slowly in between showers and downpours. We spent some time at beautiful Kouchibouguac National Park and would have loved to kayak but the weather was just too miserable. The small towns up and down the coast were all celebrating Acadian Heritage Days and the Lady was thrilled when approaching one town a parade was just marshalling in preparation for going down Main Street. We preceded the parade and the street was lined with people. The Lady and I had a great time waving to all the people who were yelling, “Vive la mouton, vive la mouton!” Actually the Lady is quite used to waving at everyone as she has appointed herself a British Columbia friendship ambassador and has been waving at anything on two legs. The Man, of course, waves, oinks, baaas, whinnies, brays, barks, meows and moos at anything with four legs. I tell you, it has not been a quiet trip as there are lots of four legged creatures about.

Benjamin River

Benjamin River

Benjamin River

Benjamin River

As the afternoon was getting on and it was very rainy, the Man decided it might be best to stay in Bathurst and hope that the weather would improve for our visit to New Mills. Fortunately, this time the Man was right and the weather yesterday was beautiful.

New Mills Harbour

New Mills Harbour

New Mills

New Mills

We found the New Mills area very beautiful – farmland, lovely coastline and sparsely populated.

New Mills Cemetery

New Mills Cemetery

Without too much effort we were able to find the cemetery where the McMillan clan dwell. The Man was able to photograph over eighty tombstones which translates into over two hundred individuals (because of children and spouses). The Man says he has never seen so many McMillans together in one place and never met a nicer bunch of them! It is going to take a bit of sorting out – lots of Johns, Donalds, Margarets and Daniels. It will be useful for the Man though in supplying family links and dates for his genealogy research.

Donald & Barbara McMillan

Donald & Barbara McMillan

The oldest McMillans we found were Donald (the Man’s great-great-great grandfather) and Barbara (Shaw) who arrived from the Isle of Arran in 1829 – victims of the Scottish Clearances. The Clearances occurred in the early 1800’s when the British gentry (the Duke of Hamilton in this case who ‘owned’ 113 farms on Arran and leased them out to the locals) decided that it was more financially beneficial and less trouble to replace the peasants with blessèd sheep. (It sounds like a good idea to me and for once it looks like there was a spark of intelligence behind those beady human eyes.) The locals had worked the land and paid the Duke back from what they produced on the land, a common situation in Scotland. The Duke paid each family a very small stipend to emigrate to Canada. The Donald McMillan family (wife and seven children) headed for New Mills.

In David Darlington’s book, “In Condor Country” he writes:

“Like all of the clans, the McMillans dispersed. Some of them made a go of it in the Lowlands; others departed for Australia and America. One McMillan, Daniel, got a job in a Glasgow bookshop and eventually started his own business, the Macmillan Publishing Company. His grandson Harold had the most success in dealing with the jurisdiction of England, becoming prime minister of the country. A more typical course was followed by Donald, who — in company with other McMillans, McNairs, Cooks, Whites, Stuarts and Fergusons — landed at the Bay of Chaleur, in Restigouche County, New Brunswick, in the autumn of 1829. Without any time to build houses before winter, the immigrants tunnelled into the hillsides and boarded up the openings. Eastern Canadian weather is less forgiving than that of the Inner Hebrides, whose chilly dampness is at least mitigated by the influence of the Gulf Stream; nevertheless, these stubborn Scots stayed in New Brunswick — logging, fishing and farming soil as poor as that to which they were accustomed on Arran — for four decades.”

New Mills shoreline with Heron Island in the background

New Mills shoreline with Heron Island
in the background

Unfortunately, not much of old New Mills remains and we could find very little physical evidence of the McMillan legacy but it was still great to get a feel of the area. We ran into the son of a woman who has written four very good books on the area so we picked up two of them and the Man will need to take some time to digest them. We stayed the night in a nearby town and then this morning went to the Dalhousie Museum to try to dig up some more info. We hooked up with the curator who gave us some online leads so the Man will explore those when he gets home.

After leaving the museum we actually headed west through pouring rain. Driving across north New Brunswick and the Appalachia Mountains, very much like BC, even with the rain.

Tomorrow we continue west towards home!

Til later,

Miss Ewe

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Categories: Cross Canada Road Trip, New Brunswick | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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