A Vic­to­ria County walker

In Those Days in Vic­to­ria County

The Victoria Standard - - Culture / Heritage - JIM ST. CLAIR

For many peo­ple, now is the sea­son when the hik­ing on wood­land and seashore trails will come as joys. Maps and walk­ing shoes, lo­tions of one sort or an­other will be packed in a knap­sack as well as wa­ter and a snack. But for Ann Macdon­ald, a twenty-year old woman from Ross Ferry, no such ameni­ties were avail­able as she pre­pared to set out one June day on a long walk to Big In­ter­vale one hun­dred miles away, at the other end of Vic­to­ria County. In the year 1857, many roads were just wide paths with­out gravel and of­ten with­out bridges over brooks. ANN MACDON­ALD Born in 1837 on the Isle of Lewis in Scot­land, Ann ar­rived as a three-month-old in­fant with her par­ents and older sib­lings at Boularderie af­ter a sea jour­ney of less than three weeks. The fam­ily stayed for a time with rel­a­tives near Big Bras d’or.

Liv­ing first for sev­eral years on a farm at Big Bad­deck, Ann spent most of her child­hood at Ross Ferry and prob­a­bly at­tended the nearby Munro School. Two of her older sis­ters mar­ried to res­i­dents of Cape North. A WALK NORTH As her sis­ters longed “for the com­pan­ion­ship of their own fam­ily,” ac­cord­ing to Ann’s words, “be­ing young and strong and fond of walk­ing, I per­suaded my par­ents to let me go and visit my sis­ters.”

“It was early sum­mer when the days were long that I started on my great ad­ven­ture...i left my home on a Mon­day af­ter­noon and was fer­ried across the wa­ter to Slios a Brochain (now New Har­ris). I fol­lowed along the shore un­til I reached the foot of Kelly’s Moun­tain where I spent the night with some friends.”

The sec­ond day of Ann’s walk be­gan early as she re­called to her nieces and neph­ews.

“It was only six o’clock when I left... fol­low­ing the nar­row path across the moun­tain in a swing­ing stride, with the birds singing in my ears and the wild flow­ers per­fum­ing my way, the wild squir­rels scam­per­ing un­der my feet.”

She ar­rived at English­town about nine o’clock and had a sec­ond break­fast with friends. Go­ing by boat to North River with her ac­quain­tances, she again set out on foot.

“I reached the last house on the North Shore. Here I stayed all night. The next day, I found my­self at the foot of ‘Smoky’ where I drank from a lit­tle stream.”

The third day’s walk brought a steep as­cent.

Ann re­called, “I started early as it was a steep climb, with the thickly wooded hill­side on my left and the steep cliff on my right...i al­most held my breath at the majesty of the Ocean... with the lofty moun­tain above me...i felt that I was alone on the top of the world.”

In the af­ter­noon, she ar­rived in In­go­nish where she met an­other trav­eller by foot, the post­man, who was tak­ing the mail bag to Cape North. So, she joined him and in her own words “I was glad of his

com­pany. We kept on un­til I reached the Macpher­son home, where I spent the night with my sis­ter Mary.”

The fourth day’s walk brought her to “Big In­ter­vale where I made my visit with my sis­ter who would not hear of my walk­ing back but waited un­til we heard of a packet sail­ing from Cape North which took me back to my fa­ther’s house at Ross Ferry.”

In her later years, Ann re­counted for her fam­ily mem­bers the walk with the ex­pres­sive lan­guage which they wrote down so that we have her own phrases to­day.

“I re­mem­ber very lit­tle of the trip back, but the mem­ory of my four days’ walk over the moun­tains and through the woods, with only the birds and wild things for com­pany, I shall re­mem­ber to my dy­ing days.”

And so, we are told, she did un­til she died at age ninety-two. Such was the ad­ven­ture of a young Vic­to­ria County woman in those days.

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