From 1838-, over 600*(x10) families from the Isle of Lewis were evicted from their homes and sent to the Eastern Townships of Quebec (490*) and Bruce County, Ontario (110*). The majority of the Hebridean Scots settled around Lingwick, Winslow and Whitton Townships. These Gaelic speaking Scots stayed in the Eastern Townships up until the 1970’s. It was the third generation that these Gaels began leaving for the United States and Ontario and later the West. These Gaeltachtds (Highlanders) left their mark in the Eastern Townships, bringing many place-names from their tiny Island like Stornoway, Tolsta, Dell, Galson, Mcleod’s Crossing, Ness, Gisla, Balallan, Druim a’ Bhac, Lac Mciver, and Bosta. There are a number of Presbyterians Cemeteries full of “Macs”, which makes you feel like you are in LEWIS.
The most famous ‘Quebec-Hebridean’ was Donald Morrison: “The Megantic Outlaw” or “The Canadian Rob Roy”. Donald Morrison still holds the record for the longest manhunt in Canadian History. Today, in Lac Megantic, he is still remembered and celebrated by both French and English residents.
From 1880-1920s, the Eastern Townships of Quebec had the second highest Gaelic speakers in Canada and was the third unofficial language. Gaelic was the first European language of the Canadian West, thanks to Sir Alexander Mackenzie (Lake Mackenzie fame), a native Gaelic speaker, born in Stornoway, Isle of Lewis and who was the first white man to cross North America. In the 1970s the last Gaelic Church services was held in Scotstown and with only a few dozen Gaeltachtds still hanging on to the past reality began to sink in. As the service ended and as tears filled the room, again the Lewis people have been defeated by the social environment of Quebec. As the majority of young Quebec-Hebrideans have all but left and thus, leaving behind another sad chapter in the ‘History of the Gaels’.
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