NS-CAPE-BRETON-L ArchivesArchiver > NS-CAPE-BRETON > 2001-08 > 0997202297
From: joseph macdonald <>
Subject: [NS-CB-L] CATHERINE MACPHERSON'S INN at GRAND ANSE, RICHMOND COUNTY
Date: Tue, 07 Aug 2001 13:38:17 -0300
The following is taken from the book "JOURNEY THROUGH A CAPE BRETON
COUNTY" Pioneer Roads of Richmond County, by Arthur J. Stone.(ISBN
0-920336-39-6) Published by the University College of Cape Breton Press,
PO Box 5300, Sydney, Nova Scotia, B1P 6L2 (1991).
It is my understanding that this book is going out of print, according
to my local book store. I purchased a copy of it last week and I highly
recommend it for anyone who is interested in Richmond County. The author
Arthur J. Stone has given 58 pages of references and two pages of
Bibliography, which is a treasure in itself for anyone looking for
information on Richmond County.
Now to the story.
p. 23 (there is also a picture of the inn taken in 1987)
"THE COVE SETTLERS
In the early 1800s, a number of settlers from the highlands and islands
of Scotland took up lots on or near the shores of Grand Anse. Among
these was Alexander McPherson, who had first settled on Prince Edward
Island with his parents, John and Isabella, about 1808. As was the case
with many settlers on that island, he soon left after encountering
delays in acquiring land. About 1812, Alexander found a lot at Grand
Anse and so settled there with his wife Catherine, to be followed in
1813 by his parents and brother Farquhar. John and Alexander selected
lots, which the families immediately set about to improve. But death
soon overtook these two men. Catherine now to fend for herself and her
seven children. Only sheer courage and endurance. so typical of pioneer
women, carried her through. Both widows, in fact, stayed on at Grand
Anse, where they and Farquhar were granted the lands they had already
COURIERS AND CANDLELIGHT
In the summer of 1827, the widow's hearts were gladdened by news that a
new road was about to be built between the Grandique ferry on the Lennox
Passage and the Ship Harbour road at John McLeod's Bridge. John Munro
arrived on the scene in the spring of that year to blaze the right of
way for the road diagonally through Catherine's lot and through the
northwest corner of Farquhar's. Travel to Arichat, the Gut of Canso and
points west would soon become more tolerable. In a little while, too,
this new road would be linked to St. Peter's and onward to Sydney
itself. Increased travel on these roads, as well as between Grand Anse
and the little settlements springing up on the south shore of St.
George's Channel, was about to begin. Catherine McPherson's house would
soon occupy a strategic location on an island which outsiders sometimes
regarded as "wild and rough" or "remote or inhospitable." her house was
about to become one of Cape Bretons earliest inns on the long road from
the Gut of Canso to Sydney. A weary traveller would there find a resting
place for himself and his horse.
Couriers running between the Gut of Canso and Sydney or Arichat were
among the first wayfarers to recognize the convenience of Catherine
McPherson's inn. Arichat once could boast its own courier but roads
improved and this came to an end when the Arichat and Sydney couriers
were required to transfer mails at a suitable place near the junction.
the inn was the obvious choice. Now an additional burden was thrown on
the widowed innkeeper, for the couriers adhered to no fixed schedules.
Often, as she put it, they arrived "all hours both of the day and of the
night," forcing her to provide heat and candlelight. She did this quite
cheerfully for upwards of five years without receiving a penny reward,
but finally, in 1843, Catherine asked the House of Assembly at Halifax
to recognize her contribution by allowing "a remuneration of five pounds
currency a year commencing in April, 1837." The reaction was not
encouraging, for her pleas of that and subsequent years went without any
When it became clear to the Halifax postal authorities that Catherine
might shut her doors against the couriers, they decided to intervene.
Postal surveyor HM Watson, dispatched to Grand Anse to investigate the
matter, soon brought in a sympathetic report. Catherine, he noted, had
extended accommodation to the couriers "during the long and dreary
winters to which Cape Breton is subject, at all hours of the night, when
fuel and light have been at their service." He recommended that she be
paid an annual stipend of 5 pounds, and coupled it with the suggestion
"that a small box be furnished with a lock and two keys ... for
depositing the mails on arrival of the couriers at this place, as being
the only house on the line of road for travellers to resort to, it is
very objectional that the present practice of leaving mails exposed
should be avoided." this was soon afterward acted upon.
WAYFARERS AT THE INN
Though the mail couriers were by far its most frequent guests, the inn
received many other travellers who stopped for a meal or a night's rest.
Among them were some of the province's leading citizens.
There was first the judge, John G. Marshall, appointed in 1823 by Sir
James Kempt to be the Chief Justice of the Inferior Court of Common
Pleas at Sydney, a position he held for the ensuing 18 years.
Next came the physician, Dr. Andrew Madden of Arichat, born in 1782 at
Dumneath, County Down, Ireland..........................
James C. McKeagney, the politician, also visited the inn. Many have
represented Richmond County over the years, including the famous
groundbreaker Laurence Kavanagh Jr. of St.
Finally stagecoacher Hiram Hyde of Truro came to the inn. He was born on
Staten Island, New York, in the early years of the nineteenth century
and, while still young, moved to Lower Canada (Quebec) where he worked
in a stagecoach operation and, during the 1837 rebellion, transported
British troops by coach to the battlefields. Soon afterward, Hyde moved
to Nova Scotia, ...................................
In 1851 Hyde was the successful bidder for the first vehicle-conveyed
mail service between West River, Pictou County, and Sydney via Plaister
Cove and St. Peter's. The route was divided into stages of approximately
fifteen miles, Plaister cove and Catherine McPherson's inn being two of
his Cape Breton stops...................................
During the 1850s he embarked on another venture, building the first
telegraph line in the province which,, in Cape Breton, followed the old
post road from the Gut of Canso to Sydney, passing in front of Catherine
McPherson's door at Grand Anse."
FROM: PLACE NAMES AND PLACES OF NOVA SCOTIA
GRANDE ANSE, RICHMOND COUNTY p. 251
It is on the north side of Lennox Passage. Grande Anse in French for
"Big cove." among the settlers were Archibald Mcdonald, 1821, and
Lachlan Kennedy, 1822. There was a school here as early as 1832 with
John McKenzie as the teacher. A postal way office was established here
in 1862. the population in 1956 was 125.
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