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MacIntyre's of Cape Breton

Maclntyre - Queensvile & Maclntyre Mountain


The Maclntyres of Glendale Parish arrived in Cape Breton in about 1820 from the island of South Uist, part of the Hebridean chain of islands off the west coast of Scotland. Nobody is certain yet where they were before South Uist but the name is common through out Scotland and Ireland. Somerled MacMillan, in his book "Sporan Dhomhnuill", on the poetry of the great Gaelic bard, Donald ‘Ruadh’ Maclntyre of South Uist, suggested "three distinct branches of Maclntyres are known to be in South Uist which are in no way related to each other".

Tradition has it that one of them came from Skye via North Uist while the other two came direct from the winged isle "Skye".

Their leaving South Uist was probably related to a religious upheaval which occurred there in 1770 after Alexander MacDonald of Boisdale, the Clanranald cadet who owned and administered South Uist, was excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church.

Embittered by the discipline of the church, Boisdale carried out reprisals against those of his tenants who refused to leave the church with him and subsequently, in 1772, many of them left the island with a party of emigrants from the Scottish mainland, under the leadership of Captain John MacDonald, laird of Glendaladale and Glenfinnan, and they settled with him in Prince Edward Island.

The Maclntyres’ seem to have become associated with the House. of Boisdale at about that time. Roderick Maclntyre became the Gardener to the MacDonalds of Boisdale and visitors to South Uist can still see the high wall that encircled the gardens in which he worked.

There are no recorded birth dates for any of those sons but informants in Scotland suggested that one named Archie was born in 1788, and another named Norman, in about 1793. In about 1808 or 1809, Archie married Mary Steele who, it is believed, was from Ireland. There are a number of people named Steele living in South Uist today and some informants suggest that it is possible that they originated in Ireland. In those days there was a great deal of traffic back and forth between the north of Ireland and the Outer Hebrides because they are relatively close. Today a small cove near Lochboisdale, South Uist, is still called Bagh nan Eireanach (Irishmens Bay). Neither the Steels nor the Maclntyres approved of the marriage because Mary was Catholic and Archie was Presbyterian but they preserved and settled on a croft in South Uist.

Their first child was a boy, born around 1810, named Donald, their next boy named John, and a girl named Jessie. In 1818, they had another son and they called him Archie.

While it is unclear how they resolved there religion problem for the first four children, there is a record in the Catholic church in Bomish, South Uist, showing the young Archie was baptized there in 1818.

There is nothing on record to indicate what happened after that but the oral tradition is consistent. The landlord, the story says, protested to Mary that the baby should be raised in his father’s religion and Mary, as the dispute grew increasingly bitter, eventually consulted a priest. The priest advised her that the family should emigrant and that she could be confident that her children and their descendants would never suffer from the move.

One of their children, John, who was four or five years old, remained in Scotland and, it is believed, eventually settled in Glasgow. A seaman named Maclntyre came to Cape Breton a number of years ago seeking relatives, and the people he contacted at the time, in Port Hawkesbury, concluded that he was a descendant of John’s.

It is not clear why John remained behind. One story suggests he was, ‘kidnaped’ by either MacDonald or by his grandparents in an attempt to deter Archie from leaving. A more plausible story suggests he was very attached to his grandparents and raised such a protest at the moment of departure that they left him behind with the understanding he would follow them. Norman did follow Archie but did not bring the little boy with him and, as far as can be established, the parents saw their son for the last time on a little wharf in the shadows of the granite hills which brood over Lochboisdale.

The departure of the Maclntyres would have been a reminder of the departure, nearly 50 years before, of the sad Uist people who joined the Glenaladale settlers on their way to Prince Edward Island. And it would have been a grim forerunner of the clearances that would occur there just 30 years later when, after the MacDonald estate on South Uist were sold to the Cathcart-Gordon family, Colonel Gordon banished more than 1,000 of his Uist tenants.

The memory of those two sons of the gardener, Archie and Norman, faded gradually in Uist and, until recently, when direct links were re-established, lapsed entirely. The gardener and his remaining family apparently kept their sadness to themselves because their descendants knew nothing of Archie and Norman except that the names, which continued strongly there, had a special place in the hearts of the older people.

Archie arrived in Cape Breton in 1820 but it can not be determined whether he came directly or through Pictou, as so many others did at that time. Shortly after his arrival he acquired land in that part of the River Inhabitants district now known as Queensville and the original home was located just behind the present home of Mrs. John (Cassie) Maclntyre. After their arrived here, Archie and Mary had six more children, Anne, Roderick and Catherine, who died in infancy, and Mary, Sarah and Donald (Og) who survived and married.

Very little is known of Norman’s family, other than information in J.L. MacDougall’s History of Inverness County which suggests that his children were eventually located in the vicinity of Maclntyre Lake and that the line died out.

Some time during the winter of 1834-35, Archie’s two sons, Donald and Alexander, followed a stream up a nearby mountain and decided that it would make a suitable place for a settlement. Alex, that winter made the first clearing near the top of what came to be known as Maclntyre’s Mountain. His brother, Donald cleared land below him, with his first home on a property which was continuously occupied by himself, his son, and finally, his grandson, Dan L. Maclntyre, until 1921.

Donald Maclntye died while he was still in his prime, probably some time between 1845 and 1850, leaving his wife Christy with six young boys. Because of Donald’s early death, the sons were identified by their mother’s name (i.e. Sandy Christy, Norman Christy, etc.). Christy Maclntyre was a remarkable strong woman who, when she was older, was faced with the task of raising the six children of her son, Alexander, whose wife, the former Margaret MacDougall of Rear Long Point, died while her children were still infants.

For almost a century, the community on the mountain grew and at various times had lumber mills, a school, a post office and a store. At the same time, in Queensville, the line was continued strongly by two of Archie’s other sons, Archie and young Donald.

From those two lines, Maclntyre’s Mountain and Queensville, most of South Inverness County descended, as well as a large number of the Maclntyres’ now living in the Sydney area and in the New England States. Others descended from these lines are scattered throughout Canada and the United States.

The following genealogical detail does not attempt to provide information on the lives of the descendants of Archie Maclntyre, just names their names. It takes each of Archie’s children individually and follows that person’s line, through male descent. Lines from Alexander and Archie have been developed through to the fourth generation while the line for Donald, the youngest, has been traced for three generations.

Information was obtained from records in the provincial and national archives, the registry of crown lands in Halifax, municipal records in Port Hood, MacDougall’s history which, apparently had an excellent source of information on the Maclntyre family.

Archie Maclntyre and Mary Steele were progenitors for all the Maclntyres of Glendale Parish in addition to most of the Maclntyres in the neighbouring parishes of West Bay Road, Creignish, and Judique. Their children were: Donald, Alexander, John, Jessie, Archibald, Mary, Sarah, Donald, Anna, Rodenck, and Catherine.


Since the printing of the Genealogical History: St. Mary's Parish, Glendale, NS., many more generations have been added to Pioneer Archie‘s families. The information printed, researched and recorded mainly by Linden Maclntyre, a free lance journalist and descendant of Donald Maclntyre, Pioneer Archie ‘s son, spurred others to pick up the research. The record has made it possible to continue the collection of the lines followed in the original printing but where information was lacking then, time has erased it more so today. A reunion of Maclntyres, held in 1996, brought many of the Maclntyre descendants together, thus recording of names have added generations to the individual children of Archie and Mary Steele. And like the original, we will follow each of Archie‘s children through generations to the present day.

Recently, Linden passed on a piece of information that was to late coming to be include in the first printing. It indicates that Roderick (the Gardener) also had a daughter, Anna. We have pieced together a short outline on Anna as well.

The above information was taken from the book "Cuir is Buain" A Genealogical History of Glendale and Neighbouring Communities, by The Glendale Gaelic & Historical Society. There are around 100 pages of genealogy information in the MacIntyre's within this book.

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