Anna Nìll Mhurchaidh

Over the past few years, Highland Village animation staff have been transitioning interpretation from 3rd person to 1st person (or role playing). Through this process, staff have developed their own personas each with their own stories and experiences. In this blog, we meet Anna Nìll Mhurchaidh (Anna MacLean), she has made a new home in Alba Nuadh | Nova Scotia. 

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Anna and her family live in a Taigh-logaichean (log house), a small one-room house built from logs with a loft for sleeping and a fireplace for cooking. Outside they have a garden for their crops, and a pasture for the farm animals to graze.

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Anna must daily tend to the crops in the field. Her crop of lìon (flax) is particularly vital for her to be able to make linen.

Flax Update

After she has harvested the lìon (flax) and removes the seeds, it will go through the method of retting, lìon (flax) being soaked then left to dry. Dry lìon (flax) will be crushed and scraped (called scutching) to reveal softer fibers. Lastly the process of hackling is where she will pull the softened fibers through a series of metal combs from coarse to fine, leaving long fibers which are used for spinning into thread and can be used to weave clothing and blankets for her family.

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Carding Mill Day 2013

Anna and her family pass many traditions down verbally. Part of her Gaelic culture involves sharing their history and rituals through songs, poems, and story telling.

 

– Anna MacLean is portrayed by Vicki Quimby from, Orangedale, Cape Breton. She has been with the Highland Village Museum for the past 24 seasons.

 

 

Catrìona bean Sheòrais `ic Alasdair

 

Over the past few years, Highland Village animation staff have been transitioning interpretation from 3rd person to 1st person (or role playing). Through this process, staff have developed their own personas, each with their own stories and experiences. In this blog, we travel to Scotland to meet Catrìona bean Sheòrais`ic Alasdair, who will soon immigrate to Nova Scotia. 

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Catrìona lives on the Isle of Barra in Scotland with her family.

Her days are spent planting and weeding the crops. The staples in her diet are the potatoes, barley, and oats they grow in their field. They have sheep and cattle they care for as well.

Catrìona’s home consists of stonewalls with grassy thatched roofs known as Taigh Dubh (Black House). In the winter the family and animals will live together under the one roof for warmth. During the summer months the animals will be out grazing in the pasture.

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Catrìona’s family are tenants on the land. The wealthy landowners lease plots to families who put everything they have into farming the land to pay their rent. Landowners are raising the rents and evicting those who cannot pay. With the tenants evicted, they can replace them with large sheep farms, which will make greater profits.

 She is waiting for a ship to arrive that will take them to the “New World”.

Some of her neighbours have already chosen to leave, while others have been forced out of their homes. Many are struggling to find a way to afford passage on the ship.

In Catrìona’s case her husband has sold their cattle to be able to afford the cost of passage.

Catrìona and her family won’t be able to bring much with them on the ship; some fishing line, tuadh (axe), feàrsaid (drop spindle) for making wool. They will have to leave their animals behind. Many have left with little but the clothes on their backs.

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They, like many others from the Highlands and Islands Catrìona, will leave Scotland to immigrate to Alba Nuadh |Nova Scotia.

 Not only is Catrìona leaving her house and lifestyle but she will leave her family. She will bring with her to the new world her strong Gaelic language and her culture she holds near and dear to heart. When Catrìona arrives  she will speak little Beurla (English) and will have no means of communicating with her family back home. However, she will seek out kin who have already arrived in Nova Scotia and settled on land in Cape Breton.

 

– Catrìona bean Sheòrais ’ ic Alasdair is portrayed by Catherine Gillis, from North Sydney, Cape Breton. She has been with the Highland Village Museum for the past 9 seasons.

 

 

 

 

Alasdair MacCoinnich (mac Ailein Osdain )

 

Over the past few years, Highland Village animation staff have been transitioning interpretation from 3rd person to 1st person (or role playing). Through this process, staff have developed their own personas, each with their own stories and experiences. In this blog, we meet Alasdair MacCoinnich (or Alistair MacKenzie), the Village blacksmith. 

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At 14 years of age a boy named Alasdair MacCoinnich (mac Ailein Osdain) became an apprentice to Mr. Alex Matheson, An Gobha (the blacksmith), in the parish of Iona. It takes four years of apprenticeship training before he can master the trade. Alasdair came from a small family. His older brothers had already left Cape Breton to find work in the Manitoba grain fields. He wanted to find work at home. By choosing to be a blacksmith he would be considered one of the most valued members of the community. 

A’ Cheàrdach (the forge) is where the blacksmith makes any iron item that early settlers will need. Everything from tàirnean ‘s cruidhean (nails and horseshoes), to dubhain ‘s slabhraidhean (hooks and chains), will need to be made by hand.

In 1902, Matheson retired and Alasdair purchased the shop from him. Alasdair has spent the last 40 years working as a blacksmith.

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-Alasdair MacCoinnich (mac Ailein Osdain ) is portrayed by Hoss MacKenzie, a retired RCMP Officer from Gillis Point, Cape Breton. He has been with the Highland Village Museum for the past 5 seasons.

 

Join us this Saturday, August 9th, from 10 to 5 pm, for a celebration of the art of blacksmithing at our first Hammer In with the Cape Breton Blacksmiths Association. Regular admission fees apply. 

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Là Mór a’ Bhaile | Highland Village Day Concert

P2011.22.01.03 53 years ago was the start of a tradition that brings together our community for a celebration of Gaelic Culture. The first Highland Village Day was held in 1962. It was used as a fundraiser to support the museum and also to commemorate the many long years the volunteers of the Society had spent trying to make the dream of the Highland Village Museum come true. On the first Saturday of August we gather on the hill overlooking the beautiful Bras d’Or Lake to hold our annual Gaelic concert. Through the years we have seen people come from all over the Island to join the celebration with traditional Gaelic songs, fiddle tunes, step dancing and piping to showcase the immense local talent on Cape Breton Island. Family and friends will meet, and for many this time of year will be a chance to laugh and catch-up while listening to the music from the hill.


Join us on Saturday, August 2nd for a fun afternoon of Gaelic arts. This year marks the 53rd Annual Highland Village Day Concert, one of Cape Breton Island’s original Outdoor Scottish Concerts. The concert takes place from 2- 6pm and is $15 per person, Children 12 and under are free. There will be canteen facilities and kids games on site for this day.

 

Here is a look back at the early years of Highland Village Day

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