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The year 2003 marks the 200th Anniversary of the arrival of the Selkirk Settlers to the community of Belfast, Prince Edward Island.

The "Selkirk Settlers" were a group of Scottish colonists brought to Prince Edward Island in 1803 by Thomas Douglas, the 5th Earl of Selkirk. These Highland men and women sailed on three ships: the Polly, the Dykes, and the Oughton.

The Polly arrived on August 7th, the Dykes (on which Lord Selkirk traveled) disembarked on August 9th, and the Oughton arrived on the 27th. About 400 of the approximate 800 colonists brought by Lord Selkirk settled in the Belfast area. Most of these settlers had been passengers on the ship Polly.

From August 7th through August 10th, the Belfast Historical Society, in conjunction with the Caledonian Club, will host the 200th Anniversary and the Annual Highland Games at the Lord Selkirk Provincial Park in Eldon. Over this four-day extended weekend, planned activities include: genealogy workshops and lectures, displays and exhibits, concerts, traditional highland athletic competitions, piping competitions, reenactments of the Selkirk Settlers arrival, highland dance competitions, guest speakers, and kilted classic golf tournaments.

Additional information may be found on our web page at:


Linda Jean Nicholson MacKenzie

Event Coordinator

Belfast Historical Society

RR 1

Belfast, PE C0A 1A0



"Selkirk saw to it that one of the most useful craftsmen in building a new community came out with the settlers. This was the skilled blacksmith, Charles MacWilliam, of Kirkcudbright, who was on the same ship as Selkirk, himself [Note: Selkirk came on the Dykes, which arrived two days after the "Polly"]." HP, Pg. 14. (Gordy McCarville notes that the Guardian, Aug 07, 1974 had a reference to Rev. A. MacLean Sinclair's notes of 1890 where the Rev. lists Charles MacWilliam was a blacksmith from Kirkcudbright. Children: Thomas, Robert, John, James, Charles, William, Andrew, Mary and Hugh, killed in Miramichi.)

Gordy McCarville points out that a MacTavish was the "first child born among the Selkirk Sellers". This is confirmed by a newspaper account of his death (the Islander, 25 July 1862) "At Belfast on the 22nd July Thomas MacTavish Age 59. Was the first born among emigrants of Selkirk families from Scotland in 1803." This would suggest a Mr and Mrs MacTavish, a widow MacTavish, or a Miss MacTavish gave birth to this child sometime between Aug.7 and Dec.31 1803 in Belfast area.

Herald 20 Oct. 1886 (SPEI p. 45), [Died] "MASTER - At Vernon River 7th Margery, relict of John Master AE 88 Nat. of Inverness. Her father emig. on "Polly" 1803. She emig. AE 5 yrs. old." Also: Protestant Union 25 Nov 1886: "At Vernon River, on Thursday, the 7th inst., Margery, relict of the late John Masters, in the 88th year of her age. She emigrated from Inverness, Scotland, to P.E. Island in 1803, being one (and probably about the last to pass away) of the passengers who came to this country in the well known emigrant vessel "Polly". At that time she was five years of age, and accompanied her father, the late Finlay Smith, of Belfast. Deceased was a professing Christian for forty-four years, and was beloved by all who had the pleasure of her acquaintance." From the research of Donna Collings,

Herald 5 Oct. 1887 (SPEI p. 54), [Died] "STEWART - At West River on 17th Sept., Donald Stewart AE 86. Native of the Highlands of Scotland. Emig. 1803 on "Polly" with his parents. Obit"

Also: Paper unknown (from clipping): The death of David R. Stewart occurred suddenly at Hampshire on April 29th, 1909, at the advanced age of 84 years. His parents came from Scotland on the ship Polly and settled near Belfast, P.E.I. He was honest and upright in all his dealings and was respected by all his acquaintances and friends. He was of a quiet and contented nature, he asked for little but the comforts of home and with an assurance amongst the righteous he passed away. His remains were laid to rest in the Hampshire cemetery. The funeral conduced by Rev. Hugh Millar and was largely attended. The pallbearers were John Watts, Enoch Ackland, Albert Tremere, Neil Matheson, William Rodd and John Pethick. A widow, five daughters and two sons survive him - Mrs. Neil McNeill living at North River, Miss Ida M. living in Newtonville, Mass., Mrs. P.H. Crawford living in Winchester, Mass., James R. living in Charlottetown and Alice, Louise and William at home. From the research of Donna Collings,

See Selkirk - Red River Settlement