of Rev. John McRae & Family
Pictou County, Nova Scotia GenWeb
The following is a letter describing the circumstances of Rev. John McRae's sister Isabel, making arrangements to come to Nova Scotia in 1830.
The letter has been generously donated by Ian Shields of Ottawa, April 2004. Please note the image of the letter at the bottom of the page.
14-M #1 - Concerning passage to Canada for Isabel (McRae) McLean
This is oldest and
perhaps my favorite of all the McLean letters. It was the only one that
was received before immigration and brought over to the new world. Mr.
A. McBean writes from Greenock (a port near Glasgow) to Isabel (McRae)
McLean and advises her about ships going to Pictou, Nova Scotia. Her
husband John McLean was already in what is now Canada, and had been
there for seven years (since 1823) preparing a home for his wife and
three children. Presumably he has now sent for his family and she has
I note from the letter's envelope that Isobel was under the care of Mr. Alexander McRae in the village of Culcabock. Her grandfather was an Alexander McRae, but if he was still living in 1830 he would have been 96 years old, so a more likely candidate is her uncle Alexander. Why he would be at Mr. Lyon's shop in Church Street we do not know. Culcabock had once been a separate village, but by 1830 appears to have been subsumed by or become a suburb of a growing Inverness.
We have no proof
that Isabel actually sailed on The Hero, but the fact that this is the
only letter that was brought over from Scotland suggests that it is
special. I suggest that she preserved the letter as a memento because
on receipt of it, in what Mr. McBean called her "impatience"
she hastened down to the dock in Inverness and booked passage to Pictou
for herself and three children (viz., Isabella, Anne, and Donald). She
had waited seven years to join her husband and if the Hero was an excellent,
as well as the next ship,
It strikes me as being fitting that Isobel (McRae) McLean came to the new world on a ship called The Hero, for the heroism of all immigrants is to be admired. Canadian author Jane Urquhart's Away captures the heroism of our early pioneers in her haunting and award -winning novel Away.
-Ian Shields, 31 March 2004
Greenock, July 22, 1830
I received your
letter some time ago and would have returned an Answer
I am yours truly,