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Inverness, Nova Scotia

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The Broken Ground: A History of a Cape Breton Coal Mining Community



Roderick MacLean arrived on the shore of Inverness in 1810. Emigrating from the Isle of Rum in Scotland he acquired 400 acres of land between Angus MacIsaac and Donald MacIsaac. This grant occupied the location of the future Inverness town. Roderick and his wife, a sister of Angus MacIsaac, built their home in the location where Number 1 mine was later established (west of Mine Road) and raised a family of seven sons and three daughters. One of his sons, Donald, born in 1831, lived to see the incorporation of the town in 1904. Donald's son, Dan Rory was installed as the town's first Mayor. One of Dan Rory's sons, William (Billy D.R.) MacLean was also a Mayor of the town in 1954-1955, and served as a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) from 1962-1970. Another son, Roderick MacLean, represented the Inverness constituency as ML A from 1949-1962.

By 1811, one of Angus MacIsaac's brothers, Allan MacIsaac, resettled to the Shean from Prince Edward Island die to failing health. He received 400 acres adjacent to his brother. Allan died in 1812 and was the first to be buried at the Shean Cemetery. (Appendix A). His son, John, also travelled with his father from Prince Edward Island and decided to stay. John settled at Broad Cove Intervale (Strathlorne) and married a daughter of Taylor Beaton from Mabou. The MacIsaac's decision to remain was important to the area in that this family significantly contributed to the development of the region. John's son, Canon Alexander MacIsaac, was the first native priest to be ordained (1845) in Cape Breton. According to John L. MacDougall, History of Inverness County (1922), Rev. Canon Alexander MacIsaac, "was a source of pride and strength to the people of Broad Cove." Another of Allan's sons, Alexander, was the father of Rev. Donald MacIsaac, the second native born priest ordained (1858) in Cape Breton and the first resident to be buried in the town of Inverness in Stella Maris Cemetery. Another son of Alexander was the first Catholic Scot to dedicate his life to the Church as an Augustinian monk where he remained for thirty years.

By the year 1811 the total settled area of the Broad Cove region was in the hands of four families. The grants received ran from the shoreline to a distance of circa two miles inland. From the 1896 land grant map (Appendix F) it is apparent that the MacIsaac's and MacLean's were joined by many of their Scottish Highland neighbours.

From a present day perspective it is of some relevance to locate the various holdings. For example, the grant of Angus MacIsaac included the land from the reservoir on Broad Cove Banks to the Corner. His brother Allan's property extended from the Corner to the south of Forest Street. Roderick MacLean's holdings stretched from Forest Street to MacLean and MacLeod Street and also included the land where the Hussey Mine and Number 2 were opened. On the other side of the Big River land granted to Donald MacIsaac covered present day Inverside.

By 1818, the region was taking on the characteristics of a growing community. One hundred and fifty-six people had settled in Broad Cove. In 1935, Dr. D.C Harvey, Archivist for the Province of Nova Scotia, published Holland's Description of Cape Breton and Other Documents, (the first significant Island census) which included the census roll of Broad Cove for the year 1818. The names are printed as they appeared in the original document.

Broad Cove In 1818 included the geographical area from the South West Margaree River to Glenville.


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