Sir Andrew Macphail Homestead: Guest Lecturer Iain MacPherson


Sir Andrew Macphail Homestead


Saturday, August 17, 2019 at 6:00pm - 7:00pm


1 hours

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Donald Angus Stewart: another poem from the High Bank 'Bard of the Plains'.

The Sir Andrew Macphail Homestead Foundation (Urras Baile an Urr. Anndra MhicPhàil) is pleased to host a lecture on Saturday, August 17, 2019 with Iain S. MacPherson, a Scottish Gaelic speaker and writer with strong family roots in Prince Edward Island as well as being a lecturer in Gaelic Language and Literature at the University of the Highlands and Islands Isle of Skye-based Gaelic Partner College Sabhal Mòr Ostaig.

Iain MacPherson has spoken annually at the Homestead, his fluency in Gaelic being a rare treat on the island where once all Scottish Highland settlers including Sir Andrew Macphail’s father “The Master” ‘had the Gaelic’.  MacPherson switches between the melodious Gaelic and English explaining the history, language and culture as he goes along. 

MacPherson’s lecture this year focuses on a poem by Donald Angus Stewart which he discovered by chance. While discussing another poem of Stewart’s, the High Bank then Dakota Territory 'Bard of the Plains' at the Macphail Homestead in 2016, a member of the audience identified herself as D A Stewart’s great-niece (the granddaughter of his sister) and offered to show MacPherson the handwritten original of the poem in question. In so doing, he discovered a second poem, the crux of this year’s lecture.

This PEI Gaelic-speaking poet’s life represents a common trajectory of Highland emigration to British North America and subsequent out-migration (or further emigration events) to other regions on the continent, as is well documented by our Island’s strong historic ties of kinship to places like ‘the Boston States.’

Born in the Isle of Skye, Stewart was two years old when his family emigrated with him to Prince Edward Island in 1841 settling on a farm at High Bank (Am Bruach Àrd), King’s County, an area settled by people from Skye and Raasay, serving as a coastal extension of the Gaelic-speaking heartlands in the interior communities of Bellevue, Orwell Rear and

Like many second-generation PEI Gaels, Stewart left the Island to work on constructing the eastern section of the transcontinental railway and then relocated to a farmstead at Bismarck, North Dakota, in the American ‘Far West’. In the words of one report on British emigration to the Dominion of Canada in the 1920s, Canada was seen as acting as an emigrant ‘sieve’, attracting important numbers of first-generation immigrants from the ‘Old Country’ (the imperial ‘mother-country’) but then losing equally important numbers of second-generation Canadians in their ensuing acts of out-migration to the US.

Admission to this lecture is by donation. All proceeds will go to supporting the Sir Andrew Macphail Homestead Foundation in its mission to provide pertinent programming concerning
our Island’s unique forms of cultural expression and heritage.

The event begins at 6:00 pm with potato soup and fresh biscuits ($5), and a cash bar, the lecture will begin at 7:00pm.


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