THE preparation of this book has
been a labor of love. Although the author has been called to spend most of
his life in other and distant fields, he has never wavered in his devotion
to the place of his birth and the friends of his youth. It has at times
been his dearest hope to repay in some measure, by some serviceable deed,
the debt of gratitude which he owes to his native land.
Hence the undertaking of this book,
the aim of which is to rescue from oblivion the names, the deeds, the
heroism of the pioneers of Pictou, and to show how notable a contribution,
in men and women, the county has made to the intellectual life and growth
of the country.
No fairer scenes than Pictou County
presents can be found in the land. Merely as a piece of Mother Earth it is
deserving of the most enthusiastic admiration and ardent attachment. Its
beautiful elm-studded valleys, its clear, winding streams, its sunlit
hills with their fertile fields gently sloping toward the sea, its bonnie,
happy homes, its thriving towns, its peaceful villages, its infinitely
varied forests and even its rugged glens present charms which never pall.
But the county’s moral claim for its
people’s love and loyalty is stronger than the physical. No spot in our
wide Dominion, of equal size and population, has contributed so much to
all that is best in our national life. Nowhere else have religion and
education so effectually joined hands for the uplift of the people and the
promotion of good. Nowhere have righteousness and truth been more
genuinely wedded, or produced finer fruitage.
In support of these statements the
evidence in this book is confidently submitted. The gathering of the
evidence has been a difficult task. It is not claimed that it is either
exhaustive or absolutely accurate, but the author has done his best, and
he has had the hearty cooperation of many to whom he is sincerely
It has been said that Pictou is
noted for coal and clergymen. Great as is the yield of coal, yet that
which is Pictou’s proudest product is her men and women. In less than a
hundred years she has given to the church nearly three hundred clergymen.
She has sent forth one hundred and ninety physicians, sixty-three lawyers,
forty professors, fifteen men and eleven women missionaries, eight college
presidents, four judges, two governors, two premiers and a chief justice
for the Province, besides a host of journalists, politicians and business
men of note and name.
There is inspiration in studying the
lives of men and women. It stirs within us a deepening desire to imitate
and achieve all that was best in their lives. If this book will help the
youth of the land to do this, it will have accomplished the main purpose
of the writer.
Our fathers have left us a precious
heritage and a rare record. We owe them the debt of a grateful
remembrance. "Happy are the people," says John Fiske, "that can look back
upon the work of their fathers and in their heart of hearts pronounce it
June 1, 1914
. J. P. MacPhie