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Scottish Emigration

In the British Isles the countries that have suffered most from emigration since the mid-eighteenth century have been Ireland, Wales and Scotland, and in Scotland especially the Border counties and the Highlands and Islands. " Lochaber no more, " by John Watson Nicol.

The break-up of the clan system during the eighteenth century caused massive emigration from the Highlands, from the 1760s onwards, to the cities and Lowlands and to America — first to the Carolinas, and Albany (New York) and, after the American War of Independence, to Canada (Prince Edward Island, Cape Breton, the eastern provinces and central Canada). From the 1840s emigrants began to favour Australia and New Zealand. One group from Assynt, led by the Reverend Norman Macleod, moved first to Canada in about 1820 and thence in 1850 to Waipu in New Zealand. Successive waves of emigration took place, mostly connected to the Highland Clearances for sheep farming, and periods of destitution.

There were Government inquiries, but not until later in the century was emigration officially controlled, and usually by the new self-governing colonies. Emigration has continued at a high rate well into the twentieth century. Between 1850 and 1950 the Highland population declined by at least 100,000.

Wherever they went, the Highland emigrants carried their language, culture and traditions and eased their pain and homesickness by transporting to their new lands the place names of their homeland — Glengarry, Glenelg, etc. In the Gaelic periodicals of the nineteenth century there is much about the emigrants and their new countries. One thinks too of Norman Macleod’s work in Gaelic, The Emigrant Ship, and John Maclean’s Gaelic poem, ‘The Gael in Canada’

Scots in CanadaScots in Canada: A Concise History The story of the Scots who went to Canada, from the 17th century onwards. In Canada there are nearly as many descendants of Scots as there are people living in Scotland; almost 5 million Canadians ticked the "Scottish origin" box in the most recent Canadian Census. Many Scottish families have friends or relatives in Canada. Who left Scotland? Why did they leave? What did they do when they got there? What was their impact on the developing nation? Thousands of Scots were forced from their homeland, while others chose to leave, seeking a better life. As individuals, families and communities, they braved the wild Atlantic Ocean, many crossing in cramped under-rationed ships, unprepared for the fierce Canadian winter. And yet Scots went on to lay railroads, found banks and exploit the fur trade, and helped form the political infrastructure of modern day Canada. This work follows the pioneers west from Nova Scotia to the prairie frontier and on to the Pacific coast. It examines the reasons why so many Scots left their land and families. The legacy of centuries of trade and communication still binds the two countries, and Scottish Canadians keep alive the traditions that crossed the Atlantic with their ancestors.

Twa TribesTwa Tribes: Scots Among the Native... Americans. This is an enlightening account of three pioneering Scots and the special relationships they had with the native people of North America. Hugo Reid, Alexander Ross and Charles McKenzie fought against the attitudes of prejudice of their day and assumed the language and culture of the tribes they encountered and married into. This is the fascinating story of their experiences and achievements in a land far away from their Scottish birthplace.

Plaids and BandanasPlaids and Bandanas: From Scottish... From droving to driving, reivers to rustlers, heilan kye to long horns, "Plaids and Bandanas" explores the link between the two cattle cultures in music, song and dance, and folklore. The vast number of Scots who emigrated to North America has been well documented, whether through forcible eviction during the clearances of the 18th and 19th centuries, or voluntarily in the hope of a better life. With them they took their culture, their language, their music, and their skills. Cattle droving in Scotland was an established profession from the 16th century, and many such migrants took cowboy jobs in the American West. The medium of music paints a vivid picture of their social and personal lives and the exchange was not all one way. The music crossed and re-crossed the Atlantic creating strong links between the old culture and the new. Lonely men in strange surroundings found comfort in songs that reminded them of home. The author, himself a musician, researched the roots of the songs and the routes of the drovers, provding a text which highlights the links between the Wild West and the no-less-wild Highlands.

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