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Cape Breton's Giant: Angus McAskill

(Story continued from page 2)

At sixteen Big Angus was taller than ever, and the future Cape Breton Giant was still growing. He helped his family cut trees and brush, burn slash, plant potatoes and grain, and help with the other farm work. One day Mr. McAskill and his boys except Angus were sawing boards at their saw pit, using a two-handled whipsaw to cut the logs. The top sawyer handled the saw above while the other stood in the pit below to guide the saw while the sawdust fell over him. This was a hard and unpleasant task. An especially heavy log had to be hoisted seven or eight feet up on the sawhorses and the McAskills failed to lift it. The conch shell sounded from the house to signal that dinner was ready so they left the log and walked up to the house. At dinner Mr. McAskill scolded Angus for being lazy and not helping them.

When he was ready to go back to the saw pit Mr. McAskill ordered Angus to come along with his other sons to Angus and Chrishelp them to lift the log. Angus answered: "Papa, it is not necessary". This reply puzzled them. On arriving they saw the heavy log up on the supports over the pit.

Mr. McAskill accused Angus of getting assistance from the neighbour boys. They exchanged some heated words before the Big Boy picked up the log and threw it down as if it had been a piece of firewood. Then Angus turned to his father: "We have quarrelled a little, but I am sorry.., I am glad that it was you, for, if it were many a man I'd relieve him of his head with one clip of my band."

It was an age of much hard manual labour when men were proud of their strength. In pioneer communities neighbours helped each other with difficult tasks for the pleasure of working together and for hearty meals and lots to drink. One time about sixty men gathered at a home in St. Ann's to raise a barn frame, Gille Mor among them. Rum was plentifully supplied. but the host did not offer any to Angus. Although a moderate drinker, he liked a glass of rum, brandy or whiskey occasionally.

The frame had been raised and was ready for the rafters when the women called the men to dinner. McAskill loitered and, after the rest had entered the house, he climbed up the barn's frame and lowered a side plait, put the 60 foot beam on his shoulder and walked 400 yards to the shore to throw it into the water. Then he went home, but he refused to give any explanations for his action.

Their neighbours helped Norman McAskill and his family to build a sturdy home overlooking the waters of St. Ann's, for the sea provided the best transportation in those days. The clapboards were of wide pine boards over sheets of birch bark for insulation. A door opened into the central hallway which divided the house and from which a flight of stairs led to the upper floor - which was probably separated into one large room for the boys and another for the girls, the parents sleeping in the kitchen or the parlour bedroom. The large interior chimney served huge stone fireplaces in the parlour and kitchen.

Mrs. McAskill and her daughters cooked meals over the kitchen fire - for kitchen stoves were not yet fashlonahle. The crane had six pot hooks on it, three long and three short, the long being to hang the pots close to the fire, the short to keep pots away from the heat. At first it must have been difficult for them to cook over logs instead of the familiar peat of the Hebrides. Angus was not renowned as a hearty eater, and indeed, ate less than others in this hardworking farming community, but he always ate a bowl of cream and oatmeal, called crowdie after each meal.

As the boy kept growing and growing his father raised the roof and lifted the ceilings of the kitchen and living room, but as he did not raise the door Angus had to stoop to enter, The giant needed a giant-sized bed too, and it was eight feet long, with ropes lashed across instead of a spring, on which straw or feather mattresses might be placed. This bed, and his large chair, may be seen at the Giant MacAskill and Highland Pioneers' Museum at the Gaelic College of Celtic Arts & Crafts at St, Ann's. The pioneers had to make their furniture and most of their farming equipment with the aid of the blacksmith because they could bring from the Old Country only their clothes and bedding, tools and spinning wheel, pots and some dishes and perhaps a quern or handmill for grinding grain.

Like many other pioneers in Cape Breton, Norman McAskill had trouble obtaining a clear title to his land, and to these proud Highlanders the ownership of land was the reason why they had come to America. The Crown had stopped making free grants of land in 1827 so the McAskills had to buy land from an old settler or the government.

Norman McAskill bought Lot 21 of one hundred acres on the south side of St. Ann's from Donald McAulay in 1831 and discovered later that Donald had not completed the grant. He made repeated petitions at Sydney to H. M. Crawley, surveyor-general of Cape Breton. for his grant and on March 16, 1842 deposited with Crawley 12.10 towards the purchase of one hundred acres, the cost at half a crown an acre, and in April 1842 paid deputy-surveyor Robert Sutherland the sum of 2,2,6 for a survey Yet the grant was delayed because Norman McAskill had failed to include proof that he had paid ''the previous occupant of the land for his improvements". Not until August 1847 did he produce a certificate from the heirs of McAulay, duly verified by a Justice of the Peace, and his grant was issued by Provincial Secretary Sir Rupert George in Halifax.

Norman McAskill insisted that his sons help with the farm work and that they do their tasks well - "What's worth doing Angus and Ben at all is worth doing well," he repeated, Big Angus excelled at ploughing. He and his father were out ploughing one afternoon when a neighbour came by and bet ten dollars that they could not finish the field that afternoon, Ten dollars was a large sum of money in those days in a pioneering community where cash was scarce, but the bet was accepted. Then disaster befell when one of the horses went lame, until Big Angus stepped into the horse's place and pulled the traces - his father guiding the plough. When Mrs. McAskill came to the field with a lunch, she was upset to see her son pulling the plough - so upset that she cried and begged him to stop. He did so and paid the bet from his small savings.

One winter night Angus had an important engagement. The young people sometimes gathered for a milling frolic or a "ceilidh" (at home) to sing Scottish songs, to listen to old tales of the Hebrides, and to dance to the music of the violin and bagpipes. While coming home late with a load of firewood the oxen were so slow that he unyoked them to find their way at their own pace and pulled the wood home himself. Such festivities were held at some households although their minister disapproved.

The McAskill family found the community of St. Ann's dominated by the Presbyterian minister, Rev. Norman McLeod, who had left Scotland because of his hostility to the Kirk. He combined the role of minister, censor, school-teacher and magistrate, using his influence for temperance and morality, and did not hesitate to denounce in his sermons any fall from grace, such as drunkenness in the gentlemen or extravagant dress worn by the ladies. Norman even preached a sermon against his wife for wearing a bonnet with ribbons to church. On Saturday in maple sugaring time the boys had to knock down troughs for maple syrup so that the sap didn't flow into the buckets on the Sabbath!

Big Angus kept right on growing although now he was in his 20's. He and a friend walked thirty miles with an important message, and decided to return home the same day. At twilight a sudden thunder storm roared, the lightning flashed and rain poured down. McAskill asked if they should seek shelter at some house for the night, but his friend (who weighed 190 pounds) wished to keep on. "All right", said the Big Boy, "but as I see you are getting tired, come on my back, I'll carry you". And Angus did so for several miles, until he became so interested talking about a neighbour who had emigrated to Texas that he let his 190 pound burden slip to the ground. The man walked quietly behind the giant. Not until Angus arrived home did he realize that his friend was no longer perched on his back.

The Big Boy of St. Ann's was 7 feet 9 inches tall and weighed 425 pounds, with shoulders 44 inches wide. He had deep blue eyes and curly black hair, a hollow sounding musical voice, and a pleasant manner. He was a friendly giant, which was a good thing because his hands were eight inches wide and a foot long!

His favourite employment and hobby was fishing in St. Ann's Bay. Big Angus enjoyed early rising and he enjoyed fishing alone, taking along his dinner and sometimes a newspaper to amuse him while waiting for the fish. While he was alone on the water, his soul rejoiced in the quiet; while he gazed at the farms nestling in little fields at the foot of the forest clad mountains, he was fascinated by the beauties and ever changing moods of nature.

One time the boys were carrying fish down from the fish house to put aboard the McAskill boat, Big Angus carrying one end of the handbarrow. After delivering a load to the boat, whoever was at the other end of the barrow would let go the handles, and Angus would pull the trailing handbarrow up the steep bank. Three or four of the boys tried to upset Big Angus and grabbed the trailing handles just as the Giant reached the steepest part of the bank, and braced their feet and tried to pull "Gille Mor" off balance. Big Angus gave a mighty yank and sent the boys sprawling.

A large boat was necessary when Angus went fishing alone, with additional ballast placed before the mast to balance the Giant's weight of over four hundred pounds in the stern as he steered. He was a successful fisherman and earned many ten dollar bills according to his biographer James Gillis who wrote the classic Cape Breton Giant. Angus was careful of his equipment and kept his boat painted and his nets mended and tarred and stored in a fish-house when the season ended, for St. Ann's Harbour was closed with ice and drift ice for three or four months in winter and spring.

The fishermen of St. Ann's envied Big Angus' strength. While they laboriously bailed their boats, Gille Mor set his weight under his half ton boat, tipped it on its beam ends and out spilled the bilge water! Singlehanded, he set a forty-foot mast into a schooner as easily as a farmer set a fence post in a hole.

John A. Morrison of South Gut of St. Ann's, told James Gillis that one evening at twilight when he was returning from his nets Angus called to the fishermen on the shore to help him pull his heavy boat up the steep slipway. The men thought they would play a trick on the Giant and carry it right up over the hill into a pool. At high water mark Angus said: " That will do, thank you, " but the crowd pretended not to hear and kept on. Big Angus grabbed the boat - which was pulled to pieces.

A visitor to the neighbourhood, a captain who had come on one of the American fishing vessels which came to St. Ann's to buy bait, challenged Angus to a wrestling match. St. Ann's Big Boy refused. When the three hundred pound visitor taunted him, the Cape Bretoner lost his temper and grabbed the American and threw him over a woodpile ten feet high and twelve feet wide! Another time he shook hands with a tormentor until the man's fingers started to bleed.

Sometimes the crops failed in Cape Breton and hard times came upon the community. In 1847 frost and rain caused the potato crop to blight and the grain to rust in all parts of Nova Scotia. All the potatoes and oats carefully saved for seed had to be eaten during the winter, and cows' calves, sheep and oxen slaughtered to keep families from starvation. The Government of Nova Scotia sent 50 barrels of Indian meal to the magistrates of St. Ann's to be distributed among the destitute, but this was not enough. By spring, not one person in five hundred had seed to plant in the ground.

A man was trying desperately to persuade a merchant to let him have a barrel of flour on credit because his wife and children were starving, but was refused. To get rid of him the merchant said: "I have a vessel down here at the wharf. There are several barrels of flour in the hold. If you can throw a barrel out of the hold on deck (at least 12 feet) or get someone else who can do it, the barrel is yours".

The man thought of the strength of Big Angus McAskill. He made his slow way along the rough road to the McAskill homestead. Angus immediately accompanied him back to the store, where he offered to try to unload the flour. A crowd followed the Giant and his friend and the merchant to the vessel. The Big Boy jumped on board and down into the hold. He seized a barrel, threw it up through the hatchway and into the harbour, then threw another until half a dozen were floating on the water, and finally helped the man to take them home in a cart.

The MacAskill Museum in Scotland

Big Angus had gone fishing with the McLeod boys to Neil's Harbour, There he was approached by Mr. Dunseith to go on a tour to exhibit himself as the Cape Breton Giant, with the American acting as his agent. Dunseith was known to them all as the captain of a Yankee schooner who came to St. Ann's to barter household goods for fish, St, Ann's Big Boy hesitated to take such an action and his family did not want him to leave home, but the prospect of so much money was tempting in such hard times. Norman McAskill reluctantly agreed because of the money Dunseith offered and the promise of a "gentleman's life" for Angus.

An advertising flyer issued by S. Dunseith may be seen Ann's to be distributed among the destitute, but this was not enough. By spring, not one person in five hundred had seed to plant in the ground.

In July 1849 Angus was touring Lower Canada after a rough voyage to Quebec. In October 1850 the St. Ann's correspondent of the "Cape Breton News" reported that the young giant, "Angus McCaskill", had left his home to be exhibited in the United States. The Cape Breton Giant was described as a "remarkable youth 7 feet 2 inches in height-and well proportioned-and will encompass a space of eleven feet from hand to hand - remarkably strong, is in his twenty-first year, and is still growing in height and strength ... His parents are ordinary sized persons and what is still more remarkable when at the age 12 years he was considered a dwarf".

On the way to the States the Cape Breton Giant was exhibited at Halifax and at Yarmouth where he arrived on November 13, 1850 There his age was given as 19 and his size as "7 feet 3 and one-half inches in height, 52 inches round the chest, is extremely well proportioned, and his foot exactly 14 inches in length. My, what a foot!" Angus stayed at Mrs. McDonald's Boarding House, but Noah Fifield, who owned a Yarmouth inn nicknamed "Noah's Ark", later obtained control of Big Angus and exhibited him throughout Newfoundland and the United States in 1852-53.

Fifield was proud of the fine view from the windows of his private rooms in his Yarmouth hotel where his custom ers could watch "vessels entering our harbor and the adjacent Bay, laden with the luxurious and staple merchandise of foreign countries, and taking in return the produce of our fishing banks, well-grown forests and cultivated fields". Yarmouth then had 5,000 people, including many prosperous merchants, fishermen, and shipowners.

Fortunately, the Ciant did not mind being stared at by the crowds who came to see him, and he would do some exercises while they stared. He did not see much of the places he visited because if he walked around the streets no one would pay a dollar to look at him. However, he discovered that he liked talking in his hollow-sounding voice to the strangers who came to see him on exhibit. The people of St. Ann's believed that Big Angus had been exhibited by P. T. Barnum and had toured with Tom Thumb.

The late Albert Almon, the Cape Breton historian, in his articles for the Cape Breton Mirror stated that the picture of Giant McAskill holding the dwarf in his hand was made for publicity by combining two photographic negatives and that McAskill may have appeared briefly at Barnum's Museum in New York or Philadelphia but Barnum does not mention him - perhaps because at this period the American Showman was busy with Jenny Lind's tour.

Big Angus had never seen a railway train before he travelled to the United States, and while he was a passenger on a train in the western states robbers came on board. When Giant McAskill rose to his full height and started toward them the desperados fled.

To show a crowd who doubted tales of his strength, Big Angus entered a tavern in the United States and called for a drink for "all hands". While the rest were sipping, he stepped over to a 140 gallon puncheon of Scotch whiskey He lifted it on end. Then the Giant struck the head a rap with his knuckles, making the bung fly out. Slowly the Giant raised the puncheon to his lips and drank to the health of the awe-stricken and admiring watchers.

Angus' homecoming, after his first tour in the United States, was long remembered by the community of St. Ann's. He returned to Sydney by ship and the captain of the Sydney ferry volunteered to take the famous Cape Breton Giant home on Sunday. As the Sydney ferry Beached the shore opposite the McAskill homestead, Angus came on deck to be rowed ashore and to be welcomed by his rejoicing parents and his younger brother John.

St. Ann's Big Boy had returned with a more assured manner and he carried himself gracefully. He was proud of his new clothes - a cutaway coat with a velvet collar, a white brocade vest which measured 62 inches around, the beaver hat which had been made in Paris and which was 7 and one-half inches high and 26 and one-half inches around the crown. Often he wore a swallowtail coat uniform as shown in the photograph with Parson Taylor. One of his boots may be seen in the Nova Scotia Museum at Citadel Hill in Halifax where there is also a full size model of Giant Angus McAskill.

A Cape Breton Legend In 1853 Giant McAskill was touring the West Indies. For his visit to Cuba his agent prepared a mammoth placard with a full length likeness of the Giant dressed in Highland costume and full details in Spanish. One of the placards was sent to the Halifax Merchants' Exchange Reading Room. "Mount Kaskill", as he was nicknamed, disliked the heat in Cuba and he deplored the bullfighting because of the cruelty to animals.

The late James D. Gillis in The Cape Breton Giant has described Giant McAskill's call upon Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle when Her Majesty presented him with two gold rings, and to show his strength he pressed the carpet with his heels and left the marks of his boot heels on the pile of the carpet! W. A. Deacon in The Four Jameses remarked that what "the Queen said when she discovered her ruined carpet may be imagined most accurately by those who knew how closely Victoria kept track of her personal possessions." Albert Almon declared that he could obtain no proof of the Giant's audience with Queen Victoria or of taking any trip to the British Isles when he held Wallace's sword in his hand. His brother Duncan McAskill told James Gillis that Giant McAskill had a "Highland Costume" which was a gift from Queen Victoria.

There are contradictory accounts of the anchor incident which may have taken place in New York or New Orleans, which is natural as many anecdotes about McAskill were collected by James Gillis more than forty years after the Giant's death. French sailors taunted the Giant to lift an anchor lying on the wharf {the weight of which was estimated at 2200 to 2700 pounds). He did so, but one of the flukes caught in his shoulder, crippling him. Almon, who talked with the Giant's younger brother John, said that Angus admitted lifting "That Anchor" but would not talk about it and that when Angus came home he was "as straight as an arrow". Mr. Almon believed that the Giant must have lifted "That Anchor" in a "Press Lift" being braced between a solid and a moveable object-but wonders how the fluke caught in his shoulder.

Tremendous changes had occurred in St. Ann's when Giant McAskill returned after his second tour with a "snug fortune". In the 1850's half the population of St. Ann's had followed the Rev. Norman McLeod to new homes in New Zealand. Those who had come from Harris and Lewis did not join this migration Why did 71 year old McLeod leave Cape Breton? Norman believed that it was the will of the Lord that he and his family should go to join his son Donald and found another settlement in Australia.

There were economic reasons to persuade others - poor weather made the crops uncertain, the timber business had slumped, and there was more American competition in the trade with the West Indies. Two ships, the Margaret and the Highland Lass, were built at St. Ann's. On the open hillside above Black Cove, Norman preached his last sermon in Cape Breton and on October 28, 1851 the Margaret began her long 12,000 mile voyage to Australia but it was at Waipou in New Zealand that they formed their community away from the gold fever of Australia.

With some of the money he had obtained on tour Giant Angus McAskill opened a shop and also purchased a grist mill. Then John Munro the merchant was defeated in the provincial election of 1855 and decided to join the Rev. Norman McLeod and his Scottish congregation in New Zealand, sailing away on his own ship the Gertrude in July 1856 Later Munro was elected to the legislature of New Zealand.

The Gape Breton Giant bought the merchant's large grist mill at Munro's Point (valued at $900 in the inventory of the estate) and his nephew John McAskill operated it successfully for half a century. Angus MacDougall who later moved to Margaree Harbour, operated one of the mills for Big Angus McAskill and he remembered the Giant moving bags containing four bushels of wheat and oats and turning over the millstones as easily as a housewife turning over a sugar loaf.

Angus Englishtown shopThe Giant built a shop by the shore at Englishtown and lived in the building. The doors were 9 feet high and Big Angus sat on a stool made from a 140 gallon molasses puncheon, puffing away at his pipe. His younger brother John used to go there in the nights for company. Angus' shop was well-stocked, and he sold his goods at a fair price, accepting butter, codfish, salmon and mackerel in exchange instead of cash. He is said to have established the salmon fishery on a commercial basis at St. Ann's. Homes along St. Ann's Bay long cherished a teapot, sugar bowl or cup that had been purchased at the Giant's store. His family said that Angus disliked selling on credit but he never refused to help a person in need. His ledger is still in existence, neatly kept in pounds, shillings and pence. Yet when he died his creditors owed him 837.65.

A customer came to Angus' shop to purchase a pound of tea. "Will you have a pound or a fistful?" the Giant asked. The man was afraid to take a fistful - for tea was terribly expensive.

"I'll be after taking the pound," he said.

The Giant took up a fistful of tea and dropped it in the scale where it weighed over a pound. "I'll not be giving you that because you wouldn't take it. I'll be giving you just the pound".

Angus did not sell liquor in his store, but he kept a supply on hand for treating his friends. He was said to drink out of a wooden dish called a "tub" which would hold three glasses. At times he suffered from a form of rheumatism or perhaps from pituitary gland trouble because his hands and feet were still growing. Sometimes he could not stand straight- and to rise from a chair caused him torture. This was blamed on the delayed effects of an injury from lifting the Big Anchor.

Before he left for Australia, the Rev. Norman McLeod had deeded the big church at Black Cove to the Free {Presbyterian) Church of Nova Scotia, but it was five years before another minister came. This was the Rev. Abraham McIntosh, a native of West Bay, Richmond County. Mr. McLeod had insisted that his parishioners pay their share of his salary by working on his big farm. Thus the people of St. Ann's were not accustomed to paying their minister in cash. Although most promised Mr. McIntosh only S2.00 or $4.00 yearly, half this sum remained unpaid. It is pleasant to record that Giant Angus McAskill was long remembered in the community for his generosity to the Presbyterian church although he seldom attended services because the Congregation stared at him so much. Instead he stayed at home and read his Bible during the hour of worship on the Sabbath.

Big Angus McAskill was planning to go to Halifax to sell the produce he had collected and to buy the stock he needed for the winter season from the wholesalers in the capital city. Suddenly he became seriously ill, and his family moved him back to his parents' home, where his old bed was hastily lengthened and put up in the living room. The doctor's diagnosis was brain fever. After a week's illness, the Cape Breton Giant died peacefully in his sleep on August 8, 1863, the Rev. Abraham McIntosh, the Presbyterian minister, being in attendance and many neighbours in the house. The Halifax Acadian Recorder of August 15, 1863 reported that "the well-known giant ... was by far the tallest man in Nova Scotia, perhaps in British America" and that "his mild and gentle manner endeared him to all who had the pleasure of his acquaintance". The whole county mourned.

A century ago, it was still customary in country districts for a coffin to be constructed by local workmen such as a carriage builder or carpenter, and the Giant's size made this doubly necessary. Two carpenters, working for six hours, made a coffin of pine boards, lined with white cloth. The Nova Scotian newspaper of August 17, 1863 gave these dimensions of his coffin: "Length 8 feet; breadth, 2 feet 6 inches; height, 1 foot 3 inches".

Friends, neighbours and relatives came from far and near to bring their condolences to the sorrowing family and to pay their respects to a man honoured by the community. Many wept while the Presbyterian minister preached his sermon. Then the casket was carried to the cemetery and the grave was heaped with bouquets and wreaths.

Angus' gravesite

In the country churchyard at Englishtown, overlooking the waters of St. Ann's Bay which he loved so much, lie the earthly remains of Giant Angus McAskill in a plot twelve feet long. His parents were buried in this lot too, his father Norman having died on June 4, 1881 at the age of 98 and his mother Christina on May 17, 1873 at the age of 80. The marble headstone reads:

In loving memory
of
Angus McAskill
The Nova Scotian Giant
Who Died At His Home
In St. Ann's
August 8, 1863
Aged 38 Years
Height 7 Ft. 9 In.
Girth 80 In.
Weight 425 Lbs.
A dutiful son,
a loving brother,
a true friend,
a loyal subject,
a humble Christian.

But when Judge G. Patterson visited Englishtown while he was collecting material for a history of Victoria County in 1885, he copied this inscription from the Giant's gravestone:

Erected
to
the memory of
Angus McAskill
The Nova Scotia Giant
ho died August 8, 1863
Aged 38 years
A dutiful son, a kind brother, just in all his dealings,
Universally respected by all his acquaintance.
"Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright,
for the end of that man is peace".

How did this discrepancy come about? The McAskill family erected a gravestone to Angus McAskill which young George Patterson visited and copied. Over the years the cemetery became neglected and the Giant's stone fell and was covered with grass and earth. About fifty years after his death the provincial government authorities decided to erect a marker to Giant McAskill which was apparently engraved from information provided from memory so that the death date was given as August 6th instead of August 8th and the full text omitted.

While the new stone was being erected, the old one was discovered covered by earth and taken away by the workmen to Sydney. Later it was brought to Baddeck and displayed in Bethune's garage. Subsequently Mr. Norman Bethune presented the tombstone to the Giant McAskill Museum.

Thirty-eight year old Angus McAskill had died without a will. On August 17th, 1863 his father Norman and his brother Duncan McAskill applied to the Court of Probate for letters of administration. To appraise the estate they appointed Norman McLeod, a farmer at the Head of Baddeck Bay and William Ross, then a merchant at St. Ann's, who represented Victoria County in the House of Assembly of Nova Scotia, and after Confederation was to be elected to the House of Commons and appointed Senator in 1905. A copy of their inventory may be read on- page 48. The The Giant estate was valued at $6,197.40, including the mill property at Munro's Point, but we must remember that the Rev. Norman McLeod's 1200 acre farm had been bought by John Robertson for $3,000.

On the Cabot Trail of Cape Breton, on a high point of land between the South Gut and the North Gut overlooking the beautiful waters of St. Ann's Harbour and St. Ann's Beach stands the Gaelic College of Celtic Arts and Crafts. Here in August thousands of Cape Bretoners and tourists gather for the Gaelic Mod and for contests in Scottish dancing, piping, folk songs and sports.

On the grounds of the Gaelic College is located the Giant MacAskill and Highland Pioneers' Centennial Museum. This building was officially opened on August 7, 1967 when Mrs. William Matheson of Glen Tosh, the only surviving niece of the Cape Breton Giant, Angus McAskill, cut the Nova Scotia Tartan ribbon in the presence of Dame Flora MacLeod of MacLeod and Dunvegan, honoured guest at the 29th Mod at St. Ann's. Here among the relics of the pioneers which illustrate life in the home, farm, shop, church and school in the early days of Cape Breton may be seen some of the clothing and furniture used by St. Ann's Gille Mor, Giant Angus McAskill, while on the wall is a mural of the Giant in Highland costume as he looked on his tours when he brought fame to the community as the Cape Breton Giant.


For more information about Angus, you can visit or contact:

Giant MacAskill Museum

Route 31, approximately 2.5 km off Highway #105

Box 41, Englishtown
NS B0C 1H0
902-929-2875

Dedicated to promoting and preserving the life history of Angus MacAskill and the local Scottish heritage. The museum houses personal artifacts belonging to the giant including his clothes, chair, bed, walking sticks and grist mill. Also on display are other articles of human interest dating as far back as the early 1800s. Included within the museum is a small genealogy centre containing a family tree of the MacAskill family, with limited information on other residents in the area.

Operated by The Giant MacAskill Heirs Association

Contact: Michele Cavanaugh
902-929-2925

Hours: Mid June-mid September
daily 9:00am-6:00pm
(subject to change)

Admission: Adult $1.00
Senior $.75
Youth (12-17) $.75
Child (5-11) $.50
Child under 5 free
Group rates available

Another MacAskill cemetary in Cape Breton.

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