by Royce MacGillivray

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Some historical persons and events are known to almost everyone: for example Napoleon, Admiral Nelson, Queen Victoria, the American Civil War. But in general when we speak of what is remembered and what is forgotten in history we are speaking of the consciousness of relatively small numbers of people. This is true, indeed, of parallel statements in many areas of study outside history. If we say, for example, that "Seamus Heaney is much admired as a poet" we do not genuinely mean anything more than that a small minority even among educated people is aware of the Irish poet and his achievement. In local history a second distinction needs to be made. There are some events and persons from pretty much any locality which have passed into the general history of the nation or the province or the like and have become familiar to a more or less wide range of history researchers and readers who are not interested in or much aware of the locality itself. There are others which are "famous" merely locally. Of these, some are chronicled by the local writers. At the other extreme some are only commemorated orally in folklore and anecdotes. We are speaking of a rather broad range of ways of knowing things among what are often small and markedly heterogeneous minorities.

It is a problem with matters of reputation that it is hard to say that someone is famous, is remembered, etc., without falling back simply on personal impression--and it will not be pretended in this essay that the problem is not a serious one. However, it is to be noted that this is also a problem in national history and the other "larger" histories where we live with it so easily as barely to notice it. The problem shows up in local history glaringly because there the "interpretive community" (to borrow the literary critic Stanley Fish's useful phrase) is too small and fragmented to sustain the degree of mutual reassurance we have for national histories and the like. I propose that in the present essay the problem of who decides the degree and extent of reputation should be viewed not as an obstacle to the enquiry at hand or as an embarrassment to its pursuit but rather as part and parcel of the interesting difficulties to be explored.

There is an extensive literature on memory as it relates to the subject of history with one of the best regarded recent works being Michael Kammen's Mystic Chords of Memory (1991). Enquiries into the role of memory in the work of historians include as basic such topics as the dependability of personal recollections as historical sources and the techniques for gathering oral history. Distinctions have been carefully explored between individual memory and the kinds of memory people share with groups. There are also speculations on how various groups in society promote their own interests by what they persuade their fellow citizens is worthy of remembrance.(1) Work on the role of memory in the world of historians tends to concentrate on individual examples of things remembered rather than on larger attempts to construct pictures of what "society in general" may be supposed to have remembered. However, to cite an exception at a moderately basic level, teachers have fairly often done surveys or tests of varying degrees of rigour and exhaustiveness to determine, for example, what historical knowledge--say, of the great events of British history--students possess prior to their classroom study of history.(2) It is evidence of the unexpected insights that may arise from this kind of enquiry that two researchers have been able, interestingly, to connect people's recollections of political events (with regard both to which events are remembered, and how they are remembered) with the generational group to which the respondents belonged.(3)

In the present article I will take Glengarry County, Ontario, for a case study of what is remembered and what is forgotten in the history of a small community (Population 1991 Census 22,646, nearly the same as a hundred years ago). Most of the historical writing on Glengarry has concentrated on the Anglophone or Highland Scottish rather than the French Canadian part of Glengarry history.(4) This article will, by choice, deal only with the Anglophone tradition. While recognizing the difference between what is remembered on the national or other large scale and what is remembered locally, it will be accepted that these are not watertight categories. With awareness of these limits a number of examples will be taken from Glengarry history for examination. For each an attempt will be made to define how widely it is remembered and some suggestions will be attempted concerning why it is remembered. The present author is willing to believe that ultimately the reasons why some things are remembered and others are forgotten are beyond human ability to explain. He must plainly say that he is totally unable to accept that our opinions are shaped by the broad economic and other social processes in our society in the way that has been assumed, for example, by those who hold that the rise of Darwinist evolutionary ideas in the nineteenth century was just a reflection of or was conditioned by the English factory system. This article will investigate, however, whether it is not possible where this question of local historical distinction is concerned to beat back the boundaries of the unknowable just a little and gain, without certainties, some insights, some view of possible patterns. Let us say that the intended result may be similar to that of a scientist who investigates and records patterns and uniformities in the formation of clouds but remains as far as ever from being able to predict the weather or indeed how any particular cloud field may behave. Many difficulties will come to light in the execution of this attempt but even grappling with these will tell us something about the problem for which we seek a solution. The essay will not minimize the difficulties. It will, however, explore what can be ascertained within those difficulties.

The present pages will deal largely with memories as recorded in printed sources though wherever possible strong oral traditions will be cited. With regard to the evidence of memory, it may be noted that museums also represent decisions about what is historically significant and what is not.(5) The two small but high quality Glengarry museums could in this sense themselves be the subject of a substantial article or M.A. thesis. But passing by the subject of museums so far as present purposes are concerned, let us begin with the man who was probably the most widely known of all Glengarrians.

The Rev. Charles W. Gordon who is better known under his pen name of Ralph Connor was born in Glengarry County and wrote about it in his two best known novels. He is well remembered both nationally and in Glengarry. As a standard figure in Canadian literature he has often been berated for being out of date in terms of literary values as well as being not only slightly but extremely politically incorrect. Nonetheless his novels are studied in university classes and the New Canadian Library editions of The Man from Glengarry and Glengarry School Days have now been in print for many years and have gone through several changes of format. He does not as yet have a full length biography but there is a large and growing literature on him including at least four university theses.(6) In Glengarry he has remained a local favorite, read even by people who have read few other novels. Many families have taken pride in the belief that one of their ancestors was the model for one character or another in the novels.(7) Even the well known real-life late nineteenth century vagabond Allan the Dogs (Allan MacRae) has assumed a special place in Glengarry legend because he appeared not just on people's doorsteps but in Glengarry School Days .(8) Even apart from the effectiveness of Connor's writing we might expect his reputation locally to have been maintained by the high degree of outside attention paid to him in his lifetime and to his legacy since. The reputation in Glengarry, it may be noted, was not maintained by any significant local contact on his part. Connor left Glengarry when he was eleven years old and seems to have revisited it only twice, more than fifty years later.(9) The national and local reputation have been strengthened by the achievements of his family. His son King Gordon was a prominent Canadian intellectual and campaigner for liberal and leftist causes, and King Gordon's children are Charles Gordon the Maclean's columnist and Alison Gordon still another writer.

By contrast, Margaret Murray Robertson, the Rev. Charles W. Gordon's aunt, was for many decades to all appearances wholly forgotten. She wrote a novel about the Glengarry settlers called Shenac's Work at Home . First published in 1866, it went through four more editions over the next forty years. The last edition was in 1904--being intended, probably, to capitalize on the recent startling success of Connor's Glengarry novels. A work of considerable literary merit, it is set in exactly the same area of Glengarry as her nephew's famous novels and must "logically" (to use the word that has sheltered so many intellectually disastrous assumptions) have provided a model for those novels'though we do not positively know and it remains distinctly possible that the nephew never read it and that the two authors just produced similar novels on the base of the same fascinating raw material.(10) The present author first became aware of the Robertson novel when he bought a copy in a secondhand bookstore in Warwick, England, about 1970. At that time making enquiries widely and among the people most expert in Glengarry history he was unable to find anyone who had ever heard of it. He discussed the novel in an article in Ontario History and afterwards in a history of Glengarry.(11) Today, Margaret Murray Robertson who was one of the most remarkable Canadian women writers of her time may be said to have been fully "rediscovered" with a well researched life by Lorraine McMullen in vol. 12 of the Dictionary of Canadian Biography and a further study by the same author in Silenced Sextet .(12) Why was Margaret Murray Robertson so long forgotten? Ultimately, it must be said that in one of the inexplicable demonstrations of public favour she simply did not manage to appeal sufficiently to the public which admired her nephew's rather similar novels. It probably did not matter very much that the existing editions of her novel were all British or American: these were perfectly accessible to Canadian readers. It must be noted, however, that when her famous nephew wrote his autobiography Postscript to Adventure (published in 1938) he included only a brief and somewhat uninformatively worded statement on his aunt's achievements, namely that she "became a novelist, well known in her day."(13) It is remarkable that a celebrated writer should be so little informed about or should so choose to minimize a direct predecessor who was also his near relative. It is pretty evident, however, from Ralph Connor's writings and what we know about his life that he in fact had virtually zero interest in "literary folk" and very little in literature. Still, the fact that Margaret Murray Robertson was the sister of his adored mother (so much idolised in his writings) should have counted for something. It is hard not to have a suspicion or two that where his aunt's literary standing was concerned Ralph Connor did not try very hard.

The Rev. G. Watt Smith, writing under the pen name of John Harlaw, published in 1936 another Glengarry novel called Glenlyon set in the same Maxville-St. Elmo area as the Robertson and Connor novels. The novel is a rancorous attack on his Presbyterian congregation at St. Elmo which he had been unable to draw into church union at the time of the formation of the United Church in 1925. Not without interest as documentary evidence of how detestable the Glengarrians could seem to an outsider the novel was published in Britain but apparently not in Canada and seems to have had only limited circulation and to all appearances passed unnoticed in Glengarry. Can Glenlyon be seen, then, as an example of how easily and cruelly a very minor dissenting voice can be ignored? Most truly, its author's message was unwelcome. But in fact, it may be noted that Ralph Connor's third and last Glengarry novel, Torches through the Bush , published in 1934 during a period of eclipse for his reputation attracted little attention despite its vigorous writing and ample and vivid description of the social life of a backwoods community. Long out of print, it is rarely mentioned in scholarly studies of Connor even though these tend to concentrate on the two early Glengarry novels as his principal works. In addition, the earliest Glengarry novel by any author, A Forest Flower (1849?) by the Rev. James Drummond also virtually disappeared from sight. Set in the northeast of Glengarry, as opposed to the northwest location of the other novels named, it seems to be the first in a sequence of all these novels (14)--except that there is no positive evidence that any of the other authors knew about it. Perhaps significantly, hardly any copies of it survive--it is not even listed in R.E. Watters' Checklist of Canadian Literature .

Bishop Alexander Macdonell is like Ralph Connor one of the best remembered of all Glengarrians. He was born somewhere along the line of the Great Glen in Scotland in 1762 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1787. After helping to organize and lead a regiment of Roman Catholic Highlanders (the Glengarry Fencible Regiment named after Glengarry in Scotland) which aided in suppressing the Irish Rebellion of 1798 he came to Glengarry in Canada in 1804 and till his death in 1840 was the leading churchman in the Roman Catholic church in what is now Ontario. He remained based at St. Raphael's in Glengarry till about 1832 when he moved to York (later he settled in Kingston) as bishop of Upper Canada. There is an extensive literature on the "Big Bishop" including two biographies from about 1890, another from the 1930's, a finely researched history by Kathleen Toomey of his life before he emigrated to Canada, several theses including a monograph published by the Ontario Historical Society,(15) many articles, and innumerable references in a wide range of books. He has been remembered in the strongest way by the Glengarrians both Catholic and Protestant. References to him abound in the Glengarry and Cornwall press from the earliest times to the present. In the Glengarry News between July and Oct. 1995 for example two columnists and one news writer referred to the bishop for a total of five references.

What has been found memorable in him? Most certainly, the vivid personality of a larger than life man. He was intensely emotional, very much a man of the romantic period who brought his deep, volcanic feelings into much that he did and said. And to this should be added that he was eminently quotable in his statements. Also, his work in building up the Roman Catholic church throughout the whole of what is today southern Ontario was of genuine historical importance. He was on good personal terms with not only Protestant laymen but with Protestant clergymen in a way that would have been unthinkable for a bishop in the decades after his death. Many cherished anecdotes survive in the Glengarry area and elsewhere about his friendship with the Rev. John Bethune at Williamstown.(16) There was also the long-standing--although erroneous--elief that when he came to our shores he brought with him to the Canadian Glengarry the several hundred discharged soldiers of the Glengarry Fencible Regiment. In fact, few if any of the Fencibles settled in the Canadian Glengarry but the image of the throng of burly Highland ex-soldiers accompanying the future bishop to its forests to begin a new home and to create virtually a new Scotland in the Canadian wilderness remains potent to this day and reappears in one printed source after another.(17) Over the years he has also been steadily confused with another Fr. Alexander Macdonell, also the priest of St. Raphael's but never a bishop, to an extent that almost makes one suspect some will to remember things that are not so.(18)

There is therefore substantial material behind the legend of the Big Bishop or Easbuig Mor. Still, qualities and deeds such as these have not sufficed for others to be equally remembered. Can other reasons be suggested why Fr. Macdonell has been singled out? One may suggest that there has been a recognizable tradition in Canad--and not just in Canada--f flattering the Highland Scots. And in a province where the Scots were as influential as they were in Ontario, many people had reasons to please them by propagating their legends. It is hard not to suspect that Macdonell's ecumenicism has been stressed as a way of encouraging ecumenicism and even that his reputation has been strengthened as a way of criticizing the churchmen of later times for what some have wished to see as their uncharitable sectarianism.

In an essay longer than the present one a substantial section could be included for the bishop's contemporary the Rev. John Bethune for whom a large literature also exists. Bethune is notable of course as one of the founders of the Presbyterian Church in Ontario and as such appears in many well known church histories. His memory is also caught up in the story of the more than 200-year old village of Williamstown in Glengarry. And he was of course the ancestor of Dr. Norman Bethune of China,(19) for whom in turn a large literature exist--though one may suspect without unfairness that Dr. Norman's reputation (at its height probably about 1975) is fading with the rejection of the Maoist experiment and with the decay of leftist ideologies generally in recent years.

John A. Cameron, known as Cariboo Cameron, was one of the most celebrated nineteenth-century Glengarrians. After a few years of mining in California he struck rich as one of the principal owners of the Cameron Claim in the Cariboo, British Columbia. When his wife died at the Cameron claim he brought her body on a troubled 400-mile sleigh journey to Victoria; afterwards he had the body taken to Cornwall, Ontario for reburial. As a rich man Cameron resettled in Glengarry and build himself the splendid Fairfield house at Summerstown. In August of 1873, troubled by whispering campaigns and the accusations of a New York State newspaper about what had really became of Mrs. Cameron, he had the body disinterred and put on view in front of a huge crowd in Cornwall. His business ventures were unsuccessful and his fortune melted away. In despair he returned to British Columbia and died, a poor man again, a year or two later in 1888 beside his old mining property at Barkerville.(20)

Cameron appears in many articles, most notably one which was especially influential in establishing his legend published by his old mining partner and long-time friend Robert Stevenson in B.C. Saturday Sunset in 1909; late but still important was an article by Charles Clowes in Maclean's in 1936. Cameron appears in two novels, at least one poem,(21) and shares the chapter called "The Nor'westers and 'Cariboo' Cameron" in J.G. Harkness's history of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry and has his own separate chapter in Pierre Berton's The Wild Frontier (1978). There is further valuable material from Stevenson in W.W. Walkem's memoirs (1914) and Cameron appears in the two short histories of the Cariboo gold rush by F.W. Ludditt (1958, 1978) and F.W. Lindsay (1958, 1963) and there has been at least one radio broadcast on him (printed as an article in the Cornwall Standard-Freeholder 24 July 1947). It is difficult to quantify press articles and references relating to a historical figure, and one is on very dangerous grounds indeed if he merely tries to count what he sees as references "substantial" enough to be worth the attention of a historian working in the local history of the area in question. Nevertheless, on this basis so open to criticism, let us see what the count amounts to. Between 1910 and 1932 the Cornwall newspapers The Freeholder and the Standard together yielded 18 passages on Cameron (or reprinted them from other sources) substantial enough to deserve the attention of a Glengarry-area historian. From the union of these newspapers in 1932 as the Standard-Freeholder till 1950 the Standard-Freeholder included 16 such notices of Cameron. And in the Alexandria, Ont., newspaper, the Glengarry News , from 1890 to 1969 there were 12 such passages. The Glengarrians--and others--had no lack of printed material, therefore, to remind them of Cariboo Cameron. And in any case everyone who follows the Glengarry scene will know that this is simply a very well remembered name among the Glengarrians and not merely those who are interested in local history.

The reputation of Cameron is based ultimately, of course, on the fact that he yielded a very good story with some of the tried-and-true ingredients of gripping melodrama: remote wildernesses, lovers frustrated, handsome bearded prospectors, gold strikes, fortunes gained, fortunes lost, disinterred corpses, lost mansions and tragic deathbeds. To this we may add among possible reasons for the fame of Cameron the existence of his massive Fairfield house as a permanent memorial of what had happened, and the extraordinary number of Glengarrians of the Cameron family. A recent genealogy of Cariboo's section of the Cameron family is called 1001 Name Index of Descendants of John Cameron_'the Wise' (Glengarry Genealogical Society, 1985)--but 1001 people is barely a sample from ranks as extensive as those of the Cameron name as connected with Glengarry.

Col. R.R. ("Big Rory") McLennan who was M.P. for Glengarry from 1891 to 1900 is again one of the very best remembered Glengarrians among the people of Glengarry and Cornwall though little remembered elsewhere. He is therefore an example of someone who formed the basis of a particularly strong Glengarry legend without its demonstrating any enduring power in the world outside. With endless repetition his name comes up in all writings on Glengarry history. Bridging the gap between Glengarry and the outside world he makes a limited appearance in a Ralph Connor novel, Corporal Cameron of 1912, both under his own name and as a fictional character. Less closely connected to Glengarry he appears in Joan Finnigan's Giants of Canada's Ottawa Valley (1981) and he has a life in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography . As a virtually random item in the McLennan cult it may be mentioned that a Glengarry-area free circulation newspaper, the Seaway News of 9 Oct. 1995, had a historical article on McLennan with a very good picture of him.

Big Rory McLennan was born in Charlottenburgh Township with connections to some of the most distinguished Glengarry families. In early years he was a gifted athlete as were his brothers. His most famous athletic feats are variously reported in tradition but we may take the DCB entry as definitive for its reports on his hammer and shot-put throwing. In 1877 in one of the well remembered incidents of nineteenth-century Glengarry history he accidentally killed a young girl while throwing the shot in Cornwall. He made a fortune as a contractor on the building of the CPR through Northern Ontario. About the mid 1880s he settled in Alexandria the principal village of Glengarry County as a moneylender and banker. Moneylending does not seem in the least to have caused him to be resented; and in fact another popular Glengarry M.P. in the same period, Patrick Purcell, was also a large scale moneylender. In 1899 Big Rory moved to Cornwall where he lived in one of the finest houses of the town which was later a well known Roman Catholic institution, The Nazareth Orphanage. Much involved in the militia, he was commonly known to the public as Col. McLennan. He owned or controlled by means other than outright ownership a weekly newspaper in Alexandria (the Glengarrian ) and another in Cornwall (the Standard ) both of them Conservative party organs. In his first term as M.P. he managed to persuade the floundering Conservative government to found a large reformatory at Alexandria for boys from all over Canada. The institution, if built, would have arguably have been the making of Alexandria. The voters loyally returned McLennan in the 1896 election but the new Laurier government let the reformatory project die (promises to try to restore it were a part of Glengarry election campaigns up into the 1950's).(22) In the 1900 election he was defeated, in part because of the appeal of Laurier to the sizable French Canadian electorate of Glengarry. Despite this final mishap his career had been remarkably successful. Still, many other forgotten nineteenth-century Ontarians had done equally well and had done equally interesting things. It is hard to see why it should be the basis of a legend where McLennan was concerned. Altogether, McLennan's success in gaining the attention of posterity must be seen as having an element of the mysterious.

McLennan had the advantage, like Cariboo Cameron, of an unusually extended family network. Any reader of the microfilm Cornwall newspapers since the late nineteenth century must be struck by the endless parade of McLennan names, some of them those of local residents, others the subject of obituaries of persons from Glengarry and Cornwall who had died elsewhere in North America. Marginally at least these obituaries coming from far away are evidence of the importance and prestige as well as numbers of the family if we may assume that lesser families were less inclined to insist that the home town newspaper notice their family deaths. D. R. MacDonald, a prominent contractor who was MLA for Glengarry from 1898 to 1902 and from 1908 to 1911 was a near relative. Farquhar D. McLennan the Glengarry-born Cornwall businessman who for many years managed the Big Rory estate and was Big Rory's namesake as well as executor was a particularly revered Cornwall personality if we may take as evidence the oral recollections of him surviving to the present and the extravagant reporting on his death and funeral in the Cornwall newspaper in Dec. 1949. Big Rory had the advantage also of the particular fascination many people feel for famous athletes. He also stands out in many of the nineteenth-century references to him as someone who was seen as representing Highland Scottishness itself--obviously for many people another attraction.(23) He was an obsessive collector of his own business papers and in the long run one of his claims to fame--perhaps in truth today the only defensible claim--is the large and rich collection of his private papers in the Ontario Archives. These papers remained long in private possession however and were not available to the public till recent years; they therefore had no part in the making of the myth that grew up about Big Rory though they conceivably helped him get him into the DCB .

The two brothers D.C. Macintosh and John E. McIntosh (who used a slightly different spelling of their surname) present an interesting example of two different kinds of fam--both now fading where they are concerned. Douglas Clyde Macintosh was born at Breadalbane, Glengarry County, in 1877. He graduated from McMaster University and not long after getting his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1909 he began his long service as a distinguished member of the Yale Divinity School. During the next few decades he published many books establishing a reputation both as a philosopher and a theologian. His position as a theologian was firmly liberal. Kenneth Cauthen says "Macintosh was one of the most important of the modernistic liberal theologians in American Protestantism during the first four decades of the twentieth century."(24) We have the statement attributed (if only somewhat indirectly) to one of his colleagues at the Yale Divinity School that he was one of the world's "most distinguished theologians."(25) In the early 1930's he was a figure of controversy when the American Supreme Court refused him citizenship on the grounds that he would not commit himself to support the United States government unconditionally in any wars in which it might become involved. That he is not forgotten at the Yale Divinity School we have the evidence of the D.C. Macintosh centenary celebration held there in Sept. 1978.(26) On this occasion one of the projects was to restore his portrait--reduced to shreds in the student riots of the 1960's. In 1989 Preston Warren published a study of him called Out of the Wilderness: Douglas Clyde Macintosh's Journeys through the Grounds and Claims of Modern Thought .(27) There is an entry for D.C. Macintosh in the New Catholic Encyclopedia and he has his life in the Dictionary of American Biography but he is not in the Canadian Encyclopedia or the Macmillan Dictionary of Canadian Biography and indeed his absence from most Canadian sources is marked. The one place where we would expect references is the history of his alma mater and sure enough there are references in Charles M. Johnston's McMaster University (2 vols., University of Toronto Press, 1976-1981) but these are relatively minor even if they do seem, in general, to assume he was of some importance. We may take it in the circumstances as evidence of the wide horizons on which the Jesuit Order has always operated that a Canadian Jesuit, the Rev. John F. McCaffrey, wrote a thesis on Macintosh.(28) Otherwise, to a most unusual degree Macintosh is an example of a Canadian intellectual who made a brilliant reputation in the United States without attracting any attention whatsoever at home.

In Glengarry he was known in his own lifetime of course in the Breadalbane area of his boyhood where he seems on the basis of local recollections to have remained a steady visitor. Two of his books are dated at his brother's farm at Breadalbane.(29) The basis for somewhat wider knowledge of D.C. Macintosh among the Glengarrians was provided by fairly constant references to him throughout his lifetime in the Alexandria, Ontario, newspaper, the Glengarry News . However, these cannot remotely compare with the saturation-type attention given by the Glengarry News and the Cornwall press to W.C. Clark, the Glengarry-born deputy minister of finance, or to the Glengarry-raised and Glengarry-descended James Macdonell the Auditor General. Nor do the Glengarry newspaper references to D.C. Macintosh give much evidence of the scholarly esteem he enjoyed in the United States.

His brother John E. (b. 1876), meanwhile, had made himself one of the best known personalities in rural Ontario. He began to write occasionally for the London, Ontario, based Farmer's Advocate in 1909. By 1923 he was the Farmer's Advocate's leading columnist writing a substantial essay every week under the pen name of "Sandy Fraser." By the end of his life more than 900 of the Sandy Fraser columns had been published. He was paid a total of some $15,000 by the Farmer's Advocate for these writings--a most impressive amount for the time, being the value roughly of three better-than-average Glengarry farms. The columns were partly reporting on rural affairs; partly fiction of a markedly philosophical strain dealing with the lives and thoughts of the fictional Sandy Fraser and his family. Though he remained himself a bachelor, McIntosh created a memorable character in Sandy's wife Jean. The columns were written in a version of Scottish dialect--little more than a few tricks of spelling and certainly not reflecting in any way the speech of Glengarry where the Scots went directly from Gaelic to standard English without any opportunity to acquire the speech of Anglophone Scotland.

Full of wit and humour though they were the underlying seriousness of the columns could never be mistaken, yet the philosophy on which they were based was evidently not that of John E.'s brother. Between the two men, the current of influence in at least earlier years was in the opposite direction. D.C. Macintosh recorded that his own intellectual life properly began when as a young school teacher he found himself unable to reply adequately to his brother's religious skepticism.(30) The columns repeatedly stressed a belief in immortality and the idea that this life is a kind of school in which we are prepared for a world or worlds beyond. At the same time the columns are so pointedly non-theistic that it must be assumed that John E. adhered to the position adopted by J.E. M'Taggart and in his last days discussed with sympathy by A.J. Ayer (Sir Freddie Ayer) that we may believe in immortality without believing in God.(31) John E.'s readers, like those of Thomas Carlyle, had no difficulty in accepting a basically religious kind of writing which firmly omitted Christianity, though with Carlyle it was God who remained a certainty when immortality did not.

John E. McIntosh wrote for a number of farm publications besides the Farmer's Advocate, usually under a pen name though he wrote under his own name as a columnist for the Ottawa Farm Journal from 1944 to 1948. For many years, while working full time as a farmer, John E. produced more journalism per week than we may suppose most professional journalists did. Without the mask of "Sandy Fraser" to hide behind he was less eloquent as a writer, always with a tinge of grouchiness wholly absent from the genial Sandy Fraser columns.
But however genial Sandy himself was, the portrait given of Ontario farming was grim. Sandy Fraser is the best record we have of the old hard bleak Ontario dirt-farming of two and three generations ago. The contrast could not possibly be greater with the banal celebration of the joys of farming found in Peter McArthur's once famous columns and books. Unlike (it is said) some literary farmers, John E. McIntosh was highly successful at farming: and much respected as a farmer by his neighbours. He was also a cheese factory proprietor and his writings are full of descriptions of the old Cheese Factory Culture so integral to the Glengarry agriculture of his day. In 1947 we find him at the age of 71 and while at the height of his fame doing the labourer's task of serving out the whey to the farmers at his cheese factory--and writing about it vividly.(32) His own formal education ended at grade eight, though he had read widely in serious books. He is said to have given up his own hopes of formal education and reconciled himself to a life of farming so as to be able to finance the high school and college education of his brothers and sister.(33) Like so many of his Glengarry contemporaries he had "gone to shanty" in his younger years (as well as going on the harvest excursions) which assisted him in his columns to draw on the then existing vast body of Glengarry lore (the "shanty stories") about life in the lumber woods.

Though old people can still be easily found throughout rural Ontario who remember the Sandy Fraser writings with reverence and delight these are only the remnants of many who to an astonishing degree not many years ago at the very mention of Glengarry would cite the name of Sandy Fraser. Despite this popular acclaim he never made the breakthrough into being one of the accepted and established Canadian writers. He is in no encyclopedias or reference books known to me. Once the last of those who read him issue by issue as he was published in his lifetime have gone his reputation will be difficult to restore. Even in Glengarry there will be little basis for remembering him. Why has his reputation reached this perilous state?

Most certainly, in literary terms he deserves to be remembered. Whether any writer is seen as good is bad depends ultimately on individual tastes; or at least there are few people who would claim scientific rigour applies. But that said, it seems to the present writer that very large claims can be made for John E. McIntosh as a writer. In his role as Sandy Fraser he had distinction in style, richness of invention, and sureness of wit and humour, and combined extraordinary sensitivity to the variations of human nature with amazing subtlety in describing them. He was arguably of first rate historical and sociological importance as an intimately informed observer of the less privileged classes of rural Ontario. He wrote about a kind of people who were, although the very bedrock of the Ontario rural economy, in fact largely overlooked by the very farm publications he wrote for--these being inclined to value only the more substantial farmers. But all of this was clearly not enough.

It has been unfortunate for John E.'s reputation that he never published a book. Obviously, a book is not a magic solution for anchoring someone's reputation--as indeed the example of D.C. Macintosh may in the long run show. But a book from one the leading Canadian publishers--or just a "book" --would always have been available to win new recruits to his following and to demonstrate to doubters how good he was. At present his Sandy Fraser writings are available only in the microfilms and back issues of the Farmer's Advocate and in some computer printouts which have been conveniently prepared for sale in recent years. A book most importantly might have gotten him the attention of the one or two influential figures in the Canadian literary and intellectual scene who might have seen to it that he was finally "registered" among Canadian writers. Just after John E. Macintosh's death in 1948 some attempt was apparently afoot to have a volume of his essays issued. Reports vary on why the project failed; according to one story the Farmer's Advocate refused to release the copyright. Professor Macintosh died a few months after his brother, also in 1948, and perhaps his death as has been rumoured interrupted the project. But one may wonder why Professor Macintosh himself did so far as we know nothing earlier to get his brother into book publication in Canada and why, with the valuable American publishing contacts established through his own books and high reputation he did not try to get him the American recognition which once won would have secured John E.'s reputation at home in Canada. The brothers seem to have been on the most intimate terms in a close-knit family where everyone revered the clever, self-sacrificing John E. but even the closest families have their internal conflicts. Unfortunately except for a few letters in private possession all the correspondence of the two brothers seems to have perished.(34)

We may note in addition that acceptance of John E. as a serious Canadian writer would have been difficult in a country and a province where, however much farmers were praised in the press and by politicians, they were privately regarded with contempt by the mass of the populace at every economic, educational and intellectual level.(35)

With regard to the reputation of John E. in Glengarry, it may be remembered that the Macintoshes have been one of the smaller Glengarry "clans" and that the brothers left no near family network in or near the county. The intense "Scottishness" of the Sandy Fraser columns doubtless aided Sandy Fraser's reputation at the time of publication but does not seem to have aided it much since his death. Perhaps there was some awareness that the Scottishness(36) was, as the accent assigned to Sandy suggested, a literary device--and indeed the Macintoshes were only Scottish on their father's side. It may be noted merely as a curiosity--though as a curiosity that in some families might have served through constant repetition to enhance a reputation--that the Macintosh brothers had rather an aristocratic background in terms of intellectual history in being related through their mother to the famous Cotton and Mather families of seventeenth-century New England.(37)

Among the themes most written about in Glengarry history have been the schools and the churches and the round of farm life--and of course the pioneer achievement, so important in the written and the oral history of all of rural Ontario. So these are clearly in the "remembered" category as we might expect them to be from the experience of other parts of the province. The cheese factories (for whose roles in Canada and Ontario there is a well developed and respectable literature) were once so important economically in Glengarry and established with such uncompromising severity the round of the Glengarry farm family's day and year that it is not surprising that even apart from the extensive writings of Sandy Fraser on this subject there is a good deal of material in print on them as they relate to Glengarry. To this two suggestions may be added: (1) that the Cheese Factory Culture in Glengarry and elsewhere is so rich a part of social history that there is still a great that can be said about it, and (2) that the now vanished Glengarry cheese factories, most of which closed in the 1950's, are fast fading out of human memory and that the emotional impetus to write about them is being lost or is being transformed into a spirit of scholarly enquiry.

What important or promising subjects have not been written about extensively in Glengarry history? Apart from the many references in the Sandy Fraser essays most decidedly the lives and the contributions of the farm wives have been neglected. Very little also has been written about Glengarry marriage and sexuality and the frequently bad father-and-son relations. These are all topics of a kind currently in favour in intellectual circles but the local history scene has often been politely skeptical of new fashions. Still, the topics we have named as neglected in writing must be expected to have their day in print especially when one considers that they have so often been the subject of Glengarry conversation; they merely need to be moved to the sphere of written Glengarry history. The importance of the great Glengarry contractors who were involved in railroad building in the United States and Canada in the nineteenth century has long been recognized in Glengarry both among the local historians and among the people who at the level of popular traditions keep the old stories alive. Significant names among these contractors are the Grant Brothers, the McIntosh Brothers, Donald Grant of Faribault (Minnesota), James Cashion, and J.D. McArthur. These contractors are well represented in such old biographical sources as the nineteenth century American biographical dictionaries but their careers are otherwise sometimes hard to document from printed sources. This is in part because they did not live in Glengarry during their adult years and therefore not only failed to get into the local newspapers as frequently and with as much intimacy of detail as the local people did but also failed to supply, through personal contact and observation, anecdotal material to be handed on verbally to the local historians of Glengarry by the old Glengarry residents.

With regard to what is remembered and what is forgotten, it must also sometimes be a question why some historians are remembered and others forgotten. It is easy to see why Judge J.F. Pringle's history of the early period of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry called Lunenburgh or The Old Eastern District (1890) is remembered; Pringle asked the kinds of questions historians most want answered, and his volume is an impressively rich collection of biographical and social data. But why is J.A. Macdonell's dry Sketches (1893) of Glengarry history with its concentration on the markedly limited theme of early Glengarry military history cited in history after history both popular and scholarly to this day? The continuing reputation of the book doubtless contributed to the impressive price of $350 which the Ottawa firm Patrick McGahern Books was asking for a signed first edition in 1995. Seeing such prices for second-hand local histories encourages even the most despondent Glengarry researcher! One can be an admirer of Dorothy Dumbrille's original, remarkable and socially perceptive novel of French-Scots relations in Glengarry, All This Difference (1945) without understanding why her two collections of the traditional historical lore of Glengarry, Up and Down the Glens (1954)and Braggart in My Step (1956) are cited almost as insistently as Macdonell's Sketches .

From the material covered in these pages, what hints emerge? It may be suggested that something we may name "critical mass" is involved in the making and the stabilizing of a reputation--either of a person or of a thing. When there are many references to someone or something in print that in itself tends to cause the person or institution etc. not only to be remembered but to be the subject of still further printed references. Obviously, this formula does not work invariably. Especially it does not work in the world at large, the world at the level of provinces and countries--where plenty of people have received heavy print coverage only to disappear into oblivion afterwards. But it probably has maximum effect among the journalists and local historians who write about matters of interest at the local level.

Having some of one's writings in print in book form probably helps to establish a reputation. We may suspect that the failure to attain book publication has kept John E. McIntosh's reputation from becoming national and may in time kill it also in Glengarry. But equally a book is no guarantee of reputation as we see was the case for many years with Margaret Murray Robertson. Four editions of her Glengarry novel did not secure her remembrance either in Glengarry or in the world at large. Even after her nephew had made Glengarry novels famous throughout English-speaking North America her publications were not sufficient. It has no doubt helped Bishop Macdonell's reputation that he wrote in whole or in part three accounts of his work in Britain with the Highlanders of the Glengarry Fencible Regiment in the years before he settled in Canada.(38)

None of the persons whose careers are considered in this essay had their reputations substantially built up by any one particular person but Stevenson helped with his friend Cariboo just as it helped Bishop Macdonell's reputation that two good, vividly written, well informed short biographies of him were (as already mentioned) published about 1890. By contrast Ralph Connor seems to have been markedly inactive in promoting the memory of Margaret Murray Robertson. And why was D.C. Macintosh so passive so far as we know in advancing his brother's literary standing? It has been suggested in these pages that having numerous family connections--or simply a lot of people around of the same surname--may have been helpful. With regard to descendants, it may be mentioned that Robertson, McLennan, John E. McIntosh and of course the Bishop were unmarried; Cariboo Cameron and D.C. Macintosh had no children who survived them, while Connor and Bethune of course had children.

The "more-than-Scottish" Scottishness of Bishop Macdonell, Cariboo Cameron, Big Rory McLennan, and Ralph Connor (his Glengarry novels were a feast for Scots everywhere) doubtless helped their reputations among the Glengarry Scots though other factors had to be involved--there were plenty of people who had strong claims to be in some especial sense ideal representatives of the Scots!

Finally, personality translates into historical reputation--sometimes though not always. Behind the reputation of the Bishop we can still sense--especially through the fervent rhetoric of his letters--the almost overwhelming personality. It may be guessed that if the surviving reputation of Big Rory McLennan is a little puzzling it does perpetuate a personality that his contemporaries found compelling. But personality is something that can only be known at its full by contemporaries. Perhaps its most important role in these matters is to encourage in the early years an accumulation of facts and legends about the individual thus helping to ensure the survival of the reputation at the time when no one alive can remember the direct experience of the personality.


1. For some examples see David Thelen, "Memory and American History," The Journal of American History , 75:4 (March 1989) pp. 1117 - 1129: a keynote article for a special issue on memory.
2. See for an example of this as applied to American history and American college students Michael Frisch, "American History and the Structures of Collective Memory: A Modest Exercise in Empirical Iconography," The Journal of American History , 75:4 (March 1989) pp. 1130-1155.
3. Howard Schuman and Jacqueline Scott, "Generations and Collective Memories," American Sociological Review , 54:3 (June 1989) pp. 359-381.
4. The collective memory of the Glengarry Francophone community deserves a separate investigation for which the published sources up to the present offer a most inadequate base. But by way of a short note towards an interim report it may be stated that the writings on Glengarry history in the Alexandria, Ontario French-language newspaper Le Point which was published from 1980 to 1985 accept essentially the story of Glengarry history as presented in the English-language sources.
5. For museums and historical recollection see Michael Kammen, Mystic Chords of Memory (New York, Knopf, 1991) esp. chapters 11, 16, 18. The two Glengarry museums are at Williamstown and Dunvegan.
6. There is a short life (pp. 52) by Keith Wilson, Charles William Gordon , series Manitobans in Profile (Winnipeg, Peguis Publishers, 1981). The theses are Cyprian LeClerc, "Ralph Connor: Canadian Novelist," University of Montreal, 1962, Claudia T. Hill, "The Imperial Idea in the Novels of Ralph Connor and Sara Jeannette Duncan," M.A. thesis, York University, 1974, Edward Harold Wood, "Ralph Connor and the Canadian West," M.A. thesis, University of Saskatchewan, 1976, Janice Leadell Pennock, "East and West in Ralph Connor's Early Fiction," M.A. thesis, English, Queen's University, 1982.
7. See for example the obituary Standard-Freeholder (Cornwall, Ont.) 11 Jan. 1933 and Glengarry News (Alexandria, Ont.) 13 Jan. 1933 of Alexander A. Urquhart whose father was believed to be the "little miller" of the novels, obituary Manitoba Free Press 22 Nov. 1906 of Donald McRae, who according to Ralph Connor himself was the prototype of the precentor in The Man from Glengarry , and an obituary and a further report Glengarry News 27 March 1925 and Freeholder (Cornwall, Ont.) 19 Feb. 1930 on Anthony (Antoine) Marsell said to be Connor's boss of the Ottawa.
8. Ralph Connor, Glengarry School Days , Chapter 2; local knowledge; "Well-Known Local Character of 'Glengarry School Days'," Eastern Ontario Review (Vankleek Hill, Ont.) 10 Jan. 1935; Royce MacGillivray and Ewan Ross, A History of Glengarry (Belleville, Ont., Mika Publishing, 1979) pp. 595-596. I notice passages on Allan the Dogs in the Glengarry News 15 Nov. 1995 and the Standard-Freeholder weekend supplement 18 Nov. 1995.
9. Visit of 1924 reported in Freeholder 11 Dec. 1924, and Standard (Cornwall, Ont.) 11 Dec. 1924; Freeholder 25 [sic] Dec. 1924 reports him saying "I visited the County of Glengarry the other day, after 54 years' absence." Another visit is reported Standard-Freeholder 13 Nov. 1936.
10. In 1977 Mr. King Gordon while kindly responding to some written questions stated to the present author that he doubted there was any influence of Margaret Murray Robertson on his father and that he had never seen the Shenac novel in his library (quotation in MacGillivray and Ross p. 685). The question of possible influence is discussed MacGillivray and Ross pp. 93-94.
11. "Novelists and the Glengarry Pioneer," Ontario History 65:2 (June 1973) pp. 61-68; MacGillivray and Ross pp. 79-81.
12. Carrie MacMillan, Lorraine McMullen, and Elizabeth Waterston, Silenced Sextet: Six Nineteenth-Century Canadian Women Novelists (Montreal etc., McGill-Queen's University Press, 1992).
13. Charles W. Gordon, Postscript to Adventure: The Autobiography of Ralph Connor (New York, Farrar et Rinehart, 1938) p. 8.
14. MacGillivray and Ross pp. 73-77. Ralph Connor's novel The Girl from Glengarry (1933) has virtually no Glengarry connections despite the title.
15. W.J. Macdonell, Reminiscences of ... Right Rev. Alexander Macdonell (Toronto, 1888), J.A. Macdonell, A Sketch of the Life [of Bishop Macdonell] (Alexandria, Ont., 1890), Hugh Joseph Somers, The Life and Times [of Bishop Macdonell] (Washington, The Catholic University of America, 1931), Kathleen M. Toomey, Alexander Macdonell: the Scottish Years (Toronto, The Canadian Catholic Historical Association, 1985), J.E. Rea, Bishop Alexander Macdonell and the Politics of Upper Canada (Toronto, Ontario Historical Society, 1974).
16. See for example the Roman Catholic J. A. Macdonell in St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church Williamstown, Ontario: Report of Centenary Celebration (Cornwall, 1916) p. 56 citing Robert Campbell's A History of the Scotch Presbyterian Church St. Gabriel Street, Montreal (Montreal, 1887).
17. For discussion of the question of the Glengarry Fencible Regiment supposed to have been brought to Canada by the future bishop, see MacGillivray and Ross pp. 13-18 and Marianne McLean, The People of Glengarry: Highlanders in Transition, 1745-1820 (Montreal etc., McGill-Queen's University Press, 1991) chapters 8 & 11. The prospective settlers of the Fencible Regiment are absent from J.M. Bumsted's The People's Clearance: Highland Emigration to British North America (Edinburgh University Press, University of Manitoba Press, 1982) from the time at which they are ready to leave Scotland. The statement appeared in the Glengarry News as late as 25 Oct. 1995 that the Fencibles "brought 600 settlers to Canada in 1804" and fought in the War of 1812.
18. During the preparation of the present essay (1995) an example of this mistaken identification came to hand in a historical news article in a weekend supplement to the Standard-Freeholder .
19. For this connection see Mary Larratt Smith, Prologue to Norman: the Canadian Bethunes (Oakville and Ottawa, Mosaic Press, 1976).
20. For Cameron's life see the sources cited here and his entry in the DCB , also MacGillivray and Ross pp. 100-102.
21. The novels are A. Paul Gardiner, The House of Cariboo (New York, A.P. Gardiner, 1900) and Alan Sullivan, Cariboo Road (New York, Thomas Nelson and Sons Limited, 1946).The poem by Lee McKnight (1969) was issued as a four-page leaflet.
22. The Standard-Freeholder 13 & 14 Oct. 1949 reported the Nazareth Orphanage was to be expropriated to make way for a federal building but Elinor Kyte Senior says in her From Royal Township to Industrial City: Cornwall 1784-1984 (Belleville, Mika Publishing, 1983) p. 320 that it was used as an orphanage till destroyed by fire 1950. For the penitentiary episode see MacGillivray and Ross pp. 194-196.
23. Similar achievements in regard to Herculean strength and Scottishness advanced the historical reputation of another legendary figure of nineteenth-century Glengarry, Big Finnan (Finan) of the Buffalo McDonald. Famous for having wrestled with a buffalo he missed having a life in the DCB but is in The Macmillan Dictionary of Canadian Biography and there is an extensive if fragmentary literature on him.
24. Kenneth Cauthen in his life of Macintosh in Dictionary of American Biography Supplement Four. See also Kenneth Cauthen, The Impact of American Religious Liberalism (Lanham, MD, University Press of America, 2nd edition, 1983), Chapter 9: "Empirical Theology: Douglas Clyde Macintosh."
25. Professor Jerome Davis of the Yale Divinity School quoted in William H. Harbaugh, Lawyer's Lawyer: the Life of John W. Davis (New York, Oxford University Press, 1973) p. 286.
26. Information from Yale Divinity School. For this occasion a splendid "Limited Edition Poster" in 100 copies was printed.
27. New York, Peter Lang.
28. Dictionary of Jesuit Biography: Ministry to English Canada 1842-1987 (Toronto, Canadian Institute of Jesuit Studies, 1991) p. 215.
29. The Problem of Knowledge (1915) and The Problem of Religious Knowledge (1940).
30. D.C. Macintosh pp. 284-287 in his religious autobiography "Toward a New Untraditional Orthodoxy," in Vergilius Ferm, ed., Contemporary American Theology: Theological Autobiographies, vol. I (New York, Round Table Press, 1932).
31. Life of M'Taggart in Dictionary of National Biography Supplement 1922-1930; A.J. Ayer, "That Undiscovered Country," New Humanist , 104:1 (May 1989) pp. 10-13.
32. Sandy Fraser column in The Farmer's Advocate 13 Nov. 1947. Since the date was in late autumn when the milk supply was low the task was to ensure that each farmer got as much whey (used as food for hogs) as he deserved and not more. If the time had been early summer the task would have been to make sure each farmer played his proper part in helping to haul away this abundant liquid, the waste product of cheesemaking and often troublesome to dispose of in the old days when Glengarry cheese factories normally had no drainage systems.
33. Autobiography of D.C. Macintosh in Ferm p. 285.
34. Otherwise, Prof. Macintosh's papers are at Yale.
35. For more on this see my The Slopes of the Andes: Four Essays on the Rural Myth in Ontario (Belleville, Mika Publishing, 1991) pp. 136-144 and my The Mind of Ontario (Belleville, Mika Publishing, 1985) pp. 60-69.
36. In connection with John E. McIntosh's "Scottishness" I note the long series of articles on the history of the Scottish clans he published in the Glengarry News Jan.-June 1925 and his eight-part article on "The Early Days of Bonnie Scotland", Glengarry News Dec. 1932-Feb. 1933.
37. For this descent see D.C. Macintosh, Personal Religion (New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1942) chapter l.
38. [Bishop Alexander Macdonell,] "A Page from the History of the Glengarry Highlanders," Canadian Literary Magazine (April 1833), A Short Account of the Emigration from the Highlands of Scotland, to North America (Kingston, British Whig, 1839) written largely by Bishop Macdonell, and [Bishop Macdonell], "Account of Emigration and Services of Catholic Highlanders," in Somers, Life and Times. A subject which should be separately pursued in a longer study of the puzzle of what is remembered and what is forgotten in Glengarry history is the educational level of the Glengarry County populace since the mid nineteenth century. With regard to the availability of books if may be noted that Glengarry represents a story of extremes: some areas had public libraries from an early date, others long remained indifferent, and Alexandria the only town had none till 1968. There was no bookstore anywhere in the county till a short-lived private lending library and secondhand bookstore opened in Alexandria in the early 1950s. See MacGillivray and Ross chapter 8 for libraries.

[end of the three articles]

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