dougporteous.ca  Website Home
Key Pages: Home | QwikiWiki | QwikiSyntax
Recently Viewed: Home > Islay Letter

Islay Letter


This letter was addressed to Lillie Bell, one of my grandmother's sisters. Their parents, Duncan and Jane Bell (McCuaig), came to the Gladmar, Saskatchewan area from Oro Township, Simcoe County, Ontario, Canada circa 1910. My father recalls that his mother worked in Weyburn at a store called McKinnon's and that she may have met my grandfather in that town. My grandfather (Lillie's brother-in-law) worked as a bank manager for the Weyburn Security Bank in a number of small towns and villages in the Weyburn area.


Update (1-Aug-2005)

I have found both Lillie and Mary Catherine Bell in the 1911 Census. Both sisters were working in Weyburn; Lillie at a hospital and Mary Catherine in a department store. I have yet to locate her parents who were either still in Ontario or in Gladmar...



The letter indicates that Jane McCuaig was born at Upper Glencastle, Islay and that the Bell family lived in or near Eskinish.

Bengough, Saskatchewan

June 15th 1943

Dear Lillie,

I was very pleased to get your letter and it is interesting to hear your nephew Donald Porteous is stationed in Islay. It is quite a coincidence. I hear from my brother John in Islay occasionally, but anything of a military nature is censored out of the letter.

My brother John McCuaig, Cragabus, Oa, Portellen would be a good man to refer Donald to, to get the particulars of his grand mothers birth place at Upper Glencastle, in the Oa district. Our outlying pasture adjoins the Glencastle pastures, where "Domhull Cruinn" Round Donald herded your grandfather's cattle before they all left for Canada. Your father's people the Bells of Eskinish lived on the other side of the Island. I think the village of Bridge-End is not very [far] from ESKINISH. If your nephew could get in touch with

Page 2

John Campbell, Bowmore, he could give all the particulars about the Bells John's wife was Jennie (?) Bell, and I am sure she was a close relation of yourselves, as she had quite a resemblance to your family. Sorry she is dead for many years now. They had a good grocery business in Bowmore, and I think they are still carrying on.

Peter McDougall, Postmaster, Bridgend would be well worth meeting, Peter had a great career in the teaching profession in Glasgow, and retired from the Head mastership of Shawlands Academy, a few years ago and has been since living in Bridgend, a beautiful village at the head of Lock-in-dall near Islay House, the residence of Lady Mary Morrison.

Donald should also try and get in touch with the McCuaigs of the White Hart Hotel, Port Ellen. I am sure misses Isabel and Annie who owned it when I left home were your mother's cousins

Page 3

They are both dead now for many years. The heirs would be the children of their brother the minister, Rev. McCuaig, of the Island of Jura, an outstanding man in his day, both physically and morally. Jura is an Island adjoining Islay to the north and east and separated by the Sound of Islay.

Your nephew is very lucky to be stationed in Islay. It is about the farthest away place from the enemy in Britain and of great strategic importance, as it is the most westerly outpost of land in Britain. All shipping coming and going to U.S.A. and Canada pass through the N*orth Channel, between Island and Ireland. The Channel is about 21 miles wide. I will write my brother and tell him to be on the lookout for Donald.

Bill Sanderson is up a[t] Benough now. We discussed the past fully. He is just as comical as ever. I haven't seen him since 1911 until now. Finlay my brother is quite well, and the McCuaigs. We keep putting off our visits very much will get down to see you some day.

Sincerely Alex. McCuaig

P.S. [at top of first page] I am sure when Donald gets acquainted in Islay he will enjoy it all very much.

The White Hart Hotel:


Can anyone interpret the difficult-to-read below phrase? My theory is that it is the Gaelic equivalent of "Round Donald" (Cruinn and Domhull).

"refer Donald to, to get the particulars of his grand-mothers birth place at Upper Glenastle, in the Oa district. Our outlying pasture adjoins the Glenastle pastures, where "Domhull Cruinn" Round Donald herded your grandfather's cattle before they all left for Canada.

Attached files:

img_WhiteHartHotel.jpg  img_1943letter.jpg  

All content © Doug Porteous