Norman A Nicholson (1904–1987) is remembered by his grand-daughter, Val Beer as someone who loved to tell stories of his past. In 1977, he wrote this story about his grandparents Angus and Janet Nicholson, who immigrated from the Isle of Skye to PEI in 1858, sailing across on the James Gibbs. They settled in Glen Valley on the Junction Road next to Pleasant Valley. The baby in this story was Catherine who later married Isaac Sharpe, and together raised a family in Pleasant Valley.
The potatoes, now large enough to eat, were growing beautifully in the mixture of hardwood ashes and red Island soil around the roots of the partially burned stumps. The oats, sown in the larger patches of the tiny clearing, had also produced an exceptional yield. Each day was making it more evident this earth was good, and they still found it hard to believe this land was truly theirs.
Janet had been working since early morning reaping the grain, a handful at a time and binding each armful into sheaves. She stopped only after long intervals to rest her aching back and to suckle her tiny baby girl which she kept nearby cradled in between the roots of a giant pine.
Angus, a short distance away at the edge of a ½ acre clearing, had been working equally hard hacking down the trees one at a time and piling the brush around them which would later make huge bonfires. He was awkward with an axe. Only determination and a powerful physique enabled him to make even a modest showing – it would be the next generation which would produce the superb axemen, brawny highlanders, whose precision and power with that tool was a highly perfected art.
Now, as the evening shadows lengthened, Angus and Janet returned to their log shelter with the baby; also a few potatoes and a sheaf of the oats which would be winnowed by hand to make porridge and oat caking for the evening meal. Except for some berries Janet had gathered, there was nothing else edible in the little hut. But what really mattered was that there was happiness, peace, and contentment. They ate their frugal meal, then not as a ritual, but with deep reverence, knelt on their knees and thanked their God for all of his goodness and mercy in providing for all their needs and bringing them safely to this wonderful new land of promise and freedom.
What is noteworthy is not that they had so little and toiled so hard, for poverty itself is no virtue, but rather that they were so thankful for what they considered their good fortune.
And upon reflection, possibly we may also sense that what they had gained were really the things that are priceless.
In July 1858, one vessel alone (the James Gibbs out of Uig, Isle of Skye) would discharge 300 settlers, about half of whom settled in what was to become Strathalbyn (Breadalbane 1888), Lot 67. Included MacDonald's, MacLure's, Buchanan's, Graham's, and MacKay's, among others. (Source: www.islandregister.com/ship_data4.html)