A Spiddle Hill Tragedy

The onset of active winter weather in 2013 brings to mind the harsh winter of 1900-1901.   The first few years of the 20th century were remembered as having particularly harsh winters.   The most notable year was 1905 better known as “The Winter of the Deep Snow”.  The winter of 1901 was also noted for its heavy snowfall.

The John Murray and Christy Sutherland family lived on the northeast slope of Spiddle Hill.   Both were born in Sutherland, likely in Clyne.   John emigrated in 1815 to Pictou County.   A few years later John and Christy settled on their remote homestead.  They had at least six children of which only one daughter married.   Three daughters and a son continued to operate the small farm after the parents died.

By 1901 only two elderly daughters were left,  Eliza and Kate.  One of them was completely blind and confined to the house while the other managed what was left of their farm.   During a particularly bad blizzard,  the able sister was stricken with either a stroke or heart attack and died.

The farm was off the nearest road which was not regularly travelled in the best of times.  It was several days before people were able to shovel themselves out.  A neighbour,  realizing that nobody had been past the Murray home since the blizzard,  ventured back through the woods and discovered both sisters were dead.   One story claims the blind sister was found frozen outside the house while another version claims she was found by the stove.  Her fingers had been burned trying to manage the fires.

The sisters are buried in the MacKenzie Cemetery.

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