Sandy “Salt” MacDonald, North Earltown

Among the arrivals in the great migration of 1831/32 was an Alexander MacDonald,  his wife Annie MacLeod and their young family.

Alexander, or Sandy,  was born in 1791 at Altindown in the Parish of Clyne and was the son of John MacDonald and Janet Fraser.   Altindown no longer exists but seems to have been a pre- clearance settlement on the coastal plains near the Clyne church.   Annie was the daughter of Hugh MacLeod and Janet Sutherland of Urachyle,  a settlement in mid Strathbrora from whence came several families to Earltown.

Subsequent to their marriage,  the couple settled in the village of Brora.   According to the Old Parish Register,  he was a saltmaker.  Saltmakers of that era trapped tidal water in the mud flats and allowed the water to naturally evaporate for a short period before finishing the process by boiling it down.   The finished product would be shipped off to the cities in the south.

Annie’s siblings, who may have been crofting at the time,  chose to emigrate to Nova Scotia in 1831.  Like many before, they decided to go to Pictou rather than the preferred destination of Oxford County, Ontario.   Her brother John settled at Braeshore near Pictou while the rest ventured to Earltown to join former friends and acquaintances.   Annie’s sister Ellen,  (George MacKenzie),  settled on the ridge beside the MacKenzie Cemetery, and Mary, (Hector Sutherland),  bought a farm at Balfron.

Annie and Alexander cleared a farm on the Church Road near its junction with the Matheson Brook Road.  It had been a popular winter campground of the Mi’kmaw for generations and the tradition continued well after European settlement.   Alex did not last long in the new world.  He died in the spring of 1837 at the age of 46.   Of their seven known children,   Margaret married John MacLeod of Urachyle and The Falls,  Janet married John MacKay “Black” at Balfron,  Hugh married Christena Sutherland “Square” and settled at Balmoral,  Alex died in the Klondike,  John married first to Eliza Campbell and secondly to Christena MacKay “Marroch” at Balfron,  Betsy married a Grant at Scotch Hill and George remained on the home farm.  He married Betsy Murray “Bonesetter” from The Falls.