Reference Number124
TitleCeann-iuil an Fhir-imrich do dh’America Mu-thuath; or, the Emigrant’s Guide to North America
AuthorMacDougall, Robert
Date Of Edition1841
Date Of Languagemid 19c
Date Of Language Ed1800-1849
DateMacroMid 19th c.
Date Of Language Notes
PublisherJ. & P. Campbell (Glasgow), J. Miller (Oban), J. Bain & Co. (Inverness), A. Keith (Dingwall)
Place PublishedGlasgow, Oban, Inverness, Dingwall
LocationNational and academic (Edinburgh) libraries.
Geographical OriginsFortingall, Perthshire
Geographical Origins EdPerthshire
Geographical Origins Notes
RegisterInstruction (Immigration to Canada)
Register EdLiterature, Prose and Verse
MediumProse & Verse
20 chapters describing different aspects of life for emigrants in Upper Canada in the mid-19th century.
Mentions the different towns in Canada, the American Indians, crops and stock, implements, and the process of emigration.
The style of writing is informal but descriptive, and the writer uses symbolism and analogy to get his point across.
The text contains terms and expressions relating to animals, crops, equipment, place-names, and the seasons.
Alternative Author NameRob Mac Dhughaill
Manuscript Or EditionEd.
Size And Condition14.2cm x 9.3cm
Short TitleCeann-iùil an Fhir-imrich
Reference DetailsEUL, Sp. Coll: S. B. .3252(41:73)02Macd and NLS: Mf.55(3) P.8-9
Number Of Pages143
Gaelic Text ByN/A
Social ContextRobert MacDougall was born in Fortingall in Perthshire in April 1813. He was the youngest of eight children by his father’s first marriage to Girsel Stewart of the Garth Stewart family. Robert’s father, Alexander MacDougall, was a shepherd at Foss. In 1819, after his mother’s death, Robert’s father married again, and he and his new wife, Christian Menzies, had two children, a son and a daughter, Katherine (Kitty). At the age of 17, Robert moved to the Hebrides. His brothers may already have been there. His brother Peter worked for his uncle, Donald Stewart, the Harris Factor, and married his daughter Margaret. They also had an uncle in Skye, Archibald Stewart, who was the tacksman of Scuderburgh. Robert’s obituary in the Melbourne publication The Age, records that he spent his time in the Hebrides fishing and otter hunting, but he may have been working for one of the Stewarts (Thompson 1998, p. 132, 134).

Robert’s older brothers, Peter and John, emigrated to Goderich Township in the Huron Tract, owned by the Canada Company in Upper Canada, in 1833. Robert MacDougall, along with his father and his half-sister Kitty, emigrated to Canada in 1836. Peter took his own cattle with him, but was taken in by the Canada Company’s advertising campaigns. Despite their reassurances that there would be fodder all year round, his cattle died during the first winter due to a lack of food. Peter confronted the Company about this deceit, but to no avail.

Robert MacDougall spent three years in Canada before returning to Scotland in 1839. On his return to Scotland, he worked for a time at the offices of Cuairtear nan Gleann, and in 1840 he published a volume of poetry, entitled Tam o’ Shanter, which included some of his own works, alongside translations into Gaelic of Tam o’ Shanter and of some of Byron’s poems. In his 1892 publication, Literature of the Highlanders, Nigel MacNeill describes MacDougall as ‘the first, with James Munro, of the new school of poetry to which Livingston, Angus Macdonald, and others of the present day belong’ (1929, p. 454).

Robert MacDougall emigrated to Australia in 1841, the same year as this volume was published. Robert’s diary records the turbulent journey on board the Manlius, in which many passengers died of the plague. The ship was quarantined for twelve weeks when it reached Port Phillip. In 1842, Robert became the herdmaster for Thomas Learmonth at Ercildoune, and in 1848 was able to rent land and purchase stock for himself on the Glenroy estate. He married Margaret Rankin of Tasmania in 1853, and they had six children, five girls and one boy. That year, he was elected to the Legislative Assembly for West Bourke, although he gave up his position within a year. In 1858, Robert edited a book on cattle for the colony, Australian Herd Book, which was published in Melbourne. Robert returned to England twice, in 1859 and in 1870, to purchase stock. In 1868, he bought the farm at Arundel in Keilor, and it was there that he died in June 1887, at the age of 75. As a person, Robert MacDougall was described as ‘strong-willed, intelligent, and slightly eccentric ... He was a good friend and a formidable enemy; quick to anger and equally ready to tell a joke, even on himself’ (Thompson 1998, p. 139), which ensured that he made both friends and enemies during his time in Australia.
ContentsThis volume begins with a short section entitled Do’n Fhear-imrich (pp. 3-5), in which the author explains the need for a work such as this. It is signed ‘Rob Mac Dhughaill’ (p. 5). There follows a Fosgladh (pp. 6-7), in which the author explains his reasons for writing such a book.

The main body of the text contains twenty chapters, on different aspects of life in Upper Canada, as follows: Comharachadh (pp. 8-17); Ullachadh, &c. (pp. 17-19); Faradh, &c. (pp. 20-21); Sanasan mu Imrich nan Gael (pp. 21-28); Quebec, &c. (pp. 28-33); Innseannaich, &c. (p. 34-46); Montreal, &c. (pp. 46-50); Kingston, &c. (pp. 51-52); Toronto, &c. (pp. 52-54); Hamilton, &c. (pp. 54-56); Goderich, &c. (pp. 56-65); Beachdan M’ a America, &c. (pp. 66-72); Mu Thaghadh Fearainn, &c. (pp. 72-75); Mu Ghlanadh Fearainn, &c. (pp. 75-82); Mu Bharr, &c. (pp. 82-90); Mu Fheur, &c. (pp. 90-96); M’ a Dheanamh an t-Siucair (pp. 96-99); Mu Fheudail (pp. 99-122), which includes sections on Eich, Crodh, Farbhasan mu Chrodh, Caoraich, and Mucan; and Fiadh Bheathaichean (pp. 122-33), which includes sections on Math-Ghabhainn, Madadh-AllaidhMadadh-Ruadh, and Cuileagan (pp. 134-136).

At the end of this volume is a Co-dhunadh (pp. 137-43), in which the author explains why he has focused his attention on specific areas of Canada and excluded Nova Scotia.

Throughout the text, MacDougall quotes proverbs, poetry, and the Bible, to illustrate his points.
LanguageThis text is written with a strong authorial presence, relatively informal but somewhat flowery in style. MacDougall covers a variety of aspects of travel to Canada and life in Canada, and employs terms and expressions relating to implements and effects (those that should be taken to Canada, and those used in Canada to perform various activities), what to do on arrival in Canada, the different towns in Canada, how to prepare land and grow crops, stock rearing and wild animals, and the appearance and way of life of the native Indians.

In the second chapter, MacDougall advises on items the emigrant should bring to Canada: ‘Gach fear a tha dol air an turas so, ma-tha, thoireadh e leis, ma ’surrainn e, na nithean a leanas:—’Am pailteas de dh’aodach cuim a’s leapach—osain—boineidean leathan gorma, an seòrsa ris an can na Tuathaich sgrath, cha’n fhiù a bhoineid bhireach an t-aisig fhaotainn—eididh mhòr de dh’anart cotain, air-son leintean—eididh chùrainn, air-son pheiteinean bàna—eididh phlangaid’, air-son bhrigisean glùineach—eideadh de chainb chaoil, air-son thriùsairean sàmhraidh’ (pp. 17-18). MacDougall frequently provides us with facts and figures, e.g. in the third chapter he gives the cost of travelling to Canada for Muinntir air tighinn gu fearachas, Muinntir fo chòig bliadhna deug, Maothrain fo chòig bliadhna, and Ciocharain agus dìlleachdain òga (p. 20).

MacDougall spends six chapters telling us about some of the different towns in Canada. Regarding Quebec, for example, he writes: ‘Chì am fear-imrich mòran nitheannan a bhios annasach dha an sin. Tha na taighean air an tubhadh le staoin, ann an àit na sgleut a th’orr’ an so; agus ged nach eil a cheud chuid a thachras ris de’n bhaile anabarach tlachdmhor, ’nuair a dhìreas e mach ri’ bhraighe, gheibh e sealladh ciatach de’n abhainn agus de’n dùthaich mu’n cuairt’ (p. 31). Of Goderich, MacDougall first of all warns the reader not to believe all the advertising about it: ‘’Sduine bhiodh rud-eiginn na b-fhiosraiche no’n ruith-chumanta a dh’fheumadh e, a smuaineachadh nach e bh’ ànn nàdar beag de dh’ionad meadhanach, air nach d’ amais an cinne daoine riamh roimh an taobh a staigh de “stairsnich a chrúinne chè.”’ (p. 57). However, ‘ged is ann mar sin tha chùis am feadh so, tha h-uile coltach gum faod Goderich a bhi ’na bhaile math a chuid ’sa chuid. Tha a Chuideachd a’ deanamh a-h uile dìchill is urrainn dhoibh, g’a chuir an ceann air gach doigh’ (p. 60). By a Chuideachd, he is referring to Cuideachd Chanada, i.e. the Canada Company (p. 56). It is MacDougall’s belief that Canada could, and should, become ’na h-àilleagan aig Breatainn, ’na h-onoir do luchd tagraidh nan Gael (p. 72). MacDougall also refers to the situation at home, stating that ‘A chum a chùis so ’thoirt mu’n cuairt, cha neil Gael bochd, eadar Cluaith a’s taigh Iain-Ghròt, do nach bu chòir an aon ghaoir a thogail an cluasaibh àrd riaghlairean na Rioghachd, air-son aisig a nasgaidh fhotainn a null agus fearann a nasgaidh ’nuair a ruigeadh iad, agus tuille cha’n iarrainn; am fear do nach fodhainn sin cha ’n fhiù e thoirt o’n ghriosaich’ (p. 72).

MacDougall spends some time telling us about the different types of trees and crops that can be found in Canada. These include: an crann siùcair, an crànn-bhile, an t-uiseann bàn, an leamhan dubh, an leamhan dearg, an leamhan ronnach, a ghall-cnò, a chnò ime, an crann còsach, agus an crann sirist (p. 74). He also describes how best to prepare the land for planting. This involves clearing and burning, followed by stacking timber: Nuair a gheibhear a bharrach loisgte ’se ’n ath rud air an toirear làmh a choille mhòr a chàrnadh. Feumaidh an obair so ceithir dhaoine agus cuing dhamh a bhi còluath rithe. … (p. 80). MacDougall mentions a few of the crops common in Canada, e.g. a chruineachd fhoghair (p. 83) and a choirc-Innseanaich (p. 84), and details the best ways and times of the year to plant them. Càl-a-chruidh, for example, is bogar, dosrach, iosal, leth-char coltach ris a bhrisgein againn fhéin ann an dreach, ach tur eadar-dhealaichte ann an nàdur (p. 93). As to the leek: ‘’Se ’n t-Uinnean-Fiadhaich, a cheud fhear a thaisbeanas, a ghnùis, de ’n iarmad lionmhor so. Tha esan, aon uair is gu’n tig an Inid, a’ faireadh, mar gu’m b-eath, a latha ’sa dh’ òidhche, dh’ fheuch cuin a gheibh e ’chead am buar, a tha crùbadh ris na ballaichaibh ’sa thug duil thairis de dhad thuillè fhaotainn an taobh a mach de ’n phraisaich, fhuran gu’n lòn-maidne do’n choille’ (p. 91). There is also a chapter on making and preserving sugar.

MacDougall also describes the different animals that are common to Canada. He begins by telling us about the various domestic animals, such as horses, cattle, and sheep, explaining how they are used and bred. He says of the Canadian horses, Tha iad ’nan eich mhatha de rìreadh, agus ’nan làn-dearbhadh air firinn an t-sean-fhocail, a thuirt, “Molaidh an t-each math e fèin.” (p. 99). On the importance of pigs, he expresses the following opinion: ’Si a mhuc a cheud bheothach is éiginn do’n tuathanach ùr fhaotuinn, agus beothach mu dheireadh ris an fheudar dha dealachadh (p. 118). MacDougall also mentions some of the wild animals that abound in Canada, mentioning am math-ghamhainn dubh, oir cha neil am math-ghamhainn glas ann an Canada Uachdrach idir (p. 122), mucan-talmhainn; feòragan dubha agus ruagha, agus breaca (p. 131), taoghain (p. 13), feòcallain (p. 131), creithleag mhór and musquitoe (p. 135).

MacDougall gives us quite a bit of information on the appearance and way of life of the native Indians. For example, he tells us about their hunting practices and their method of building houses: ‘’Nuair ruigeas iad an ceann-uidhe no ’nuair a dh’èignicheas an òidhch’ iad gu tàmh a ghabhail, bheirear làmh air an tomahawk (an tuagh-bheag), gearrar sios ma thuaiream dà dhusan cabar, ceanglar an ceann a caol ac uile ceart cuideachd, agus togar an sin suas am bàrr co dìreach is a ghabhas’ (p. 36).

MacDougall frequently uses familiar comparisons to explain unfamiliar facts to the Highland reader. For example, towards the end of the book, MacDougall notes that Tha madaidh-ruadha cho lionmhor ’an coilltean America is a tha caoraich ann am Beinn Dobhrain, agus mòran ni’s lionmhoire, ged a theirinn e (p. 130). In his description of the native Indians, he writes: ‘Ach ged tha na h-Innseanaich de chaochladh datha ris na Gaeil, cha’n ann aona-chuid dubh no buidhe tha iad, mar a tha cuid a’ cumail a mach. Cha nè dath a chopair a th’orra cuideachd, ’s cha mhò is urrainn domh nì sam bith ainmeachadh de na chunnaic mi riamh a tha dìreach air an dath ac; ach tha mi’n dùil gur urrainn domh ìnnseadh ciamar ’rachadh rud a dheanamh a bhiodh air an dath ac, air a shon sin. ’Nuair a bhios té de mo bhana-chàirdean ’sa Ghaeltachd a’ dathadh chlotha, bheireadh i air lùbaig de shnàth geal; thoireadh i tumadh dh’i ’san tuba-chrotail; faisgeadh i i gu teann, greimeil, ’nuair a thogas i i; thoireadh i ’n sin dà thumadh eile dh’i ’sa phoit-ghuirmein, ’ga fàsgadh gu gasda gach uair a thogas i i; agus cha mhòr nach cuirinn mo chuid de ’na chlò air a gheall nach eil dealbhadair am baile mòr Rìgh na Frainge ni rud n’is coltaiche ris an dreach ac’ (pp. 34-35).

MacDougall mentions a number of place-names in the text, such as Nuadh Albainn for Nova Scotia (p. 25), Còmhnardan Abrahaim for the Plains of Abraham (p. 32), and Abar-Reidhean for Aberdeen (p. 20). Also of interest is the way he describes different times of the year, with regard to planting etc., using such terms as o Lùnasdainn (p. 83), an Inid (p. 91), and o Shamhainn gu Bealltuin (p. 108).

MacDougall’s style of writing tends to be quite flowery and full of similes. For example, in the fourth chapter he expresses the opinion that ministers and school teachers should emigrate with their countrymen. His reasoning is as follows: ‘’Si ’n sgoil leac-an-teinntein aig taigh an eòluis agus an fhiosrachaidh; agus an taigh aig nach fhaighear a chagailt air a sguabadh glan agus ann an deagh òrdugh, ciod idir a bhios dùil againn ri chòlachadh mu’n stairsnich?’ (pp. 22-23).
OrthographyThe orthography of this text is, in general, that of the mid-nineteenth century, although there are a few points of note. MacDougall’s Perthshire dialect may be reflected in the orthography of certain words. For example, he commonly leaves out final unstressed vowels, e.g. annt (e.g. p. 17), àit (e.g. p. 31), and ac (e.g. p. 31). He uses no rather than na, e.g. in No’m b-ann (p. 73), and one should also note the forms riaghlairean (p. 72), sgriobhairean (p. 73), ’n tràs (p. 21), fuasach (p. 47), and bruadaireadh (p. 67). Another trait of interest is the way he frequently runs the copula and the following word together, even where the following word does not begin with a vowel, e.g. ma ’surrainn e (p. 17), ’Sduine (p. 57), and ’Scòir (p. 94). Also of interest is the word-division (or lack of it) in the forms Cha neil (e.g. p. 33), Cha nè (p. 34), and airneo (p. 67).
EditionFirst edition. EUL holds an imperfect paper copy of this text, in which the front cover, pp. 11-12, pp. 133-34, and p. 143 are missing. Part of pp. 141-142 is also missing. NLS holds a Mf copy of the complete text. SMO has complete copy. An English translation of this text was published in Canada in 1998 under the title The Emigrant’s Guide to North America.
Other Sources
Further ReadingThompson, Elizabeth, ed., The Emigrant’s Guide to North America (Toronto, 1998: Natural Heritage Books).
MacNeill, Nigel, The Literature of the Highlanders (Stirling, 1929: [n. pub.]).
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