Description Song: To the Pioneer Settlers of West River, and Letter to the Editor of the Eastern Chronicle, published July 10, 1879

This song written by Alexander McRae and the letter to the editor written by his son John McRae dated June 16, 1879 were both submitted to the Eastern Chronicle in response to a version of the song was submitted to the Eastern Chronicle from memory by a resident of Green Hill and published on May 29, 1879. This letter and this correct and original version of the song were published in the July 10 edition of the Eastern Chronicle. 

This letter and song were re-published in the Pictou Advocate on July 29, 1923 as part of the sesquicentennial (150th) commemoration events of the landing of the ship Hector. 

It is interesting to note that John McRae adds as a footnote that the "dear spot" in West River was now called Watervale (in 1879), and that this "dear spot" was the place "where I, his son, first drew breath."

My great-great-grandmother, Nancy (McRae) Fraser, was the eldest child of Alexander and Isabella McRae, and the sister of John McRae. She was born at West River in 1822 - just a few years after this song was composed. John McRae was born six years later. Nancy married James Fraser at West River circa 1848. The Alexander McRae and James Fraser families moved and settled at Toney River circa 1855. Alexander McRae started a gristmill and sawmill. Later, in his retirement, his son John was the miller of the gristmill and his son Roderick operated the sawmill.

Alexander's eldest son, James McRae married Mary McQuarrie in 1856; Catherine McRae married Mary McQuarrie's brother Allan McQuarrie in 1864; and Roderick McRae married their sister, Catherine Anne McQuarrie, in 1865. James and Mary McRae moved to New Brunswick circa 1870 and did not participate in the running of the McRae family business concerns at Toney River. He died at Moncton, N.B. only weeks after his father's death in February 1876. In 1906, his widow, Mary (McQuarrie) McRae, moved from Moncton to Rocanville, Saskatchewan to be closer to her brother Allan and sister Catherine who resided there with their McRae spouses. Roderick McRae died in 1929 at the age of 99; his wife Catherine died in 1927, two years after their sixtieth wedding anniversary, at the age of 85; and Mary (McQuarrie) McRae died in 1929 at the age of 95. Both Allan and Catherine (McRae) McQuarrie died much earlier, in 1907, at Rocanville, Saskatchewan. 

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