It is only in recent years that we have come to the realization that we have neglected our ancestors and the contribution they made to our society. We must tell the story of these courageous men and women in words that will inspire our children to take pride in the mighty accomplishments of their ancestors. Those pioneers were the astronauts of their time.

Picture yourself having to leave the only community you ever knew, in Scotland or Ireland. Being forced to leave because of political or religious percussion, leaving your family for the unknown. Most had no money, many had small children. They sold what little they owned to pay their passage to the unknown. They arrived in Nova Scotia penny less.

They got on ships not much better than a cattle boat. Conditions on that boat were worse than on the American slave ships. As many as 600 persons were crowded into a poorly ventilated hull below the waterline. Bunks for full passengers (over age 16) were 18 inches wide. 24 inches above was another tier of bunks. Many passengers developed contagious diseases on the voyage. Disease spread rapidly in these conditions and many died on the voyage and were quarantined for weeks after they landed.

Picture yourself getting off the boat in Pictou about the year 1800. What do you see? No town, no telephone to call your relatives back home to tell them you arrived safely. No motel to put you up for the night. No road to follow to your new home. No new home, you don`t even know where you are going. You walk along the shore, through the woods, through brooks and swamps for miles. All you have is what you can carry. You don`t even have a horse.

When you arrive at your destination in Antigonish what do you see? No home, nothing but forest. You must cut trees to make a shelter. How did these pioneers feed themselves the first years until they got enough land cleared to plant potatoes and grain. Where did they get money to purchase supplies, seeds, stoves, horses, cattle, etc.? They had no electricity, no radios, no newspapers, no mail delivery, no TV, no computers, no church, no schools, no doctors, no hospitals, no roads or bridges over rivers.

These great people transformed a wooded wilderness into thriving communities in only one generation. They built homes, barns, schools, churches, roads and bridges. They cleared the forests, made fields and planted crops. They formed governments and structured their communities. But their greatest gift to us was the peaceful society that they created. These pioneers came from Scotland and Ireland where war and persecution was a way of life for over a thousand years. Yet here in Antigonish, the Irish, the Scottish, the French, the English and the Mi`kmaq were able to live in peace. Amazing!!. What a lesson for today’s world.

We have not given sufficient credit to these pioneers for the huge contribution they made to our communities. We are the beneficiaries of their great work.