Genealogy

Robert William MacMillan

Male 1889 - 1970  (79 years)


Personal Information    |    Notes    |    Sources    |    All    |    PDF

  • Name Robert William MacMillan  [1
    Born 24 Apr 1889  Marble Mountain, Cape Breton, NS Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Military WWI  [1
    Died Between 1969 and 14 May 1970  Sydney, NS Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Buried Malagawatch Cemetery Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I00433  NS MacMillans
    Last Modified 2 Sep 2016 

    Father Norman (Little Norman) MacMillan,   b. Between 1844 and 1845, Lime Hill, Nova Scotia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1936  (Age ~ 92 years) 
    Relationship Natural 
    Mother Margaret MacFarlane,   b. 1848, South Haven, NS Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1894  (Age 46 years) 
    Relationship Natural 
    Married 19 Jan 1874  Little Narrows, Nova Scotia Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Family ID F00135  Group Sheet

    Family Hilda Annie Dowsey,   b. 16 Jun 1893, Ashford, Kent, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 02 Feb 1985, Evanston, NS Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 91 years) 
    Married 21 Mar 1917  Ashford, Kent, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Children 
    +1. Alice Ida (AKA Ida) MacMillan,   b. 01 Aug 1928, Marble Mountain, Cape Breton, NS Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 23 Jul 2008, Antigonish, NS Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 79 years)
    +2. Murdoch Ryan MacMillan,   b. 01 Jan 1926, Marble Mountain, Cape Breton, NS Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 20 Jun 1954, Inverness, NS Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 28 years)
     3. Norman William MacMillan,   b. 24 Jul 1917, Hambledon, Surrey, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 12 Apr 1939, Marble Mountain, Cape Breton, NS Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 21 years)
     4. Percy Walter MacMillan,   b. 16 Nov 1919, Marble Mountain, Cape Breton, NS Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 16 Jun 1994, Sydney, NS Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 74 years)
    +5. Robert Gordon (aka Gordon) MacMillan,   b. 07 Apr 1922, Marble Mountain, Cape Breton, NS Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 17 May 1944, Casino. Italy Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 22 years)
    +6. Alex Stewart (aka Stuart) MacMillan,   b. 29 Mar 1924, Marble Mountain, Cape Breton, NS Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 13 Apr 1993, Sydney, NS Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 69 years)
     7. Kenneth Joshua (aka Joshua) MacMillan,   b. 01 Sep 1930,   d. 12 Oct 1936  (Age 6 years)
    +8. Angus Lewis (aka Lewis) MacMillan,   b. 02 Jan 1934, Marble Mountain, Cape Breton, NS Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 18 Nov 1964, Malagawatch, Nova Scotia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 30 years)
    +9. Hilda Elsie (aka Elsie) MacMillan
    +10. Ruth Margaret MacMillan
    Last Modified 2 Sep 2016 
    Family ID F00150  Group Sheet

  • Notes 
    • [Granddaughter Debby writes] My grandfather Robert enlisted in WWI and was sent to England. He fought in France, and I believe he was injured at Vimy Ridge. Meanwhile he had somehow met my grandmother in Kent, and apparently she was pregnant with Norman when they married. After the war, Robert was sent home with his regiment (Nova Scotia Highlanders) and Hilda made the cross Atlantic trip, while pregnant with Percy, and caring for a toddler. Grandma told me she was seasick from the time they left England until she finally arrived many days later in Montreal. She then had to take a train to Nova Scotia - another 2 days ride. ... She became the person people relied on when there was an infirm relative, or if they in need of a midwife. Besides raising her own large family, tending to the farm and gardens, she was often called upon to provide care to dying neighbors, bedridden and bed-sored, sometimes in terribly unsanitary conditions. She must have had a very strong disposition to say the least. When my mom was young they lived in a house ‘below the road’ just outside the village of Marble Mountain. At some point in the 1930s they moved to a larger farmhouse high on the mountain owned then and now by the McAskill family. At the McAskill farm the family had cleared land, a nearby stream for fresh water, and an incredible view of the Bras d’Or Lake with it’s glittering waters and many islands, and the hillsides of Dundee on the opposite side of the water. The children attended a 1 room schoolhouse (now a tiny museum) way down the mountain and had to walk down in the morning, back up for lunch, then up and down again to complete the afternoon session each day. My Mom was the oldest sister so she remembered often carrying her younger siblings on her back for the arduous climb. The total distance must be close to a mile. No wonder she had gorgeous legs.

      Marble Mountain was a bustling community in the early 20th century. Marble, limestone and dolomite were being actively mined in the quarry and for a time the community supported at its peak 750 miners. Robert found work at the mine, although I’m not sure exactly doing what. He was a horse lover, and may have worked with the ponies that labored there. He also had picked up some foreign language skills while away in Europe and was sometimes asked to act as interpreter for recent immigrants who came to work there. At some point after my parents married in 1945, Robert, Hilda and their bachelor son Percy moved to a farmhouse about 1/8 mile from where my parents lived, on Big Harbour Island Road in the rural community of Malagawatch. They all lived there until they died, although my Grandmother would spend weeks or months each winter with various relatives in her elderly years.

      Robert passed when I was 2 years old so I have no recollection of him. Grandma was an old lady, had limited mobility and needed help around the house. Percy took care of bringing in the coal and the firewood, cutting the grass, catching fish and even did the once-weekly grocery run into Part Hawkesbury (about 40 miles away). My sister Nancy and I were often Grandma’s helpers. We visited nearly every day and usually spent Saturday mornings doing housecleaning - sweeping, dusting, cleaning windows and sometimes a little baking. Granma’s feet were terribly deformed - huge bunions and twisted toes from years of ill-fitting shoes and arthritis. In her later years she could not wear shoes, only slippers. We would soak her feet, clean them and give her pedicures, and tend to any corns or blisters. This became a twice weekly ritual for me when I was a teenager. She paid me a few dollars each week but I’d have done it for free, just to spend time with her and hear her stories. She was partly blind from cataracts and nearly deaf, but she was sharp. She never missed a birthday of a child, grandchild or great-grandchild - they always got a card and small monetary gift. She kept up correspondence with 2 nieces in England and a nephew in South Africa for years. When she could no longer see to write, I would transcribe her letters for her. Once or twice a month we would sit at the dining room table and I’d address all the birthday and anniversary cards that needed to be mailed. When she became very ill and confused, Mom moved her in with us for a period of time, until she was sent to hospital for her final days. She lived a very meager existence - a few pieces of furniture, no indoor plumbing until the mid-1970s, some very old and worn English bone china, and stainless steel spoons worn down by years of meal preparation. She lived on her Old Age Pension from the Canadian government, which was probably not more than a couple hundred dollars a month. The house was often cold in the winter and there were few screens to keep the flies out in the heat of the summer. She spent long hours sitting by the window reading romance novels, or hoping a car would drive by, or in warm weather sitting on the front porch and watching any activity on the lake and dirt road. I remember one summer a brazen chipmunk climbed up on her lap begging for a treat and this became her highlight of each day - she’d have her tea and cookies on the porch and share a little nibble with her woodland friend. She’d listen to the radio, and later the TV. She stayed informed about current events and had lots of opinions on politics. Every afternoon she had nap, and afterwards a shot of whiskey, but I never saw her drink more than one.

  • Sources 
    1. [S00001] email from Debby Bow.