My Heart is in the Highlands
- Macphail, Agnes, Author
- Media Type:
- Item Type:
- An autobiographical article by Agnes Macphail about her family history and trip to Scotland to visit her ancestral homes.
- My Heart
is in the
By Agnes Macphail
(This summer Miss Macphail fulfilled a longtime ambition to visit Scotland. She loved it except that she got cold feet. Here's her story.)
I was wealthy all summer in
Britain. The pound was valued
at $2.70 and for each traveller's
cheque I got a handful of money.
I often wondered what it was like
to be wealthy. It is comfortable.
A young German woman sat at
my table at a hotel in London,
England. She said that they had
no rationing in Germany and
plenty to eat, but they lost the
war didn't they? Or am I mis-
taken? And Britain who won it
is severely rationed, particularly
on proteins. British people are
getting almost no meat or eggs
(one egg a week) or cheese. They
have fish and everyone seems to
have a very fine vegetable garden
and unlimited bread and potatoes
but there is too much starch in
Eire's Gravy Strong
Everyone said when you go to
Eire — which they call Ireland —
you will get very good food but
strangely I like the British food
much better. The bacon was fat
in Eire and the gravy strong. The
odd thing was the people of Britain and the people of Eire seem
very friendly, now that they are
separate entities. Dublin had a
great many English tourists as
well as American and Scotch. The
British may have come to Eire to
Scotland is the land of my forebears. It was new to me. It is Bonnie Scotland! all right. The beauty is more rugged than in England. Every family seems to have a gardener. The integrity of the people of the British Isles is a beautiful thing, particularly in Scotland (remembering my grandparents). They are not honest because of what other people would think if they were not, but on account of the satisfaction it gives each person. They have retained the uprightness of earlier days of which we only hear stories handed down from generation to generation.
The Scotsman tells the story
(Continued on page eleven)
Volume 18 — No. 16
(Continued from page one)
that only in Scotland is it possible at tea time to take the eater's word as to how many of the fancy cakes he or she had eaten. In London, the Scots say, the waitress must keep tab on the number and kind. Only in Scotland, they proudly say, everyone will tell exactly what they'd eaten.
The thing that amused the most were the trams in Glasgow where if you are only going a few blocks the fare is a penny, for a further distance two pennies and downtown thruppencee, with the conductor going up and down the aisle collecting the fares. It seemed an inefficient method but it certainly required very honest passengers.
Speaking of separate entities I canvassed the Home Rule for Scotland sentiment. It is quite strong but if Westminster gave more administrative authority to the Secretary for Scotland it would solve a lot of problems. I spent some time in the West Highlands and the people there told me "Westminster knows nothing about conditions in the Highlands and the Islands of the West Coast." Only recently have they been able to get daily mail service on the Island of Skey. And they need very much an air ambulance to bring emergency cases to the mainland (page Saskatchewan!).
No Love Lost
It is colder in Scotland than in England, particularly in the north yet the heat in trains is turned on, on the same date as in southern England. All of these little difficulties could be ironed out by haying the administration in Scotland where the local conditions are understood and experienced.
Very unfortunately there is no love lost between the Scotch and the English, too many battles in the past. I visited an old battle ground near Inverness and the taxi-driver pointed out that no heather grew on the dead Highland chieftain's graves, presumably because it was an offence to be killed by the English. When his story was met by laughter he admitted that it was likely some Scot came up with weed killer in the Spring.
The major part of my two months was spent in Scotland with England getting two weeks and the Emerald Isle two weeks. The grass in Ireland is very green, small wonder that it is called the Emerald Isle. The surprising thing was that I couldn't find an Irishman who enjoyed having Ireland split into two parts with custom houses at the border. There must be such Irishmen but I didn't talk to any. The six counties that belong to Britain have a degree of self: government much like our Provincial Government, and a very beautiful new Parliament Building which is white and is called the "White Elephant" by everyone I talked to.
London is a magnificent city. I fell in love with it. It has been tidied up since the war and the 8 ¾ million population seemed to be quietly going about their business. There are more parks and play places than in the cities of our great spreading country. The shops are beautiful and with Canadian funds one can secure many things which they could not afford at home. The cost of everything is high to the people of the British Isles, but to us it seemed low.
The Labor Party will form the next government of Britain is the consensus of opinion. Even Conservatives say "I'm afraid so". The cost of living will be a great factor in the next election, and the very severe rationing of essentials. It is nonsense, of course, to say that either the Labor or the Conservative Government is the only cause of Britain's troubles. Carrying the burdens of the democratic world through two wars of world wide scope is the cause.
As one English woman said to me "You can't tell anyone what it was like, one had to be there to know. Such irritations as changed routes to work, on account of bombs, broken sleep and the tiresome queuing for foods etc." None of us know but some know that we do not know how terrible it was and have the sympathy with those who do know. Canadians should remember the British when we eat roasts, chops and steaks.
Coming up the St. Lawrence with Autumn in bloom, I thought, we Canadians are the most fortunate people in the world. My native land glowed with beauty—and we have central heating in addition!
- CCF Newsletter
- Date of Original:
- Date Of Event:
- Local identifier:
- 996.023.018a & b
- Language of Item:
- Geographic Coverage:
Scotland, United Kingdom
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- Canadian Labour Congress
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