Glenaladale House

 

GLENALADALE HOUSE

        Captain John MacDonald (1742-1810), the founder of the Lot 36 settlement in 1771 and 1772, called his home farm New Glenalladale after the estate he held in Scotland. The "new" was dropped by succeeding generations. Captain John had been the 8th Laird of Glenaladale and Glenfinnan and, after the Scottish fashion of naming owners after their estate or their farm, he was known as "Glenaladale." This naming tradition continued in Lot 36. Glenaladale's great-grandsons, both men sons of John Archie MacDonald, who later came on occasion to visit their old home, are still remembered as "Jack Tracadie" and "Willie Tracadie" by members of the MacKinnon family who bought the farm in 1905.

        The local school at Tracadie Cross, located before 1950 on route 218 at the junction with 219, was known as Glenaladale School. Today, except for a building on the campus of Macdonald College, the name survives in Canada only as the name of the Tracadie farm and the house.

        Captain John MacDonald also sprinkled Lots 35 and 36 with other names from the Scottish Clanranald lands: Moydart, Arisaig, Castle Tirom, Clanranald Farm, Island Finan, and—the only one of these to survive—Glenfinnan. Other names like Scotchfort, Fort Augustus, Tarantum, Frenchfort, Donaldston, and Corran Ban, which were given by the Glenaladale MacDonalds or by the settlers, have also survived and remain with this house and farm as testimony to a rich past. Still other names, like the Portage Road and Tracadie, echo an even earlier past than the British occupation.

        The first Glenaladale residence was a log house, located near the shore and the boundary between Lots 35 and 36. The next two houses of the family, the frame house built at the end of the 18th century and burned in 1865, and the house that replaced it, were both located near the grove of trees down by the shore.

        The present brick house was designed at the firm of Hutchinson and Steel in Montreal but the contractor James Hodgson was from Charlottetown. Henry J. Cundall of Charlottetown acted as overall supervisor and agent for William Macdonald. Most of the brick came from an older brick storage warehouse at the shore and had been manufactured on the spot. The bricklaying was contracted to Jenkins and Duffy of Charlottetown and the foundation was made from a combination of brick and Island sandstone. The roof slates shipped from Montreal were brought in by vessel to Charlottetown and sent by rail to Tracadie station.

 

        The house and the barn were each equipped with a continuously flowing supply of water brought from a reservoir on the property. A Montreal engineer laid the underground pipes for this system and the reservoir fed from a never-failing spring. The barn was joined to the house by a 300 foot connected walkway, which gave convenient winter access to the livestock. A drive ramp was built up at the west end of the barn to provide loaded teams with access to the storage lofts for hay and grain, which were located on the second floor. The cost of the house was about $9500 but the barn was $22,000.

        The main section of the house is exactly 50 feet square (see the floor plan on page 91 of H.M. Scott Smith's book). Downstairs around a central hall—which has a large grate to accommodate the furnace in the basement below—are arranged a parlour in the north-east corner, the front door and vestibule facing east, a "sitting-room" in the south-east, the dining room in the south-west, a large pantry facing west, and the kitchen in the corner that points north-west. A veranda extends along the east side while a porch and a brick extension containing toilets are located on the north side. An outside entry to a full basement with several large rooms was on the west side and the inside entry is adjacent to the kitchen and porch doors at the foot of the back stairs.

        The large staircase in the main hall leads to the third floor with two landings—each with large north-lighted windows. As on the first floor, the hall on the second level is spacious; further, the two closets on this level are much larger than those below. Seven bedrooms, four larger and three smaller ones, are located on this floor. On the third floor, there is an enclosed hall from which one can enter three more large rooms. The largest of the three faces west and was intended for the help since it can be accessed from both the main and the back staircases. There is an attic above the third floor with access to the roof. Four large chimneystacks dominate the roofline but the house has only one fireplace—in the kitchen (though it is now closed). While stoves were used in each of the downstairs rooms, only a single stove in the upstairs hall was used to warm the bedrooms. The MacKinnons installed a furnace with a grate into the downstairs hall after John Archie’s time. The bedrooms were each equipped with a lever working a system of wires, which allowed someone upstairs to ring one of a set of bells in the kitchen.

        While the house is largely furnished throughout in the style and scale from the period before 1914, little of the furniture except that in one bedroom was purchased from the MacDonald family. Only one family has owned the house and farm since it was purchased in 1905. The MacKinnon family made very few alterations to the house over the years. They had moved to the property from Lot 16 (this family had originally settled in Canoe Cove upon emigrating from the Isle of Mull, Scotland, in 1808).

        The MacKinnon barn which replaced the MacDonald barn after the1907 fire, though not quite half the length of the earlier one, was still a huge structure. Unfortunately, it was badly damaged during the great gale that swept up the Atlantic seaboard in 1991, and has subsequently come down. The house remains in an excellent state of repair; much work has been done in the past few years to maintain it inside and out. While some parts of the original fabric like the green wooden shutters are not easily replaced and remain in poor repair, considerable sums have been spent recently on more essential items like brick and roof work, flues, eavestroughs, verandah sills, extensive replastering in the third floor, work on the reservoir, etc.[1]

 

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[1] The information comes from two accounts of the construction of the Glenaladale house and barn: the first is from the Weekly Examiner and Island Argus (21 Nov. 1884); the second from H.M. Scott Smith, The Historic Houses of Prince Edward Island (Erin, Ont.: The Boston Mills Press, 1990), 90-91.

 

Location

Glenaladale Farm
Canada

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