The shoreline of Aspy Bay in northern Cape Breton near the fishing village of Dingwall

The shoreline of Aspy Bay in northern Cape Breton near the fishing village of Dingwall

While scant information is available, history shows us that Effie MacPherson MacLeod was certainly made of sterner stuff.   In 1803, six-year old Effie came from the Isle of Skye, Scotland to Prince Edward Island, Canada with her family.  Later, with her husband Robert MacLeod, she moved to Lake Ainslie and Pleasant Bay, Cape North and finally Victoria.  In 1828, she made the trip from Pleasant Bay to Cape North in an open boat.  During that perilous voyage, Effie gave birth in the boat to her son Angus MacLeod.  Effie was a midwife and was for a time the only doctor in the Cape North area.  According to a history of the region, Effie journeyed  on horseback and snowshoes to reach those in need of her services.

Effie MacPherson MacLeod is my 4th Great Grandmother.

Marie-Henriette LeJeune Ross 

In researching Effie, I came across another pioneer midwife who lived in north Cape Breton during the same period.  In Nova Scotia, the story of Granny Ross is widely known and she is considered to be a “trail-blazer in the world of women in science.”

During the learning years of her adult life, Marie-Henriette became aware of her gifts as a healer and midwife. The legend of Granny Ross began in Little Bras d’Or, where she cared for and saved the lives of many settlers during a smallpox epidemic. Since she had already contracted the disease, she was immune to its effects.

Marie-Henriette can be considered a pioneer. She did more than just birth children in her neighborhood. Settlers called on her for miles around and she used her knowledge of plant medicine in the service of her fellow citizens until she reached an advanced age. (Library and Archives of Canada)

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