The Livingston(e)s of Boularderie Island

The image on the left is from Church's map of Cape Breton Island completed in 1877. There are six Livingston dwellings shown on the north side of Boularderie Island between the wharf and St. James Presbyterian Church and two on the south shore at a place known as Black Brook. In addition, some of the MacDonalds and MacLeans on the north shore were related to the Livingstons, and the Campbells of Black Rock at the mouth of the Great Bras d'Or were to marry into the Livingston family.
Click for a readable image.


The progenitor of the Boularderie Livingstons and Livingstones was Angus Livingstone (variously spelled on census returns and petitions as Leviston, Livingston, and Livingstone). By his own account, he arrived in Cape Breton in September 18191 and was the first settler on the west side of Boularderie Island2. Born in Argyllshire,Scotland circa 1773, he had served in the Navy aboard the Royal George during the Napoleonic War. He was married with eight children in 1820 when he made his first petition for land on the west side of Boularderie. The grant was named Kilninian, which is also the name of both a parish and a town on the Isle of Mull. It is unknown whether Angus was accompanied by his wife and all his children; I have found evidence of four who married and stayed in Boularderie and one who received a land grant and then resigned it and returned to Europe3

There is a family tradition that Angus was one of three brothers who emigrated together and landed at Pictou. In a search for better land, they built an open boat and set off. Malcolm settled in Cape George, Antigonish County (at a place now called Livingstone Cove), while George and Angus continued to Cape Breton. They had their boat hauled over the strip of land separating the Strait of Canso from the Bras d'Or Lakes at St. Peter's. Angus chose to settle on the west side of Boularderie Island, and George sailed on to Low Point near present-day Victoria Mines at the mouth of Sydney Harbour. While it might be nice to believe in this epic tale, its credibility is questioned by the petition for land at Low Point by John LIVINGSTONE in 18174, in which he states that he has been a resident of Cape Breton for ten years, preceding by at least eleven years the arrival of Angus in Boularderie. Similarly, the claim that Angus was an uncle of the famous Dr. David Livingstone of Africa is not supported by evidence.


While Angus is listed as a farmer in the census of 1838-1841, at some point he became a shipbuilder, having "laid the keel of the brigantine Caradoc of 85 tons about 300 yards east of the wharf at Big Bras d'Or." He died before the launching, which took place in 1855, and the ship was completed by his son Sandy (Alexander).Three other ships, all schooners, are known to have been built and operated by the Livingstons: John Lachlan, 1863, 34 tons; Golden Arm, 1878, 83 tons; and Morning Star. 5


Alexander Livingston (Angus1) married Isabella Deason, granddaughter of William Desson, a veteran of the American Revolution and a grantee of Guysborough, Nova Scotia. Alexander and Isabella had 11 children, eight of whom were sons: William, Lauchlin, John, Angus, Alexander, George, Daniel, and Archie. All these men followed the sea at some time during their lives, several of them having served on one side or the other during the American Civil War. John P. Parker, in Cape Breton Ships and Men, reports that Lauchie was in a monitor during a battle, and a metal marker in front of William Livingstone's gravestone records "Veteran 61-65."

World War IThe next generation of Livingston men kept the family traditions of following the sea and serving in battle. A newspaper clipping found in the papers of Captain John P. Parker in the Beaton Institute Archives at University College of Cape Breton claims that 14 of the great grandsons of pioneer Angus Livingstone served in the forces in World War I, five of them giving their lives6; in addition, many others, including all seven sons of John and Elizabeth Livingston, served in the Merchant Marine. Monuments in the St. James Presbyterian Cemetery at Big Bras d'Or, where the first burial was that of pioneer Angus, remember the sacrifices of some of these men in battle and at sea. One such stone bears the names of three brothers, Lt. David, Maj. Charles D., and Pte. Hugh, sons of Hugh and Catherine (MacLean) Livingstone of South Side Boularderie; another reads "Archie G., only son of Flora and Capt. George Livingston, drowned at sea May 22, 1891, aged 18 yrs."
Sons of William & Sarah Livingstone7

1 Cape Breton Land Grants No.2394. A.D.1820. Petition to Ainslie.
2 Cape Breton Land Grants No.3120. A.D.1826. Petition to Kempt.
3 Cape Breton Land Grants No.2395. A.D.1820. Lachlan Livingstone Petition to Ainslie and No.3038. A.D.1825. Archibald Livingstone Petition to Wallace.
4 Cape Breton Land Grants No. __53. A.D.1818. John Livingstone Petition to Ainslie.
5Parker, John P. Cape Breton Ships and Men. Hazell Watson & Viney Limited, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.
6Captain John Parker Papers MG12, 50. Beaton Institute Archives.
7Adapted from photograph in Cape Breton's Magazine No.33 p. 1. Ron Kaplan, Ed.

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© 1996 Copyright E.A.Capstick
Updated 05 December 1996

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