Neil Austin R. MacDonald

2010 Jun

Neil Austin R. MacDonaldNeilie, born February 5, 1884 at North Lancaster, was the son of Austin R. McDonald and his wife Flora Campbell.

He was widely known throughout the county for his entertainment; his musical ability contributed to the enjoyment of many at concerts, weddings, socials but he was happiest at the good old house parties where he would team up with other fiddlers.

His work as a salesman in the area made him well acquainted with a large number of the local people and his keen memory left him with a wealth of anecdotes about the area and its residents. The thirties, forties and fifties were slower times and folks of that era were willing to stop their tasks for a visit with this well dressed, polite and friendly fellow. He soon had knowledge of the families along the way and became a sort of Glengarry News, keeping everyone up to date with the happenings in the area. Many an evening, he helped to wile away the hours by filling the evening with his popular violin tunes. He was perhaps the only salesman that was often invited to stay for dinner and supper and even the night.. “Although happy with his success as a salesman, Neil’s heart was forever with his violin.” (Anna Margaret MacDonald)

He tried hard to encourage the young folk to keep up the old traditions and treasure them. In the early fifties, Father John MacPhail organized a group of local musicians to play at concerts and the like and Neilie was in his glory being able to play with the group.

Katherine McDonell of Glen Nevis commented that:

He was a humble and religious man. In his latter days he would offer to do any little thing to help out at the parish social and sold many a ticket on the raffles. The Catholic tradition of making the Stations of the Cross was his weekly habit before Sunday Mass.

After a short illness, Neil died on July 11, 1972 and is buried in the parish cemetery.

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