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Ashton to share local connection to 82nd regiment

Updated map of the public trails accessible in Rotary Friendship Park. Public trails are marked in green, private property marked in orange.
Updated map of the public trails accessible in Rotary Friendship Park. Public trails are marked in green, private property marked in orange.

LISMORE - Ties to the 82nd Duke of Hamilton Regiment in Pictou East run deep, says a local historian.

John Ashton will be speaking 82nd regiment and its ties to land from Merigomish to Middle River this coming Tuesday at noon at the Lismore community hall.

John Ashton will be speaking 82nd regiment and its ties to land from Merigomish to Middle River this coming Tuesday at noon at the Lismore community hall.

“In 1883-1884, each regiment was given a huge track of land from the Ponds outside of Merigomish to near Middle River,” he said. “They were given thousands of acres for being loyal to the British Crown for fighting in the American Revolution.”

More than 200 soldiers looked at the land, but in the end only 50 stayed in the area.

“Some of them came here and said no to it because it was too hard of living,” said Ashton. “They decided to stay in Halifax or move back to Scotland.  “Over a 100 stayed and tried to make a go of it and eventually only 50 families did stay.”

Family names such as Arsenault, Ballantyne, MacDonald and Fraser are common names in the area who had ancestors with the regiment.

Ashton said the regiment’s story is an interesting one because it involves the joining of 42nd Black Watch and the 71st Fraser Highlanders, but this didn’t happen easily because of cultural differences.

“The 42nd Black Watch and the 71st Highlanders were sent down join the 82nd but the Highland regiments used to wear kilts and they only spoke Gaelic.   When they joined the 82nd, they had English officers who didn’t speak Gaelic and they were being forced to wear a uniform so they rebelled.

Ashton said nine soldiers and one officer were killed in the mutiny and three other soldiers sentenced to be shot to death following a court marshal.

“Just as they were ready to be shot and the coffins were laid out, the King agreed to pardon the three soldiers if they would become part of the 82nd regiment,” he said.

They did agree and were sent to Halifax with the regiment for garrison duty at the citadel and some of the men were sent to fight in the American Revolution.

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