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Work underway on Pictou cairn

A cairn that honours Rev. James MacGregor is in the process of being rebuilt. The cairn is more than 80 years old and some of its stone started to fall from the structure, making it a hazard for pedestrians.
A cairn that honours Rev. James MacGregor is in the process of being rebuilt. The cairn is more than 80 years old and some of its stone started to fall from the structure, making it a hazard for pedestrians. - Sueann Musick

A cairn that marks the first place Rev. James MacGregor held a service in Pictou County is getting a facelift.

Work began Monday on the cairn that was placed at the very spot the pioneer minister preached in English and Gaelic on July 23, 1786. The cairn was dedicated to MacGregor in 1936 by the Synod of the Maritime Provinces and the Presbyterian Church in Canada as well as descendants of MacGregor.

Munro Fraser, a volunteer who maintains the property near the monument, said he noticed recently that some of the stones on the cairn were falling out and making it dangerous for pedestrians in the area.

“It got to the point it could be repaired,” he said.

The Synod is looking after the replacement of the cairn, which will be built in the same location on the original foundation that goes down about six feet. Most of the beach rock in the original cairn will also be cleaned and reused while the original plaque that was unveiled in 1936 will also be placed back on the structure.

Fraser said it didn’t take much to bring the cairn down, so rebuilding will take place almost immediately.

MacGregor was a Presbyterian minister in Pictou County from the time he arrived on its shores in 1795. He is credited with laying the foundation for several congregations, building churches and for doing the work of an evangelist.

From 1786 to his death in 1830, MacGregor was the minister for the congregation that became First Presbyterian Church New Glasgow.

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