The Orillia Times
28 June, 1883
The advance guard of this colony were the McKinnon Brothers, Donald, Alex, Hugh, Charles and Duncan. They must have arrived in Mara about the year 1845. Four of them have already crossed the Jordan, though we can scarcely realize it as we write, but their memory will be kept fragrant by all who remember their open-handed hospitality, their genial kindness, and ever-ready help. They were enthusiastic church workers, and when Mr. Murdoch Johnston joined them in 1847 they accepted his leadership with gratitude, and the latter entered upon the work of catechising and exhorting with an energy and spirit that never flagged for thirty years. Others were continually flocking in from the old land. There were McKinnons, McKenzies, Johnstons, MacDonalds, MacLeans and many others in those days, who kept close together and kept alive the embers of Zion, and we are glad to see in their father’ footsteps under the true and tried leaders who have succeeded them. But let us revert for a moment to some matters that we ought not to Passover in justice to contemporary history.
THE OLD COLL
In glancing over the map of Scotland the eye of the thoughtful observer will be arrested by the long line of the Hebrides or Western islands stretching along nearly the whole length of the western coast, like the remains of a gigantic breakwater, facing the tidal fury of the broad Atlantic. Considerably within the southern extremity of this series of islands and much nearer the mainland may be seen the islands of Coll and Tiree, standing out boldly from the rocky headland of Ardnamurehan, and alone and distant, the most exposed of the inner archipelago. Tiree meaning “ the land of lona.” for it is very near that gneiss rock upon which St. Columba created that standard around which rallied the Christianity of Western Europe in his day, It is a flat fertile island which very likely yielded its produce for the support of the followers of the great Irish missionary Coll, on the other hand, though not so fertile, possessed bolder features consisting of mountains, hills, and dales. It is with the latter island that we have most concern. The little island had its miniature history of Danish, Viking and Scandinavian marauders, and to the families Fingallians of which Issian sang, down to the time when it was finally appropriated by a younger son of the Nobel House of Duart, the heads of the powerful clan Maclean. We cannot dwell upon the history of these feudal chiefs except to remind that they were shrewd, enterprising and intelligent and ruled their tenantry with a kindly hand’ and by attending to their home duties they were enabled to add largely to their original patrimony. The last of the lairds fully inherited the virtues of these predecessors , but by one fatal stroke of the pen executed at the call of friendship, he laid the fortunes of the House of Coll in the dust forever.—
He went security for a friend for a large amount, result: collapse and ruin. The estate was placed by the creditors in the hands of agents, with instructions to exact the uttermost farthing, and the tenants were scattered. That is the main reason that the Coll colony is here.