Biograpical Sketches

Biographical Sketches:--Bishop McEachern--Rev. Donald

McDonald--Rev. Dr. Kier--Hon. T. H. Haviland--Hon. E. Whelan--Hon.

James Yeo--Hon. George Coles--James D. Haszard.

Among the early settlers of the island, prominent alike because of his

aptitude for his position and the dignity with which he filled it, is

the venerable figure of Bishop McEachern. While yet in early boyhood,

about the year 1775,
he was sent by the Scottish Bishop, John McDonald,

to the Scotch Ecclesiastical College at Valladolid, in Spain. Having

finished his studies there, he was ordained priest, and returned to

Scotland, where he worked as a missionary for five years, under the

Right Reverend Bishop Alexander McDonald. He arrived on the island

either in August or September of 1790, and took up his residence at

Savage Harbor. The church at Scotchfort was then the only catholic

church on the island, and missionary duties were discharged at the

residences of individuals in different parts of the colony. He acted as

road commissioner, and laid out all the roads in the eastern portion of

King's County. His assistant in this duty was a Presbyterian

clergyman,--the Reverend William Douglas. He was a man of such a stamp as

sometimes we find, under severe difficulties, executing work so arduous

that it seems only the language of truth to call his deeds heroic. He

was, in his day, the only catholic priest on the island. His flock was

widely scattered. Roads were few, and travelling, always difficult, was

often attended with danger. But neither difficulty nor danger could

daunt the zeal of the missionary. Now in his wagon, now in his boat or

sleigh, he visited the remotest settlements. Everywhere he was welcomed,

both by catholic and protestant. There are yet living protestants who

received the waters of baptism from the hands of the good bishop. Among

his catholic flock he was at once pastor and judge. He decided

differences, he settled disputes, and his verdict was, in almost every

case, gracefully acquiesced in. The kindness of his nature and his

shrewd forethought fitted him admirably for the duties of a missionary

among early settlers, struggling with the countless difficulties of a

rigid climate and a new country. One little trait recorded of him gives

us a glimpse of the thoughtful beneficence of his character. He was in

the habit of hanging up buckets near the springs by the roadside, in

order to enable travellers to water their horses on their journeys. The

same benevolence permeated all his actions, and his hospitality was

unbounded. In every settlement he had a fixed place, where he resided

until he had performed his priestly duties among his flock. These duties

must at one time have been very onerous, for he was bishop not only of

Prince Edward Island, but also of New Brunswick. He was the second

English-speaking catholic priest who came to the island.

Few names call up warmer feelings of respect than that of Bishop

McEachern. Full of years and wearied out with labor, he died at his

residence, near Saint Andrews. He was laid in the old chapel; but, a few

years ago, the remains were removed to the new church, where they rest

within the sanctuary.

The Reverend Donald McDonald died in 1867. He was born in Perthshire,

Scotland, on the first of January, 1783; was educated at the University

of Saint Andrews; and was ordained a minister of the Church of Scotland

in 1816. He labored as a missionary in the Highlands until 1824, when he

emigrated to Cape Breton. Here he preached two years. In 1826 he came to

the island, and commenced his labors in the spirit of the true

evangelist. To him, the toil of travelling over the country and

ministering to the destitute was the highest pleasure. Multitudes

flocked to hear him preach. In barns, dwelling-houses, schoolhouses, and

in the open air he proclaimed his commission to eager hundreds. Here and

there he organized his bands of workers and ordained elders. As years

rolled on, his interest in his great work increased, and great success

crowned his efforts. Spacious and elegant churches began to take the

place of rude shanties. His people grew in numbers, in wealth, in

respectability, and in love for their minister. To have him as a guest,

or to drive him from one of his stations to another, was the highest


His eloquence was of a high order. Before commencing his sermon he

generally gave an introductory address, in which he would refer to the

national, political, and religious questions of the day, and comment

freely on them. His sermons were masterpieces of logical eloquence. He

would begin in a rather low conversational tone; but, as he proceeded,

his voice would become stronger. Then the whole man would

preach,--tongue, countenance, eyes, feet, hands, body,--all would grow

eloquent! The audience would unconsciously become magnetized, convicted,

and swayed at the speaker's will. Some would cry aloud, some would fall

prostrate in terror, while others would clap their hands, or drop down

as if dead. Seldom has such pulpit power been witnessed since the

preaching of Wesley, Whitfield, and Edward Irving.

But it must not be supposed that the abundance of Mr. McDonald's labors

as a preacher prevented him from giving attention to study. Far from

it. His intellect was too strong and too vigorous to rest. His pen was

ever busy. He was profoundly read in philosophy. He was deeply versed in

ancient and ecclesiastical history. He excelled in Biblical exegesis. No

superficial thinker was he. The pen of no one but a master could produce

his treatises on "The Millennium," "Baptism," and "The Plan of

Salvation." He greatly admired the Hebrew and Greek languages. The

Psalms of David, Isaiah's Prophecies, and Solomon's Songs were his

delight. He was a graceful writer of English verse, an excellent singer,

and played well on the flute. He published several collections of his

poems and hymns. In the later years of his life one of his hymns was

always sung at every service, set to some wild strain of his native

Scotland, such as "The Campbells are coming," or "The Banks and Braes o'

Bonny Doon."

To say that Mr. McDonald was faultless, would be to say that he was more

than human. To say that, as a great moral reformer, he had no enemies,

would be to say that he was a toady and a time-server. He was a brave

man. He had strong self-reliance, and still stronger faith in God. He

attacked vices with giant blows. Woe to the opponent who crossed his

pathway! He had rare conversational powers. His spirits were always

good. He knew the circumstances of every family in his widely-scattered

flock, and remembered the names of all the children. He had no certain

dwelling-place, no certain stipend, and bestowed all he got on works of

charity. He was rather below medium height, stout, and powerfully built.

He was hale and vigorous-looking to the last. His dress, appearance, and

manners always bespoke the cultured Christian gentleman. He was never


In 1861 his health began to fail rapidly. It was thought he would not

recover. He wrote epistles to his congregations commending them to God.

But he rallied, and was able, with varying strength, to labor six years

longer. More than ever did his ministrations breathe the spirit of the

Great Teacher. He was again brought low. He was at the house of Mr.

McLeod, of Southport. He felt that his end was near,--that his life-work

was over; and a great work it was. He had built fourteen churches; he

had registered the baptism of two thousand two hundred children, and had

baptized perhaps as many more not registered; he had married more people

than any living clergyman; he had prayed beside thousands of deathbeds;

he had a parish extending from Bedeque to Murray Harbor, and from

Rustico to Belle Creek; and he had five thousand followers, more

attached to their great spiritual leader than ever were Highland

clansmen to their chief. But he was as humble as a child. To God he gave

the glory for all. He retained his faculties, and was glad to see his

old friends at his bedside. Many came from far and near to take their

last farewell and receive the dying blessing of the venerable patriarch.

He sank gradually, suffering no pain, and on Friday, the twenty-second

of February, in the eighty-fifth year of his age and the fifty-first of

his ministry, he breathed his last.

The place of interment was the Uigg Murray Harbor Road churchyard,

eighteen miles distant from Charlottetown. The funeral was the largest

ever witnessed in the colony. All classes united in paying the last

tribute of respect to the honored dead. The cortege numbered over three

hundred and fifty sleighs. As the great procession moved down through

the country, at the roadsides and at the doors and windows of the houses

might be seen old men weeping, and women and children sobbing as if they

had lost a father; and in the presence of a vast assemblage, near the

church where his eloquent voice had so often melted listening thousands,

and where he had so often celebrated, at the yearly sacrament, the

Saviour's death, the remains of the Reverend Donald McDonald were laid

to rest. A costly monument marks the spot. [I]

* * * * *

Amongst the first-class representative ministers of the Presbyterian

body in Prince Edward Island, we may safely place the Reverend Dr. Kier,

who was born in the village of Bucklyvie, in the parish of Kippen,

Scotland, in the year 1779. He was educated at Glasgow College, studied

theology under Professor Bruce, of Whitburn, and was licensed by the

associate or antiburgher Presbytery of Glasgow about the beginning of

the year 1808, and, in the autumn of that year, arrived as a missionary

on the island, under the auspices of the General Associate Synod in

Scotland. In 1810, Dr. Kier settled in Princetown, having been ordained

in June of that year. This was the first organized Presbyterian

congregation on the island. The call to Dr. Kier was subscribed by

sixty-four persons, embracing nearly all the heads of families and male

adults of the Presbyterian population in Princetown Royalty, New London,

Bedeque, and the west side of Richmond Bay; and when the jubilee of the

venerable doctor was held, in 1858, only fourteen of the number who

signed the call were living. There is not one of the old Presbyterian

congregations on the island, whether then in connection with the

Scottish Establishment, the Free Church, or the Presbyterian Church of

Nova Scotia, which did not, to some extent, enjoy his missionary labors,

or experience his fostering care in its infancy. In most of them, Dr.

McGregor planted; but he watered, while others have reaped.

Dr. McCulloch having died in the year 1843, Dr. Kier was, at the meeting

of Synod held in the following summer, chosen his successor as

theological tutor. "We have sat under men of greater originality of

thought," writes one who knew him well,--"men who impressed us more

deeply with a sense of their intellectual power,--but we never sat under

one who produced deeper impressions of moral goodness, nor one who, in

the handling of the great themes of Christian doctrine, presented them

more as great practical realities."

When the jubilee, to which we have already referred, took place, the

whole country round poured forth a stream of carriages and horsemen.

Tables for tea had been spread for four hundred and fifty guests, and

these were filled four times, and part of them five times. It may be

stated, as indicative of the estimation in which Dr. Kier was held, that

it was calculated that three thousand persons were then present to do

him well-earned honor. The address delivered by Dr. Kier on that

occasion was as chaste and modest in expression as it was deeply

interesting in matter, and his hearers little imagined that the

venerable speaker, who then appeared in good health, was destined, in

two months and two days, to rest from his labors. The memory of the just

is blessed.

* * * * *

The Honorable Thomas Heath Haviland, Senior, was born at Cirencester, in

the County of Gloucester, England, on the thirtieth of April, 1796. More

than fifty years previous to his death, Mr. Haviland came to

Charlottetown, and entered upon the duties of an office to which he had

been appointed by the Prince Regent. In the year 1823--the last year of

the administration of lieutenant-governor Smith--he was appointed a

member of His Majesty's executive council. The soundness of his

judgment, his prudence, moderation, and courtly manners at once gave him

influence at the council board; and for upwards of a quarter of a

century--from the days of Colonel Sir John Ready until the stormy times

of Sir Henry Vere Huntley, which immediately preceded the introduction

into the colony of responsible government--his influence was paramount.

In 1824 he was appointed assistant judge of the supreme court. From 1830

until 1839 he held the office of treasurer, which, in this year, he

resigned for the office of colonial secretary. In 1839 the legislative

council was separated from the executive council, and, by the Queen, Mr.

Haviland was appointed its first president. On the introduction of

responsible government, in 1851, he retired from office, and shortly

after, with his family, visited England. His attachment to the island

induced him to return to it, after a comparatively short absence. At the

time of his death he was Mayor of Charlottetown,--having been annually

elected to that office from 1857. He was also president of the Bank of

Prince Edward Island. During his long official career he discharged his

public duties with ability and dignity.

In private life he was remarkable for his generous hospitality and

urbanity, for his kindly disposition and the constancy of his

friendship. He was ever ready to listen to all who sought his counsel or

assistance, and very many were the recipients of both. Time appeared to

have laid its hand gently upon him. He was never known to the world as

an ailing man. His erect figure, firm step, and good spirits gave

promise of a long continuance of life, when a sudden attack, indicating

severe organic derangement, confined him to his room. After a few months

of suffering, which he bore with decorous fortitude, and during which he

exhibited the most thoughtful concern for those who were in immediate

attendance upon him, as well as for the more intimate of his friends who

were absent, he passed away on the morning of Tuesday, the eighteenth of

June, 1867, at the age of seventy-two years and two months. "The fine

old English gentleman," said the Islander, "the fond father, the wise

and prudent counsellor, the useful and honored citizen has been laid in

the grave, leaving a memory which will long be cherished and revered in

this the land of his adoption."

At this time the Honorable Edward Whelan was the correspondent, in

Charlottetown, of the Montreal Gazette. Though politically opposed to

Mr. Haviland, he alluded, in a letter to the Gazette,--which was

published on the fifth of July, 1867,--to the deceased gentleman in the

following touching terms: "The vacancy in the mayoralty is caused by the

demise of the Honorable T. H. Haviland. He was the representative man

of the old conservative party. Without brilliant talents, his judgment

was of the highest order; he filled every situation in the colony to

which a colonist could aspire, short of the gubernatorial chair; his

manners to friend and opponent were always the essence of dignity,

urbanity, and courtesy; and, passing through much of the contention of

political life, leaving his impress on our small society, by his many

useful labors, he was singularly fortunate, by his kindly nature, in

disarming all opponents of the shadow of rancorous hostility."

* * * * *

The Honorable Edward Whelan died at his residence, in Charlottetown, on

the tenth of December, 1867, at the comparatively early age of

forty-three. He was born in County Mayo, Ireland, in 1824, and received

the rudiments of education in his native town. At an early age he

emigrated to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where, shortly after his arrival, he

entered the printing-office of the Honorable Joseph Howe, then a

newspaper publisher in that city. Here he gave such proofs of that great

facility for newspaper writing which distinguished him in after life

that he was occasionally employed to write editorial articles for Mr.

Howe's newspaper during the absence or illness of the latter. At the age

of eighteen he came to Prince Edward Island, which was then ruled by

parties who could scarcely be said to be amenable to public opinion. Mr.

Whelan, ranging himself on the side of the people, threw the weight of

his influence as a journalist into the struggle for popular rights.

In 1851, Mr. Whelan married Miss Mary Major Hughes, daughter of Mr.

George A. Hughes, of Her Majesty's Commissariat Department at Halifax,

by whom he had two daughters--who died some time previous to his own

decease--and one son,--an excellent youth, who perished by a boat accident

in Charlottetown harbor, on Dominion Day, in the current year.

Apart from Mr. Whelan's oratorical power,--in which he excelled,--the

great lever of public opinion, so powerful throughout the British

dominions, obeyed his masterly hand as often as any fair occasion arose

to resort to its agency. His political opponents will acknowledge that

he never abused the power of the press, and that he knew how to combine

a singularly consistent political career with conciliatory manners.

Edward Whelan's nature revolted from any mean or vindictive action. He

neither bullied his opponents nor begged favors; he relied upon the

strong innate love of justice of every intelligent mind; and, although

he died comparatively young, he lived long enough to see, to a large

extent, the results of his labors in the extension of civil liberty.

Mr. Whelan was a Roman catholic. The writer of a sketch of his life,

which appeared in the Examiner, says that "his words and thoughts, in

the hour of death, were those of a Christian gentleman." The author of

this work had the pleasure, in the autumn of 1867, of having an

interview of several hours' duration with the deceased gentleman, during

which topics connected with general literature were freely discussed,

and he parted with him retaining a high opinion of his literary ability,

as well as of the extent of his knowledge.

* * * * *

At Port Hill, on the twenty-fifth of August, 1868, died the Honorable

James Yeo, in the eightieth year of his age. The deceased gentleman was

a native of Devonshire, England, and was born in the year 1788. He

emigrated to Prince Edward Island about fifty years previous to his

death. He, consequently, was then about thirty years of age. On his

arrival, he obtained a situation in connection with the firm of Chanter

& Company, who were doing business in shipbuilding at Port Hill. Being a

young man of good habits and business talent, he secured the confidence

of his employers. He had charge of the company's books, and astonished

everybody by his remarkable powers in mental arithmetic. The Messrs.

Chanter having resolved to remove to England, assigned their outstanding

debts to Mr. Yeo, as remuneration for what they owed him. With the small

capital thus placed at his command, as the fruit of honest industry, he

commenced trading and shipbuilding, which he prosecuted with remarkable

success. Firmness, punctuality, and honesty were the characteristics of

his business life.

Mr. Yeo entered public life in the year 1839, and from that period till

his death lost but one election. He was no orator, but stated his views

on the questions before the house of assembly in a few terse Saxon

terms,--always strictly to the point. As a legislator, he was worth a

dozen frothy orators. He died deeply regretted by a wide circle


* * * * *

For the following brief sketch of the Honorable George Coles, we are

indebted to an admirable biography of the deceased gentleman from the

pen of Mr. Henry Lawson, and regret that the space at our disposal does

not admit of the insertion of the entire production, which is highly

creditable to the literary ability of the writer: The Honorable George

Coles was born in Prince Edward Island on the twentieth of September,

1810. He was the eldest son of James and Sarah Coles. In his boyhood,

Mr. Coles profited by such educational advantages as the place of his

birth afforded. In 1829, when he was just entering manhood, he went to

England, where he remained four years. During his stay there, he married

Miss Mercy Haine, on the fourteenth of August, 1833, at East Penard

Church, Somerset. Shortly after his marriage, Mr. Coles returned to the

island, and commenced the business of brewer and distiller. A man of his

active mind and wide sympathies could not remain long in the obscurity

of private life. His influence soon began to be felt and his ability

recognized. In the summer of 1842, he was elected a representative of

the first district of Queen's County in the house of assembly. Seldom

has any man entered public life under greater disadvantages. He was

comparatively a poor man; his education was limited; and, at a time when

family influence appeared to be absolutely necessary to advancement in

public life, he had no powerful connections. So prominent, however, and

so powerful did he become, that it was deemed expedient to appoint him a

member of the government. He soon resigned his seat at the council

board, and we find him, in 1848, on the opposition benches, a strenuous

advocate for the introduction of responsible government.

In 1848 Mr. Coles paid a visit to the United States. When there, he

became convinced of the great importance of reciprocity to the people of

the island. In Boston and other cities of the great republic he met many

island men who were struggling with the difficulties incident to the

want of education, and it is said that he then and there determined to

free his countrymen from the disability of ignorance, by establishing a

system of free schools on the island. He marked the working of the

machinery of popular education in the States, and, as soon as he

returned home, set about framing the island education law.

In those movements which were necessary to secure responsible

government, Mr. Coles was the leading spirit. His opponents were men of

position, of talent, and of education, who had been until then

all-powerful in the colony. He had to contend with strong social

prejudices, which were even more difficult to overcome than his

political adversaries; and he was under the necessity of organizing a

party out of materials by no means the most promising. Without

detracting from the merit of his coadjutors, he, to a greater degree

than any of them, possessed the rare combination of qualities necessary

to rouse a submissive people to resistance, and to infuse spirit and

confidence into men who had been discouraged by a long series of

defeats. When in power he introduced the franchise law, the land

purchase act, and other beneficial measures with which his name is

destined to continue identified.

In 1867, a melancholy change was observed in the veteran statesman. His

vigorous mind, it was but too apparent, was giving way. In 1866 there

had been a great fire in Charlottetown, and owners of property were kept

in a state of anxiety by the suspicion that a band of incendiaries were

at work in the city. The exertions made by Mr. Coles to save the

property of his fellow-citizens, and the state of alarm in which he was

kept, did irreparable injury to a constitution already undermined by

arduous mental labor. His mental condition necessitated his retirement

from public life in August, 1868. He died on the morning of the

twenty-first of August, 1875. His funeral was attended by the

Lieutenant-governor, Sir Robert Hodgson,--the pall being borne by the

Honorable T. H. Haviland, the Honorable J. C. Pope, William Cundall,

Esquire, the Honorable R. P. Haythorne, the Honorable Judge Young, and

the Honorable Benjamin Davies. His body lies in the graveyard of Saint

Peter's Church.

* * * * *

James Douglas Haszard was born in Charlottetown in the year 1797. He was

one of the descendants of a spirited loyalist, who proved his attachment

to the monarchical form of government by refusing to take his property,

which had been confiscated, on the condition that he should become an

American. In the year 1823 Mr. Haszard began business by publishing the

Register, and successively the Royal Gazette, and Haszard's

Gazette, until the year 1858. Previous to the publication of the

Register, a total issue of fifty papers sufficed for the colony. Mr.

Haszard was ever ready to do good work in connection with industrial and

benevolent societies. He was the first to start a cloth-dressing mill in

the colony; and, as secretary and treasurer of the Royal Agricultural

Society, he introduced improvements in farming implements and machinery.

During the famine of 1837 he relieved many destitute families. He died

in August, 1875, highly esteemed and deeply regretted.