Christmases past – and a new ferry link for the future?

Christmases past: “Cables coated with ice have fallen from Shetland down through the Outer Isles, never was there such a Christmas for misery”, wrote Margaret, “I am taking time to pull myself together, John still in bed and I am trying to inspire him to put on his clothes. He will need a little energy in his wobbly shanks”.

In fact John did recover in the New Year but the winter of 1995-6 was to be the last together on Canna for Margaret and John.

The poignant note in Margaret’s letter to her close friends Ann and Warner Berthoff in Boston gives a glimpse of the remarkable spirit of Canna House. In another cruel winter the cold weather made life difficult but as always Margaret and John made the best of Christmas and New Year.  Despite ill health, Margaret rose at 6am on 16th December to stuff and roast a chicken; the Christmas lunch she always cooked for the captain and crew of the Lochmor. Typical Canna House hospitality but also typical of the relationship between islanders and the ferry service they depended on for dear life. And after all John Campbell had spent a great part of his life fighting to maintain a strong lifeline for the islanders.

That lifeline is as important as ever. More than anyone else John would be delighted to hear that (15 years after his death) CalMac is being asked to restore the ferry link between South Uist and Mallaig – and the hope is that it will call at Canna, as the old Lochmor used to do until the 1960s.

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