John and Margaret’s first Christmas on Canna

John Lorne Campbell’s first year on Canna in 1938 ended well. He began work with Sir Alexander MacEwen on Act Now for the Highlands and Islands – a visionary pamphlet which called among other things for the creation of a development board, although one was not set up for 30 years.

John made his first trip to Heisker, the tiny island he had bought along with Canna and Sanday, and was shown over the lighthouse. On the way back he was surprised to see the Outer Hebrides covered in snow, although there was no snow on the inner Isles.

stained glass window, Canna Chapel

In Canna House, John and Margaret held their first Christmas party with Allan MacIsaac, one of the Sanday crofters, taking the role of Father Christmas. Midnight mass was celebrated for the first time in 15 or 20 years, by a visiting Catholic priest, although at this stage neither John nor Margaret had converted to Catholicism.

On Christmas Day the Campbells entertained the priest, friends Neil Sinclair and Annie Johnston from Barra, and Peigi MacRae, Margaret’s former landlady from South Uist.

It was a happy occasion – although with the shadow of war hanging over Europe, it would be many years before the island could again enjoy the festive season with such a lack of concern.

Sunset behind the bridge joining Canna and Sanday

Sun setting behind the bridge joining Canna and Sanday

This entry was posted in Extracts. Bookmark the permalink.