Associated People: MacLean, Mr John, Balephuil (1825 - 1912)


Translation of `Oran Mhanitoba` by Dr Margaret MacKay of the School of Scottish Studies.

English translation by Dr Margaret MacKay of the School of Scottish Studies of the poem `Oran Mhanitoba` by the Balephuil bard John MacLean and sent to the donor`s aunt Florence Gilbert in 1975, ninety-five years after it was composed.


John MacLean of Balephuil and Manitoba

Photograph of John MacLean of Balephuil in Manitoba around 1900.


Courtesy of Mr Wallace Robertson

This photograph, taken around 1900, shows John MacLean of Balephuil outside his homestead in Manitoba. John, the son of Donald MacLean and his wife Ann MacLean, emigrated to Canada in 1878 with his brother Charles and nephew Hector.

They arrived in Tiverton, Ontario where John met and soon married a Tiree woman, Flora MacKinnon née MacLean, a widow with a daughter Kate. They all moved to the Brandon Hills area of Manitoba and homesteaded at Dewart Farm in Little Souris. They were among the first settlers in the area.

John, it was said, was a good bard, but his childhood friend John MacLean of Balemartine was the better of the two. He wrote a famous song ‘Manitoba’ describing their leaving from Balephuil, and the rage he felt that the Highlands, which had provided so many soldiers for the British Empire, were being stripped of its people.

Sepia photograph of John MacLean, the Balephuil bard, in Manitoba around 1900.

John MacLean (1825-1912), the son of Donald McLean of Sandaig and Anne McLean of Balemeannach. He emigrated from Balephuil in 1878 with his brother Charles and nephew Hector, eventually settling in Manitoba.


Flora MacLean in the 1890s

Photograph of Flora MacLean of Manitoba in the 1890s.


Courtesy of Mrs Betty MacKinnon

In this photograph taken in the 1890s Flora MacLean is pictured in the Brandon area of Manitoba with her feet on a bearskin rug. A remarkable woman, Flora pioneered three times during her long life; she lived to be ninety-eight.

Her parents, Donald and Ann MacLean, emigrated from Middleton with their nine children in 1847, though Flora’s mother and a brother did not survive the voyage. When Bruce County opened up in 1852, the family pioneered in Kincardine. It was here that Flora met and married the bard John MacLean, newly arrived from Balephuil.

The couple went west along with two other MacLean families and were the first permanent settlers in the Brandon area of Manitoba. After the death of her husband, Flora at the age of eighty moved with her daughter and son-in-law to The Pas then Flin Flon, frontier towns about 500 miles north of Winnipeg.

Sepia photograph of Flora MacLean, the wife of John MacLean, the Balephuil bard, taken in the 1890s.

Flora emigrated in 1847 to Canada. She pioneered in Brock and Kincardine Twps, and was among the first settlers in Manitoba. She met John MacLean, the Balephuil bard, in Tiverton and they married in 1879. Flora was a widow at the time with a daughter Kate. She died in 1836, the oldest person in North Manitoba.