MacDonald House, Lake Ainslie

by Jim St. Clair

MacDonald House and BarnInformation on MacDonald House was obtained from the former owner, Mr. Charles MacDonald, East Lake Ainslie. Mr. MacDonald also has more information on the house in regard to how it was constructed and the type of material used.

MacDonald House and Barn is owned by the Lake Ainslie Historical Society. The Society was formed in 1978 and are a group of citizens of the area who are interested in preserving as genuinely as is possible, the names, historical data, artifacts, etc. of the early pioneers. With this aim in mind, this site was chosen as a fitting location for reasons as follows:

Alexander MacDonald (weaver) from the Isle of Mull, Scotland, arrived at the shores of East Lake Ainslie in the year 1823. He settled on this land comprising at that time, 318 acres. He had a family of six girls and two boys. The girls married men from East Lake, South Lake, Head Lake, and Whycocomagh.

MacDonald HouseDonald, (Alexander's son) journeyed to Mabou Harbour where he married a daughter of the Hon. William MacKeen, and conducted a Mercantile business there for some years. He was appointed Colonel of the Militia in 1865, during a general drilling campaign. Charles (Alexander's son) remained on the farm at East Lake. It was he who built this house in the mid 1800's. The structure remains as originally designed. What is not in evidence now, was an addition to the east end of the house, which consisted of living quarters for hired help who were needed to assist with the farm work. A reference to the census which is on display in the house will give one an idea of the amount of produce and the number of animals the farm had at this time. Charles established the first Mercantile business in the East Lake area in the late 1860's, and it served a very broad area. In 1876, the first Post Office to serve the area was established in this house, with Charles MacDonald as Post Master. After his death in 1897, his widow became Post Mistress, and in 1925, Charles son, Dan C., became Post Master, and held this position until 1956 when a Rural Route mail system replaced the Post Office. Except for a short period of five years, the duties of the Post Office were carried on in this house for approximately 75 years. As a result of conducting the businesses of the store and the Post Office, this site would inevitably be a centre of much activity as it served the people of the area over the years. It is for this reason that the Society feels that as an Historical Centre, it continue to serve as a centre of activity. Through the aid of Federal and Provincial grants, extensive work has been done both to the House and Barn and it is open to the Public during the summer months.