The Capt. John MacInnis House / Store, West Bay

by B.A. MacMay

The Capt. John MacInnis House / Store, West BayCapt John MacInnis was the son of Alexander MacInnis and his wife Euphemia (Effy) Macfarlane. His grandfather was Neil MacInnis of Glendale, Isle of Skye, Scotland.

Capt John’s parents were married in Scotland and came to Cape Breton after 1820 to join her parents who were already living in Mull river, cb. Alexander was a builder of bridges, especially around the mull river area. After 1835 he moved to west bay area where he built more bridges. He bought his land from a blacksmith named Farquhar who acquired it a year previous.

Their son, Capt John was born 16 june 1842. He was one of six children the others being Neil, Donald (Dan), Mary, Peter and Angus. Captain John sailed out of Gloucester, Mass, fishing halibut on the Grand Banks. He is also said to have sailed around the world.

On the 1871 census for north mountain, inv. Co., he is listed in household #19 with his parents, as being born in ns, 26 years old and a seaman. The children share their father's religion of Church of Scotland, his mother is listed as baptist. Incidentally, there was a baptist church in west bay around that time.

By 1881, Effy is widowed and living with another son. Peter, and his wife Sarah MacKinnon. Capt. John is in his own household (#82 north mtn) age 32 and occupation trader. His wife Mary (Calder) age 23 is a native of NS also as is their daughter Euphemia who was born the previous autumn.

On the l89l census for west bay, Capt John MacInnis is listed as age 51 a retail dealer--dry goods and groceries. There are three children listed along with his wife Mary: Phemie, 11; Robert j, 6; and Alexander 2. This Alexander died 26 may 1892 and is buried in the black river cemetery. A second Alexander was born in 1893 and it was he who reopened the store in later years.

The Capt. John MacInnis House / Store, West BayCapt John MacInnis died 23 feb 1918, age 76 years, of heart trouble. Page 225 of the west say church records tells us that he was born and resided in west day and was a merchant. A directory of Inverness co for 1891 lists capt John MacInnis as a farmer. He is one of three traders listed in sequence on the north mtn 1881 census the others being James MacDonald and John Kustor. The house is located on the shores of the Bras d’Or lake in west bay. Ships would come from Halifax, from firms such as John Tobin and sons to the wharf at west day with supplies for the stores in the area. The land was purchased from Angus Macphie in 1877 and the house built the following year. It was used as a general store with living quarters for capt john and his bride in the back. There was a separate emtranceway for the store and for the house. A room upstairs served as Mary’s sitting room. The store had big double windows and doors also big double doors to the cellar. (see photo) the doors were in the centre facing the water with the windows on either side. There was also a lower store on the waterfront for storage and a stable, separated from the main store by the road to north mountain. This can be seen on the inset of west bay on a .F. Church's map of Inv. co. After Capt John’s death the store was idle for a time, then his son Alex A MacInnis took over the business under the name AA MacInnis, general merchant. A.A. Was also a lumber dealer and shipped lumber overseas from the wharf in west bay. He was a JP., and interested in the politics of his time. The store closed around the late 30's although A.A’s daughter, Anna sold cigarettes and candy, etc during the war. The place where business was conducted became the parlour with the hardwood floors and piano that this younger generation remembers today. The house passed through A.A.’s son Allister, to his children, and then in september of 1986 it was purchased and occupied by C.R. And Peggy Leonard who reside there at this time.