This past weekend I made a pilgrimage. It’s become an annual thing for us—to travel to the land of my forefathers and soak in the extravaganza of Scottish heritage that is the Glengarry Highland Games. But this year is a special year. This year marks the 200th anniversary of a different kind of pilgrimage. 200 years ago, William McKillican uprooted his family and followed his congregation to Canada, where he eked out a farm in the backwoods of Breadalbane in Glengarry County, as told in my book Across the Deep.
This year many more of my family joined us on this pilgrimage, some from as far as Saskatchewan, Alberta, and B.C. They came to celebrate the courage of the man without whom we would not be here in this country, and to remember those who have lived and died between his day and ours.
Our pilgrimage began with the log church that William’s congregation built, that still stands to this day. Then we visited the farms where he and his descendants lived, and the cemeteries where they rest. We shared pictures and stories of people we never knew, but whose lives then are a part of us now.
Like Jennie, who inherited her grandfather William’s courage and took it across the Pacific to China to live her days as a missionary. There is an inscription on William’s tombstone in the Breadalbane cemetery that says “They rest from their labours and their works do follow them.” It’s true of them, and I pray it will be true of me, too, one day.
The generations go on, growing taller (I’m pretty sure I’m the shortest of my generation) and more numerous. I hope we go on for another two hundred years at least, telling our children and their children about the faithful heroes who have gone on before.
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Three true stories…
One family…One faith