Help me find the farm

In researching this book, one of my challenges is to try to locate the Gillis family farm land in Glendale. To assist with this, here is the information I have:

David Gillis
David Gillis, my great-grandfather and Nana’s father, was the third of ten children born to Janet Gillis and Angus Ian MacPheadair Gillis in the mid-nineteenth century. (Cuir is Buain: Page 210, Gillis, Generation No. 4. David Gillis (6))

Mary Gillis
David married Boisdale native Mary M. MacNeil, the daughter of Neil MacNeil and Elizabeth McDonald, sometime in the 1880s. After they married, they lived for a time in the home of Hugh MacEachern in the east part of Glendale.

David was thirty-three and Mary was twenty-two, more or less. Their ages are a guess, because the 1901 River Inhabitants census records that David was born May 24, 1854; his immigration card states he was born September 22, 1855, and his death certificate gives a birth year of 1867. Mary’s information is equally contradictory; she was born April 29, 1867 according to the River Inhabitants census, 1865 according to her immigration card, and 1868 according to her death certificate.

Cuir is Buain: Page 211, Gillis, Generation No. 4. David Gillis (8) (Note: This is the correct information based on multiple sources and Nana herself. Cuir is Bain contains a few errors regarding the family but what follows is what I believe to be accurate information) The couple built a house and barns on that land and had eleven children, nearly all of who were named after their siblings. They named their first child Lizzy (Elizabeth) but the baby died at eighteen months. A healthy girl, Jessie Ann, was born September 18, 1890. Four years later, on Columbus Day, their first boy, Neil Charles, was born. “Neil C.,” as he was called, was nicknamed “Neil Columbus.” Another son, Alec, was born next but died at only three years of age. John Alex, who everyone called Johnny, was born August 9, 1896, followed by Mary, who was born October 7, 1898, and Alec-Huey, born July 28, 1900. My Nana, Annie, was the next child born, on May 20, 1902. David and Mary would be blessed with three more children. Donald Alexander was born in June 1904, John Angus was born in August 1906, and Florence, the baby of the clan, was born May 29, 1909.

Description of the farm land purchased, based on the purchase agreement (Book 19, page 386)

On April 4, 1899, David purchased a one hundred and sixty-six acre piece of land for one hundred dollars from the McDonald and McCormick families. The land was bordered on the east by the land of Donald McMaster, on the north by Donald McGinnis, on the west by Alex Buchanan, and on the south by Hugh McEachern, roughly one third of the land granted to the late Donald McMaster.

Location of the farm?

Based on this description, I believe the farm MUST be located in this section of Glendale. You can click on the following three links to see the maps.


This is a much larger area map of Glendale showing the farm location:

maps/glendale_large.jpg Note: Large file (2644KB)

And here is a land deed map with names.

maps/glendale_deeds.jpg Note: Large file (1497KB)

Getting closer, thank you to…

Jeannette MacVarish, Allan Gillis, Donald MacDonald, Vince MacNeil and…

Dorothy Pottie
Alex Hugh knows where the house remains is located. He told me he would send you an e-mail on this and he probably has by now. He originally
lived in that area called Maple Brook. There is nobody living there any more and the forest has been cut for pulpwood. Many, many house ruins
are located throughout the area, just like the rest of rural Cape Breton.

Alex MacInnis:
“I was born about two miles from your grandmothers home but it is all covered with forest now but the rock basement would still be there it is about three miles from Saint Mary’s church there is a dirt road close by the farm and should be no problem finding the site where the house was.”

Marina MacIntyre
“Yes, Robert, you are in the right vicinity. You would take the Maple Brook Road gravel) that leads through from Kingsville to Glendale- near MacColl’s. Close to the Community Pasture on this road, you would take a right that leads to Big Brook, and it would be close to that intersection. The Church is near the place name, Glendale on your map, on the right fork of the Y you will notice – R C Chapell.”

Eleanor MacLeod
“No one has lived there for a long time and the forest is claiming the land that was once fields. Cannot say if any of the buildings are still visible or not. It is situated not far from St. Mary of the Angels”

Can you help?

Before I visit Glendale, I would like very much to try, as best as possible, to determine the exact location of the Gillis farm. We have a general location, about three miles from Saint Mary of the Angels Church, and apparently the area is now a community pasture, not owned by anyone, and no one lives there. The rock basement of the house may still be visible.

I am asking anyone in Glendale who reads this, can you provide me with more details? How exactly would I drive from Saint Mary of the Angels church to find this property? Can I get a picture of the property? Does anyone have a current map that would overlay the one here? A picture of the rock basement? Anything would be VERY appreciated. Please email me at