Goshen History

Goshen circa 1910

Goshen circa 1910

The following history of Goshen has been composed by Lois Ann Dort through the GCCAN Winter Intern project 2009/2010.  Information has been gathered through interviews and online research.  I would like to acknowledge the help of  Elizabeth MacDonald (nee MacNaughton), Lloyd Sinclair, Chesley and Joyce Feltmate, and  John Day as well as many others.

Goshen is located at 45.22’32N, 61.58’32W about two miles south-west of South River Lake, near the Antigonish-Guysborough Co. line in eastern Nova Scotia. Before it was called Goshen it was referred to as “The Backlands of St. Mary’s River”. It was named after the Goshen Society which was formed for the purpose of sending one of its members to Halifax twice a year to bring back supplies much as did the sons of Jacob who went to Egypt to buy corn, in the Bible story. Five members of the Shaw family of Annapolis County received land grants here in 1816. John, Donald, Robert and Alexander Sinclair, natives of the Country Harbour Lake area, petitioned for land in 1819, and received the present site as a grant in 1830. Six Generations of Sinclair’s have made their homes here after receiving land grants as far back as 1816. An Irishman, Martin Wall was among the first settlers who came in 1817, four Scots arrived in 1819.

“Although Guysborough County cannot boast of including paradise within its boundaries, as Annapolis County shows a prior appropriation, nor claim the site of the Garden of Eden as Pictou County assures us within her domain, yet it owns the fair land of Goshen,” Situated among beautiful lakes quite near the Antigonish line, the name was not selected from its fertile fields, and fine farms, though in these it might vie with its old Egyptian namesake, but the first residents being so far in the interior of the county, formed themselves into a company called “the Goshen Society”, and twice each year one of their members was chosen to go to Halifax via Sherbrooke to procure needful supplies/ The people of Goshen were industrious, prosperous and temperate with their excellent farms, mills of various kinds, and a small manufacturing establishments to supply their needs. The community is flourishing and independent.”

by H.C.Hart in History of the County of Guysborough


Surrounding Communities include:
Eight Island lake
Copper Lake
South River
Country Harbour Lake
South Lochaber
West Lochaber
Loch Katrine
Lochiel Lake

Loch Harbor
Lochaber which was once known as College Lake, it was discovered by Alexander Fraser around 1795 when he was moose hunting with the local native people. Lochaber is a settlement south west of Antigonish famed for its black cattle. It’s located two miles from Goshen and named for a mountainous district in the Inverness shire of Scotland, from which the first settlers emigrated. In 1808, Malcolm McMillan, Hugh McMillan, John Cameron (red) and John Cameron (squire) settled near the head of Lochaber Lake in what is now called North Lochaber and named the district in honour of their native land. In 1816 several families of Stewarts, natives of Rannoch, Scotland, settled on what was known as the Stewart farm, adjoining Malcolm MacMillan’s, and raised a large family. They were joined by Archibald MacEachern and John Inglis (lngles), a Lowland Scot who had been at Musquodoboit in Nova Scotia. These settlers were Presbyterians. The Scots were joined in the Lochaber by some Roman Catholic families from Ireland: McGinley, Sears, Hannifan, Duggan, Wall, Cleney, Moore, Murphy, Martin, Carroll, and Connors.

The Lochaber section school was first named Lochaber East side and West Lochaber was named Lower Lochaber west side and ran northward along the lake and included the back settlement. Donald Henderson was teaching 35 pupils at Lochaber Lake in 1829. There was a school at Lochaber in 1829 and in 1848 Angus Cameron was teaching thirty children at Lochaber Glen. North Lochaber had been named at an early date Lochaber and Glen Alpine. The school was remodelled and re-opened in 1926.  In 1953 four Lochaber school sections (Nos. 43, 44, 45 and 46) were consolidated into one section named Lochaber No. 4.  There was a postal way office at Lochaber from 1852 to 1867 and in 1868 John Sears was postmaster. There was a postal way office at West Lochaber in 1861 where Alexander Stewart was postmaster in 1870.

The Presbyterian settlers in the Lochaber District built a church on the old road to the Upper South River and later a large and well-finished church near the Lake. Before there was a church building Dr. James McGregor of Pictou paid occasional visits, as did Rev. Thomas Trotter after he came to Antigonish. The first resident pastor over the Lochaber and Upper South River congregations was the Rev. Alexander McGillivray who came in 1833. A new Presbyterian church at Lochaber called Chalmers was opened in 1869 and a United Church at North Lochaber was built about 1931 and dedicated October 4, 1931. In 1956 the population of Lochaber was fifty-five and the population of North Lochaber eighty.

Loch Katrine
Loch Katrine, a settlement west of Guysborough on South River Lake, once referred to as Union Centre, was named after the loch of that name in the Highlands of Scotland, which was made famous by Sir Walter Scott’s poem “The Lady of the Lake.” The first grantees circa 1811 were Edward Bond, Alexander Kennedy, John Martin and Alexander McIntosh.

Copper Lake
A Lake and a settlement south of Antigonish, named because of the copper deposits found in the area. It was formerly known as Polson’s Lake after William Polson who had a 200-acre grant of land there in 1828 and a mine that was called Polson’s Lake mine.  A school section was formed in 1901 between the St. Mary’s municipal line and the Lochaber chapel road. The school house was on the north shore of the lake. A mining syndicate was prospecting in the area once again in 1962.

Eight Island Lake
This rural area is situated on the north side of Eight Island Lake, on the Country Harbour River in eastern Nova Scotia. The village and lake were probably so named because there are eight prominent islands in the lake. Early settlers were James Pringle, 1817, and Martin Wall, 1820. In 1865 two school houses were built in the Goshen district. One of them was probably built here. The school house burned down in March, 1935 and a new building was immediately erected to replace it. Farming and lumbering were the main industries. The population in 1956 was 60.

Country Harbour Lake
The settlement is located about a mile south of Country Harbour Lake in eastern Nova Scotia. In the 1870’s three families settled here. The land was part of the Country Harbour Grant and the settlement was an offshoot of Cross Roads Country Harbour. Farming and Lumbering were the main industries.

The settlement is about a mile south of South River Lake, near the Antigonish- Guysborough line in eastern Nova Scotia. This name is of Scottish origin and was given to the settlement by Duncan McIntosh who came from Scotland in 1843 with four sons and three daughters. The land was granted to Anthony Lockwood, the government surveyor and cartographer, who asked for land to settle on after his duties were finished and to John Adam Beiswanger, who had been forced off the land on which he had been established and who wished to obtain another grant. A school house was built circa 1865. Farming and lumbering are the main industries.
In 1840 Donald McDonald, who was known as “the giant” not only from his unusual size but also on account of his great feats of strength, discovered a lake about two miles from Argyle, which has since been known as Giants Lake.