New Journeys

The islands of the Outer Hebrides have a long history and deep connection to the vast country of Canada. For hundreds of years, our men and women have crossed the Atlantic to stake a claim upon these far flung shores.

From the 1700s onwards, ships sailed the rough seas towards Nova Scotia, bearing gaelic-speaking islanders in search of a new life. Many were pushed by unscrupulous landlords while others were pulled by the promise of a better life and new prospects in the face of poor harvests back home.

The collapse of the kelp trade in the Outer Hebrides in the 1820s brought more emigration and Cape Breton became a focal point for many islanders with Hearachs often settling around the villages of Grand River, Framboise, Baddeck and St Anns.

     The Hector (1773 emigration) and The Metagama (1923 emigration)

By the 1840s, the whole of the west coast of Harris had emptied of its inhabitants but from this first foothold in Canada, many of our people were able to start anew. With links made, the flow of emigrants continued into the 20th century and today Nova Scotia is still well known for its surviving Gaelic culture and language.

This week, two hundred years after these great journeys began, we’re undertaking a new voyage of our own, as we cross the ocean to Canada once more. This time we bring our island spirit in the form of Isle of Harris Gin and we share the same sense of adventure and ambition as our forebears once did.

Alongside our friends in tweed, the Harris Tweed Authority and Harris Tweed Hebrides, we launched our gin in Toronto, at a special event at the British Consul General’s residence. 

Here, we were proud to tell our island story for the first time on Canadian soil and we look forward to telling it many more times as we make inroads into this great country. 

It is fitting to recognise the relationship and history our two lands share and we are heartened that, even after losing so many of our island friends and family to these emigrations, our community here in Harris continues to survive and, through the work we do together, ultimately thrive.


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