From First Nations camping ground to home of newcomers and industry, Glenaladale has always been a dwelling place and seat of innovation. Our history starts with the Mi’kmaq, continues with the Acadians, and then, in 1772, Capt. John MacDonald, 8th Laird of Glenaladale and 7th Laird of Glenfinnan in Scotland, brought the first Scottish Catholic settlers to what was then St. John’s Island, now Prince Edward Island. The current 529 3/4 acre Estate became Capt. John’s home, part of his 40,000 acre property, including all of 2 of the Island’s 67 “lots”: initially Lot 36 and later Lot 35.
Many relatives and friends of The Glenaladale Settlers were to follow in the large settlements of 1790-91. Capt. John’s son, Father John, brought “the Glasgow Irish” to PEI in 1830, setting in motion the largest Irish immigration to Prince Edward Island, known as the Monaghan Settlers.
Upon their arrival, Capt. John and his family established a farmstead that was to continue with his son, the Hon. Donald MacDonald. Donald, a local politician, and his wife Anna (Brecken) raised six children here. One of their sons, William, a merchant, tobacco manufacturer and philanthropist (knighted for his educational philanthropy), built the current Glenaladale House for his brother, the Hon. John Archibald. This grand home was designed by Montreal architects Hutchison & Steele.
After John Archibald’s death in 1903―by which time four generations of MacDonalds had called it home―Glenaladale was purchased by a MacKinnon family, formerly of Lot 16, who farmed, operated the Glenaladale Silver Black Fox Company, and were well known for their involvement with rum-running and other enterprising endeavours.
In addition to its 529 ¾ acres with 2,000 feet of shorefront on Tracadie Bay, the large 3-storey brick home and existing outbuildings, the Estate is also now the home of Glenaladale (later Tracadie) School, which was built in 1899.
Both the MacDonalds and the MacKinnons have made significant contributions to Prince Edward Island. Capt. John MacDonald and his grandson, Sir William C. Macdonald, are recognized as persons of national historic significance.
With the many layers of the history, it’s easy to see how critical the involvement of the people attached to Glenaladale has been to the growth of Prince Edward Island and through its diaspora, to Canada as a whole.