Ballinafad Oral History Project | College of Arts

Ballinafad Oral History Project

The Campaign

The campaign for Fallbrook has been led by the descendants of the original pioneers (McClure-McKay 1855-1943) and the farm families who worked for O. D. Vaughan (past president of T. E. Eaton and University of Toronto) who purchased the farm from my great uncle Sandy in 1943. Our aim is to restore the site as a memorial to the natives who first settled there in the 16th century and the pioneer Scottish community of Ballinafad. A close knit community of relatively poor but united Scots and Irish, most of who arrived after eviction from their beloved homeland: "We cannot but think of the hardships with which they coped, the inconveniences they endured. They had to wrest a living from the unbroken land and make homes for their families" (The History of Ballinafad Churches, p.38). Our principal aim is to ensure that the history of hardship, courage and solidarity be taught to the young. The existing barn is now an education centre where 10,000 high school students go every year to study nature while remaining ignorant of the human history they walk over. Fallbrook is also the beginning of Bruce Trail No. 13 where hundreds of hikers go every week. A human heritage, both native and European, so rich but unexplored and near extinction.  --Sandy-James McKay

The Founders

Sandy-James Mackay was the co-founder and the volunteer co-coordinator of the campaign to preserve the Fallbrook Heritage site. The campaign, which is far from over, is now directed by the North Halton Celtic Historical Society (NHCHS) and president of the society, Bill McKay.  Both Sandy-James and Bill McKay are great grandsons of the patriarch Donald McKay, an evicted crofter from Rogart, Scotland who pioneered the farm.