The following article was published in the Media Digest, July 1996 issue, prepared by Bell Global Communications in Toronto, on behalf of Sympatico. It is the first article on the front page of this Digest, which is distributed throughout Quebec and Ontario, in English and in French.

Internet Connects Canadians

Janet MacKay, president of the Clan MacKay Society of New Scotland, developed and maintains the Web site of Scottish Heritage in New Scotland (Nova Scotia). She views the internet as "a unifying force, bringing Canada together." Before this site was implemented, there was a lack of communication between the Scottish clans. A newsletter would have been too expensive and the creation of the award-winning site in April, 1995 seemed like a sound alternative.

The `Around Town' section of the Sympatico (tm) home page explores the Sympatico communities closely "so all Canadians can discover the intrigue of other parts of Canada at the grassroots level, where it is most effective," says Janet. The links to local sites, including the one she maintains -- click on `Around Town,' the `Sympatico Around Canada' link at the bottom of the page, `Nova Scotia,' `Heritage & Culture,' and finally on `Scottish Heritage' -- are one way she feels Sympatico brings "Canadians together to share their lives, their home towns."

The most rewarding outcome of the Scottish Heritage Web site, for Janet, is the relatives and the clansfolk who are able to reunite at last. In the `Accolades' section of the site, one visitor wrote that as a result of the Internet[*], "for the first time in my 38 years of life, I finally have some idea of who I am and where my roots lay."

[*] With reference, and due to the Clan Douglass homepages on this web site.

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This web site for Scottish Heritage in New Scotland (Nova Scotia) is a combined project of Scottish Clans operating within Nova Scotia. There are more than 450 generic home pages for individual Scottish clans, septs of these clans and Scottish families who emigrated to New Scotland (Nova Scotia). While making homes and a future for themselves and their offspring here, they built Nova Scotia to the stalwart province it is today.

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In preparation for the interview by Rachelle Allin of Bell Global Communications, participating clansfolk submitted the following comments:

Shirley Campbell, Vice-President of Clan Campbell Society -- Nova Scotia, who is responsible for material on the Clan Campbell homepages on our Nova Scotia Scottish website:

"I feel this website for Nova Scotia Scots is an excellent idea. Left to their own devices, the individual clan societies within Nova Scotia probably wouldn't do this. Most of us don't have the expertise. There is a much greater advantage to being all together on one website, not on independent homepages on various servers. We are happy to be on the internet, and wouldn't have been if it were not for this project.

"Getting information out by the website, is a saving in time and postage for everyone concerned, including the inquirers. If there are serious inquirers, they have the means to contact Clan Campbell directly."

Shirley Campbell

Cairns Henderson, President, Clan Henderson Society of North America (Atlantic Region) .... who is responsible for the material for the Clan Henderson pages on this website.
"From my view, I see your clans site as a vehicle to publicize my clan organization's activities in Atlantic Canada. Your site permits not only the broad range of clan data which is common to all clanspersons (badge, motto, tartan etc.) to be readily available, but also the not so universal information (local meetings, fundraisers, gatherings).

"Keep that publicity coming!"

Cairns Henderson

Peter Douglass of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia: Canadian Commissioner for Clan Douglas Society of North America, who is responsible for submitting material for the Clan Douglass home pages
Mr. Douglass is very enthusiastic about the Clan Douglass pages on our website, and reports that the clan has enlisted several members du to it. Our Clan Douglass pages offer a link to the Clan Douglass homepages in Georgia, USA.

One lady wrote that, due to the Clan Douglass homepages, that for the first time she knew where her roots and her family were. See Accolades section on the main menu of the website.

This experience of a descendant of Clan Douglass, is one of the highlights in making this website worth our efforts.

Grassroots level again, isn't it? Bringing distant cousins, families together .... offering access and knowledge of their rich Scottish heritage, of which they can now be proud ... a journey back to their roots, which is so necessary and vital in today's society.

Ronald I. MacIvor, a native of Nova Scotia (Pictou, now living in London, Ontario), provides information for the Clan MacIvor pages on our this website, and is a strong supporter of our efforts.
"I found it to be a phenomenal piece of work. Whilst utilizing various search engines to find information on the MacIvor clan I discovered this superb site, AND an involved cousin I didn't know I had!"

Mr. MacIvor also commends our efforts as "building bridges" which allow Nova Scotia Scots "a step up" in access and a presence on the internet ... and the worldwide exposure that the internet allows. He refers to our Scottish website as a bridge.

Glen Matheson, founding member of Clan MacKay Society of New Scotland, also founding member and Past President of Clan Matheson Society of Nova Scotia, and Historian and Seanachaidh of both the Clan Matheson and Clan Murray Societies in Nova Scotia:

My own experience with the Clan Matheson pages is that I have received as many inquiries regarding the sister Maritime Provinces as I have regarding Nova Scotia. There are more transients than we might think between the three provinces. We must not also forget the PEI has greater proportion of Highlanders than Nova Scotia.

The Maritimes served as an "orientation" to the New World as many emigrants' offspring moved on to the rest of the continent. To access their roots in Scotland, many must first research through Nova Scotia. The internet has certainly made Nova Scotia more accessible to researchers.

Glen Matheson

In response to invitation to be with the Clansfolk who provide information for their clan homepages during a subsequent interview with Medialinx of Toronto, Glen Matheson wrote:
I sincerely wish that I could be there. It sounds exciting. My employer, MacKay, (younger of East River St. Mary's and that ilk), is just back from the plantations in the south and we are quite booked up tomorrow.

Just some rambling comments on the Clan Matheson experience. I have had about a dozen serious inquiries from Mathesons as a result of posting my E Mail box on the page. Half were general inquiries from the USA. I had two inquiries concerning Matheson ancestors in PEI, two concerning New Brunswick, and one from Australia. One correspondent was a young Pictonian in a mining camp in the north wondering about his Pictou Co. ancestors - complete genealogy back to Shiness, Lairg, was determined. Another from B.C. resulted in locating a "lost tribe" from Westville that we were able to trace back to Sutherland.

On the Murray side I have had a half dozen inquiries, mostly looking for more in depth info on the origin of the name and references to places in Scotland. I found my double fifth cousin, Scott Murray, by eavesdropping in a newsgroup. It would have been a matter of time before we would have met through the homepages. (Had a inquiry from Hong Kong out of this one).

Due to the constraints of travel costs, geography and conflicting time committments, it is difficult to reach clanspeople by means of the traditional gathering such as was held here in Nova Scotia every four years. However the time and budget challenged clansmen can gather in cyberspace and meet distant clanspeople all over the globe.

As the technology evolves, one can imagine virtual tours of the mother country, on-line clan meetings, and on line distribution of clan newsletters.

Glen Matheson

Janet MacKay, President of the Clan MacKay Society of New Scotland, who is one of the MacKay clansfolk providing information for the Clan MacKay homepages, shared her thoughts with Medialinx:
This web site is a community project of interested clansfolk in Nova Scotia. It's growth and continuing success depends on all of us, working together. While I serve as webmaster (spiderwoman?), HTML without information to code into HTML is worthless. It's the clanspeople of each participating clan who make the information base on this web site a meaningful and helpful entity.

Alasdair McKay, Vice President of the Clan MacKay Society of New Scotland and a native of Stirlingshire, Scotland (with ancestry in Strathnaver, the Clan MacKay ancestral lands), notices that the Highland Clearances are happening again, this time in our province. "Nova Scotia Clearances" is McKay's term for our desperate economy due to ongoing downsizing by corporations and other businesses.

Some hold the view that the Highland Clearances happened to our Highland ancestors because they lived in a remote area, and did not keep up with the pace of advancing technology of their time.

Whether or not that theory holds, we in Nova Scotia can prepare ourselves for the "information technology" that is making such drastic downsizing possible. We must, this time, catch the wave of the future and not only ride with it, but lead the way as we go forth and make our fortunes in the new economy.

Scots are leaders, wherever they settle in the world. Nova Scotia has the highest number of internet users per capita than any other part of North American, perhaps even in the world, says Hon. Robert (Robbie) Harrison, Minister responsible for the Economic Renewal Agency in Nova Scotia.

And so, Clan MacKay gives the call and the opportunity, and gathers with our fellow Scots to go forth together. This web site for Scottish Heritage in New Scotland (Nova Scotia) is one project along the way, an effort of all of us working together to be out and about on the World Wide Web with our Scottish intrique and our intense love for our homeland, Nova Scotia.

Janet MacKay

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