38252. [Lord Napier, Chairman] Then you stated that the expatriated people, some of them, found their way to America, where they experienced a worse fate. What ground have you for believing that the emigrants generally experienced a worse fate ?
[Angus Sutherland, witness] The fate of my great-grandfather's family. My great-grandfather's family, except himself, all went out in Lord Selkirk's expedition to the Red River. My grandfather was married before he went out, and I have seen in my grandfather's house and my father's house a pile of correspondence describing the vicissitudes they underwent. They were left exposed on the north coast, and they had to find their way from Hudson's Bay to the Red River settlement; and they were exposed to the rigours of a lengthened winter, and, to crown all, the Indians came in and killed some of them, and the rest fled over the winter's snow to Canada. Only seven or eight managed to survive and settle in Canada afterwards.
I copy part of a post I made in July 2007, on the subject of the statue:
The statue [...] shows a family, leaving their homes for a new life overseas. Helmsdale lies at the mouth of the Strath of Kildonan, one of many valleys in Sutherland cleared of their residents in the 19th century. The full background story can be read here.
Whilst I applaud the efforts of Mr Macleod (who initiated the project) to keep the memory of the Clearances alive, I somehow find the positive gloss being cast on this appalling episode in Scotland’s history very, very difficult to stomach.
It would appear, reading Angus Sutherland's words from 127 years ago, that those leaving Strath Kildonan met a far worse fate than remaining in northern Scotland would have brought. And it makes a complete mockery of the reasoning behind the erection of the statue.