The Douglas Archives

A collection of historical and genalogical records

What drove the Highlander families to embark on the Hector at Loch Broom, in the Scottish Highlands, we may never know.

We do know that they were promised a better lifestyle and prospects than they had in Scotland. By the time they arrived in Canada, many had died, and reports suggest that all that was left to eat were the worms in the ships woodwork.

Things did not look any better on arrival. Those who preceded them were short of food, and accommodation was sparse.

Among the passengers, was Colin Douglass. Two of his three children died on the voyage. and in that lies my mystery.

Justice William O. Douglas retired from the United States Supreme Court in 1975, having served the court for 37 years, longer than any other Justice in history.

William is said to be the son of an itinerant Scottish Presbyterian minister from Pictou County, Nova Scotia. On July 23, 1973, thousands of Scottish-Canadians and Scottish-Americans gathered at Pictou to celebrate their common ancestry. Anchored in the harbour was the schooner Bluenose II standing in for the Hector. The guests of honour included Justice William O. Douglas of the United States Supreme Court who was present to pay homage to his ancestor Colin Douglas.

The most recent biography of Douglas, by Professor Bruce Allen Murphy, persuasively suggests that Douglas's memoirs were elaborate fictions.

Which brings me to my mystery.

From my understanding, the Hector's passenger list has been transcribed and shows Colin as the only adult Douglass. There is a Margaret Douglas, aged between 2 and 8 years old and under 2, a Colin Douglas, son of Alex. However, there was no Alex Douglas on the Hector. Colin's daughter is said to have married Peter Fraser, so how Justice Douglas is a descendant of this family remains to be determined.

Assuming it is correct that only Margaret survived the voyage, and that she married Peter Fraser, how is it the William Orville Douglas is a descendant? Is this part of his works of fiction? Or is there another explanation?

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What became of Colin Douglass after the voyage? Could he have remarried?

I don't know, John.

I am hoping someone here can fill in some gaps.


Hi, just came on your website and notes and I found that in reading some of the old books recording the genealogy of Pictou and looking at Colchester, etc.  I came across information that said that Alexander was the son of Colin Douglas.  Colin Douglas had I believe two children that died on board the Hector, on landing he and his family immediately departed for Middle River where they settled to farm.  McKenzie was a neighbor of Colin Douglas.  Colin Douglas was to have had many children but I have not been able to find a list of all his children. 

One year he and McKenzie tied up the clerk at the store and took supplies when their families were starving and the clerk refused them credit.  They wrote an IOU for the items and were later charged by the courts and given 13 lashes.  That year I believe two of Colins children died.  I have found that there was a marriage between the MacKenzie family and a girl Douglas.  My sister, now deceased, made a trip to NS to research family history and met some of our relations still residing in NS and they told her that we were descended from Colin Douglas and Menzie.  They had a write up on their walls about it. I did find in some of my research the mention of Catherine Menzies--I now wonder if that could be Catherine MCKenzie and perhaps the person recording did not hear or see or spell correctly!!

Thank you, Patricia.  It is good to get some background to our ancestors lives.

Those must have been hard times. Some of the ships arrived having consumed all the stores on board, so added to the hardship of previous arrivals.

The change from McKenzie to Menzies is possible.  However, Menzies (often pronounced Mingis) is also a Scots surname.

It would be good to know what was written on those walls!

Yours aye,



Making conections

The more information you can give about the people you mention, the more chance there is of someone else connecting with your family.

Dates and places of births, deaths and marriages all help to place families.

Professions also help.

'My great-grandmother mother was a Douglas from Montrose' does not give many clues to follow up! But a bit of flesh on the bones makes further research possible. But if we are told who she married, what his profession was and where the children were baptised, then we can get to work.

Maybe it is time to update the information in your profile?

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