Pic: some of the worthies of Uig and Stornoway at the ceremony.
TB Macaulay, president of the Sun Life Assurance Company of Montreal and descendent of the Macaulays of Uig, visited Lewis in the summer of 1929 to open the new Municipal Buildings in Stornoway (replacing those destroyed in the fire of 1918) and to continue various development projects he had already begun, including the co-operative Macaulay Farm at Arnish. They arrived on 15 June and stayed at Lews Castle as guests of the community, hosted by the Provost Louis Bain and his wife; on their first night a huge bonfire was lit on Goat Island to salute them. They spent three weeks on the island, and on 18 June visited Uig on what became known as an Latha TB – TB Day.
The Gazette reported that sixty motor cars came out from Stornoway to join most of the population of Uig, and parked on the high flats above Valtos – being unable to get down the steep hill to the village. A platform had been erected, with flags and a piper, and an outdoor ceremony took place. TB was greeted by the four oldest men in the village, led by Hector Matheson (97). After a welcome from Murdo Maclean (of Uig and Stornoway), Rev Malcolm Maclennan presented TB with an “illuminated address” and made the following speech.
A Dhaoin’ Uaisil Uig! (Noblemen of Uig. Let me so address you in terms used of old by outsiders, when speaking of your ancestors.) We assemble on this familiar spot to-day to welcome a gentleman only a few ‘Knees’ (as our Gaelic idiom has it) removed from one whose hearth glowed and whose home flourished, attached to this soil – Mr T. B. Macaulay, of Montreal. (Applause.) For the honour of this day’s proceedings we are indebted to the untiring energy and organising genius of our esteemed Chairman [Murdo Maclean] – himself so well known here in his own parish – and who will be long honoured by us for having – shall I not say ? – ‘discovered’ for us our guest, and, not only for introducing him to the Island and to the parish of his forebears and of his Chief, but for having arranged his transport from Montreal so as to make Stornoway his first port of call-a singular thing in ocean travel. (Applause.) If one could dare suggest a possible improvement on what is perfect in this case, it would be to express the wish that it could have been arranged that the ‘Minnedosa’ should have made its first call in Caolas Phabaidh, in sight, if not within hail, of the old hearth of the Macaulay home.
From where we stand let me point to the habitat of a few specimens of great men, such as are to be found in every part of this wide parish. In yonder glen there is a clachan in which lived a group of men of singular integrity and charm of character – two of them Macaulays. Over that knoll is the ruins of the home of the wise man of my boyhood, whom we all revered. Down below us there was the home of our philosopher – clear visioned, of reverent faith, intensely proud of his parish and of Lewis – so full of humour that he made us all his friends. Round to the left lived our tailor, par excellence. He plied a pointed needle and a sharp pair of scissors, but also a sharper tongue and a more poignant wit. There were a few who feared the tailor, but a great many more who loved him. Up the brae from the tailor was the home of our model saint – and a worthy scion of the Macaulay Clan. I can barely remember Angus. As I got the story – he happened to awaken at an early hour of a summer morn when he noticed a number of sheep in his neighbour’s growing grain. He ran out as he was and drove them out of it into his own grain close by, and leaving them there he went in to dress himself comfortably, and then went and chased the sheep beyond the bounds. Beside us in yonder hollow the precious dust of a certain man and of his wife mingle in peace. She would say, ‘Ni gabhadh gionach,’ the equivalent of dulce periculum, for she was a Macaulay. He could answer, ‘Na tiomaich ri cruadal,’ the equivalent of nil desperandum, the motto of his own clan. Their son was – as a competent judge told on one occasion – one of the cheeriest Christian optimists he ever knew. Uig is bonny, but not always sunny. To the forebears of all of us she bristled like a wild boar, and challenged them to mortal combat. But – mottoes apart – they turned their risks into stimuli, and the frowns of providence to shining stars, and so they warstled through. (Applause.)
Turning to Mr Macaulay, the speaker said : “Mr Macaulay, did it ever occur to you that the motto of your Clan ‘Dulce Periculum’ (risk is sweet) – made ‘The Sun Life’ the premier Assurance Company of Canada ? It was my privilege to look through the pages of that splendid volume, ‘The President’s Book,’ and there I came upon a passage in which your distinguished father once acknowledged defeat in a great crisis and the triumph of wrong. Then his inner soul recoiled, but he and you found both stimulus and a solution in the grave risks of the situation. The Unconditional Policy, in face of the accumulated experience of the assurance world, proved to be the redress – yes, and the rebirth of ‘The Sun Life.’ Risk was sweet. (Applause.)
Your ancient parish produced, in the course of its long history, not a few men who did themselves no little credit in the various walks of life : teachers, doctors, ministers: men, too, who distinguished themselves in scholarship – your own Clan gave us at least one B.Sc. and one D.Sc. Nor are we without representatives in journalism, in literature, in authorship – that noble lord, Lord Macaulay, so noteworthy a stylist, at the top ; and if I am not mistaken we can claim a noted Professor of Philosophy as one whose forebears hailed from Uig. Several are successful men of business; and in your own person we rejoice in the crowning glory of that combination of high moral principle with a fearless business conscience, which surely is the guarantee of sound progress. (Applause.) If you are interested in ancient lore, your ancient parish can supply a thrilling story of ghosts and fairies, and of the play of Clan feuds, in which your Chief, Domhnull Cam, took his full share. In the name and on behalf of this beautiful parish of men and women of shining virtue and flashing wit, of a great company of men and women of varied culture and varied calling, it is my proud privilege to ask you to accept this token of their regard for your person, and of their appreciation of your great service to this Island. (Applause.)
Mrs Macaulay was then presented with a Macaulay tartan sash and a brooch by Mrs Macleod of Crowlista, and said “she felt very proud, and thanked everybody very much indeed.” Mr Macaulay’s speech followed, along with a visit to the pier and a tea.