The 1879 Revival in the Margaree Valley Baptist Church (Part 3)


The following is part 3 of our series on the 1879 revival at Margaree Valley Baptist Church and is written by G. W. McPherson, A Parson’s Adventures, (Yonkers, New York: Yonkers Book Company, 1925), 37ff.  The headings were created by Pastor Ross Morrison of Alberton Baptist Church.  Ross & his wife Wendy were brought up in Margaree Valley, Cape Breton.



During the second week of the revival I began to think earnestly on my relation to God. I was not excited or emotional, but began to reason thus: If all this is true and there is a God who sees and understands He must think of me only as a sinner. Several things impressed me powerfully during this revival:


(1) The song and prayer services held by the converts on the country roads as they gathered in groups late in the night, after the church service was over. On the four or five principal country highways the singing could be heard for a considerable distance. I attended some of these services and heard young men pray who a few days before were as tough as any in the valley.


(2) The prayer meetings that were held in a partly finished house, owned by Dan Carmichael, were most stirring. The converts felt loathe to go home at the close of the service in the church and so they gathered in this house to pray. They had no light except that furnished by a borrowed tallow candle. The two floors were laid and the roof was finished, also the stairway to the second floor. This house was literally packed with earnest souls, including the stairway on which I was sitting, with my feet hanging down over the edge just above the jam below in the hallway. It was while here, sitting in this precarious position, that I offered my first public prayer. The prayer was brief, for someone who was sitting on the same step moved a bit and the pressure pushed me off the stairway, down on those who were kneeling in the hall. But the service went on as if nothing had happened.


(3) Another event which made a profound impression on me was the story told by two young men who were school teachers on the coast, down near the Cape North country, about sixty miles from Margaree. These teachers were serving in adjoining school sections. They knew nothing of the mighty revival of religion in Margaree. But strange to say, they had become restless, so much so that they could not continue their work as teachers.  Meeting frequently, they told each other of their strange feelings. They had only begun the fall term a few weeks before, but they declared that they could not teach, and so informed the trustees of their respective schools. The trustees thought the

teachers were homesick in that far away lonely part of the island and refused to grant them permission to abandon their work. However, they said they could not continue longer, so they started for their home in Margaree.


It was a long journey by foot across the mountains of Cape Breton, but, finally, on reaching a French settlement on the coast of Margaree Harbour, on the west side of the island, they went into a farmer's house for dinner. On learning of their home in the Northeast valley of Margaree, their host said: "Have you heard of the revival of religion

in Margaree?" "No," they replied. "Well, they have all gone crazy up there over religion,"

said the Frenchman.


The boys arrived home and on that same night told their thrilling story to the congregation. They declared that they knew nothing of the revival, but that God had called them home, and there they yielded their lives to Christ. These two teachers

returned to resume their work in their respective schools, but later they entered the Christian ministry.


No psychology can explain this moral phenomenon. It was God at work in answer to prayer, and in this, as in many other events that, occurred in this revival, there was found unanswerable proof of the supernatural fact of Christianity and that God does

communicate Himself to men.




I attended all the services during the revival, but it was not until the second week that I decided to pray and seek salvation. I had a chum whose name let us say was Frank and nightly we went together to the services. I urged Frank to take a stand and confess Christ, but he always replied: "No, if you will, I will." I would nudge him in the ribs, boylike, with my elbow and say, "Go on, you are older than I. When you get up and confess Christ then I shall." Frank nudged back and said: "No, if you will then I will." Night after night the nudging continued with the same result. Finally I decided that Frank was not in earnest and that I must take my stand alone.


I spent much of the time, during the days of this week, digging potatoes in an obscure part of the old farm where I was unseen by the neighbors. It was a narrow wedge-like patch coming to a sharp point at one end and the rows of potatoes ran crosswise. I began to dig at the narrow point and at the completion of each row knelt down in the

ground to pray for light and leading, promising God that if he would give me strength to confess His Son before men I should do so that night. Prayer was answered and that night without speaking a word to my chum I arose in the service and said: "Pray for me. I desire to know Jesus Christ." It was no easy cross to bear, nevertheless, in resuming

my seat I felt much relieved. I believed that a good service was performed, that I had put myself in the way of blessing.


Mr. Foster's text that night was: "For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, . . . the Son of man also shall be ashamed of him when He cometh in the glory of His Father with the holy  angels."[1] I knew I had done my duty, my best, so far so good, but I experienced no special change in my life. Converts had told of how they "came into the light," but I could give no such testimony.


[1] Mark 8:38.

Leave a Comment

Comments for this post have been disabled.