Marianne McLean explores the relationship between economic changes in the Highlands and the clansmen's emigration to Canada in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. She challenges the currently accepted position endorsed in recent works by Eric Richards and J.M. Bumsted that the clearances and sheep farms did not have a central role in provoking mass emigration. While McLean does not argue that landlords forced people to leave, she uses local evidence to show that the economic changes brought about by these factors led many Highlanders to emigrate. Using a wide array of published and unpublished sources, McLean examines in detail nine group emigrations that left western Inverness between 1785 and 1802 for Glengarry County in Upper Canada (now Ontario). She describes how, once in North America, they built a new Highland community in an attempt to ensure each family's access to the land.
By revealing the pattern of Highland emigration to Glengarry County - families and friends leaving and/or settling together - McLean confirms Bernard Bailyn's notion of a "provincial emigrant stream," and offers a convincing explanation for the development of one of Canada's "limited identities."
"Well written and well documented, this work offers a provocative reinterpretation of Highland 'clearances' and emigration, and will be of interest to students of Scottish, Canadian, and migration history." Brian Osborne, Choice "McLean conducts an impressively thorough investigation on the basis of a range of Scottish and Canadian archival sources. Unlike others, she has managed to penetrate deeply into the social texture of the locality and unravel the varied threads of the pattern of emigration ... The People of Glengarry is to be welcomed as a significant contribution to a subject which has attracted much superficial and speculative reasoning and too little basic and thorough research." T.M. Devine, Times Literary Supplement "A received view has been shattered so effectively in these pages that it is hard to see how anyone can ever put it together again. This is one of the best Canadian immigration studies ... prepared up to this date. Drawing on an impressively wide range of sources (most of them unpublished) ... it definitely makes a significant original contribution to its field. It is likely to be a much consulted, much cited standard work." Royce MacGillivray, Department of History, University of Waterloo "Abundant primary research and careful and meticulous documentation. The work is an excellent study of the process of trans-Atlantic migration, and is especially strongly based on use of Scottish archives." Douglas McCalla, Department of History, Trent University