We just love a good story and Inverary is the bearer of many interesting tales!
The Inverary Story
Inverary was built in the late 1800’s by Cape Breton native, “Millionaire” MacNeil as a residence to show off the fortune he made in Boston. His impressive 11 acre estate, bordering on the beautiful Bras d’Or Lakes, looks across the water to his childhood home of Washabuck. A large, three-storey house, barn and wagon house were beautifully constructed with materials imported from Boston and the estate was truly the showplace of the small village.
Inverary’s hospitality story begins with brothers Chad and Jamie Fownes following World War II. Together with their mother, the brothers bought MacNeil’s estate and founded “Inverary Inn” at the conclusion of their service with the Canadian Forces. The Inn was founded with fond remembrance of their Scottish heritage, and named after Inveraray Castle, home of the Duke of Argyll and head of Clan Campbell. Many Scottish visitors have felt a deep kinship with their homeland while staying at Inverary.
The MacAulay Family
In 1971, Inverary Inn became home to the MacAulay family when one of the Fownes’ most trusted employees became Innkeeper. Isobel MacAulay, along with her husband Dannie, ran the Inn for many years with the same love and passion on which it was founded. Each year a new building was added and, continuing with tradition, was given a Scottish name.
Isobel and Dannie’s son, Scott became Innkeeper in 1979 and brought with him new ideas and more additions to the property, growing the small Scottish inn to the resort experience we offer today. His wife Terri and their children worked and grew up with Inverary and today, Matthew represents its 3rd generation of MacAulay management.
The team here at Inverary embrace those humble beginnings and have worked hard to hold on to those roots and provide our guests a unique, truly Inverary experience. Many guests consider Inverary their home away from home, and as we watch our guests relax by a crackling fire enjoying a buttery oatcake, we know this to be true!
An Unusual Chapel
In the early 1980’s a man named Conn Smythe was travelling in Nova Scotia and stayed at the Inverary. Smythe had had a very accomplished life. He was a World War II veteran, businessman, philanthropist, builder of the iconic Maple Leaf Gardens and owner of many Stanley Cup champion teams, to name a few of his accomplishments. His health was poor at the time of his visit to Baddeck and he spent most of his time at Inverary in his room. At that time he was a widower and it was said he had the air of a man that was dying but wasn’t ready to go.
In a passing conversation with him, Isobel MacAulay connected with Mr. Smythe and mentioned that they were expanding the Inverary and when time and money allowed, they were hoping to have a chapel on the property for their visitors to enjoy.
“Someday, you’ll have your chapel” Mr. Smythe told her.
A short time later Mr. Smythe died back home in Toronto. One of his family members called the MacAulays and said Conn wanted to make a gift of a chapel to the Inverary. This generous gift allowed the chapel to be built and many weddings, christenings and gatherings have been and continue to be held there now and provides a place for our visitors to sit quietly and enjoy.
The Legend of The Scottish Thistle
The Scottish thistle is a resilient little weed has always bloomed across Scotland’s landscape, but it wasn’t until the 13th century that its place in the country’s symbolism and written history began.
One of the best-known thistle legends takes place in the mid-13th century during a surprise invasion by the soldiers of the Norse king, Haakon, at Largs (one of western Scotland’s coastal towns).
The story has it that after coming ashore, this Viking force planned to creep up on the Scottish Clansmen and Highlanders and overcome them while they slept. This amount of stealth required that they go barefoot – which proved to be their undoing.
Unfortunately for these unwary invaders, one of their soldiers bare feet came down hard on a Scottish thistle and his cries of shock and pain were enough to wake the sleeping Scots.
Leaping to their feet, the clansmen charged into battle and the rest, as they say, is history… and yes, the fiery Scots were victorious!
Legend has it that because of the heroic role the plant played in the outcome of the battle, the thistle was immediately chosen as a national emblem. Now, how much of this is truth no-one knows, but we do know that by the 15th century the Scottish thistle was being used as a national emblem.