Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Biography & Autobiography Religious

Highland Shepherd

James MacGregor, Father of the Scottish Enlightenment in Nova Scotia

by (author) Alan Wilson

University of Toronto Press
Initial publish date
Aug 2015
Religious, General, General, Great Britain, History, Presbyterian, General
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2015
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Jul 2015
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it


In 1786, the Reverend James MacGregor (1759–1830) was dispatched across the North Atlantic to establish a dissenting Presbyterian church in Pictou, Nova Scotia. The decision dismayed MacGregor, who had hoped for a post in the Scottish Highlands. Yet it led to a remarkable career in what was still the backwoods of colonial North America. Industrious and erudite, MacGregor established the progressive Pictou Academy, opposed slavery, and promoted scientific education, agriculture, and industry. Poet and translator, fluent in nine languages, he encouraged the preservation of the Gaelic language and promoted Scottish culture in Nova Scotia.

Highland Shepherd finally bestows on MacGregor the recognition that he so richly deserves. Alan Wilson brings MacGregor and his surroundings to life, detailing his numerous achievements and establishing his importance to the social, religious, and intellectual history of the Maritimes.

About the author

Born and raised in Nova Scotia, ALAN WILSON earned his Ph.D in Canadian history from the University of Toronto, and taught at Acadia and
Western Ontario, where he was co-Head of History. In 1965 he became
founding Chair of History and later of Canadian Studies at Trent. He
specializes in social and cultural history with special reference to the Maritimes and Newfoundland.

Alan Wilson's profile page

Editorial Reviews

‘Wilson has done a fine job of demonstrating MacGregor’s importance as a pioneer and organizer of Presbyterianism in Nova Scotia… The book excels at sketching the hard life of a frontier preacher.’

Canadian Historical Review vol 98:03:2017

‘Dr. Wilson is to be congratulated on a readable, informative, and fascinating treatment of a great and neglected Canadian original, giving James MacGregor his rightful place in the galaxy of Canadian pioneers.’

Haddington House Journal vol 19:2017

Other titles by Alan Wilson