Sunday, October 02, 2005

Kincardine's Phantom Piper legend

Donald Sinclair thought his family was doomed. The year was 1856, eight years after the first settlers arrived at what is now Kincardine, Canada, and Sinclair and his family from Skye were hoping to join the swelling population of newcomers. But night was drawing in and their tiny ship was taking on water as it was tossed around on the choppy, treacherous waves of Lake Huron, one of the Great Lakes. There was little hope of the immigrant family finding their way to shore and Sinclair feared they could not survive the stormy, freezing night. In despair, he picked up his bagpipes to play one last traditional lament. Their cries for help had been lost in the howling wind - but the haunting sound of the pipes carried across the stormy waters. A Scotsman walking on the rocky shore heard Sinclair's plaintive lament wafting on the wind and ran to get his pipes to play a response; and, with the drones of his trusty pibroch acting like a sound beacon in the dark, the Sinclair family managed to sail safely to the shoreline. For the rest of his life, Sinclair was forever grateful to the energetic, skirling carrying-power of his bagpipes; and every dusk he ritually went down to the Lake Huron shore, regardless of the weather, and played his pipes as the sun set.


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