Canna: A Small Island with Boundless Heritage
The tiny Hebridean island of Canna holds an outsized place in many American hearts. Given to the National Trust for Scotland by historian John Lorne Campbell and his Pittsburgh-born wife, the folklorist Margaret Faye Shaw, in 1981, the island teems with thousands of years of human and natural history – from prehistoric archaeological sites, to a remarkable collection of Gaelic song and poetry, to tens of thousands of seabirds.
Canna casts a magical spell, bewitching those who have visited and captivating the imaginations of those who haven’t. At NTSUSA, we are proud to partner with the Trust to protect the island and its treasures and to promote the ongoing sustainability of the small crofting community that calls it home.
Caring for Canna
The Trust is embarking on an ambitious plan to improve access – both physical and virtual – to the natural, built, and cultural heritage of Canna and the globally-renowned Gaelic archive amassed by Campbell and Shaw. Work will begin this summer to update the mechanical and electrical systems in Canna House, ensuring the safety of the collection and enabling internet connectivity for researchers from around the world. At the same time, curators, educators, and garden historians will update Canna House’s landscape and interpretation will be updated.
The project will include essential improvements to the harbor infrastructure; hiring of a Ranger to live and work on the island, providing on-the-ground support for residents; and the repurposing of historic outbuildings for use as scholar accommodations.
And the Trust will address one of the island’s biggest threats: the potential development of a large-scale, open-pen fish farm in the Sound of Canna. The Trust opposes this development on environmental grounds, and we are prepared to join them to fight for the wildlife that call the island, and the waters around it, home.
Of course, all of this work is made exponentially more difficult by its island location. Access is limited by ferry schedule, availability of lodging, and weather. But by addressing these challenges now, we have the incredible opportunity to share all of the Canna’s magic with a wider audience than ever before.
Watch this space for more news in the coming months. In the meantime, if you are interested in learning more about how you can help protect the cultural and natural heritage of Canna, please contact Kirstin Bridier.