The Cape Breton Giant
The legendary Angus McAskill was born in the Hebrides
in 1825. His father, a man of five-foot-nine height, took the family across the Atlantic
in 1828 and ended up in the Gaelic
-speaking highlander pioneer settlement of St Ann's of Cape Breton
, Nova Scotia
(literally, New Scotland
). By the age of 14, Angus was already a large teenager, clumsy but possessing incredible strength. At that age he cold clocked a bullying adult, rendering him airborne and unconscious for half an hour. Angus, a religious young man unaccustomed to his own strength, prayed that he had not killed the man. By the age of 16 he was capable of moving huge logs, unassisted. As an adult, McAskill reportedly* grew to seven feet, nine inches tall and weighed 425 pounds. His shoulders were 44 inches wide.
He was toured as a human marvel. He was presented before Queen Victoria
. His many feats of strength are legendary -- he once set a forty foot mast in a schooner
. While travelling by train in the United States, his train was boarded by would-be robbers. When Angus stood up to his full height, the bandits fled. However, his undoing was to lift a 2200 lb anchor in New York (or New Orleans, reports vary); he badly injured his shoulders. He returned to Cape Breton well monied from his travels, and set up a shop. He died in his sleep on August 8, 1863 at age 38. His doctor diagnosed the cause of death as "Brain Fever".
* - McAskill is a sort of mythologized historical figure in Eastern Canada. Most of what is known about McAskill is based on stories collected after his death. Many details are exaggerated or sketchy, including the anchor incident.