Calum MacLeod (of Raasay)
Malcolm MacLeod (Scottish Gaelic: Calum MacLeòid), BEM (15 November 1911 - 26 January 1988) was a crofter who famously built Calum's Road on the Island of Raasay, Scotland. He was Local Assistant Keeper of Rona Lighthouse and the part-time postman for the north end of Raasay.
Calum was the son of Donald MacLeod of Arnish on Raasay and Julia Gilles of Fladda. He was born in Glasgow as his father was working in the merchant navy. With the outbreak of World War I, Calum and his mother moved to the croft and house adjacent to that of his grandfather, in northern Raasay. Calum had 2 brothers, Ronald and Charles, and 3 sisters, Bella Dolly (died in the 1919 Spanish flu pandemic), Katie and Bella.
Calum attended Torran school, with its single teacher, James Mackinnon (Seumas Ruadh). He married Alexandrina (Lexie) Macdonald (1911 - 2001).
After decades of unsuccessful campaigning by the inhabitants of the north end of Raasay for a road, and several failed grant applications, Calum decided to build the road himself. Purchasing Thomas Aitken's manual Road Making & Maintenance: A Practical Treatise for Engineers, Surveyors and Others (London, 1900), for half a crown, he started work, replacing the old narrow footpath. Over a period of about ten years (1964-1974), he constructed one and three quarter miles of road between Brochel Castle and Arnish, using little more than a shovel, a pick and a wheelbarrow. Initial blasting work was carried out and funded, to the sum of £1,900, by the Department of Agriculture's Engineering Department, who supplied a compressor, explosives, driller, blaster, and men.
Several years after its completion, the road was finally adopted and surfaced by the local council. By then, Calum and his wife, Lexie, were the last inhabitants of Arnish.
Calum was awarded the British Empire Medal "for maintaining supplies to the Rona light". The citation could not say for constructing a road which had been the subject of conflict with the authorities for twenty years.
Calum's Road has been commemorated in music by Capercaillie on their 1988 album The Blood is Strong and in a book by Roger Hutchinson. "Calum's Road" is about to become a major film, the rights to the book having been bought by HandMade Films and the film is being produced in partnership with UK Made Films. The Scottish writer Colin MacDonald is writing the screenplay.
A play Calum's Road was adapted by David Harrower from Roger Hutchinson's book. Produced by the National Theatre of Scotland and Communicado Theatre Company, directed by Gerry Mulgrew, it toured Scotland in Autumn 2011 and in the Summer of 2013. Calum's Road, a radio play written by Colin MacDonald and starring Ian McDiarmid, was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in October 2013. Gillian Reynolds, in the Daily Telegraph, described it as "a story to inspire".
As well as being a road-builder, MacLeod was a writer. A zealous and tireless correspondent with local authorities and newspapers, he was also a local historian of some distinction. Some, but by no means all, of his writings were published during his lifetime as articles in the Gaelic periodical Gairm, while others have been posthumously collected, translated, and edited by his daughter Julia MacLeod Allan as Fàsachadh An-Iochdmhor Ratharsair: The Cruel Clearance of Raasay (Clò Àrnais, 2007).
'An Gàidheal gaisgeil', Gairm, 111-12 (Summer/Autumn, 1980), 223-42; 113 (Winter, 1980-1), 65-78. [biographical anecdotes concerning Captain Donald McRae (1893-1963), Sydney Harbourmaster 1951-6]
'Màiri Mhòr nan Òran agus an ceannaiche', Gairm, 114 (Spring, 1981), 122-3.
'Tha mise ag iarraidh liùgh no bodach-ruadh anns am bi triubhas', Gairm, 115 (Summer, 1981), 219-20.
'Turas a’ bhotail uisge-bheatha', Gairm, 121 (Winter, 1982-3), 61-5.
'Bi aoigheil ri luchd-turais: Ach leugh seo!', Gairm, 122 (Spring, 1983), 174-8.
'An tuagh-cloiche', Gairm, 125 (Winter, 1983-4), 38-9.
'Dà sheann uidheam: An criathar agus an cliabh-gaoithe', Gairm, 126 (Spring, 1984), 132-3.
'A' chas-chrom', Gairm, 127 (Summer, 1984), 223-7.
'A’ chreathail Ghàidhealach', Gairm, 129 (Winter, 1984-5), 52-4.
'An caibe-làir', Gairm, 131 (Summer, 1985), 223-4.
'Turas Dhòmhnaill Bhàin air a’ Mhetagama', Gairm, 133 (Winter, 1985-6), 67-78.
'Turas Dhòmhnaill Bhàin gu Iodhlainn Alba (Scotland Yard)', Gairm, 127 (Winter, 1986-7), 57-63.
'Dòigh air leigheas at-amhaich', Gairm, 141 (Spring, 1988), 170.
(ed. Julia MacLeod Allan), Fàsachadh An-Iochdmhor Ratharsair: The Cruel Clearance of Raasay (Clò Àrnais, 2007).