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Canadian Giants

Angus McAskill (1825-1863)

Photograph of Angus McAskill beside a man of average height, Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, 1863

Angus McAskill, the Cape Breton Giant, Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, 1863

Canada's Cape Breton giant, Angus McAskill (or MacAskill), was born in Harris, Scotland in 1825. Measuring 7 feet 9 inches (2.36 m) tall, weighing 425 pounds (193 kg) and wearing 17.5-inch boots when full grown, Angus was born a normal baby and moved to St. Ann's, Nova Scotia with his family as a child. However, he kept growing, and so did his strength. It is said that he could carry a 60-foot (18 m) beam on his shoulder, throw a 300-pound (360 kg) man over a 10-foot (3 m) high woodpile and set a 40-foot (12 m) mast into a schooner. He was a big help on the family farm until bad times in 1847 and 1848 led Angus to accept an offer to travel Canada and the United States as a curiosity. A few years later he toured the West Indies and Cuba.

Angus returned to St. Ann's around 1854, bought some farms and a gristmill and settled down to a quiet life as a farmer and businessman. He died there in 1863. Angus's size was not due to any disease that causes people to grow bigger than usual; he was just naturally that way and perfectly proportioned. Today, one can visit the Giant Angus McAskill Museum in Englishtown on Cape Breton Island.

Photograph of the giant Angus McAskill and the dwarf Tom Thumb

Angus McAskill and the dwarf Tom Thumb

Photograph of a woman standing beside a life-size statue of Angus MacAskill, 1979

Life-size statue of Angus McAskill (MacAskill) in front of the Nova Scotia Museum at the Halifax Citadel, 1979


Bowers, Vivien. Only in Canada!: from the Colossal to the Kooky. Toronto: Owl Books, 2002.

The Canadian Encyclopedia. Edmonton: Hurtig Publishers, 1985, p. 1046.

"McAskill, Angus." Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online.
(accessed February 11, 2005).