“No paleolithic is he, but braw Canadian Scotch”: Cape Breton’s Giant MacAskill
Dr. Laurie Stanley-Blackwell, St. Francis Xavier University
The 150th anniversary of the Giant MacAskill’s death invites a reassessment of his career and the elaborate mythology which his physical prowess and size have generated. In the heyday of the freak show, the celebrated Cape Bretoner, attired in Highland costume, joined the exhibition circuit, entertaining audiences from Halifax to Havana in a combined performance of ethnicity and physical anomaly. Even in death, the Giant did not leave the world of the sideshow behind. In his transformation from monster to marvel to marketing device, he has proved a versatile muse for writers, cartoonists, entrepreneurs, politicians, and tourist policy makers who have exploited his potential as an heroic spectacle of superior size and brawn, and as an icon of Scottish physical strength.