Born in Scotland, Angus MacAskill was normal size when his mother gave birth in 1825. His mother was 5 feet 7 inches and his father was 5 feet 9 inches. After living in Scotland for several years, his family settled in the small fishing village of Englishtown in Cape Breton.
Angus was normal height for most of his young life, but when he was a teenager he grew rapidly, reaching 7 feet 4 inches by the time he turned 20. He reached seven feet 10 inches by the age of 22.
In 1981, Guinness Book of World Records named Angus MacAskill as the largest true giant to ever have lived, the strongest man to ever have lived and the man with the largest chest measurements of any non-obese man.
He completed feats such as lifting a ship’s anchor that weighed 2,800 pounds all the way to his chest. He carried barrels weighing 350lbs under each arm and could also hold a 100 pound weight with two fingers.
When 14 years old on a trip to Sydney, Angus punched a man unconscious after being tormented at a dance. The man who was on the receiving end of the blow was thought to be dead in the middle of the dancefloor but survived.
Angus had come to Sydney by ship from Englishtown and was found on the boat after the dance on his knees, praying that the man he hit survived.
Queen Victoria invited Angus to visit Windsor Castle in England and demonstrate his strength. She proclaimed him to be “the tallest, stoutest and strongest man to ever enter the palace” and presented him with two gold rings.
During an 1863 trip to Halifax Angus took ill and returned quickly home to Cape Breton. His family moved him back to his parents home, lengthened and moved his childhood bed to the living room. Doctors diagnosed him with brain fever. About a week later, Angus died peacefully in his sleep on August 8, 1863. Much of the community was in attendance at the house.
The distinction of his true giant status hinges on the fact that Angus was in everyway true in proportion. His immense stature and strength was due to his genetics.
Today, you can visit the Giant MacAskill Museum in Englishtown and learn all about Nova Scotia’s friendly giant. The museum is home to Angus’ bedframe, clothes, chair and many more artifacts kept by his family.