ANGUS MACASKILL – The Cape Breton Giant

ANGUS MACASKILL - The Cape Breton Giant

In 1981 the Guinness Book of World Records recognized MacAskill as the largest true giant to have ever lived, the strongest man who ever lived and the man with the largest chest measurements of any non-obese man.

The distinction of his status as a ‘true’ giant hinges on the fact the Angus was purported to be free of any growth abnormalities.His stature was proportional in every way and his immense size and strength was due only to his natural genetic gifts.

MacAskill was born in 1825 on the Isle of Berneray in the Sound of Harris, Scotland. He moved to Nova Scotia at with his family as a child and eventually settled in the fishing community of Englishtown, Cape Breton Island somewhere between 1830 and 1835.

In adulthood, MacAskill stood 7 ft 10 in tall and weighed an astonishing 580 lbs. His shoulders measured an otherworldly 44 inches wide, the palm of his hand was nearly a foot wide and his shoes measured 19 inches in length. Despite these startling proportions, he was reportedly a handsome man with deep blue eyes and a deep voice described and ‘soothing’ and ‘musical. In his home community he was affectionately known as Big Boy or ‘Gille Mòr’ and to others he was known simply as the ‘Cape Breton Giant’.

During his lifetime, MacAskill was known for his incredible feats of strength.These displays began well before he entered into exhibition and mainly manifested from MacAskill showing off while doing daily menial chores. MacAskill was able to lift a 2800 lb ship’s anchor to chest height. Was known to carry barrels weighing over 300lbs under each arm, was able to singlehandedly set a 40-foot mast into a schooner deck and was also known to lift a full-grown horse hover a four-foot fence.

In 1849 MacAskill entered show business and went to work for P.T. Barnum’s circus, appearing next to General Tom Thumb. Queen Victoria heard stories about MacAskill’s great strength and invited him to appear before her to give a demonstration at Windsor Castle, after which she proclaimed him to be “the tallest, stoutest and strongest man to ever enter the palace”, and presented him with two gold rings in appreciation.

After a show business career demonstrating his size and strength in Europe and North America, MacAskill returned to his home community of Englishtown and purchased a gristmill and several other real estate holdings as well as a general store.

In the summer of 1863 MacAskill undertook a trip to the colonial capital at Halifax where he had been planning to sell produce and purchase stock for his store from the city’s wholesalers which he would need for the winter season. During the trip he suddenly became seriously ill and was returned to St. Ann’s where he died peacefully in his sleep on August 8, 1863.

To this day, many tall tales about MacAskill continue to circulate due to the fact that his gentle manner contrasted his appearance so dramatically that he endeared all who knew of him.

image: MacAskill and Tom Thumb


  • Reply April 24, 2009

    C.J. Phillips

    What about Mills Darden? He stood 7 foot 6 and weighed 1,020 pounds….which perhaps even at that height was onbeste.

  • Reply April 26, 2009

    J Tithonus Pednaud

    Unfortunately, Mills Darden was never officially measured or weighed.

  • […] blog featuring the stories behind truly unique individuals like Sandwina – The Woman of Steel, Angus Macaskill – The Cape Breton Giant, Eli Bowen – The Legless Acrobat, and Lord Minimus (a.k.a. Jeffery Hudson). Beyond the inherently […]

  • […] 3 May 2009 at 20:17 (Uncategorized) Angus MacAskill. […]

  • Reply May 3, 2009


    I just spent an inordinate amount of time reading your website. Congratulations on your excellent collection of curious data! Also–I love the highly stylish (and addictive) layout!

  • Reply May 8, 2009


    I am gobsmacked at the rich history Nova Scotia has, I just moved back to Nova Scotia two years ago and I am learning new thing everyday. I wonder if MacAskill’s descendents or relatives still live in and around the Cape. I know we have a restaurant in Halifax named MacAskill’s I wonder if it is honour of the gentle giant.

    • Reply October 21, 2012

      Zack Turner

      his relatives live in dallas, his great great great grandson andrew mccaskil lives in addison and i know him personally

      • Reply January 18, 2013

        Teresa McCaskill McDaniel

        I’m a decedent of his family. I from South Carolina.

      • Reply June 25, 2013

        John P

        You don’t know Angus’ great great grandson. Angus never married, and never had children. At best, you know a pretender.

  • Reply June 30, 2009

    Missie Bullard

    Angus Macaskill was a distand relative of mine. I think its fascinating to learn about him and his life.

    • Reply April 18, 2012


      My great-grandfather’s aunt was married to one of the giants nephews.

  • Reply October 16, 2009


    Cape Breton is the most amazing place on earth. I plan to move down from Toronto and open a nightclub there that features all the great musical performers of the area! Stay tuned..

  • Reply December 9, 2009

    Jill Power

    Angus Macaskill is also a distant relative of mine… perhaps Missie and I are related. He was a distant cousin. His mother and maternal great-great Grandmother were sisters… so 5th cousin??

  • Reply January 9, 2010


    im related to him

  • Reply February 8, 2010


    I’m related as well – my great, great uncle on my father’s, mother’s side. Does that make sense? Haha.

  • Reply March 2, 2010

    Shawn Coffen

    I’m also related, Coffen is my father’s adopted name. His father’s name is MacCaskill.

  • Reply April 2, 2010


    Hmmm im not sure i belive the 44 inch across the shoulders pretty big dude though

  • Reply July 27, 2010

    K Hiltz

    Guess im a cousin 8 times removed have ason whos six four 280lbs small by macskills standards

  • Reply August 11, 2010

    Nina Mitchell

    I am also a desendent & have been to the museum in Dunvegan a few times as it’s owned by my fathers 2nd cousin.Standing next to my Granda & his brother when we were kids was like standing next to giants as one was 6ft6in and the other 6ft8in but then when i was 20 I first visited the museum & realised they were so small in comparision.

  • Reply September 7, 2010

    R Kane

    Directly related through his sister – Annie McAskill was my grandmother. I only heard about him as a child, as well as Duncan – any time I got out-of-line, my grandmother would say that I had ” the Duncan” in me!

  • Reply November 30, 2010


    Dumb f’n luck,I cant believe i found this,WOW,i am looking up from my desk at a Nova Scotia from Scotland framed MacAskill choat-of-arms passed down from my grandmother,who’s parents where from Scotland,and Gealic was thier first language,moved to N.S.learned english and thier daughter moved to Lincoln MA.But this is a shocker,not much records or contacts kept,and we always find lots of unknown relatives from N.S. down threw Maine,NH.MA.ect.I wonder how direct this man was to my family? sorry ya’ll,this really wasnt what i thought i would run into this evening.

  • Reply May 31, 2011

    John Early

    William Wallace, d. 1305, was supposedly 6′ 7″ tall, hence a large-sized man. Must be nice to eat the right foods, along with the rest of the reasons for such growth. If we are to believe the Bible, which I personally do, there were ‘giants in the earth’. So far as I know, there is no verified archaeological evidence for this, but if we don’t blow ourselves off the planet first, this century might provide some excavated remains. I don’t expect to be here for that, but it is an intriguing prospect nevertheless.

    • Reply April 10, 2012

      J Tithonus Pednaud

      It’s very difficult to establish what is true and what is false about Wallace as his persona is practically legendary at this point.

  • Reply November 21, 2011


    somehow, i am related to angus macaskill

    • Reply April 10, 2012

      J Tithonus Pednaud

      I’ve notices a lot of his relatives have been visiting lately.

  • […] discoveries! No, as far as I know I’m not related to anyone famous (with the exception of one circus giant). But scandal, on my maternal grandfather’s branch of the tree, is […]

  • Reply March 9, 2012

    Dan Sveaver

    Wasn’t Robert Pershing Wadlow 8’11” ?

    • Reply March 9, 2012

      J Tithonus Pednaud

      Indeed he was, but he was a pituitary giant. Angus was considered the tallest ‘true genetic giant’. His enormous size was the result of genetics and not the result of illness or disease.

  • Reply June 4, 2012


    I am a relative as well. i think he was my Great Great Grandmothers cousin, Mary Katherine (Mac Askill) Dalzell. Some of us must be related

  • Reply July 23, 2012

    Melissa MacAskill

    Giant size, Giant heart, Giant life! We may not be as tall as Angus, but the kindness has been passed down through every generation!!

  • […] As for the tallest natural giant in history, Guinness World Records and people from the UK claim that right goes to a person named Angus MacAskill who was reported to stand 7′ 9″. It was claimed that he was the tallest, biggest, and strongest person who has ever lived. There are many stories about him and his feats of strength. I didn’t want to get into the details of his life but to note that many people from the UK have told tales of his great height and strength so it is possible his story and legend is slightly exagerated. To read more about him you can click on the resources HERE, HERE, HERE, or HERE. […]

  • Reply October 31, 2012

    Irene Dixon

    I knew a relative Maynard Clayton MacAskill use to be a Doctor in Neil’s Harbour C.B.

  • Reply December 6, 2012


    Everyone in earth is related you are never more than some1s 40th cousin so I to am distantly related to him and indeed all of you

  • Reply July 21, 2013

    Scott Gosse

    I’m heading over to Cape Breton and plan to stop at the McAskill Museum. I’ve been searching the internet for a song about the giant written by Stevedore Steve (aka Steve Foote). The song is called the Ballad of Giant McAskill. Do you have this song or know where I can download it?
    Thanks for your help.

  • Reply January 7, 2014

    james mac lean

    angus macaskill I have always been fascinated with giant Macaskill I am a true bluenoser having grown up in New Glasgow nova scotia

  • […] Read on via The Human Marvels – ANGUS MACASKILL The Cape Breton Giant. […]

  • Reply September 25, 2014

    timo laakso

    Shoe is was Good in Citadella

    • Reply September 25, 2014

      timo laakso

      Shoes was good

  • Reply November 3, 2014


    Now I’m not going to say I’m related because I’m not 100% sure, but according to my grandmother (We’re from Cape Breton btw) we have MacAskill in our blood. Still haven’t seen any form of proof though! *shrug*

  • Reply March 1, 2017

    Danny Owens

    I found the song macaskill on google…the website is …stevedore steve ..solid twenty..

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