New Brunswick History and Other Stuff

Table of Contents, Rev. August 20, 2014

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This blog will continue to grow, but following is a table of contents so far – from the top:

  1. The Customs of the Mi’kmaq in the 1600’s and Before – Aug. 20, 2014
  2. Two Documents Relating to the Fenians in New Brunswick – Aug. 13, 2014
  3. The Lazaretto for Lepers in Tracadie, 1862 – Aug. 6, 2014
  4. Thoughts About the Augustine Mound at Metepenegiag Mi’kmaq Nation – July 30, 2014
  5. What am I Bid for This Pauper? – July 23, 2014
  6. Trouble at Madawaska, 1831 – July 16, 2014
  7. The Great Fire at Saint John, June 20, 1877 – July 9, 2014
  8. The Poor Fellows Shook as if They Would Fall to Pieces! – July 2, 2014
  9. How to Build a Logging Camp in Around 1850 – June 25, 2014
  10. Risen from the Ashes, Phoenix Square in Fredericton – June 18, 2014
  11. Rocks and Water, Magnificence and Squalor; St. John in 1876 – June 11, 2014
  12. Moncton as Seen by a Journalist in 1876 – June 4, 2014
  13. Events Leading to the Caraquet Riots of 1875 – May 28, 2014
  14. A Dramatic Account of the Miramichi Fire – May 21, 2014
  15. Saint John in the Early 1840’s – May 18, 2014
  16. A Note to Subscribers, and a Memorandum for me – May 14, 2014
  17. The Myth that Kerosene was Invented in New Brunswick – May 7, 2014
  18. A Church with Military Boots and Fixed Bayonets – Apr. 30, 2014
  19. An Opening Salvo in an Ongoing Argument – Apr. 23, 2014
  20. May living worms his corpse devour – Apr. 16, 2014
  21. He don’t look any better than some of our own boys – Apr. 9, 2014
  22. The Disputed Territory Between New Brunswick and Maine – Apr. 2, 2014
  23. Navigation on the Saint John River – Mar. 26, 2014
  24. Shepody as a Hot Investment Opportunity, 1868 – Mar. 19, 2014
  25. To Her Majesty, RE: Reciprocity, 1853 – Mar. 12, 2014
  26. Diary on the Tobique, 1851 – Mar. 5, 2014
  27. Growing up in Fredericton in the 1820s and 1830s – Feb. 26, 2014
  28. Travels From Eastport, Maine, to Fredericton, 1851 – Feb. 19, 2014
  29. The Saint John General Public Hospital, 19th Century, Part 2 of 2 – Feb. 12, 2014
  30. The Saint John General Public Hospital, 19th Century, Part 1 of 2 – Feb. 5, 2014
  31. The Story of the Great Brothers – Jan. 29, 2014
  32. A Trek up the Tobique, and Onward to Bathurst – Jan. 22, 2014
  33. Summer Tourists. A Manual for New Brunswick Farmers – Jan. 19, 2014
  34. A Trek from Grand Falls to Campbellton, 1862 – Jan. 15, 2014
  35. A Trek From Taymouth to Boisetown, 1862 – Jan. 12, 2014
  36. Capt. William Owen’s Journal, Campobello, 1770-71 – Jan. 8, 2014
  37. The Founding of Campobello Island – Jan. 5, 2014
  38. New Brunswick Roads and Railways, 1855 – Jan. 1, 2014
  39. Grand Manan – Dec. 29, 2013
  40. The Shipyard Fire in Saint John, in 1841 – Dec. 26, 2013
  41. Christmas as it Was in Saint John, in 1808 – Dec. 22, 2013
  42. The Saint John Grammar School – Dec. 18, 2013
  43. William Wishart Blasts the New Brunswick Education System, 1845 – Dec. 15, 2013
  44. The Diary of Sarah Frost – Dec. 11, 2013
  45. Pŭlěs, Pŭlowěch′, and Beechkwěch (Pigeon, Partridge, and Nighthawk) – Dec. 10, 2014
  46. The Government of New Brunswick, 1837 – Dec. 4, 2013
  47. The Whales and the Robbers – Dec. 1, 2013
  48. The Ashburton Treaty – Nov. 27, 2013
  49. Glooscap and His Four Visitors – Nov. 24, 2013
  50. The Pioneers of Saint Stephen – Nov. 20, 2013
  51. The Adventures of Kâktoogwâsees; a Tale of Ancient Times – Nov. 17, 2013
  52. The Asylum at Saint John – Nov. 13, 2013
  53. The Liver-Colored Giants and Magicians – Nov. 10, 2013
  54. Smuggling Between Calais and St. Stephen – Nov. 6, 2013
  55. The Two Weasels – Nov. 3, 2013
  56. A note to subscribers – Oct. 30, 2013
  57. The European and North American Railway, 1862 – Oct. 30, 2013
  58. The Origin of the War Between the Mi’kmaq and the Kwěděches – Oct. 23, 2013
  59. Trouble on the Line: The Early Telegraph in New Brunswick – Oct. 16, 2013
  60. The Invisible Boy; Team′ and Oochigeaskw – Oct. 9, 2013
  61. Transportation to and from Fredericton, 1841 – Oct. 2, 2013
  62. The Boy That Was Transformed Into a Horse – Sept. 25, 2013
  63. McAdam: Notes From the Early Days – Sept. 18, 2013
  64. The Magical Food, Belt and Flute – Sept. 11, 2013
  65. European & North American Rly. Staff, 1861 – Sept. 4, 2013
  66. Glooscap and the Megumoowesoo: A Marriage Adventure – Aug. 28, 2013
  67. The Loss of the Royal Tar – Aug. 21, 2013
  68. Robbery and Murder Revenged, Plus a Grand Falls Story – Aug. 14, 2013
  69. The St. John River From Below Fredericton to the Reversing Falls – Aug. 7, 2013
  70. A Proposal for a Wooden Railway – July 31, 2013
  71. ‘On the Early History of New Brunswick’ – July 24, 2013
  72. The Maugerville Settlement, 1763-1824 – July 17, 2013
  73. 1930 Circus Train Wreck Near Moncton, N.B. – July 10, 2013
  74. Horses or Oxen? Pick one – July 3, 2013
  75. The St. John River; Andover to Fredericton – June 26, 2013
  76. Origins of Some Place Names on N.B.’s Eastern Shore – June 19, 2013
  77. The St. John River; Grand Falls to the Tobique – June 12, 2013
  78. Gabriel Acquin – June 5, 2013
  79. The Seigniories of New Brunsiwck – May 29, 2013
  80. An 1841 Trek up the Oromocto River – May 22, 2013
  81. Fredericton’s Exhibition Palace, and Bears in N.B. – May 15, 2013
  82. Murder on Diamond Square Road – May 8, 2013
  83. Acadian Historic Sites in New Brunswick – May 1, 2013
  84. John C. Tracy’s Book, Part 5 of 5 – Apr. 24, 2013
  85. John C. Tracy’s Book, Part 4 of 5 – Apr. 17, 2013
  86. John C. Tracy’s Book, Part 3 of 5 – Apr. 10, 2013
  87. John C. Tracy’s Book, Part 2 of 5 – Apr. 3, 2013
  88. John C. Tracy’s Book, Part 1 of 5 – Mar. 27, 2013
  89. A Retrospective Look at Saint John – Mar. 20, 2013
  90. The Wreck of the England – Mar. 13, 2013
  91. The First Decade of the 1800’s in St. John, N.B. – Mar. 6, 2013
  92. St. John’s Poorhouse and Workhouse – Feb. 27, 2013
  93. New Brunswick Scenes From an Old Book – Feb. 20, 2013
  94. Nice Pictures From Another Old Book – Feb. 13, 2013
  95. Life in the Backwoods of New Brunswick, Part 2/2 – Feb. 6, 2013
  96. Life in the Backwoods of New Brunswick, 1845 – Jan. 30, 2013
  97. The Works of W.O. Raymond – Jan. 23, 2013
  98. The Year of the Fever – Jan. 16, 2013
  99. Hanged for the Theft of 25 Cents – Jan. 9, 2013
  100. Reversing Falls – Pictures – Jan. 2, 2013
  101. Christmas as it was in 1808 – Dec. 25, 2012
  102. Nice Pictures From an Old Book – Dec. 19, 2012
  103. The Saint John Bridge Collapse of 1837 – Dec. 12, 2012
  104. The First Road Bridge Across the Reversing Falls – Dec. 5, 2012
  105. The Mystery of the First Lizzie Morrow – Nov. 28, 2012
  106. The First Murder Trial on the River St. John – Nov. 21, 2012
  107. The March of the 104th Regiment in 1812 – Nov. 14, 2012
  108. Partridge Island – Nov. 7, 2012
  109. Fredericton’s First Bridge Across the Saint John River – Oct. 31, 2012
  110. 1816, The Year Without a Summer – Oct. 31, 2012
  111. Winslow to Wentworth, 1781 – Oct. 31, 2012
  112. Oops! An explanation – Oct. 31, 2012
  113. The Saxby Gale of 1869 – Oct. 31, 2012
  114. New Brunswick’s Third Town in 1838: Saint Andrews – Oct. 31, 2012
  115. Fredericton and York County in 1838 – Oct. 31, 2012
  116. The City and County of Saint John in 1838 – Sept. 26, 2012
  117. The St. Andrews and Quebec Railroad – Sept. 19, 2012
  118. The Studholm Report of Saint John River Pre-Loyalists in 1783 – Sept. 12, 2012
  119. Caleb Jones. Further RE: Ann, otherwise known as Nancy – Sept. 5, 2012
  120. The Wreck of the Martha – Aug. 29, 2012
  121. The Early Settlement of Maugerville and the Sheffield Parsonage Dispute – Aug. 22, 2012
  122. Lieutenant Governors of New Brunswick to Confederation, Part 2 of 2 – Aug. 15, 2012
  123. Lieutenant Governors of New Brunswick to Confederation, Part 1 of 2 – Aug. 8, 2012
  124. The Morrow House at French Lake, N.B. – New Information – Aug. 1, 2012
  125. Sound by Glen Glenn, Revision 1 – July 25, 2012
  126. Ann, otherwise known as Nancy – July 18, 2012
  127. The Fire of October 7, 1825 – Beyond the Miramichi – July 11, 2012
  128. Lemuel Allan Wilmot – July 4, 2012
  129. The Great Fire at Miramichi, October 7, 1825 – June 27, 2012
  130. Robert Rankin in New Brunswick – June 20, 2012
  131. Who Owned the Mill at Tracy, New Brunswick? – June 13, 2012
  132. Signatures of Sunbury County Ancestors – June 6, 2012
  133. Daniel Wood’s Log Cabin, and Little Field Barn at French Lake, New Brunswick – May 30, 2012
  134. Rusagonis and George Garraty – May 23, 2012
  135. Epitaph Transcriptions from a Collection – May 16, 2012
  136. Central New Brunswick Gravestones from a Genealogy – May 9, 2012
  137. Nashwaak River Pictures with Stewart Family Connections – May 2, 2012
  138. More Sunbury County Photographs from a Collection – Apr. 25, 2012
  139. An Indian Burial Ground at Oromocto; and Coal Mining on the Oromocto River – Apr. 22, 2012
  140. “Days of Old” by Katherine DeWitt and Norma Alexander – Apr. 18, 2012
  141. The Wood Cemetery at French Lake, New Brunswick – Apr. 11, 2012
  142. James Glenie in New Brunswick – Apr. 4, 2012
  143. Four Generations of the Stewart Family on the Nashwaak River – Mar. 28, 2012
  144. Three Generations of the Mersereau Family in New Brunswick – Mar. 21, 2012
  145. Three Generations of the Smith Family of Sunbury County, New Brunswick – Mar. 14, 2012
  146. Three Generations of the Wood Family of French Lake, New Brunswick – Mar. 7, 2012
  147. New Brunswick Education in 1883 – Feb. 29, 2012
  148. Riots and Demonstrations in Saint John – Feb. 20, 2012
  149. Making Better Butter – Feb. 18, 2012
  150. York County Place Names, 1896/1905 – Feb. 8, 2012
  151. Sunbury County Place Names, 1896/1905 – Feb. 1, 2012
  152. Stereoscopic slides from Fred Stewart, Part 3 of 3 – Jan. 25, 2012
  153. Stereoscopic slides from Fred Stewart, Part 2 of 3 – Jan. 18, 2012
  154. Stereoscopic slides from Fred Stewart, Part 1 of 3 – Jan. 11, 2012
  155. The Hon. Thomas Baillie: Gone, but not soon forgotten! – Jan. 5, 2012
  156. The Fort at Oromocto, 1780 – 1783 – Dec. 29, 2011
  157. The Great Fire in Fredericton, 1850 – Early Accounts – Dec. 15, 2011
  158. The Morrow House at French Lake, and More – Dec. 8, 2011
  159. The Old Woman House at French Lake, New Brunswick – Dec. 1, 2011
  160. Smith Family Photographs from a Collection, Sunbury County, N.B. – Nov. 25, 2011
  161. French Lake from Before we Remember – Nov. 20, 2011
  162. How Geary became known as Geary – Nov. 9, 2011
  163. Elizabeth (Smith) Secord; N.B.’s First Woman Registered Doctor – Nov. 4, 2011
  164. Phillips Family Photographs from a Collection, Rusagonis, N.B. – Nov. 2, 2011
  165. Mersereau Family Photographs from a Collection, Sunbury County, N.B. – Oct. 30, 2011
  166. Wood Family Photographs from a Collection, French Lake, N.B. – Oct. 25, 2011
  167. Jeremiah Tracy: Pioneer of the Village of Tracy, New Brunswick – Oct. 20, 2011
  168. Two Old Railroad-Inspired Songs – Oct. 16, 2011
  169. Ode to the Oromocto River – Oct. 10, 2011
  170. John Mersereau, Loyalist 2 – Oct. 4, 2011
  171. The Earliest American Railroads and Locomotives – Sept. 14, 2011
  172. The Mersereau Manufacturing Company of Brooklyn, New York, Notes – Sept. 3, 2011
  173. George Morrow of French Lake, New Brunswick – 1801-1868 – Aug. 26, 2011
  174. The Wood Family of French Lake, New Brunswick – Legends – Aug. 9, 2011
  175. The Baptist Church on the Oromocto River in New Brunswick – Aug. 7, 2011
  176. John Wood of French Lake, New Brunswick – 1788-1868 – Aug. 2, 2011
  177. Daniel Wood of French Lake, New Brunswick – 1764-1847 – Aug. 1, 2011
  178. Three Stewarts on the Nashwaak – July 24, 2011
  179. Bunker Genealogy – Five Bunkers – July 20, 2011
  180. Statistics From the 1851 and 1871 Sunbury County New Brunswick Census Reports – July 19, 2011
  181. Historical Development of the Beam Bending Equation M=fS – July 18, 2011
  182. Seth Noble, Maugerville and the American Revolution – July 16, 2011
  183. Columns, the Long and the Short of it – 1729-1900 – July 15, 2011
  184. The Great Saint John Steel Cantilever Bridge – July 13, 2011
  185. The Upper Oromocto River in 1847 – July 11, 2011
  186. Early Glimpses of the Rusagonis Baptist Church in New Brunswick – July 11, 2011
  187. Abraham Gesner’s 1847 Observations of Sport Hunting in New Brunswick – July 11, 2011
  188. It Sounds a bit Too Easy – July 10, 2011
  189. James Buncker – July 10, 2011
  190. Inconsistent Petitions; Changed Self-Interests – July 10, 2011
  191. Abner Mersereau and a Letter – July 9, 2011
  192. Early Glimpses of the Patterson Settlement Baptist Church in New Brunswick – July 9, 2011
  193. The Textile Mill at Geary, New Brunswick – July 8, 2011
  194. Letter of Mi’kmaq’ Chief Pemmeenauweet to Queen Victoria – 1841 – July 7, 2011
  195. New Brunswick in the 1840s – July 7, 2011


John Wood

Written by johnwood1946

August 20, 2014 at 9:45 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

The Customs of the Mi’kmaq People in the 1600’s, and Before

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From the blog at

The Customs of the Mi’kmaq People in the 1600’s, and Before

William F. Ganong was a reliable judge of such things, and he said that the following paragraphs were of high value to anyone wanting to know about the customs of the Mi’kmaq, Wolastoqiyik, and other Algonquin peoples.

This is a chapter from the book Description geogrphique et historique des costes de l’Amérique septentrionale: avec l’histoire du pais, written in the 1600’s by Nicolas Denys, Governor of Acadia. This English translation if from William F. Ganong’s version of the same, The Description and Natural History of the Coasts of North America (Acadia), Toronto, 1908.

Mikmaq Group

Mi’kmaq Group at Dorchester, N.B., ca 1904

Postcard, New Brunswick Museum

Following is Denys’ work, as translated and edited by Ganong. End Note Number 1 is sufficient as a general introduction.


Concerning the ways of the Indians, their polity and customs, their mode of life, their disposition, and that of their children; of their marriages; their method of building, of dressing, of speech-making, with other particulars.1

 It remains for me now to set forth the ways of the Indians, their characteristics, their mode of life, their marriages, their burials, their work, their dances, their hunting, and how they governed themselves in former times, as I have been able to learn it from them, and the way in which they did things thirty-seven to thirty-eight years ago when I was first in that country. They had as yet changed their customs little, but they were already making use of kettles, axes, knives, and of iron for their arrow-heads. There were still but few of them who had firearms.

They still lived long lives. I have seen Indians of a hundred and twenty to a hundred and forty years of age who still went to hunt the Moose; the oldest, who neared a hundred and sixty years, according to their account, no longer went. [These exaggerations were likely given to Denys by the Indians themselves.] They count by moons.

Before speaking of the way they live at present, it is necessary to look into the past. Their subsistence was of fish and meat roasted and boiled. To roast the meat they cut it into fillets, split a stick, placed it therein, and then stuck up the stick in front of the fire, each person having his own. When it was cooked on one side, and in proportion as it cooked, they ate it. Biting into it, they cut off the piece with a bone, which they sharpened on rocks to make it cut. This served them in place of knives of iron and steel, the use of which we have since introduced among them.

Having eaten all of it that was cooked, they replaced the meat in front of the fire, took another stick and went through the same process. When they had eaten all the meat from a stick, they always replaced it with more, keeping this up all the day.

They had another method of roasting, with a cord of bark from trees, attached to a pole which extended across the top of their wigwam, or from one tree to another, or upon two forked sticks stuck in the earth. The meat was attached to the lower end of the cord, through which was thrust a stick with which it was twisted several turns. After it was let go, by this means the meat turned a long time first one side then the other to the fire. When it turned no longer, the cord was again twisted by means of the stick through its middle, and again allowed to go.2 The surface of the meat being cooked, they would bite the outside, and cut off the piece close to the mouth, continuing thus until the whole was eaten. They also roasted it upon coals.

As for fish, they roasted it on split sticks which served as a grill, or frequently upon coals, but it had to be wholly cooked before it was eaten. All the children do their cooking like the others, with split sticks and upon the coals.

All these kinds of roasts were only an entree to arouse the appetite; in another place was the kettle, which was boiling. This kettle was of wood, made like a huge feeding-trough or stone watering-trough. To make it they took the butt of a huge tree which had fallen; they did not cut it down, not having tools fitted for that, nor had they the means to transport it; they had them ready-made in nearly all the places to which they went.

For making them, they employed stone axes, well sharpened, and set into the end of a forked stick [where they were] well tied. With these axes they cut a little into the top of the wood at the length they wished the kettle. This done they placed fire on top and made the tree burn. When burnt about four inches in depth they removed the fire, and then with stones and huge pointed bones, as large as the thumb, they hollowed it out the best they could, removing all the burnt part. Then they replaced the fire, and when it was again burnt they removed it all from the interior and commenced again to separate the burnt part, continuing this until their kettle was big enough for their fancy, and that was oftener too big than too little.

The kettle being finished, it had to be used. To this end they filled it with water, and placed therein that which they wished to have cooked. To make it boil, they had big stones which they placed in the fire to become red hot. When they were red, they took hold of them with pieces of wood and placed them in the kettle, they made the water boil. Whilst these were in the kettle, others were heating. Then they removed those which were in the kettle, replacing them there by others. This was continued until the meat was cooked.

They had always a supply of soup, which was their greatest drink; they drank little raw water formerly, as indeed they do at present.3 Their greatest task was to feed well and to go a hunting. They did not lack animals, which they killed only in proportion as they had need of them. They often ate fish, especially Seals to obtain the oil, [which they used] as much for greasing themselves as for drinking; and [they ate] the Whale which frequently came ashore on the coast, and on the blubber of which they made good cheer. Their greatest liking is for grease; they eat it as one does bread, and drink it liquid.

There was formerly a much larger number of Indians than at present. They lived without care, and never ate either salt or spice. They drank only good soup, very fat. It was this which made them live long and multiply much. They would have multiplied still more were it not that the women, as soon as they are delivered, wash the infant, no matter how cold it may be.4 Then they swaddle them in the skins of Marten or Beaver upon a board, to which they bind them. If it is a boy, they pass his penis through a hole, from which issues the urine; if a girl, they place a little gutter of bark between the legs, which carries the urine outside. Under their backsides they place dry rotten wood reduced to powder, to receive the other excrements, so that they only un-swathe them each twenty-four hours. But since they leave in the air during freezing weather the most sensitive part of the body, this part freezes, which causes much mortality among them, principally among the boys, who are more exposed to the air in that part than the girls. To this board there is attached at the top, by the two corners, a strap, so arranged that when it is placed on the forehead the board hangs behind the shoulders; thus the mother has not her arms encumbered and is not prevented either from working or going to the woods, whilst the child cannot be hurt by the branches along the paths. They have three or four wives, and sometimes more. If one of them turns out to be sterile they can divorce her if they see fit, and take another. Thus they are able to have plenty of children. But if a woman becomes pregnant whilst she is still suckling a child, she produces an abortion.5 A thing which is also ruinous to them is that they have a certain drug which they use for this purpose, and which they keep secret among themselves. The reason why they produce the abortion is, they say, because they cannot nourish two children at the same time, forasmuch as it is necessary that the child shall cease suckling of itself, and it sucks for two or three years. It is not that they do not give them to eat of that which they have, for in chewing a piece of anything they place it in their mouths and the infant swallows it.

Their children are not obstinate, since they give them everything they ask for, without ever letting them cry for that which they want. The greatest persons give way to the little ones. The father and the mother draw the morsel from the mouth if the child asks for it. They love their children greatly.6 They are never afraid of having too many, for they are their wealth. The boys aid the father, going on the hunt, and help in the support of the family. The girls work, aiding the mother; they go for the wood, for the water, and to find the animal in the woods. After the latter is killed they carry it to the wigwam. There is always some old woman with the girls to conduct them and show them the way, for often these animals which it is necessary to go and find are killed at five or six leagues from the wigwam, and there are no beaten roads.

The man will tell only the distance of the road, the woods that must be passed, the mountains, rivers, brooks, and meadows, if there are any on the route, and will specify the spot where the animal will be, and where he will have broken off three or four branches of trees to mark the place. This is enough to enable them to find it, to such a degree that they never fail, and they bring it back.7 Sometimes they camp where the animal is. They make broiled steaks and return next day.

After they have lived for some time in one place, which they have beaten [for game] all around their camp, they go and camp fifteen or twenty leagues [perhaps 40 or 60 miles] away. Then the women and girls must carry the wigwam, their dishes, their bags, their skins, their robes, and everything they can take, for the men and the boys carry nothing, a practice they follow still at the present time.

Having arrived at the place where they wish to remain, the women must build the camp. Each one does that which is her duty. One goes to find poles in the woods; another goes to break off branches of Fir, which the little girls carry. The woman who is mistress, that is, she who has borne the first boy, takes command, and does not go to the woods for anything. Everything is brought to her. She fits the poles to make the wigwam, and arranges the Fir to make the place on which each one disposes himself. This is their carpet and the feathers of their bed. If the family is a large one they make it [the wigwam] long enough for two fires; otherwise they make it round, just like military tents, with only this difference that in place of canvas they are of barks of Birch. These are so well fitted that it never rains into their wigwams. The round kind holds ten to twelve persons, the long twice as many. The fires are made in the middle of the round kind, and at the two ends of the long sort.

To obtain these barks, they select all the biggest Birches they are able to find, and these are the thickness of a hogshead. They cut the bark all around the tree as high up as they can with their stone axes; then they cut it low down, also all around; after that they split it from above downwards, and with their knives of bone they separate it all around the tree, which ought to be in sap to loosen readily. When they have enough of it, they sew it edge to edge, four pieces together or five together. Their thread is made from root of Fir8 which they split in three, the same as the Osier with which the hoops of barrels are tied. They make it as fine as they wish.

Their needles are of bone, and they make them pointed as awls by dint of sharpening them. They pierce the barks, and pass this root from hole to hole for the breadth of the barks. This being finished they roll them as tightly as they can that they may be the easier to carry. When they strip them off the wigwam to carry them to another place, since they are dried from the fire which had been made there, they heat them again to make them more supple. In proportion as they heat, they are rolled up; otherwise they would break through being to dry.

At the present time they still do it in the same way, but they have good axes, knives more convenient for their work, and kettles easy to carry. This is a great convenience for them, as they are not obliged to go to the places where were their kettles of wood, of which one never sees any at present, as they have entirely abandoned the use of them.

As to their marriage, in old times a boy who wished to have a girl was obliged to serve the father several years according to an agreement.9 His duty was to go a hunting, to show that he was a good hunter capable of supporting well his wife and family. He had to make bows, arrows, the frame of snowshoes, even a canoe—that is to say, to do the work of men. Everything that he did during his time went to the father of the girl, but nevertheless he had use of it himself in case of need.

His mistress corded the snowshoes, made his clothes, his moccasins and his stockings, as evidence that she was clever in work. The father, the mother, the daughter, and the suitor all slept in the same wigwam, the daughter near her mother, and the suitor on the other side, always with the fire between them. The other women and the children also slept there. There never occurred the least disorder. The girls were very modest at that time, always clothed with a well-dressed Moose skin which descended below the knees. They made their stockings and their shoes from the same kind of skin for the summer. In winter they made robes of Beaver. The modesty of the girls was such in those old times that they would often hold their water twenty-four hours rather than let themselves be seen in this action by a boy.10

The term being expired, it was time to speak of the marriage. The relatives of the boy came to visit those of the girl, and asked them if it were pleasing to them. If the father of the girl was favourable to it, it was then necessary to learn from the two parties concerned if they were content therewith; and if one of the two did not wish the marriage, nothing further was done. They were never compelled. But if all were in agreement, a day was chosen for making a banquet; in the meantime the boy went a hunting, and did his very best to treat the entire assembly as well to roast as to boiled meat, and to have especially an abundance of soup, good and fat.

The day having arrived, all the relatives and guests assembled, and everything being ready the men and older boys all entered the wigwam, the old men at the upper end near the father and mother. The upper end is the left in entering the wigwam, and a circuit is made passing to the right. No other woman entered save the mother of the boy. Each one having taken his place, all seated themselves upon their buttocks …, for that is their posture. The bridegroom brought in the meat in a huge bark dish, divided it, and placed it on as many plates as there were persons, as much as they could hold. There was in each plate enough meat for a dozen persons. He gave each one his plate, and they devoted themselves to eating. The bridegroom was there also with a great dish of soup, which he gave to the first one that he might drink his fill. He, having sufficiently quenched his thirst, passed the dish to his neighbour, who did the same. When it was empty it was filled again. Then having drunk and feasted well, they took a [comfortable] posture. The oldest of them made a speech in praise of the bridegroom, and gave an account of his genealogy, in which he was always found descended from some great chief ten or twelve generations back. He exaggerated everything good that they had done, as well in war as in hunting, the spirit they showed, the good counsel they had given, and everything of consequence they had done in their lives. He commenced with the most ancient, and, descending from generation to generation, he came to a conclusion with the father of the bridegroom. Then he exhorted the bridegroom not to degenerate from the worth of his ancestors.11 Having finished his speech, all the company made two or three cries, saying hau, hau, hau. After this the bridegroom thanked them, promising as much as, and more than, his ancestors; then the assembly gave again the same cry. Then the bridegroom set about dancing; he chanted war songs which he composed on the spot and which exalted his courage and his worth, the number of animals he had killed, and everything that he aspired to do. In dancing he took in his hands a bow, arrows, and a great shaft in which is set a bone of a Moose, sharply pointed, with which they kill animals in winter when there is a great depth of snow. This sort of thing [they did] one after another, each having his song, during which he would work himself into a fury, and seemed as if he wished to kill everybody. Having finished, the entire assembly recommenced their hau, hau, hau,12 which signifies joy and contentment.

After this they commenced again to eat and drink until they were full. Then they called their wives and children who were not far off; these came and each one gave them his plate from which they proceeded to eat in their turn. If there were any women or girls who had their monthlies, she had to retire apart, and the others brought to each one her portion. In those [old] times they never ate except alone by themselves; they did no work, and did not dare touch anything, especially anything to be eaten. It was necessary they should be always in retirement.13

They have thus developed into a custom the recital of their genealogies, both in the speeches they make at marriages, and also at funerals. This is in order to keep alive the memory, and to preserve by tradition from father to son, the history of their ancestors, and the example of their fine actions and of their greatest qualities, something which would otherwise be lost to them, and would deprive them of a knowledge of their relationships, which they preserve by this means; and it serves to transmit their [family] alliances to posterity. On these matters they are very inquisitive, especially those descended from the ancient chiefs; this they sometimes claim for more than twenty generations, something which makes them more honoured by all the others.

They observe certain degrees of relationship among them which prevents their marrying together. This is never done by brother to sister, by nephew to niece, or cousin to cousin, that is to say, so far as the second degree, for beyond that they can do it. If a young married woman has no children by her husband at the end of two or three years, he can divorce her, and turn her out to take another. He is not held to service as in the case of the first; he simply makes presents of robes, skins, or wampum. I shall tell in its proper place what this wampum is. He is obliged to make a feast for the father of the girl, but not so impressive a one as on the first occasion. If she becomes pregnant he gives a great feast to his relatives; otherwise he drives her out like the first, and marries another. This wife being pregnant, he sees her no more. As to these matters, they take as many women as they please provided that they are good hunters, and not lazy. Otherwise the girls will not accept them. One sees Indians who have two or three wives pregnant at the same time; it is their greatest joy to have a large number of children.

For all these festivities of weddings and feasts they adorn themselves with their most beautiful clothes. In summer the men have robes of Moose skin, well dressed, white, ornamented with embroidery two fingers’ breadth wide from top to bottom, both close and open work. Others have three rows at the bottom, some lengthwise, and others across, others in broken chevrons, or studded with figures of animals, according to the fancy of the workman.

They work all these fashions in colours of red, violet, and blue, applied on the skin with some isinglass. They had bones fashioned in different ways which they passed quite hot over the colours, in a manner somewhat like that in which one gilds the covers of books. When these colours are once applied, they do not come off with water.

To dress their skins, these are soaked and stretched in the sun, and are well-heated on the skin side for pulling out the hair. Then they stretch them and pull out the hair with bone instruments made on purpose, somewhat as do those who prepare a skin for conversion into parchment. Then they rub it with bird’s liver and a little oil. Next, having rubbed it well between the hands, they dress it over a piece of polished wood made shelving on both sides just as is done to dress the skins for making gloves upon an iron. They rub it until it becomes supple and manageable. Then they wash it and twist it with sticks many times, until it leaves the water clean. Then they spread it to dry.

For the skins dressed with the hair, these are only treated with the livers, with which they are well rubbed by hand; they are passed repeatedly over the sticks to dress them well. If they are not then soft enough, more of the livers is added and they are once more rubbed until they are pliable; then they are dried. All of those robes, whether for men or for women, are made like a blanket. The men wear them upon their shoulders, tying the two ends with strings of leather under the chin, while all the remainder is not closed up. They show the whole body with the exception of their privy parts, which are hidden by means of a very supple and very thin skin. This passes between their legs and is attached at the two ends to a girdle of leather which they have around them; and it is called a truss [brayer].14

The women wear this robe in Bohemian fashion. The opening is on one side. They attach it with cords in two places, some distance apart, in such a way that the head can pass through the middle and the arms on the two sides.15 Then they double the two ends one above the other, and over it they place a girdle which they tie very tightly, in such manner that it cannot fall off. In this way they are entirely covered. They have sleeves of skin which are attached together behind. They have also leggings of skin, like stirrup stockings, without feet; the men wear these likewise.

They also make moccasins of their old robes of Moose skin, which are greasy and better than new. Their moccasins are rounded in front, and the sewing redoubles on the end of the foot, and is puckered as finely as a chemise. It is done very neatly; the girls make them for themselves embellished with colours, the seams being ornamented with quills of Porcupine, which they dye red and violet.

They have some very beautiful colours, especially their flame-colour, which surpasses all that we see in this country of this nature. It is made from a little root as thick as a thread.16 As for the leaf, they are not willing to show it, something which is unusual with them. Such were approximately their summer clothes. During the winter their robes are of Beaver, of Otter, of Marten, of Lynx, or of Squirrel, always martachées17 that is to say, painted.

Even their faces, when they go to ceremonies with their fine clothes, are painted in red or violet; or else they make long and short rays of colour, according to fancy, on the nose, over the eyes, and along the cheeks, and they grease the hair with oil to make it shine. Those who are finest among them look like a masquerade. Such are their fineries on their days of holiday-making.

End Notes:

These are selected notes from Ganong, edited for this blog:

  1. Our author is, of course, describing the Mi’kmaq tribe of Indians which occupied all of Nova Scotia, and the entire extent of his government from Canso to Gaspe. As he was intimately acquainted with them through his long experience as fur-trader and fisherman, this part of his book has a high value, and we would there were more of it. Most of his statements are in agreement with one or the other of the several works we are so fortunate as to possess about these Indians. Of these the following are of particular value. The references in Champlain’s writings are all too brief, and confined to some account of their hunting and burial customs. But Lescarbot (in his Histoire de la Nouvelle France, Paris edition, 1612, cited) gives a systematic though condensed account of them, all the more valuable in that it is made from observation before the Indians had any extensive permanent contact with the whites. Nearly contemporary are the valuable observations of Father Biard, fully given in the Jesuit Relations for 1611-1614 (Thwaites’ edition, II, III). Most extensive of all, however, though later than Denys, is Le Clercq’s Nouvelle Relation de la Gaspesie (Paris, 1691), a work almost entirely devoted to these Indians, whom he calls Gaspesiens. His book is not only an invaluable repository of fact about them, but it has a literary merit and a pleasant humour unfortunately absent from Denys’ book. There appears to be a certain connection between the works of Le Clercq and Denys, for the former describes many matters in a way strongly recalling the latter; and I believe that Le Clercq in writing his book used that of Denys, but more as a source of suggestion than of information. He gives many matters in far greater detail than Denys, and includes many topics which Denys omits altogether. In fact Lescarbot’s and Le Clercq’s works are attempts at orderly complete treatments of the Indians, while Denys, though perhaps aiming at completeness, shows his lack of scholarly training in his important omissions and defective proportioning of subjects. But he makes some amends for this in his more minute account of many interesting matters connected with their daily life, in which feature his work surpasses that of any other writer. There is also some matter of value in St. Valier’s Estat present de l’Egltse (Paris, 1688; Quebec edition of 1856 cited), and in Dieréville’s Relation du Voyage du Port Royal de l’Acadle (Amsterdam, 1710)—the latter an independent book based upon personal observations made about 1700. Another systematic work, which must, however, be used with some caution, is an Account of the Customs and Manners of the Micmacs and Marlcheets, Savage Nations, by a French Abbot [Maillard], (London, 1758). Of modern accounts, based upon traditions, &c, the best is Silas Rand’s Lectures, delivered in Halifax in 1849, published 1850. Other works of lesser worth are mentioned by Bourinot in Trans. Royal Soc. of Canada, IX, 1891, ii, 328. Of course there are many other accounts of these subjects both by early and by recent writers, but in all cases, I believe, they include no original information. The Mi’kmaq in their customs were very like the Maliseets and other Algonkian tribes to the south-west, so that works treating of those tribes have a value also for our present subject. Among these the most valuable are references in the Memoirs of Odd Adventures, by John Gyles (Boston, 1736; reprinted Cincinnati, 1869), and the Journal of Captain William Pote, Jr. (printed New York, 1896), while the modern writings of Montague Chamberlain in the magazine Acadiensis give material from personal knowledge and tradition.
  2. Our author’s account of cooking methods is much the most detailed we possess.
  3. Le Clercq, on the contrary, says they drank water with pleasure in the summer.
  4. A custom mentioned also by Le Clercq, who gives a great deal more information about the treatment of the young children. The method of carrying the children here described was well-nigh universal among the Indian tribes, and is described by most early writers.
  5. Mentioned by most of the other writers on these Indians. Also the high value placed on fecundity, or upon having many children, is mentioned by all writers on these Indians.
  6. Their love for their children is noted by several other authors.
  7. That it was the duty of the women to go and fetch home the game killed by the men is stated by others. We may doubt, however, whether the women could find the game from such scanty directions.
  8. The black spruce, used by the Indians for such purposes to this day (Ganong’s, day, 1908).
  9. This term of service was apparently a year; it is thus given by Le Clercq, whose account otherwise agrees closely with that of our author, while Lescarbot, Diereville, and Gyles thought this time was one of marriage but of continence.
  10. There is substantial unanimity among all the early writers as to the modesty of the Indian women and girls.
  11. The grace and force of these Indian orations made at marriages, funerals, and upon other public occasions are emphasised by most of our early writers.
  12. Most of our early writers mention this expression of approval or applause, though it is sometimes written differently.
  13. A very widespread aboriginal custom. For our Indians it is mentioned, with more or less additional detail, by others.
  14. In Canadian French brayet is now anything put on to cover the person in bathing.
  15. Le Clercq gives a similar account of their dress, adding that the men wear it somewhat as in the pictures Hercules wears the lion’s skin. Lescarbot makes precisely the same comparison, and adds that the women wear theirs somewhat as in the pictures of Saint John the Baptist.
  16. This plant was without doubt the small bedstraw, the variety called in the older, and as well in the newest, works Galium tinctorium. Kalm states that the Indians used the roots of this plant to dye their porcupine, quills red, and that the colour stood the weather well.
  17. This word is apparently of Micmac origin, but I have not been able to find its equivalent in modern Micmac. The word is said to be still in use among the Canadian French.

Written by johnwood1946

August 20, 2014 at 9:44 AM

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Two Documents Relating to the Fenians in New Brunswick

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From the blog at

Two Documents Relating to the Fenians in New Brunswick

The ‘Fenian Brothers’ were organized following the American Civil War, and had the intention of fighting and harassing the English in all ways possible in order to gain the independence of Ireland. The Fenian raids on Canada began in 1866 and continued to 1870. Four of these raids were upon the Province of Canada, both East and West, but the first of them was upon the islands of Passamaquoddy Bay.

On March 16, 1866, Lieutenant Governor Arthur Hamilton Gordon petitioned the New Brunswick House of Assembly for an increased military budget to deal with possible hostile incursions from the United States. He made it clear that he was not concerned that the government of the U.S. might invade but, rather, that other ‘evil men’ could be disposed to invade from that direction. The first documents following include his petition, with an attached memorandum, and the reply of the House. This clearly deals with the Fenian threat.

Gordon did not know what was going to happen when he wrote to the House. He only knew that there was a danger that something could happen. That the appeal was made on March 16, 1866 is an interesting coincidence, since the intention of the Fenian Brothers to attack Campobello was apparently leaked to the press on that date in the United States. Gordon could not have known about this intention and reacted so quickly, however.

A force of Fenians gathered at Eastport, Maine in the spring, and commenced drills which could be observed even from Indian Island in Passamaquoddy Bay. On April 14th, a raiding party in search of a trophy landed on Indian Island and stole the Union Jack from the customs house. This attempt was sophomoric, but was followed a week later by another raid which burned several stores. Alarms were raised, troops were brought in, and war ships were made available. The plan to take Campobello, or Indian Island for that matter, came to an inglorious end.

The second document following is a public notice by the “Republican Committee of St. John” calling on New Brunswickers to reject Confederation, to free themselves from the monarchy, and to form a republic. This document is undated, and some libraries have it mis-catalogued under ‘1800’. From the content, however, it is clearly from 1866, or very nearly so. There were enough people in New Brunswick that there must have been a few republicans but, to me, the “Republican Committee of St. John” was a cover for the real authors, the Fenian Brothers.

The first documents: Lieut. Gov. Gordon’s initiative

“New Brunswick”

“Message to the House of Assembly”

“Arthur Gordon”

“His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor desires to call the attention of the House of Assembly to the expediency of furnishing means to enable him to provide more efficiently for the protection of the Frontier of the Province from possible insult.

“The Government of the United States is fully determined to discharge the duties imposed by International obligations, and the relations of amity happily subsisting between that Power and Great Britain; nor does His Excellency believe it possible that an hostile expedition of any magnitude can be organized in the Territory of a neighbouring and friendly State, and permitted to cross its Frontier, or leave its Ports.

“The vigilance of the authorities of the United States may, however, at some point be eluded, and as an intention to commit depredations on Her Majesty’s Dominions on this Continent has been openly avowed by evil disposed persons, it is manifestly expedient that additional security should be given throughout the whole extent of Her Majesty’s American Provinces, to such points as, from the importance of their position, or the weakness of their means of defence, may appear to invite attack.

“The Lieutenant Governor’s attention has already been directed to this subject, and he has, from time to time, taken such steps as appeared necessary for that purpose; but in order fully to carry out the precautionary measures necessary to obviate danger, it may be requisite to call upon a portion of the Provincial Militia Force to co-operate with Her Majesty’s Regular Troops in New Brunswick.

“Before taking this step, however, which may involve a considerable outlay. His Excellency has deemed it expedient to communicate with the House of Assembly, in the firm confidence that any measures needful for the protection of the Province from marauding bands, will meet with the most hearty concurrence and support of the Legislature and loyal people of New Brunswick.

“The Lieutenant Governor lays before the House a brief Memorandum of the amount which will probably be required for the Military Service of the year.”



“The expenditure required to carry out the provisions of last year’s Militia Act, was a little over $30,000 for 1865.

“For 1866 about $40,000 will be needed, owing to the great increase of Volunteers, the allowance, per head, to whom, is definitely fixed by the Law.

“It would be most injudicious to disturb the arrangements for the Military Education of Officers and Non-commissioned Officers which have already worked so well.

“The amount required for the ordinary Militia Service, and the sums paid in connection with the apprehension of Deserters from Her Majesty’s Forces, may be accordingly estimated at about $40,000.

“The amount of extraordinary expenditure to be incurred in measures of precaution, it is of course difficult to estimate, as it must mainly depend on the greater or shorter length of time during which they may have to be maintained. So far as can at present be calculated, it need not exceed from $30,000 to $50,000. This of course is on the supposition that no hostilities actually take place, and that the expenditure is limited to measures of precaution; for, of course, in the event of active operations, it is impossible even to guess at the amount which might be required. It would be manifestly inexpedient to state the items of proposed expenditure, but they include measures of Defence for particular points, and the pay of a certain number of embodied Volunteers for three months;—should they not be embodied for so long a period, the money would of course not be drawn.

“That a rigid economy may be exercised in this expenditure is manifested by last Year’s Accounts, which show at how low rates Contracts were entered into, and satisfactory arrangements for transport and other services of this department made.”’


To His Excellency The Honorable Arthur Hamilton Gordon, C.M.G., Lieut. Governor and Commander in Chief of the Province of New Brunswick &c. &c. &c.

May it please Your Excellency,—

Her Majesty’s faithful and loyal Subjects, the Commons of New Brunswick, having had under consideration the Message of Your Excellency, laid before the House this day, calling the attention of the House to the necessity of making provision for the defence of the Frontier of this Province from possible insult, most respectfully assure Your Excellency that the House of Assembly, representing the whole people of this Province, will cheerfully provide for all precautionary measures that the Executive Government may deem necessary in the present emergencies for the defence of this country.


“I thank the House of Assembly for the fresh proof they have afforded that the ancient spirit of loyalty which animated the first founders of this Province, has neither diminished nor decayed.

“I deeply regret that the machinations of evil disposed men should render necessary a considerable expenditure for defensive purposes; but your liberality will have been wisely bestowed, should it show to the plotters who dream of a descent upon our borders, how little they can hope for success in such an enterprise.

“The most rigid economy shall be exercised in the expenditure of the resources you have placed at my disposal.

“Confiding in the protection of Almighty God, and assured of the support of a gallant and united people, I await, the future without anxious care.”

The second document: The call for a republic

Citizens of New Brunswick!

Republican institutions have become a necssity (sic) to the peace and prosperity of your Province.

English policy, represented in the obnoxious project of Confederation, is making its last efforts to bind you in effete forms of Monarchism.

Annexation to the United States is not, necessarily, the only means of escape. Independence for the present is the best one, and will assure you the supreme and sole management of your affairs.

Mercenary bayonets cannot – shall not prevent you asserting this independence if you desire it. Signify your wishes and you become the founders of a Free State, untrammelled by Royalty, unchecked by Misrule, and certain to secure all the lost benefits of Reciprocity.

By Order of Republican

Committee of St. John

Written by johnwood1946

August 13, 2014 at 9:23 AM

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The Lazaretto for Lepers in Tracadie, 1862

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From the blog at

The Lazaretto for Lepers in Tracadie, 1862

This description of the hospital for lepers in Tracadie was written in 1862, and is from Lieut. Governor Arthur Hamilton Gordon’s book, Wilderness Journeys in New Brunswick. Gordon had just completed a hiking and canoeing trip and was meeting with local officials before returning to Fredericton.

Gordon was appalled by what he found at Tracadie, and did not spare critical language in describing it. Gordon’s attitudes were of the 19th century, and there will be ample opportunity in reading his remarks to raise objections. He was an educated and right-thinking person for his day, however, and we may decide to set aside those objections and accept his observations as a reminder that the good-old-days were not always so good. His commentary remains painful to read.

New Brunswick established a leper colony on Sheldrake Island near Chatham, and this was moved to Tracadie in 1849. Gordon was writing in 1862, six years before the Hospitallers of Saint Joseph arrived to manage the facility. The lazaretto was transferred to federal jurisdiction in 1880, and the last patient died there in 1964.

Lazaretto at Tracadie

The Lazaretto at Tracadie

Musée Historique de Tracadie, Inc.

Following is Gordon’s description. This is not a history, but more of a commentary:


I do not propose to introduce into this paper any notice of the remainder of my tour through the counties of Gloucester, Kent, and Westmorland, I think that one establishment which I visited in its course deserves some mention, and will excite some interest.

There is an obscure and doubtful story that, some eighty or a hundred years ago, a French ship was wrecked on the shore of the county of Gloucester or Northumberland, and that some of those who escaped from the crew were sailors of Marseille, who had caught in the Levant the true eastern leprosy the Elephantiasis Gracorum. However this may be, there is no doubt that for many years past a portion of the French population of these counties has been afflicted with this fearful malady, or one closely allied to it—probably that form of leprosy which is known to prevail upon the coast of Norway. About twenty years ago the disease seemed to be on the increase, and so great an alarm was created by this fact, and by the allegation, (the truth or falsehood of which I have never been able satisfactorily to ascertain), that settlers of English descent had caught and died of the disease, that a very stringent law was passed, directing the seclusion of the lepers, and authorizing any member of a local Board of Health constituted by the Act, to commit to the Lazaretto [a quarantine hospital] any person afflicted with the disorder. After being for a time established at Sheldrake Island, in the Miramichi River, the hospital was removed to Tracadie in the county of Gloucester, where it continues to remain.

The situation of the Lazaretto is dreary in the extreme, and the view which it commands embraces no object calculated to please, or indeed to arrest, the eye. On the one side is a shallow turbid sea, which at the time of my visit was unenlivened by a single sail; on the other lies a monotonous stretch of bare, cleared land, only relieved by the ugly church and mean wooden houses of a North American village.

The outer enclosure of the Lazaretto consists of a grass field, containing some three or four acres of land. Within these limits the lepers are now allowed to roam at will. Until lately, however, they were confined to the much narrower bounds of a smaller enclosure in the centre of the large one, and containing the buildings of the hospital itself.

Into these dismal precincts I entered, accompanied by the Roman Catholic Bishop of Chatham, the Secretary to the Board of Health, the Resident Physician, and the Roman Catholic priest of the village, who acts as Chaplain to the hospital.

Within the inner enclosure are several small wooden buildings detached from each other, and comprising the kitchen, laundry, &c. of the establishment; one of these edifices, but newly completed, is furnished with a bath—a great addition to the comfort of the unhappy inmates. The hospital itself is a building composed of two large rooms, the one devoted to the male, and the other to the female patients. In the centre of each room is a stove and table, with a few benches and stools, whilst the beds of the patients are ranged along the walls. These rooms are sufficiently light and well ventilated, and at the time of my visit were perfectly clean and neat. In the rear of these rooms is a small chapel, so arranged that a window obliquely traversing the wall on each side of the partition which divides the two rooms enables the patients of either sex to witness the celebration of Mass without meeting. Through the same apertures confessions are received, and the Holy Communion administered, I may here remark how curious an illustration is thus afforded to architectural students of the object of those low skew windows often found in the chancels of ancient churches, In a remote corner of North America, in a rude wooden building of modern date, erected by men who never saw a mediæval church, or possess the least acquaintance with Gothic architecture, convenience has suggested an arrangement precisely similar to one which has long puzzled the antiquaries and architects of Europe.

At the time of my visit there were twenty-three patients in the Lazaretto, thirteen males and ten females, all of whom were French Roman Catholics, belonging to families of the lowest class. These were of all ages, and suffering from every stage of the disease. One old man, whose features were so disfigured as to be barely human, and who appeared in the extremity of dotage, could hardly be roused from his apathy sufficiently to receive the Bishop’s blessing, which was eagerly sought on their knees by the others. But there were also young men, whoso arms seemed as strong, and their powers of work and of enjoyment as unimpaired, as they over had been; and—saddest sight of all—there wore young children condemned to pass here a life of hopeless misery.

I was especially touched by the appearance of three poor boys between the ages of fifteen and eleven years. To the ordinary observer they were like other lads—bright eyed and intelligent enough; but the fatal marks which sufficed to separate them from the outer world were upon them, and they were now shut up forever within the walls of the Lazaretto.

An impression similar in kind, though feebler in degree, is produced by the sight of all the younger patients. There is something appalling in the thought that from the time of his arrival until his death, a period of perhaps many long years, a man, though endowed with the capacities, the passions, and the desires of other men, is condemned to pass from youth to middle life, and from middle life to old age with no society but that of his fellow sufferers, with no employment, no amusement, no resource; with nothing to mark his hours but the arrival of some fresh victim; with nothing to do except to watch his companions slowly dying round him. Hardly any of the patients could read, and those who could, had no books. No provision seemed to be made to furnish them with any occupation, either bodily or mental, and under these circumstances I was not surprised to learn that, in the later stages of the disease, the mind generally became enfeebled.

The majority of the patients did not appear to me to suffer any great amount of pain, and I was informed that one of the characteristics of the disease was the insensibility of the flesh to injury. One individual was pointed out to me whose hand and arm had been allowed to rest on a nearly red-hot stove, and who had never discovered the fact until attention was arrested by the strong smell of the burning limb, which was terribly injured.

Written by johnwood1946

August 6, 2014 at 9:35 AM

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Thoughts About the Augustine Mound at Metepenagiag Mi’kmaq Nation

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From the blog at

Thoughts About the Augustine Mound at Metepenagiag Mi’kmaq Nation

Joseph Augustine, now deceased, was an elder of the Red Bank First Nation, a community now known as the Metepenagiag Mi’kmaq Nation on the Little Southwest Miramichi River. He was aware of a place that he had visited as a boy and which his father had told him was a traditional place of ceremony in older days. In the early 1970’s, Joseph read a magazine article about a burial mound in Arizona, which reminded him of a slightly raised area at his special place. He therefore set out with a shovel to explore, and uncovered several artifacts including copper beads, rings and arrowheads. He took the relics to Saint Thomas University and showed them to Paul Morrissey who, in turn, contacted Dr. Chris Turnbull. At this point, it was becoming clear that a major archeological site had been discovered, and the site is now known as the Augustine Mound.

Joseph Augustine

Joseph Augustine, from

Mi’kmaq elder credited with discovering the Augustine Mound

Some people claim that the Augustine Mound was not a ‘discovery’ at all, but that it was known of by tradition. Some people are also unhappy with Joseph’s role in the matter. This is mentioned for the sake of those who hold that view, but it is not the purpose of this blog posting to explore it further.

Excavation of the site was begun following negotiations with the Mi’kmaq community, and the work was completed in the late 1970’s. This was a professional archaeological excavation by which artifacts were properly identified, catalogued, and preserved. Photographs show that the soils were highly stratified, having been placed there in small lifts as the Mound grew. This was useful in dating the different layers. Only part of the original Mound remains untouched.

It was discovered that the Mound was a burial place, and was surrounded by a circular area for dancing and other ceremonial activities. The artifacts were ancient and had been placed there from about 2,500 years ago until around 500 years ago. Local tradition hints that the ceremonial activities continued even after that. Another Mi’kmaq site in the vicinity is known as the Oxbow Site and has also been dated. It is now apparent that the Red Bank area has been continuously occupied by the Mi’kmaq and their ancestors for around 3,000 years. Both the Mound and the Oxbow Site have been named provincial and national historic sites.

Many artifacts were uncovered, but two findings were especially remarkable. One of these dealt with the degree of preservation of delicate objects, and the other with the spreading of local native cultures over a broader field, through migration and trade.

There were very many copper beads in the Mound, which must have come as trade goods from around Lake Superior. The chemistry of the copper oxide was such that some delicate objects were preserved. Joseph Augustine had found a birch bark package containing other objects, for example. Such a package would never have survived under other circumstances. The archaeologists also found textiles from pre-contact and even older days. These textiles included fabrics, cords, and headdresses and are so old that the fibers could only be identified as being from unspecified plant sources.

The findings also shed light on the spreading of cultures, and of trade goods from other distant places. The copper beads from the Lake Superior area have already been mentioned. In addition, the Mound itself and the burial practises that it represents are reminiscent of people from the Ohio area. It is not always easy to distinguish between migrations of people from one area to another and trade goods, but these findings seem to represent both. There was also evidence of pottery, adding to an existing understanding of the spread of ceramics technology. Pipes made of fired clay, necklaces and flint objects were also evidence of trade.

There is evidence of both cremations and of conventional burials, and it has been suggested that people of higher status would be more likely have been buried than to have been cremated.

More information about the Augustine Mound and the Oxbow Site is readily available online, but what does all of this mean?

I view the Mound as a treasure from which we have learned of earlier days at this Mi’kmaq community and of its people’s complex lives, including trade and migration. I am grateful that it was found and that the findings are available. But something that goes beyond the material world has been lost.

Few would admit to believing in spirits. But admit it or not, most people behave in a way that contradicts their assertions. Why, otherwise, would the scenes of tragedies be termed ‘sacred’? Why are there so many messages whispered in lonely cemeteries? Why, otherwise, could I have imagined the voices of native, Acadian and Loyalist children playing along the banks of my ancestral river, when everyone knows that they have all been gone for hundreds of years?

It seems that the spirit world requires willing observers in order to reveal itself. Willing observers were present to honour the Augustine Mound for 2,500 years, and some sort of aura, perhaps in another dimension of time and space hovered over the place. If anyone forgot about these spirits over the years, then they are aware of them again today. In the meantime, the spirits have not all departed, though the remains and artifacts of many of them have been excavated, sifted, and taken away. This is what has been lost: an almost timeless memorial to those who came before.

Written by johnwood1946

July 30, 2014 at 9:46 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

What am I Bid for This Pauper?

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From the blog at

What am I Bid for This Pauper?

The 1786 Act to regulate and provide for the support of the poor… required that towns and parishes have Overseers of the Poor. The Overseers would identify all idle and disorderly people, or others who were likely to require public assistance. Their children could be apprenticed out to the age of 21 years in the case of boys, or 18 years in the case of girls, and the paupers themselves would be obliged to take jobs, if any existed. The Overseers might also be authorized to establish poor houses or to put the paupers up in foster homes, the owners of which homes would be compensated. The foster homes were to be chosen on the basis of least cost, but with due regard to the character of the people running them.

This law was rudimentary, but Loyalist New Brunswick was only a couple of years old and everything was rudimentary. Giving children away was objectionable but, overall, the Act seems only to have been antique. The problem was that it remained in effect even into the 1900’s, well beyond those days of rudimentary antique laws. Along the way, the law’s provisions were corrupted and the housing of paupers and the apprenticing of children became a system of selling them off or renting them out to whoever would take them at the lowest price. Overseers sometimes complained that arranging pauper auctions was repugnant to them personally, and reflected badly on the community. They had no choice in the matter, however, since the Overseers were appointed to public service without having volunteered, and could not refuse the duty.

This system gave responsibility for the poor to local towns and parishes, who had to raise their own taxes. Rural areas were therefore less likely than urban areas to have money enough to build poor houses, and everyone was opposed to taxes. Some rural people continued to oppose taxation for poor houses even after it was shown that the systems of contract foster homes and of pauper auctions were actually more expensive. Some of these so-called rural areas were more like suburbs of larger centres. The people of Portland and Lancaster resisted the paying of taxes for the support of the poor, for example.

George Francis Train was an eccentric American industrialist and was instrumental in establishing the Union Pacific Railway and many other businesses. He was also a liberal reformer and a supporter of the vote for women. He had financed a newspaper run by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Stanton, for example. He had even been a candidate for President! He ran afoul of the law on several occasions, was sued, arrested, and threatened with being sent to an insane asylum. Train came to Saint John in 1877 and ran into trouble for criticizing the locals. Then, he showed up in Sussex, where he signed in at the Intercolonial Hotel under his own name, but using his favourite address, ‘Citizen of the World.’ He then took a job at the Sussex Weekly Record where he turned out a one-page article every week criticizing everyone from the rich and powerful to an apparently lazy gravedigger. It was Train who would place a bomb under any complacency which existed regarding the poor law. He did this at the particular expense of King’s County.

Intercolonial Hotel Sussex

The Intercolonial Hotel in Sussex

Where George Francis Train stayed.

Train published his first article about pauper auctions, entitled Is Slavery Abolished? on January 6, 1888. That would have been less than a week following the annual year-end auction in Sussex, and it was a sensation. The Toronto Daily Mail published a commentary on the issue only four days after that, and other newspapers followed suit. The Toronto paper said that “the poor are disposed of after the plan adopted in the Southern States for the sale of slaves. They are knocked down at auction.” They went on to describe the most recent auction. “The number of paupers advertised for sale on that occasion was eleven… There were three orphans of five, seven, and nine years of age; a boy of thirteen; a girl of fifteen; a man of fifty-eight in consumption; a blind woman aged fifty-three; a man aged sixty-seven with one arm; his wife aged sixty; and a man and woman aged seventy-one and eighty-one respectively.”

The purchase of a pauper was actually more of a rental for one year. If a pauper died during that term, then the purchaser would continue to be paid for the rest of the year, and burial costs of $8 would also be covered. “Two expensive paupers, happily for themselves as well as for the community, died last year; so that the cost of keeping them in a state of animation does not now fall upon the people,” according to the Toronto Daily Mail, who got their information from Train’s article.

There was an historical description of this affair, published on March 20, 1965 in the Montreal Gazette. This was a little too recent to quote at length here, but it is clear enough that the information came from public sources, including Train’s article. Most of the paupers were sold on the basis of how much work could be got out of them, and whether they already had clothing and boots. Couples and families were sold separately, or together, to suit the purchaser. The three orphans were siblings and were split up; two to one purchaser and the third to another. The 81-year old man was advertised as not likely to survive the year, which presented an interesting chance of profit. Train went on to note that death might be hastened through under-feeding, over working or housing the victim in an unheated barn or shed. The fifteen year old girl was perhaps intellectually challenged, but wouldn’t be much of a problem otherwise. It was implied in the article that her description was calculated to attract someone willing to bid a low price with a possibility for sex. This was not the only such instance.

These images are disturbing, and I am compelled to point out that there were eleven people auctioned off, and that the number of buyers was therefore tiny compared with the population of King’s. It is also clear that Train painted the picture in bright colours, and that the children, in particular, come off looking like Little Nell of The Old Curiosity Shop or Oliver Twist. It is nonetheless clear that it was a slave auction, plain and simple.

George Francis Train fired his written artillery on the subject, round after round, week after week, and by March of 1888 he was dismissed from his position at the Sussex Weekly Record because his “terrible impeachment of what he calls white n—-r slavery has so outraged town, county, province and Dominion and made things so almighty hot in the Record office….” Local complacency had been demolished. If people hadn’t liked what they saw around them in King’s County then they would probably have kept quiet about it; but this was no longer possible.

Train, being a prominent industrialist, was able to address the Provincial Assembly and to meet with the Lieutenant Governor before finally leaving New Brunswick. He was well received, but that was his last hurrah, and he was gone.

Train’s campaign had raised the conscience of the clergy, and there was no longer a conspiracy of silence among the public. A poor house was needed, but building one was difficult because some people continued to oppose taxation. There were also scandals when paupers escaped their owners and fled, only to drown or to freeze to death in the attempt. A poor house was finally built, however, and the last auction was held in 1898.

Written by johnwood1946

July 23, 2014 at 9:48 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

Trouble at Madawaska, 1831

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From the blog at

Trouble at Madawaska, 1831

It was intended by the 1783 peace treaty that the New Brunswick border go along the Saint Croix River to its source, and then follow a line northward to the highlands separating the waters that flowed to the Saint Lawrence from those that flowed to the Atlantic. The border would then proceed along the highland, or watershed, westward.

This left room for debate. For example, Britain said that the Mar’s Hill, northwest of Florenceville, was about as ‘high’ a place as could be found. This would have chopped off the northern half of the present state of Maine. The United States took the ‘highlands’ to be the Saint Lawrence watershed, which would have extended Maine well into present day Quebec. The American position was more defensible in terms of the treaty, but would have cut off New Brunswick’s access to Quebec City via the Saint John River and made the Madawaska region American. Both sides had a lot to lose, and neither would accept the other’s interpretation until the Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842 finally settled the matter.

Competing land claims

Competing Land Claims

The diplomats agreed at an early stage that neither side would interfere with the status quo while negotiations were in progress. That should have meant no public administration, no elections, no granting of land or timber rights, no courts, and no soldiers. That sounds quite ideal, if you wanted to be left alone, but such situations rarely last for very long and even the Republic of Madawaska is now just a, perhaps wistful, memory. But the Republic would be another story for another day.

This story describes the border intrusions of 1831 and the resulting diplomatic turmoil. The State of Maine interfered with the status quo by imposing public administration, but there are no entirely clean hands in this affair. We will meet a British militia captain living in the disputed territory, for example, and also a British Justice of the Peace.

Camp Green River

Camp Along the Green River

W.F. Ganong, 1912 – N.B. Museum

The Maine State Legislature incorporated the Town of Madawaska in 1830. The present Town of Madawaska is still within the state, but it was part of the disputed territory at the time. The town was also more of a region, at that time, and included land on both sides of the present border. The Governor later said that he had interpreted the Act as a declaration of jurisdiction over the area, but that he had had no intention of acting upon it until the border negotiations were complete.

The State already knew where the border was, at least as far as they were concerned, and the ongoing negotiations were likely to reduce their territory. The King of the Netherlands acted as an arbiter of disputes during negotiations, and the State was also unhappy about that. The Governor therefore wrote to the State Department in Washington, enclosing some resolutions of the Legislature about the whole affair. They replied with a copy of a decision by the King of the Netherlands, and American protests about his decision. They promised, however, that the central government would keep the State’s interests in mind, and get back to them in due course. They also said, and significantly, that Maine should not take any steps that might “interrupt or embarrass” the negotiations. All of this was in March of 1831.

Madawaska, having been incorporated into a town within the State of Maine, would require under normal circumstances that a local government be set up. Therefore, a Justice of the Peace in Penobscot County, ordered that the townspeople be gathered together at Peter Ligott’s house on August 20th, to elect town officials and selectmen. Walter Powers posted notices, ordering the people to assemble.

The first of two meetings, the one at Lezard’s house, was raucous. There were 50 or 60 people present, when Leonard Coombs, a captain of militia, and Francis Rice, a local Justice of the Peace both objected to the proceedings. There were threats of arrest and imprisonment, and names were taken down. Nonetheless, Jesse Wheelock, Daniel Savage, John Harford, and Amos Maddocks were elected to town office. Another meeting was held at the home of Raphael Martin, where Peter Lezard was also elected.

A New Brunswick military force began to assemble at Madawaska chapel, almost a month after election activities began, on September 25, 1831. Archibald Campbell, the new Lieutenant Governor was there, and arms were stockpiled at the home of Simon Hebert. The people were ordered to a meeting and, by evening, both Daniel Savage and Jesse Wheelock were arrested. The next day, about 20 soldiers took to canoes and secured the house of John Baker, who fled to the woods. Barnabus Hunnewell, Daniel Bean, and several French settlers were also arrested. About 50 more soldiers arrived, and Baker quit the area altogether, while the troops moved on to St. François in search of more election participants.

There are some interesting characters in this play. Sir Archibald Campbell was Lieutenant Governor and was not a man to be toyed with in military affairs. He was a seasoned commander and was known as the Hero of Ava for his part in the Anglo-Burmese War. John Baker had raised the American flag and declared the Republic of Madawaska, but his flag was taken down and he was arrested, jailed for a while, and fined.

Daniel Savage and Jesse Wheelock were taken downriver toward Fredericton, and were joined along the way by about thirty French prisoners, and two Americans, Barnabas Hunnewell and Daniel Bean. The rest of the Americans had fled to the woods.

The Governor of the State of Maine, Samuel E. Smith, told the Secretary of State that the election activity had been unauthorized, and that he had had no prior knowledge of it. Nonetheless, there were Americans in custody in Fredericton and he, on their behalf, demanded that they receive protection from the government. If Washington would not do this, then the state might have to act on its own. The Secretary replied that he would do what he could, but could be more vigorous in those effort had the problem not been caused by state. The Governor upped the ante, by saying that the state did not support the present negotiations, and that the federal government could not alienate part of the state’s territory without their participation and agreement.

The diplomats took an entirely different tone, since no one wanted the situation to escalate. The Secretary of State wrote to the British Chargé d’Affaires and suggested that, since the intrusion into the disputed territory had not been authorized, it would be appropriate for the Lieutenant Governor to exercise his prerogative and release the prisoners. Otherwise, local passions in Maine might be difficult to restrain. The Chargé d’Affaires agreed and referred the matter to Archibald Campbell, who found that he also had to agree. The prisoners were released on November 8, 1831. The French prisoners all gave bonds, some for trial and some for good behaviour.

In the meantime, another dispute was unfolding. Way back in March, the State Legislature passed a resolve that the Governor appoint someone to survey landholders in the disputed territory to determine their numbers and what title they had to their lands. John G. Deane and Edward Kavanagh carried this out, with only Simon Hebert and his sons Simonet and Joseph refusing to answer. A man then met with them saying that he had come from Fredericton to ask what was going on and on what authority. There was no physical conflict, and the man agreed to accompany them to keep an eye on the proceedings.

There was a flurry of diplomatic exchanges in September and October, even before the prisoners from the previous affair had been released. In the end, all that was accomplished was to establish that the survey was complete and that everyone had gone home.

Principal Reference:

The Administration of Andrew Jackson, Message from the President of the United States … Relating of Capture … of American Citizens by New Brunswick, 1831. This is a collection of correspondence, which the Senate had requested concerning “the capture, abduction, and imprisonment of American citizens, by the provincial authorities of New Brunswick, and the measures which, in consequence thereof, have been adopted by the Executive of the United States.”


There were too many principal characters in the events of 1831 to name them all. Following is a list of some pf them, for genealogists and family historians:

American Government Authorities

  • Andrew Jackson – President of the United States.
  • Martin Van Buren – Secretary of State (1829-1831), Washington. Only a few of the earlier pieces of correspondence from the State Department were signed by Van Buren. He later became President.
  • Edward Livingston – Secretary of State (1831-1833), Washington. Most of the correspondence from the State Department was from Livingston.
  • Samuel E. Smith –Governor of the State of Maine.

British Government Authorities

  • Charles Bankhead – British Chargé d’Affaires, stationed in Washington.

New Brunswick (British) Government Authorities

  • Sir Archibald Campbell – Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick (September 3, 1831 to 1837). He was present at the military response to the election activities.

Madawaska Residents who Acted Against the Election Activities

  • Leonard R. Coombs – A New Brunswick militia captain at Madawaska, who objected to the election meeting, and participated in the militia activities which followed.
  • Simon Herbert – A resident of Madawaska and a New Brunswick militia captain. Arms were collected at his house following the election.
  • Francis Rice – A New Brunswick Justice of the Peace at Madawaska, who objected to the election meeting.

Those who Acted in Favour of the Election Activities (both sides of eventual border)

  • William D. Williamson – Justice of the Peace, County of Penobscot. He ordered the elections.
  • Walter Powers – A resident of Madawaska. He posted notices ordering the people to assemble for the election, per a directive by William D. Williamson. One of those who took to the woods when the soldiers arrived.
  • Peter Ligott – A resident of Madawaska. The first election meeting was held at his house, and he was elected as a representative.
  • Barnabus Hunnewell – Moderator of the first election meeting. Arrested for election activities.
  • Raphael Martin – A resident of Madawaska. The second election meeting was held at his house.
  • Jesse Wheelock – Elected a Selectman and town clerk of Madawaska, and subsequently arrested.
  • Daniel Savage – Elected a Selectman of Madawaska, and subsequently arrested.
  • John Harford – Elected a Selectman of Madawaska.
  • Amos Maddocks – Elected a Selectman of Madawaska. One of those who took to the woods when the soldiers arrived.
  • Daniel Bean – Elected a Selectman of Madawaska. He was reported to have been arrested, but was not one of those who were imprisoned in Fredericton.
  • Nathaniel Bartlett – One of those who took to the woods when the soldiers arrived.
  • Joseph Miles – One of those who took to the woods when the soldiers arrived.
  • Augustin Webster – One of those who took to the woods when the soldiers arrived.
  • Charles M’Pherson – One of those who took to the woods when the soldiers arrived.

People who Deposed as to What Happened at Election Time

  • John Baker – A resident of Madawaska and a mill owner, who was present at the election meetings and who later made a deposition describing his experiences. He became known as the ‘George Washington of the Republic of Madawaska.’
  • Phinehas R. Harford – A resident of Madawaska, who was present at the election meetings and who later made a deposition describing his experiences.

Principal Characters Involved in the Survey of Madawaska Residents

  • John G. Deane – Appointed to conduct the survey of the people of Madawaska.
  • Edward Kavanagh – Appointed to conduct the survey of the people of Madawaska.
  • Joseph Herbert – A resident of Madawaska. A son of Simon Hebert. He refused to answer the questions of the survey takers.
  • Simonet Herbert – A resident of Madawaska. A son of Simon Hebert. He refused to answer the questions of the survey takers.
  • James A. Maclauchlan – New Brunswick warden in the disputed territory between Maine and New Brunswick. He objected to the activities of the survey takers.

Written by johnwood1946

July 16, 2014 at 9:28 AM

Posted in Uncategorized


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