This blog will continue to grow, but following is a table of contents so far – from the top:
- Cape Tormentine to the Baye des Chaleurs in the 1600’s – Aug. 27, 2014
- The Customs of the Mi’kmaq in the 1600’s and Before – Aug. 20, 2014
- Two Documents Relating to the Fenians in New Brunswick – Aug. 13, 2014
- The Lazaretto for Lepers in Tracadie, 1862 – Aug. 6, 2014
- Thoughts About the Augustine Mound at Metepenegiag Mi’kmaq Nation – July 30, 2014
- What am I Bid for This Pauper? – July 23, 2014
- Trouble at Madawaska, 1831 – July 16, 2014
- The Great Fire at Saint John, June 20, 1877 – July 9, 2014
- The Poor Fellows Shook as if They Would Fall to Pieces! – July 2, 2014
- How to Build a Logging Camp in Around 1850 – June 25, 2014
- Risen from the Ashes, Phoenix Square in Fredericton – June 18, 2014
- Rocks and Water, Magnificence and Squalor; St. John in 1876 – June 11, 2014
- Moncton as Seen by a Journalist in 1876 – June 4, 2014
- Events Leading to the Caraquet Riots of 1875 – May 28, 2014
- A Dramatic Account of the Miramichi Fire – May 21, 2014
- Saint John in the Early 1840’s – May 18, 2014
- A Note to Subscribers, and a Memorandum for me – May 14, 2014
- The Myth that Kerosene was Invented in New Brunswick – May 7, 2014
- A Church with Military Boots and Fixed Bayonets – Apr. 30, 2014
- An Opening Salvo in an Ongoing Argument – Apr. 23, 2014
- May living worms his corpse devour – Apr. 16, 2014
- He don’t look any better than some of our own boys – Apr. 9, 2014
- The Disputed Territory Between New Brunswick and Maine – Apr. 2, 2014
- Navigation on the Saint John River – Mar. 26, 2014
- Shepody as a Hot Investment Opportunity, 1868 – Mar. 19, 2014
- To Her Majesty, RE: Reciprocity, 1853 – Mar. 12, 2014
- Diary on the Tobique, 1851 – Mar. 5, 2014
- Growing up in Fredericton in the 1820s and 1830s – Feb. 26, 2014
- Travels From Eastport, Maine, to Fredericton, 1851 – Feb. 19, 2014
- The Saint John General Public Hospital, 19th Century, Part 2 of 2 – Feb. 12, 2014
- The Saint John General Public Hospital, 19th Century, Part 1 of 2 – Feb. 5, 2014
- The Story of the Great Brothers – Jan. 29, 2014
- A Trek up the Tobique, and Onward to Bathurst – Jan. 22, 2014
- Summer Tourists. A Manual for New Brunswick Farmers – Jan. 19, 2014
- A Trek from Grand Falls to Campbellton, 1862 – Jan. 15, 2014
- A Trek From Taymouth to Boisetown, 1862 – Jan. 12, 2014
- Capt. William Owen’s Journal, Campobello, 1770-71 – Jan. 8, 2014
- The Founding of Campobello Island – Jan. 5, 2014
- New Brunswick Roads and Railways, 1855 – Jan. 1, 2014
- Grand Manan – Dec. 29, 2013
- The Shipyard Fire in Saint John, in 1841 – Dec. 26, 2013
- Christmas as it Was in Saint John, in 1808 – Dec. 22, 2013
- The Saint John Grammar School – Dec. 18, 2013
- William Wishart Blasts the New Brunswick Education System, 1845 – Dec. 15, 2013
- The Diary of Sarah Frost – Dec. 11, 2013
- Pŭlěs, Pŭlowěch′, and Beechkwěch (Pigeon, Partridge, and Nighthawk) – Dec. 10, 2014
- The Government of New Brunswick, 1837 – Dec. 4, 2013
- The Whales and the Robbers – Dec. 1, 2013
- The Ashburton Treaty – Nov. 27, 2013
- Glooscap and His Four Visitors – Nov. 24, 2013
- The Pioneers of Saint Stephen – Nov. 20, 2013
- The Adventures of Kâktoogwâsees; a Tale of Ancient Times – Nov. 17, 2013
- The Asylum at Saint John – Nov. 13, 2013
- The Liver-Colored Giants and Magicians – Nov. 10, 2013
- Smuggling Between Calais and St. Stephen – Nov. 6, 2013
- The Two Weasels – Nov. 3, 2013
- A note to subscribers – Oct. 30, 2013
- The European and North American Railway, 1862 – Oct. 30, 2013
- The Origin of the War Between the Mi’kmaq and the Kwěděches – Oct. 23, 2013
- Trouble on the Line: The Early Telegraph in New Brunswick – Oct. 16, 2013
- The Invisible Boy; Team′ and Oochigeaskw – Oct. 9, 2013
- Transportation to and from Fredericton, 1841 – Oct. 2, 2013
- The Boy That Was Transformed Into a Horse – Sept. 25, 2013
- McAdam: Notes From the Early Days – Sept. 18, 2013
- The Magical Food, Belt and Flute – Sept. 11, 2013
- European & North American Rly. Staff, 1861 – Sept. 4, 2013
- Glooscap and the Megumoowesoo: A Marriage Adventure – Aug. 28, 2013
- The Loss of the Royal Tar – Aug. 21, 2013
- Robbery and Murder Revenged, Plus a Grand Falls Story – Aug. 14, 2013
- The St. John River From Below Fredericton to the Reversing Falls – Aug. 7, 2013
- A Proposal for a Wooden Railway – July 31, 2013
- ‘On the Early History of New Brunswick’ – July 24, 2013
- The Maugerville Settlement, 1763-1824 – July 17, 2013
- 1930 Circus Train Wreck Near Moncton, N.B. – July 10, 2013
- Horses or Oxen? Pick one – July 3, 2013
- The St. John River; Andover to Fredericton – June 26, 2013
- Origins of Some Place Names on N.B.’s Eastern Shore – June 19, 2013
- The St. John River; Grand Falls to the Tobique – June 12, 2013
- Gabriel Acquin – June 5, 2013
- The Seigniories of New Brunsiwck – May 29, 2013
- An 1841 Trek up the Oromocto River – May 22, 2013
- Fredericton’s Exhibition Palace, and Bears in N.B. – May 15, 2013
- Murder on Diamond Square Road – May 8, 2013
- Acadian Historic Sites in New Brunswick – May 1, 2013
- John C. Tracy’s Book, Part 5 of 5 – Apr. 24, 2013
- John C. Tracy’s Book, Part 4 of 5 – Apr. 17, 2013
- John C. Tracy’s Book, Part 3 of 5 – Apr. 10, 2013
- John C. Tracy’s Book, Part 2 of 5 – Apr. 3, 2013
- John C. Tracy’s Book, Part 1 of 5 – Mar. 27, 2013
- A Retrospective Look at Saint John – Mar. 20, 2013
- The Wreck of the England – Mar. 13, 2013
- The First Decade of the 1800’s in St. John, N.B. – Mar. 6, 2013
- St. John’s Poorhouse and Workhouse – Feb. 27, 2013
- New Brunswick Scenes From an Old Book – Feb. 20, 2013
- Nice Pictures From Another Old Book – Feb. 13, 2013
- Life in the Backwoods of New Brunswick, Part 2/2 – Feb. 6, 2013
- Life in the Backwoods of New Brunswick, 1845 – Jan. 30, 2013
- The Works of W.O. Raymond – Jan. 23, 2013
- The Year of the Fever – Jan. 16, 2013
- Hanged for the Theft of 25 Cents – Jan. 9, 2013
- Reversing Falls – Pictures – Jan. 2, 2013
- Christmas as it was in 1808 – Dec. 25, 2012
- Nice Pictures From an Old Book – Dec. 19, 2012
- The Saint John Bridge Collapse of 1837 – Dec. 12, 2012
- The First Road Bridge Across the Reversing Falls – Dec. 5, 2012
- The Mystery of the First Lizzie Morrow – Nov. 28, 2012
- The First Murder Trial on the River St. John – Nov. 21, 2012
- The March of the 104th Regiment in 1812 – Nov. 14, 2012
- Partridge Island – Nov. 7, 2012
- Fredericton’s First Bridge Across the Saint John River – Oct. 31, 2012
- 1816, The Year Without a Summer – Oct. 31, 2012
- Winslow to Wentworth, 1781 – Oct. 31, 2012
- Oops! An explanation – Oct. 31, 2012
- The Saxby Gale of 1869 – Oct. 31, 2012
- New Brunswick’s Third Town in 1838: Saint Andrews – Oct. 31, 2012
- Fredericton and York County in 1838 – Oct. 31, 2012
- The City and County of Saint John in 1838 – Sept. 26, 2012
- The St. Andrews and Quebec Railroad – Sept. 19, 2012
- The Studholm Report of Saint John River Pre-Loyalists in 1783 – Sept. 12, 2012
- Caleb Jones. Further RE: Ann, otherwise known as Nancy – Sept. 5, 2012
- The Wreck of the Martha – Aug. 29, 2012
- The Early Settlement of Maugerville and the Sheffield Parsonage Dispute – Aug. 22, 2012
- Lieutenant Governors of New Brunswick to Confederation, Part 2 of 2 – Aug. 15, 2012
- Lieutenant Governors of New Brunswick to Confederation, Part 1 of 2 – Aug. 8, 2012
- The Morrow House at French Lake, N.B. – New Information – Aug. 1, 2012
- Sound by Glen Glenn, Revision 1 – July 25, 2012
- Ann, otherwise known as Nancy – July 18, 2012
- The Fire of October 7, 1825 – Beyond the Miramichi – July 11, 2012
- Lemuel Allan Wilmot – July 4, 2012
- The Great Fire at Miramichi, October 7, 1825 – June 27, 2012
- Robert Rankin in New Brunswick – June 20, 2012
- Who Owned the Mill at Tracy, New Brunswick? – June 13, 2012
- Signatures of Sunbury County Ancestors – June 6, 2012
- Daniel Wood’s Log Cabin, and Little Field Barn at French Lake, New Brunswick – May 30, 2012
- Rusagonis and George Garraty – May 23, 2012
- Epitaph Transcriptions from a Collection – May 16, 2012
- Central New Brunswick Gravestones from a Genealogy – May 9, 2012
- Nashwaak River Pictures with Stewart Family Connections – May 2, 2012
- More Sunbury County Photographs from a Collection – Apr. 25, 2012
- An Indian Burial Ground at Oromocto; and Coal Mining on the Oromocto River – Apr. 22, 2012
- “Days of Old” by Katherine DeWitt and Norma Alexander – Apr. 18, 2012
- The Wood Cemetery at French Lake, New Brunswick – Apr. 11, 2012
- James Glenie in New Brunswick – Apr. 4, 2012
- Four Generations of the Stewart Family on the Nashwaak River – Mar. 28, 2012
- Three Generations of the Mersereau Family in New Brunswick – Mar. 21, 2012
- Three Generations of the Smith Family of Sunbury County, New Brunswick – Mar. 14, 2012
- Three Generations of the Wood Family of French Lake, New Brunswick – Mar. 7, 2012
- New Brunswick Education in 1883 – Feb. 29, 2012
- Riots and Demonstrations in Saint John – Feb. 20, 2012
- Making Better Butter – Feb. 18, 2012
- York County Place Names, 1896/1905 – Feb. 8, 2012
- Sunbury County Place Names, 1896/1905 – Feb. 1, 2012
- Stereoscopic slides from Fred Stewart, Part 3 of 3 – Jan. 25, 2012
- Stereoscopic slides from Fred Stewart, Part 2 of 3 – Jan. 18, 2012
- Stereoscopic slides from Fred Stewart, Part 1 of 3 – Jan. 11, 2012
- The Hon. Thomas Baillie: Gone, but not soon forgotten! – Jan. 5, 2012
- The Fort at Oromocto, 1780 – 1783 – Dec. 29, 2011
- The Great Fire in Fredericton, 1850 – Early Accounts – Dec. 15, 2011
- The Morrow House at French Lake, and More – Dec. 8, 2011
- The Old Woman House at French Lake, New Brunswick – Dec. 1, 2011
- Smith Family Photographs from a Collection, Sunbury County, N.B. – Nov. 25, 2011
- French Lake from Before we Remember – Nov. 20, 2011
- How Geary became known as Geary – Nov. 9, 2011
- Elizabeth (Smith) Secord; N.B.’s First Woman Registered Doctor – Nov. 4, 2011
- Phillips Family Photographs from a Collection, Rusagonis, N.B. – Nov. 2, 2011
- Mersereau Family Photographs from a Collection, Sunbury County, N.B. – Oct. 30, 2011
- Wood Family Photographs from a Collection, French Lake, N.B. – Oct. 25, 2011
- Jeremiah Tracy: Pioneer of the Village of Tracy, New Brunswick – Oct. 20, 2011
- Two Old Railroad-Inspired Songs – Oct. 16, 2011
- Ode to the Oromocto River – Oct. 10, 2011
- John Mersereau, Loyalist 2 – Oct. 4, 2011
- The Earliest American Railroads and Locomotives – Sept. 14, 2011
- The Mersereau Manufacturing Company of Brooklyn, New York, Notes – Sept. 3, 2011
- George Morrow of French Lake, New Brunswick – 1801-1868 – Aug. 26, 2011
- The Wood Family of French Lake, New Brunswick – Legends – Aug. 9, 2011
- The Baptist Church on the Oromocto River in New Brunswick – Aug. 7, 2011
- John Wood of French Lake, New Brunswick – 1788-1868 – Aug. 2, 2011
- Daniel Wood of French Lake, New Brunswick – 1764-1847 – Aug. 1, 2011
- Three Stewarts on the Nashwaak – July 24, 2011
- Bunker Genealogy – Five Bunkers – July 20, 2011
- Statistics From the 1851 and 1871 Sunbury County New Brunswick Census Reports – July 19, 2011
- Historical Development of the Beam Bending Equation M=fS – July 18, 2011
- Seth Noble, Maugerville and the American Revolution – July 16, 2011
- Columns, the Long and the Short of it – 1729-1900 – July 15, 2011
- The Great Saint John Steel Cantilever Bridge – July 13, 2011
- The Upper Oromocto River in 1847 – July 11, 2011
- Early Glimpses of the Rusagonis Baptist Church in New Brunswick – July 11, 2011
- Abraham Gesner’s 1847 Observations of Sport Hunting in New Brunswick – July 11, 2011
- It Sounds a bit Too Easy – July 10, 2011
- James Buncker – July 10, 2011
- Inconsistent Petitions; Changed Self-Interests – July 10, 2011
- Abner Mersereau and a Letter – July 9, 2011
- Early Glimpses of the Patterson Settlement Baptist Church in New Brunswick – July 9, 2011
- The Textile Mill at Geary, New Brunswick – July 8, 2011
- Letter of Mi’kmaq’ Chief Pemmeenauweet to Queen Victoria – 1841 – July 7, 2011
- New Brunswick in the 1840s – July 7, 2011
From the blog at http://JohnWood1946,wordpress.com
Cape Tormentine to the Baye des Chaleurs in the 1600s
This is a description of the east coast of New Brunswick as it was in the mid-1600s, written by Nicolas Denys, a Governor of Acadia. Denys was the founder of St. Peter’s and Englishtown (St. Pierre and Ste. Anne), Nova Scotia, and of Bathurst (Nepisiquit), New Brunswick. Denys’ book was translated and republished by William F. Ganong as The Description and Natural History of the Coasts of North America, (Acadia), Toronto, 1908.
For information, one league is a variable measure, usually around three miles, and one fathom is six feet.
Bathurst in the 1860s, founded by Denys in the 1600’s
New Brunswick Museum, via the McCord Museum
- [From Cape Tormentine. to Cocagne, and onward to Richibucto, with a description of the “conceited and vicious” Mi’kmaq Chief Denis:]
Continuing farther [from Pictou, N.S.], following the coast about twelve leagues, one comes upon Cape Tourmentin. It is a great point which advances into the sea, and is only two leagues and a half from Isle Saint Jean [PEI]. This is the narrowest place in all this strait. The coast is only hills and very dangerous rocks, which are far out from shore. In front of it some are visible, while others are uncovered only at low water. This point is between two large bays bordered with hills and rocks. All over the top is hardly anything but Pines and Firs, and some few other trees. Having doubled this point and made about ten leagues along this coast, one comes to another river into which longboats enter. It is necessary to keep close in the channel, and having passed a little island, one is well under shelter, and finds water enough. The anchorage is in front of a large meadow which makes a cove of reasonable extent where one is placed in shelter. I have named this river the River of Cocagne, because I found there so much with which to make good cheer during the eight days which bad weather obliged me to remain there. All my people were so surfeited with game and fish that they wished no more, whether Wild Geese, Ducks, Teal, Plover, Snipe large and small, Pigeons, Hares, Partridges, young Partridges, Salmon, Trout, Mackerel, Smelt, Oysters, and other kinds of good fish. All that I can tell you of it is this, that our dogs lay beside the meat and the fish, so much were they satiated with it. The country there is as pleasing as the good cheer. The land is flat and covered with trees which are very fine, as well in their stoutness as in their height, of all the kinds which I must have already named. There are also great meadows along the river, which runs about five to six leagues inland. The remainder is only navigable by canoe, and many more Pines than other trees are found there.
Continuing our route we went into the river of Rechibouctou, which is about ten leagues from the latter of which I have just finished speaking. This river has great sand flats at its entrance, which extend almost a league. In the midst of them is a channel for the passage of vessels of two hundred tons. After one is inside there is found a basin of great extent, but shoal in some places. Vessels cannot go very far into this river, but longboats navigate there for nearly three leagues. Two other rivers fall into this basin, of which one is little and the other rather large. By the latter the Indians go to the River Saint Jean, twice portaging their canoes in crossing from one river to the other [from head of Richibucto and by portage to Salmon River, and down the latter to Grand Lake]. From the head of the latter they proceed into a large lake, and then reach another river which falls into that of Saint Jean. They employ two days in making this passage when they do not want to tarry; this latter hardly ever happens, for they are never much in a hurry. It is by this means that the Indians of the River of Saint Jean and those of this place often visit one another. With regard to the little [Aldoane] river which is on the right in entering, it serves, with the aid of another portage, for communication with Miramichi, which is the establishment that I have in the Baye des Chaleurs. The Chief at Rechibouctou, named Denis, is a conceited and vicious Indian. All the others of the Great Bay fear him. He has upon the border of the basin of this river a rather large fort of stakes, with two kinds of bastions; inside is his wigwam, and the other Indians are encamped around him. He has had a great piece of wood placed upright to the top of a tree, with large pegs which pass through it in the manner of an estrapade and serve as steps for ascending to the top. There from time to time he sends an Indian to see if he can perceive anything along the coasts. From this place one can see far out to sea. If any vessels or canoes are seen, he has his entire force brought under arms with their bows and arrows and their muskets, places a sentinel on the approach to ask what persons they are, and then according to his whim he makes them wait, or has them come immediately. Before entering it is required that they make a discharge of their guns, as a salute, and sometimes two. Then the leader enters, and his suite after him. He never goes out from his wigwam to receive those who come to visit him. He is always there planted upon his haunches …, his pipe in his mouth if he has any tobacco. He never speaks first. He expects that he shall be paid a compliment; and sometime later he replies with the gravity of a magistrate. If he goes to the wigwam of some Indian, on arriving he has a musket discharged to inform the other Indians, who come out from their wigwams, and go to meet him with their muskets. Then he lands from his boat and sets foot upon shore, and all the Indians who are there discharge their muskets. Then they accompany him to the wigwams, [and] when he goes inside they again fire each one a shot from his musket. Such is the manner in which he makes them receive him, more through fear than through friendship. They all wish for his death; he is not liked by a single one. If they are delinquent in their duty, he beats them, but not when they are together, for in this case he could not do it with impunity. But when he catches them alone he makes them remember their duty. If the Indians make a debauch, he is never of their number, [but] he hides himself; for in drunkenness they are as great chiefs as he, and if he were to say to them something which made them angry, they would murder him. At such times he is wise, and never speaks of his greatness. It is well to observe that the Indians of the coast use canoes only for the rivers, and all have boats for the sea. These they sometimes buy from the Captains who are about to leave after having completed their fishery; but the greater part they take from the places in which the Captains have had them hidden on the coast or in the ponds in order to make use of them on another voyage. But when the proprietors, or others having a right to them, recognise them, they make no more ceremony of taking them back than the Indians do in making use of them. To return to Chief Denis, his country of Rechibouctou is beautiful; the lands are good, and not too low nor too high. The hunting there is plentiful, and also the fishing for Mackerel, which are very large. As for the woods, they are like those of other places, intermixed with Firs and Pines.
- [Along the sand flats between Richibucto and Miramichi, including the Kouchibouquac River, Miramichi Bay, and the Nepisiquit River where Denys established Bathurst. Miscou, the Baye des Chaleurs, Caraquet and Shippagan areas are also described:]
Setting out from Rechibouctou to go to Miramichi, on the left one finds great flats of sand which advance far out into the sea; and the same [is true] of all this coast, which it is necessary not to approach too near for a space of eight to ten leagues. After this one comes to a great bay which enters more than two leagues into the land, and which has fully as much of breadth. All this bay has also flats, of which the greater part are uncovered at low tide. The sea there is very dangerous in bad weather, because it breaks everywhere. There is nevertheless a little channel which leads into the [Kouchibouquac] river, but it is very crooked; and it is needful to know it well in order to enter. Even then it is only passable for longboats of a dozen to fifteen tons, at high tide. The entire extent of these flats includes even to the mouth of the river of Miramichy, of which the entrance is very narrow because of a little island which is on the right in entering [and] which closes the opening. This being passed, one reaches a fine river, a cannon shot broad, which is rather deep. The two sides are of rocks somewhat elevated, upon which there are fine woods. One finds, nevertheless, some little low coves where it is possible to approach and land with boats or canoes. This river has five to six leagues of length through which vessels can ascend, and there one finds two other rather large rivers, which empty into it, and both come together in a point which forms a fork. But it is possible to ascend them only in canoes because of the rocks which are scattered here and there [This is an error. It is more navigable than described]. That which is on the left in ascending goes towards the Rechibouctou river. The other which is on the right leads in the direction of the Baye des Chaleurs. From the head of this river, one goes, by means of a canoe portage, into the river of Nepigiguit which is in the extremity of the Baye des Chaleurs. The Indians have told me that on the upper parts of these rivers the lands are fine and flat, that the trees are fine, large, and in open formation, and that there are no little trees which hinder them in the hunting of the Moose. They are of the same species of woods that I have previously named. In the valleys where the waters make a swamp, there are a great many Firs, but small and very dense. As for the lower part of the rivers, where they make their fork, on the left there are rocks, and on the right is a flat country where there is a great meadow, of more than two leagues in length and a half league of breadth in one place, and of three-fourths of a league in another. There are some little trees on it, much removed from one another. On it are found also a great quantity of Strawberries and Raspberries, and here collects so great a number of Pigeons that it is incredible. I once remained there eight days towards the feast of Saint Jean, during which every morning and evening we saw flocks of them passing, and of these the smallest were of five to six hundred. Some alighted on the meadows, and others opposite upon a point of sand on the other side of the river. They did not remain on the ground more than a quarter of an hour at most, when there came other flocks of them to rest in the same place; the first ones then arose and passed along. I leave you to imagine whether they were not killed in quantities, and eaten in all fashions. If the Pigeons plagued us by their abundance, the Salmon gave us even more trouble. So large a quantity of them enters into this river that at night one is unable to sleep, so great is the noise they make in falling upon the water after having thrown or darted themselves into the air. This comes about because of the trouble they have had in passing over the flats, on account of the paucity of water thereon; afterwards they enjoy themselves at their ease when they meet with places of greater depth. Then they ascend into the rivers, which extend far inland; these descend from some lakes which empty one into another. On all these lakes is found abundance of Beaver, but little Moose. As for the hunting of small game, it is also very good and very abundant. Shellfish are not wanting there; the flats are always full of them. The Indians live on those rivers in much greater numbers than on any others.
To leave this place, it is necessary to pass all these flats, then to follow the coast as far as the Isle of Miscou, which is distant therefrom some ten to twelve leagues. The coast is well-nigh entirely of sand. There occur many coves, great and small, in which are meadows, and ponds of salt water formed by the sea in rising. There are also found some large streams; and in all these places the hunting for birds of all kinds never fails. The coast is all filled with woods like the others, with the exception that the Cedars are more common there. Two leagues before coming to the Isles of Miscou, one finds a large cove, which is the passage of Caraquet, ending at the Baye des Chaleurs, where there are islands of which I shall speak in the proper place.
After having made two leagues along the coast, one finds another little entrance for longboats, which is between the two Isles of Miscou. The entrance is dangerous in bad weather, because of a bar of sand which breaks furiously. From the two sides of the islands there are points of sand which make the entrance narrow, but immediately one has passed inside, then it enlarges. On the right in entering is the small Isle of Miscou, which has four or five leagues of circuit. Having passed the point, there appears a part of it which is like a great extent of land without trees. This is only morasses all filled with heaths. When one walks upon them, they are made to tremble for more than fifty paces around him. There the Wild Geese come to produce their young, and to moult during the spring. Those which moult do not lay eggs that year, and the others which do not moult lay eggs. I shall tell you the details about it when I come to speak of the peculiarities of the birds of this country.
In continuing the route, after having passed the morasses, one comes to land all covered with Firs intermingled with some little Birches. After this a long sand point is met, which makes a cove of considerable size. It is there that the vessels anchor, which go to make their fisheries under shelter of the two islands. One can say that he has there his ship in safety. I have seen as many as five or six ships here making their fishery. They make flakes upon this point of sand, for there is no gravel on it, a matter which I shall explain more at length when I come to speak of the fishery. Fresh water is far removed from this place, but, as a recompense therefore, some two hundred paces from the coast, opposite or about the middle of those woods of which I have just spoken, there issues from the bottom of the sea a spring of fresh water as large as the two fists, which preserves its freshness for a circuit of twenty feet without mixing in any manner whatsoever, either by the flowing or the ebbing of the tide. Thus the spring of fresh water rises and falls with the tide. The fishermen, to obtain their water, go there with their boats full of barrels, which they fill with buckets as if they were drawing from the basin of a fountain. At the place where this extraordinary spring occurs, there is a fathom of water at the lowest tides, and the water is salt all round like the rest of the sea.
The large Isle of Miscou has seven to eight leagues of circuit; it has several large coves, near which are some meadows and ponds into which the tide rises, and where is found a plenty of hunting of all kinds of birds. There occur here also many Partridges and Hares. There are four streams which empty into the sea, of which two can carry canoes, the others not. The woods are as in other places, but there are, however, more Firs. The land is sandy, but is nevertheless good. All kinds of herbs thrive very well, and when I had an establishment [on Shippegan Island] there, I planted many nuts of Peaches, Nectarines, and Clingstones, and of all kinds of nut fruits, which came on marvellously. I also had the Vine planted there, which succeeded admirably. But two years later D’Aunay dispossessed me of it by virtue of a Decree of the Council, although I had a concession from the Company, in consideration of which he made an arrangement with the one who commanded there for me. Inventory was made of all the merchandise and provisions which I had there, for the value of which he gave his promissory note payable the following year, with the risks of the bottomry. [He is speaking of 1647.] But of this I have never been able to recover anything. Thus, just so long as there is no order there, and one is not assured of the enjoyment of his concessions, the country will never be populated, and will always be the prey of the enemies of France.
The exit and entrance for ships is between the large island and this long sand point of the small island. It is necessary to coast along the large island to take the good channel, which has everywhere a fathom and a half and two fathoms of water. Setting out from this place, it is necessary to enter into the Baye des Chaleurs and to make the circuit of it, in going to Isle Percée.
From the blog at http://JohnWood1946.wordpress.com
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.
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.
These are selected notes from Ganong, edited for this blog:
- 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.
- Our author’s account of cooking methods is much the most detailed we possess.
- Le Clercq, on the contrary, says they drank water with pleasure in the summer.
- 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.
- 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.
- Their love for their children is noted by several other authors.
- 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.
- The black spruce, used by the Indians for such purposes to this day (Ganong’s, day, 1908).
- 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.
- There is substantial unanimity among all the early writers as to the modesty of the Indian women and girls.
- 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.
- Most of our early writers mention this expression of approval or applause, though it is sometimes written differently.
- A very widespread aboriginal custom. For our Indians it is mentioned, with more or less additional detail, by others.
- In Canadian French brayet is now anything put on to cover the person in bathing.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
From the blog at http://johnwood1946.wordpress.com
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
“Message to the House of Assembly”
“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
From the blog at http://johnwood1946.wordpress.com
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.
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.
From the blog at http://johnwood1946.wordpress.com
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, from NewBrunswick.net
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.
From the blog at http://johnwood1946.wordpress.com
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.
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.