New Brunswick History and Other Stuff

Table of Contents, Rev. July 29, 2015

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

  1. Saint John in 1834, Before it was Forever Changed by the Great Fire – July 29, 2015
  2. New Brunswick, No Country for a Mere Gentleman, 1834 – July 22, 2015
  3. Woodstock, the Only Village Between the Green River and Fredericton in 1834 – July 15, 2015
  4. On the Tamiscouta Prtage from Lake Tamiscouta to just above Grand Falls, 1834 – July 10, 2015
  5. Men of Honor and Probity Run Amok – July 1, 2015
  6. By Steamer to the So-Called City of Fredericton – June 24, 2014
  7. A Quiet and Business-Like Little City – June 17, 2015
  8. Rambles Among the Bluenoses in 1862 – June 10, 2015
  9. Edward John Russell, a New Brunswick Artist – June 3, 2015
  10. Provincial Lunatic Asylum, Report of the Medical Superintendent, 1875 – May 27, 2015
  11. The Saint John River and Port Royal in the Early 1600’s – May 20, 2015
  12. What Should We Think of Benedict Arnold? – May 13, 2015
  13. Diphtheria in New Brunswick in the Year 1889 – May 6, 2015
  14. The Official Account of the Destruction of Burnt Church – Apr. 29, 2015
  15. The Exchange Coffee House and Saint John’s First Club – Apr. 22, 2015
  16. The Wigwams and Dwellings of the Gaspesians – Apr. 15, 2015
  17. The Story of Brook Watson – Apr. 8, 2015
  18. Where Stood Fort LaTour? – Apr. 1, 2015
  19. Things This Morning Really Wear the Aspect of War – Mar. 25, 2015
  20. At Portland Point – Mar. 18, 2015
  21. Electrical Power From the Reversing Falls – Mar. 10, 2015
  22. Father Rale’s War – 1722-25; How it Ended – Mar. 4, 2015
  23. What Was the Big Deal About the Marco Polo? – Feb. 25, 2015
  24. Grand Manan to Petitcodiac, in 1786 – Feb. 18, 2015
  25. A Trip From St. John to Fredericton in 1870 – Feb. 11, 2015
  26. A Tour of St. John, N.B., in 1870 – Feb. 4, 2015
  27. Destruction by Fire of the First Cathedral in Chatham – Jan. 28, 2015
  28. Burgan the Burglar – Jan. 21, 2015
  29. Facts and Reasons Against Confederating With Canada – Jan. 14, 2015
  30. Discontent in Early Halifax in 1756 – Jan. 7, 2015
  31. A Trip on the ICR From Bathurst to Miramichi – Dec. 31, 2014
  32. Early Attempts to Introduce the Cultivation of Hemp in Eastern British America – Dec. 24, 2014
  33. Touring Campbellton and Dalhousie, Despite the Mosquitoes, 1876 – Dec. 19, 2014
  34. The Fire of 1837 in Saint John – Dec. 10, 2014
  35. The Cruise of the Rechab – Dec. 3, 2014
  36. A Night in the Deep – Nov. 26, 2014
  37. Robert Foulis (A Misplaced Genius) – Nov. 19, 2014
  38. The City Mills – Nov. 15, 2014
  39. The Brothers d’Amours – Nov. 5, 2014
  40. John Allan’s Revolutionary Mission to the Saint John River – Oct. 29, 2014
  41. Relics of the Acadian Period – Oct. 22, 2014
  42. Some Odd Old Advertisements – Oct. 15, 2014
  43. The Miramichi Fire – Relief of the Sufferers – Oct. 8, 2014
  44. Jonathan Eddy’s Account of the Attack on Fort Cumberland, November, 1776 – Oct. 1, 2014
  45. Which of These Two is the Wisest and Happiest? – Sept. 24, 2014
  46. Fredericton Bridge, a Prophetic Writing – Sept. 17, 2014
  47. A Speech to Distinguished Persons of Stake and Consideration – Sept. 10, 2014
  48. Building an Education System From Almost Nothing – Sept. 3, 2014
  49. Cape Tormentine to the Baye des Chaleurs in the 1600’s – Aug. 27, 2014
  50. The Customs of the Mi’kmaq in the 1600’s and Before – Aug. 20, 2014
  51. Two Documents Relating to the Fenians in New Brunswick – Aug. 13, 2014
  52. The Lazaretto for Lepers in Tracadie, 1862 – Aug. 6, 2014
  53. Thoughts About the Augustine Mound at Metepenegiag Mi’kmaq Nation – July 30, 2014
  54. What am I Bid for This Pauper? – July 23, 2014
  55. Trouble at Madawaska, 1831 – July 16, 2014
  56. The Great Fire at Saint John, June 20, 1877 – July 9, 2014
  57. The Poor Fellows Shook as if They Would Fall to Pieces! – July 2, 2014
  58. How to Build a Logging Camp in Around 1850 – June 25, 2014
  59. Risen from the Ashes, Phoenix Square in Fredericton – June 18, 2014
  60. Rocks and Water, Magnificence and Squalor; St. John in 1876 – June 11, 2014
  61. Moncton as Seen by a Journalist in 1876 – June 4, 2014
  62. Events Leading to the Caraquet Riots of 1875 – May 28, 2014
  63. A Dramatic Account of the Miramichi Fire – May 21, 2014
  64. Saint John in the Early 1840’s – May 18, 2014
  65. A Note to Subscribers, and a Memorandum for me – May 14, 2014
  66. The Myth that Kerosene was Invented in New Brunswick – May 7, 2014
  67. A Church with Military Boots and Fixed Bayonets – Apr. 30, 2014
  68. An Opening Salvo in an Ongoing Argument – Apr. 23, 2014
  69. May living worms his corpse devour – Apr. 16, 2014
  70. He don’t look any better than some of our own boys – Apr. 9, 2014
  71. The Disputed Territory Between New Brunswick and Maine – Apr. 2, 2014
  72. Navigation on the Saint John River – Mar. 26, 2014
  73. Shepody as a Hot Investment Opportunity, 1868 – Mar. 19, 2014
  74. To Her Majesty, RE: Reciprocity, 1853 – Mar. 12, 2014
  75. Diary on the Tobique, 1851 – Mar. 5, 2014
  76. Growing up in Fredericton in the 1820s and 1830s – Feb. 26, 2014
  77. Travels From Eastport, Maine, to Fredericton, 1851 – Feb. 19, 2014
  78. The Saint John General Public Hospital, 19th Century, Part 2 of 2 – Feb. 12, 2014
  79. The Saint John General Public Hospital, 19th Century, Part 1 of 2 – Feb. 5, 2014
  80. The Story of the Great Brothers – Jan. 29, 2014
  81. A Trek up the Tobique, and Onward to Bathurst – Jan. 22, 2014
  82. Summer Tourists. A Manual for New Brunswick Farmers – Jan. 19, 2014
  83. A Trek from Grand Falls to Campbellton, 1862 – Jan. 15, 2014
  84. A Trek From Taymouth to Boisetown, 1862 – Jan. 12, 2014
  85. Capt. William Owen’s Journal, Campobello, 1770-71 – Jan. 8, 2014
  86. The Founding of Campobello Island – Jan. 5, 2014
  87. New Brunswick Roads and Railways, 1855 – Jan. 1, 2014
  88. Grand Manan – Dec. 29, 2013
  89. The Shipyard Fire in Saint John, in 1841 – Dec. 26, 2013
  90. Christmas as it Was in Saint John, in 1808 – Dec. 22, 2013
  91. The Saint John Grammar School – Dec. 18, 2013
  92. William Wishart Blasts the New Brunswick Education System, 1845 – Dec. 15, 2013
  93. The Diary of Sarah Frost – Dec. 11, 2013
  94. Pŭlěs, Pŭlowěch′, and Beechkwěch (Pigeon, Partridge, and Nighthawk) – Dec. 10, 2014
  95. The Government of New Brunswick, 1837 – Dec. 4, 2013
  96. The Whales and the Robbers – Dec. 1, 2013
  97. The Ashburton Treaty – Nov. 27, 2013
  98. Glooscap and His Four Visitors – Nov. 24, 2013
  99. The Pioneers of Saint Stephen – Nov. 20, 2013
  100. The Adventures of Kâktoogwâsees; a Tale of Ancient Times – Nov. 17, 2013
  101. The Asylum at Saint John – Nov. 13, 2013
  102. The Liver-Colored Giants and Magicians – Nov. 10, 2013
  103. Smuggling Between Calais and St. Stephen – Nov. 6, 2013
  104. The Two Weasels – Nov. 3, 2013
  105. A note to subscribers – Oct. 30, 2013
  106. The European and North American Railway, 1862 – Oct. 30, 2013
  107. The Origin of the War Between the Mi’kmaq and the Kwěděches – Oct. 23, 2013
  108. Trouble on the Line: The Early Telegraph in New Brunswick – Oct. 16, 2013
  109. The Invisible Boy; Team′ and Oochigeaskw – Oct. 9, 2013
  110. Transportation to and from Fredericton, 1841 – Oct. 2, 2013
  111. The Boy That Was Transformed Into a Horse – Sept. 25, 2013
  112. McAdam: Notes From the Early Days – Sept. 18, 2013
  113. The Magical Food, Belt and Flute – Sept. 11, 2013
  114. European & North American Rly. Staff, 1861 – Sept. 4, 2013
  115. Glooscap and the Megumoowesoo: A Marriage Adventure – Aug. 28, 2013
  116. The Loss of the Royal Tar – Aug. 21, 2013
  117. Robbery and Murder Revenged, Plus a Grand Falls Story – Aug. 14, 2013
  118. The St. John River From Below Fredericton to the Reversing Falls – Aug. 7, 2013
  119. A Proposal for a Wooden Railway – July 31, 2013
  120. ‘On the Early History of New Brunswick’ – July 24, 2013
  121. The Maugerville Settlement, 1763-1824 – July 17, 2013
  122. 1930 Circus Train Wreck Near Moncton, N.B. – July 10, 2013
  123. Horses or Oxen? Pick one – July 3, 2013
  124. The St. John River; Andover to Fredericton – June 26, 2013
  125. Origins of Some Place Names on N.B.’s Eastern Shore – June 19, 2013
  126. The St. John River; Grand Falls to the Tobique – June 12, 2013
  127. Gabriel Acquin – June 5, 2013
  128. The Seigniories of New Brunsiwck – May 29, 2013
  129. An 1841 Trek up the Oromocto River – May 22, 2013
  130. Fredericton’s Exhibition Palace, and Bears in N.B. – May 15, 2013
  131. Murder on Diamond Square Road – May 8, 2013
  132. Acadian Historic Sites in New Brunswick – May 1, 2013
  133. John C. Tracy’s Book, Part 5 of 5 – Apr. 24, 2013
  134. John C. Tracy’s Book, Part 4 of 5 – Apr. 17, 2013
  135. John C. Tracy’s Book, Part 3 of 5 – Apr. 10, 2013
  136. John C. Tracy’s Book, Part 2 of 5 – Apr. 3, 2013
  137. John C. Tracy’s Book, Part 1 of 5 – Mar. 27, 2013
  138. A Retrospective Look at Saint John – Mar. 20, 2013
  139. The Wreck of the England – Mar. 13, 2013
  140. The First Decade of the 1800’s in St. John, N.B. – Mar. 6, 2013
  141. St. John’s Poorhouse and Workhouse – Feb. 27, 2013
  142. New Brunswick Scenes From an Old Book – Feb. 20, 2013
  143. Nice Pictures From Another Old Book – Feb. 13, 2013
  144. Life in the Backwoods of New Brunswick, Part 2/2 – Feb. 6, 2013
  145. Life in the Backwoods of New Brunswick, 1845 – Jan. 30, 2013
  146. The Works of W.O. Raymond – Jan. 23, 2013
  147. The Year of the Fever – Jan. 16, 2013
  148. Hanged for the Theft of 25 Cents – Jan. 9, 2013
  149. Reversing Falls – Pictures – Jan. 2, 2013
  150. Christmas as it was in 1808 – Dec. 25, 2012
  151. Nice Pictures From an Old Book – Dec. 19, 2012
  152. The Saint John Bridge Collapse of 1837 – Dec. 12, 2012
  153. The First Road Bridge Across the Reversing Falls – Dec. 5, 2012
  154. The Mystery of the First Lizzie Morrow – Nov. 28, 2012
  155. The First Murder Trial on the River St. John – Nov. 21, 2012
  156. The March of the 104th Regiment in 1812 – Nov. 14, 2012
  157. Partridge Island – Nov. 7, 2012
  158. Fredericton’s First Bridge Across the Saint John River – Oct. 31, 2012
  159. 1816, The Year Without a Summer – Oct. 31, 2012
  160. Winslow to Wentworth, 1781 – Oct. 31, 2012
  161. Oops! An explanation – Oct. 31, 2012
  162. The Saxby Gale of 1869 – Oct. 31, 2012
  163. New Brunswick’s Third Town in 1838: Saint Andrews – Oct. 31, 2012
  164. Fredericton and York County in 1838 – Oct. 31, 2012
  165. The City and County of Saint John in 1838 – Sept. 26, 2012
  166. The St. Andrews and Quebec Railroad – Sept. 19, 2012
  167. The Studholm Report of Saint John River Pre-Loyalists in 1783 – Sept. 12, 2012
  168. Caleb Jones. Further RE: Ann, otherwise known as Nancy – Sept. 5, 2012
  169. The Wreck of the Martha – Aug. 29, 2012
  170. The Early Settlement of Maugerville and the Sheffield Parsonage Dispute – Aug. 22, 2012
  171. Lieutenant Governors of New Brunswick to Confederation, Part 2 of 2 – Aug. 15, 2012
  172. Lieutenant Governors of New Brunswick to Confederation, Part 1 of 2 – Aug. 8, 2012
  173. The Morrow House at French Lake, N.B. – New Information – Aug. 1, 2012
  174. Sound by Glen Glenn, Revision 1 – July 25, 2012
  175. Ann, otherwise known as Nancy – July 18, 2012
  176. The Fire of October 7, 1825 – Beyond the Miramichi – July 11, 2012
  177. Lemuel Allan Wilmot – July 4, 2012
  178. The Great Fire at Miramichi, October 7, 1825 – June 27, 2012
  179. Robert Rankin in New Brunswick – June 20, 2012
  180. Who Owned the Mill at Tracy, New Brunswick? – June 13, 2012
  181. Signatures of Sunbury County Ancestors – June 6, 2012
  182. Daniel Wood’s Log Cabin, and Little Field Barn at French Lake, New Brunswick – May 30, 2012
  183. Rusagonis and George Garraty – May 23, 2012
  184. Epitaph Transcriptions from a Collection – May 16, 2012
  185. Central New Brunswick Gravestones from a Genealogy – May 9, 2012
  186. Nashwaak River Pictures with Stewart Family Connections – May 2, 2012
  187. More Sunbury County Photographs from a Collection – Apr. 25, 2012
  188. An Indian Burial Ground at Oromocto; and Coal Mining on the Oromocto River – Apr. 22, 2012
  189. “Days of Old” by Katherine DeWitt and Norma Alexander – Apr. 18, 2012
  190. The Wood Cemetery at French Lake, New Brunswick – Apr. 11, 2012
  191. James Glenie in New Brunswick – Apr. 4, 2012
  192. Four Generations of the Stewart Family on the Nashwaak River – Mar. 28, 2012
  193. Three Generations of the Mersereau Family in New Brunswick – Mar. 21, 2012
  194. Three Generations of the Smith Family of Sunbury County, New Brunswick – Mar. 14, 2012
  195. Three Generations of the Wood Family of French Lake, New Brunswick – Mar. 7, 2012
  196. New Brunswick Education in 1883 – Feb. 29, 2012
  197. Riots and Demonstrations in Saint John – Feb. 20, 2012
  198. Making Better Butter – Feb. 18, 2012
  199. York County Place Names, 1896/1905 – Feb. 8, 2012
  200. Sunbury County Place Names, 1896/1905 – Feb. 1, 2012
  201. Stereoscopic slides from Fred Stewart, Part 3 of 3 – Jan. 25, 2012
  202. Stereoscopic slides from Fred Stewart, Part 2 of 3 – Jan. 18, 2012
  203. Stereoscopic slides from Fred Stewart, Part 1 of 3 – Jan. 11, 2012
  204. The Hon. Thomas Baillie: Gone, but not soon forgotten! – Jan. 5, 2012
  205. The Fort at Oromocto, 1780 – 1783 – Dec. 29, 2011
  206. The Great Fire in Fredericton, 1850 – Early Accounts – Dec. 15, 2011
  207. The Morrow House at French Lake, and More – Dec. 8, 2011
  208. The Old Woman House at French Lake, New Brunswick – Dec. 1, 2011
  209. Smith Family Photographs from a Collection, Sunbury County, N.B. – Nov. 25, 2011
  210. French Lake from Before we Remember – Nov. 20, 2011
  211. How Geary became known as Geary – Nov. 9, 2011
  212. Elizabeth (Smith) Secord; N.B.’s First Woman Registered Doctor – Nov. 4, 2011
  213. Phillips Family Photographs from a Collection, Rusagonis, N.B. – Nov. 2, 2011
  214. Mersereau Family Photographs from a Collection, Sunbury County, N.B. – Oct. 30, 2011
  215. Wood Family Photographs from a Collection, French Lake, N.B. – Oct. 25, 2011
  216. Jeremiah Tracy: Pioneer of the Village of Tracy, New Brunswick – Oct. 20, 2011
  217. Two Old Railroad-Inspired Songs – Oct. 16, 2011
  218. Ode to the Oromocto River – Oct. 10, 2011
  219. John Mersereau, Loyalist 2 – Oct. 4, 2011
  220. The Earliest American Railroads and Locomotives – Sept. 14, 2011
  221. The Mersereau Manufacturing Company of Brooklyn, New York, Notes – Sept. 3, 2011
  222. George Morrow of French Lake, New Brunswick – 1801-1868 – Aug. 26, 2011
  223. The Wood Family of French Lake, New Brunswick – Legends – Aug. 9, 2011
  224. The Baptist Church on the Oromocto River in New Brunswick – Aug. 7, 2011
  225. John Wood of French Lake, New Brunswick – 1788-1868 – Aug. 2, 2011
  226. Daniel Wood of French Lake, New Brunswick – 1764-1847 – Aug. 1, 2011
  227. Three Stewarts on the Nashwaak – July 24, 2011
  228. Bunker Genealogy – Five Bunkers – July 20, 2011
  229. Statistics From the 1851 and 1871 Sunbury County New Brunswick Census Reports – July 19, 2011
  230. Historical Development of the Beam Bending Equation M=fS – July 18, 2011
  231. Seth Noble, Maugerville and the American Revolution – July 16, 2011
  232. Columns, the Long and the Short of it – 1729-1900 – July 15, 2011
  233. The Great Saint John Steel Cantilever Bridge – July 13, 2011
  234. The Upper Oromocto River in 1847 – July 11, 2011
  235. Early Glimpses of the Rusagonis Baptist Church in New Brunswick – July 11, 2011
  236. Abraham Gesner’s 1847 Observations of Sport Hunting in New Brunswick – July 11, 2011
  237. It Sounds a bit Too Easy – July 10, 2011
  238. James Buncker – July 10, 2011
  239. Inconsistent Petitions; Changed Self-Interests – July 10, 2011
  240. Abner Mersereau and a Letter – July 9, 2011
  241. Early Glimpses of the Patterson Settlement Baptist Church in New Brunswick – July 9, 2011
  242. The Textile Mill at Geary, New Brunswick – July 8, 2011
  243. Letter of Mi’kmaq’ Chief Pemmeenauweet to Queen Victoria – 1841 – July 7, 2011
  244. New Brunswick in the 1840s – July 7, 2011


John Wood

Written by johnwood1946

July 29, 2015 at 8:44 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

Saint John in 1834, Before it was Forever Changed by the Great Fire

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From the blog at

This story is from A Subaltern’s Furlough, Descriptive of Scenes in Various Parts of the United States, Upper and Lower Canada, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia during the Summer of 1834, by E.T. Coke.

Coke had crossed the Tamiscouta Portage from the Saint Lawrence, and had continued to Grand Falls, Woodstock, and Fredericton. For this blog posting he travels from Fredericton to Saint John. He describes Saint John as a rapidly developing place, but still requiring much effort to even-out its rocky surface. The provincial economy is dominated by the timber trade, ship building, and the fishery.

King Street 1870

King Street, St. John, NB, 1870

From the McCord Museum


Saint John in 1834, Before it was Forever Changed by the Great Fire

On the 22d of September I embarked in a small steamboat in company with Captain C, an old Burman friend, whom I was so fortunate as to find stationed at Fredericton, and who kindly offered to accompany me on a short tour through the province of Nova Scotia. We proceeded down the beautiful river St. John, (which received its name from being discovered by De Monts on the 24th of June, 1604, the day of St. John the Baptist), and 30 miles below Fredericton passed embouchure of a small rivulet, which forms an outlet to the waters of the Grand Lake and its numerous tributary streams. At Newcastle, and on the borders of the Salmon Bay, at the upper end of the Lake, coal has been found in abundance; but that hitherto discovered is of an inferior quality, and the works, for want of demand, are on a very limited scale.

After crossing the mouth of the Kennebecasis River and entering Grand Bay, which is interspersed with numerous islands, we were enveloped in a dense fog, and, landing a few miles farther, at the Indian village a mile above the Falls, proceeded on foot into the town of St. John. For three days it had been obscured by fog, while with us all had been sunshine and heat, the fog not extending more than ten miles up the river. During the first day we saw nothing of the town beyond the curbstones of the pavement, or the steps up to the doors of the houses; but a heavy shower of rain, which came on while we were groping our way through the streets in search of the barracks and thoroughly drenched us, dispelled the fog, so that the following morning the sun rose bright and clear.

The town, containing nearly 11,000 inhabitants, is built upon a rocky and irregular promontory, formed by the harbour and the river which here empties itself into the Bay of Fundy. The principal streets are broad, well paved, and neatly laid out, with excellent private dwellings, and some elegant stone public edifices. The corporation in a most spirited manner are laying out large sums of money in beautifying and levelling the streets, though much to the inconvenience of private individuals, whose houses at the bottom of some hills have been blocked up by these improvements to the attic windows, so that a passerby may peep into the first or second story. On the summit of the hill again 20 feet of solid rock have been cut away, leaving the dwellings perched on high, and allowing the occupants a view of little else save sky and the occasional roof of a lofty house. The barracks, a fine extensive range of buildings, with some small batteries overlooking the sea and commanding the entrance to the harbour, occupy an elevated and pleasant situation in front of the town, whence in clear weather the opposite coast of Nova Scotia can be seen across the Bay of Fundy.

Everything about St. John’s presented the air of a flourishing place, and numerous vessels were upon the stocks in the upper part of the bay, where the tide rises to the height of 30 feet. In point of commercial importance it is the capital of New Brunswick, and upwards of 400 square-rigged vessels enter the port annually, exporting more than 100,000 tons of square timber. From Miramichi more than 300 vessels sail with even a greater quantity of timber than from St. John’s; and from St. Andrew’s, which ranks as the third sea-port, from 150 to 170 vessels with 25,000 tons of timber. In addition to these there are several minor ports, and from the whole collectively about 11,000 seamen are employed in the trade of the province. It appears by returns made in the year 1824, when the trade was rather brisker than at present, that 324,260 tons of square timber were exported from the various sea-ports, exclusive of spars, lath wood, and deals. St. John’s possesses most of the lumbering trade from the western coast of Nova Scotia, and, the duties upon English importations being lighter than at Halifax, it absorbs much of the traffic which would otherwise flow to that city. This and the adjoining province of Nova Scotia, under different regulations, might have been still greater nurseries for British seamen than they are; their interests upon several occasions have been neglected by the mother country, who, by the treaty of 1783, granted to the United States participation in the fisheries, and a general permission to take fish at the distance of a cannon-shot from the coast. This permission has been much abused by their frequently running inshore at night, entering the bays to set their nets, in many instances forcibly preventing the British fishermen from carrying on the fishery, and destroying the fish by throwing the offal overboard, while the provincialists carry it ashore. These rights they forfeited by the war of 1812, but the renewal of them at the peace was strangely permitted, with the most injurious effects to the colonies.

The immediate vicinity of the town, and for an extent of some miles up the river, is such a mass of rock, covered only here and there with stunted pine, as almost to deter any emigrants from penetrating into the interior, or at least to give them a very poor opinion of their adopted country. The only rich or fertile tract I saw was a narrow strip of land about a mile in width, running between two ridges of rocks away from the bay, and which had been reclaimed from the bed of a river or large inlet. By some people it is imagined to be the course of the St. John’s previous to its bursting through the ridge of rocks which create the Falls. The opening through which that river passes is in the narrowest part called the “split rock,”’ and not more than 40 yards in width; a quarter of a mile higher up the stream is a second pass, from 150 to 200 yards wide, above which the river expands into a capacious bay. The great rush of the tide is such, and it rises so rapidly, that the water at the flood is some feet higher below the split rock than above it, and renders it impassable, except at high water, for half an hour, and the same fall is formed at the ebb tide, when it is again passable for the same time at low water. Boats frequently venture too far, not aware of the time of tide, and are lost in the whirlpools and eddies; one, containing three men, had been lost the day before we visited them, the most powerful swimmer not being able to gain the shore. The noise from them can be distinctly heard at the distance of some miles, and the harbour, a mile below them, is covered with flouting froth a foot in thickness. A few years since an engineer officer proposed undermining or blasting the rocks, which vary from 50 to 100 feet in length, and thus opening a passage for the free admission of the tide; but the project was opposed by the landholders some miles above the town, who represented that the river would thus be drained and rendered loo shallow for navigation.

Leaving St. John’s in a steamer on the 24th, with the sea as smooth as a lake, but the vessel rolling heavily, we passed out of the beautiful harbour by Partridge Island (the quarantine station at the entrance, which, being high and rocky, is an excellent breakwater and shelter to the harbour in easterly gales,) and steered for the Nova Scotian coast, forty miles distant. The lofty heights in rear of the city, the various Martello towers and lighthouses on Partridge Island and the headlands, the batteries and barracks rising upon a gentle acclivity from the harbour, with the ruins of old Fort Howe frowning from a rocky precipice over the city, which is built upon several eminences, form a picturesque scene when viewed from the Bay of Fundy.

[He here leaves New Brunswick, and this transcription of his travelogue ends.]

Written by johnwood1946

July 29, 2015 at 8:43 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

New Brunswick, No Country for a Mere Gentleman, 1834

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From the blog at

This story is from A Subaltern’s Furlough, Descriptive of Scenes in Various Parts of the United States, Upper and Lower Canada, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia during the Summer of 1834, by E.T. Coke.

Coke had crossed the Tamiscouta Portage running from near Rivière du Loup toward New Brunswick. For the previous blog postings we followed him from the area of Lake Temiscouta, to just above Grand Falls and then to Fredericton. For this posting he describes Fredericton and the province in general, with comments about the border dispute with the Americans and military preparedness. Fredericton was a very small place, and the legislature hesitated to fund Kings College which served only a half-dozen students, under the guidance of a President and four professors.

This is the first of Coke’s commentaries to display some of his colonial British attitudes. His remarks about the Irish and the Scots might lead them to insist that his attitudes were English, not British.

Christmas Market

The Christmas Market, Fredericton, NB, about 1910

From the McCord Museum


New Brunswick, No Country for a Mere Gentleman, 1834

After the separation of New Brunswick from Nova Scotia, in I785, Colonel Carleton was appointed Governor of the New Province, and selected a spot on the right bank of the river, where Fredericton now stands, as the site of the capital. The situation is good, being at the head of the tide-water and the sloop navigation. Though ships of large burden can ascend to the mouth of the Oromocto, from twelve to fifteen miles below, yet merchandize is usually forwarded from the sea-port ninety miles [sic] distant by small craft, the Falls of St. John, two miles from the harbour, preventing the passage of large vessels except at high water. The town consists of two principal streets, running parallel with the river, and contains about 1200 inhabitants, but as yet has no regular market nor fair. The point of land upon which it is built is flat and low, being but a few feet above the level of the freshets. A low range of rocky hills, however, rises half a mile in rear of the town, and another at rather a greater distance on the opposite side of the St. John’s, into which the pretty stream of the Nashwaak empties itself. The river immediately above Fredericton is studded with many beautiful islands of considerable extent, which, being inundated at certain seasons, produce abundant crops of hay, as is the case with the low land on the banks; but, in general, the soil is cold and poor.

The original Government House, a wooden edifice, was burnt by accident some few years since, and the present substantial and spacious one of fine freestone was erected during the administration of the late Governor, Sir Howard Douglas. In point of situation and style of architecture it far exceeds both that at Quebec and the one at York: and, with the tastefully laid out pleasure-grounds and gardens, occupies a large tract of ground on the margin of the water above the town.

The College, situated at the base of the hills, is another fine stone edifice, and, in addition to possessing the enormous grant of 6,000 acres in its immediate vicinity, has 1000l per annum allowed by the British, and the same sum by the provincial government. The former made their grant conditionally that the province allowed an equal sum; but of late years the House of Assembly have shown a disposition to withdraw their grant, though that of the mother country was made in perpctuum. They contend that they cannot afford to pay so highly for the education of the half dozen young men who study there under a president and four professors. The other public buildings are of wood, and do not display anything either tasteful or expensive in their structure. The officers’ barracks, for the few companies of infantry quartered in the town, are prettily situated on one side of a square, surrounded by line trees and the intervening space laid with grass, where the excellent band of the 31st regiment attracted a crowd of auditors during the fine evenings of September.

Many of the old inhabitants were the royalists of the American Revolution who settled in New Brunswick after the forfeiture of their property in the States, and several of them still hold high official situations. But, as in the Canadas, the same blunt manner and independent spirit which an Englishman is so apt to censure in the United States is here very perceptible, and the lower classes of people assume similar airs. A shopkeeper is mighty indignant if so addressed: forsooth he is a storekeeper; a blacksmith is a lieutenant of militia grenadiers, and sports his full-dress uniform, with gold wings, as proudly as a nobleman; a maid-servant, who has emigrated from England only three years before with scarcely a shoe to her foot, walks in to be hired, and, in the presence of the lady of the house, seats herself in the best chair in the parlour and then enters upon business with the ease of one who is reciprocating a favour: in short, no one confesses a superior. They certainly possess the levelling system in full vigour, inhaled, I should imagine, from the opposite side of the frontier. “Ne sutor ultra crepidam” is not the motto here; the majority of the House of Assembly is composed of ignorant farmers and shopkeepers, the representatives of the eleven counties into which the province is divided. One thing, however, I will acquit them of: they neither chew tobacco nor do they annoy you in their hotels with the essence of egg-nog and mint julips.

The New-Brunswickers, generally speaking are a fine athletic race of people, and the lumberers, in personal appearance and strength, will not yield to the peasantry of any nation. They are alike insensible to heat and cold, and with a stock of salt pork and rum remain in the woods without quitting them for months, employed in their hardy occupation of felling timber. The province will doubtless improve rapidly. The timber trade, which has so long employed the energies of the inhabitants already beginning to fail in some parts, and agriculture will be more attended to. The farmers have ever been in the habit of paying their one shilling and sixpence per ton into the crown land office for a license to lumber during the winter months, entirely neglecting their farms for a pursuit which would bring them a little more ready money. Owing to this ruinous system, the specie has found its way into the United States for the purchase of flour and pork, while a system of barter has been established between the inhabitants of the interior of the province, the labourer receiving so many bushels of wheat for his work, and the whiskey dealer bartering with the butcher or tailor.

The population of the province, including the scattered Acadians and original French settlers, who possess considerable tracts of land upon the eastern coast, does not at present exceed 100,000, though it is now rapidly increasing. Many emigrants of a highly respectable class, and men of good education were continually arriving during my stay at Fredericton. They intended purchasing farms on the banks of the St. John’s, near Woodstock; but I could scarcely imagine that persons who had been accustomed to mix in the gay scenes of a college life, and move in the higher walks of society in England, would ever be happy or contented in a comparative wilderness, where they must be solely dependent on their own resources, and their time, devoid of excitement, must hang heavily on their hands. From what little I saw of the vast western continent, I should say it was no country for a mere gentleman, who retained a fondness for hunting and shooting, but rather for artificers and farmers, whose previous habits enabled them to put their own shoulders to the wheel. Of the natives of Great Britain the lower orders of the Scotch are usually considered the best settlers, having been more accustomed to privations and hardships than their English neighbours, who, though not so addicted to spirituous liquors, are a worse class of settlers, and more dissatisfied with the change they have made, than the Irish. The lowlanders again are even a better description of settlers than their Highland brethren, who, like the French, satisfied with a mere existence, care little about the improvement of their farms.

The late order for collecting quit-rents appeared to give universal dissatisfaction amongst the old settlers, who were far from being thankful for having held gratuitous possession of their lands for fifty years. They even hinted at refusing to pay them, acknowledging, however, that his Majesty had an unquestionable right to collect them, but asserting that they were mentioned in their grants merely for form’s sake, and, at the time those grants were made, it was never intended that the collection of them should be carried into execution. The quit-rents, too, bear only slightly upon men of large property, the option being allowed of paying two shillings per 100 acres per annum, or of purchasing out by paying fifteen years in advance; so that for the trifling sum of 15l a landed proprietor may become possessor of 1000 acres of land, which previously were held under the crown. The casual revenue which is expended in roads and other public works, and derived principally from the sale of crown lands and timber, must be fast decreasing, and the collection of the quit-rents, without pressing heavily upon any one, will sustain it for some time. Until the arrival of Sir Archibald Campbell, the present Governor, no part of the world could have possessed so few and such bad roads. Since his arrival, however, the “Royal Road” has been surveyed, and several miles of it are already completed; the intention being to extend it on the opposite side of the river to the Grand Falls. By the course of the stream the distance is 130 miles, which will be shortened 40 miles by the new road, and, at the same time, not only tend to the rapid settlement of the interior of the country, by throwing open a mercantile line of communication, but in time of war will be of incalculable advantage as a military road to Quebec, with the broad stream of the St. John’s, a natural protection against any sudden inroads from the American frontier. Most of the allotments upon the sea coast have been occupied many years, and the occupation of those upon the banks of the principal rivers followed. They are generally of a narrow frontage, so that each occupant may command water navigation; but some extend to the rear as much as five or six miles; and the 2d and 3d occupations from the river are even now filling. The best crown lands are at this time selling at three shillings, and the general average of crops is about eighteen bushels of wheat per acre. The winter being of longer duration than elsewhere, winter wheat is not sown; the soil, however, yields the finest potatoes in North America, which give the name of Blue-noses to the New-Brunswickers, from the small eyes or excrescences with which they are covered, and they are exported to the United States in vast quantities. The province as yet (owing to the dense forests) has been very imperfectly explored, but it is known to abound with coal, slate, freestone, and granite; it also produces some small quantities of various ores. Its climate is dry and particularly healthy, excepting about the coast of the Bay of Fundy, where, from the continued fogs, the inhabitants are said to be liable to pulmonary complaints.

During my ten days’ residence at Fredericton I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Audubon, the celebrated ornithologist, who, with his sons, was searching for additions to his laborious undertaking. He had only been fortunate enough to meet with one rather rare bird in the province; and I am afraid he would not add many subscribers to his valuable but expensive work. His original drawings were certainly much more beautiful and spirited than the English coloured engravings. His time appeared entirely given up to the performance of what he had undertaken, and in the pursuit of which he has expended a considerable fortune. His manners are very mild, and he has unprepossessing and benevolent countenance, with a sharp eagle eye and prominent features.

The militia were called out for three days’ training, and the battalion which assembled at Fredericton 1000 strong was composed of fine athletic men. Only 200 of them were armed, and about the same number had clothing and accoutrements. There was also an African company, who had decked themselves very gaily, and carried the only drum and fife in the field. They appeared quite proud of their occupation, not being exempted, as in the United States, from the performance of military duty. The province could, in case of emergency, furnish 20,000 men, (but, unfortunately, there are neither arms nor clothing for one-tenth of that number,) and six troops of yeomanry cavalry. The Fredericton troop made an exceedingly neat and clean appearance, being well clothed and partly armed; and in active service, in such a country as New Brunswick, would prove of very essential utility. In case of immediate aggression from their neighbours, the province must for some time be intrusted to their care alone, there being only six weak companies of regular infantry in three distant detachments, with a frontier of 200 miles in extent, and a province of 22,000 square miles in charge, while the Americans have two garrisons close upon the boundary line (at Eastport and Houlton,) and an excellent military road nearly completed to Boston. The New-Brunswickers have already given ample proof that they are well qualified as soldiers to undergo any hardships and privations. During the last American war the 104th regiment was entirely raised in this province, and made a march unparalleled in the annals of English history, and only equalled by that of the Russian campaign in 1812 through the extensive forests to the Canadas in the depth of a severe winter. No troops ever behaved better in the field, and the corps was nearly annihilated at the storming of Fort Erie. Many Americans settle in the province, and are always the most enterprising and money seeking men; many too are prevented naturalizing by an oath of allegiance, or some similar form, which the law requires to be taken in a Protestant church; and, being considered as aliens, they pay a fine of thirty shillings in lieu of performing militia duty.

That one party at least in the United States care little for embroiling themselves with Great Britain, in order that they may have a pretext for invading her colonies, may be gathered from the following paragraphs in the American Quarterly Review of June, 1832: “If then a war should ever again arise between the United States and Great Britain, the policy of our country is obvious—the Acadian Peninsula must be ours at all hazards, and at any cost of blood or treasure. Were this once gained, the rest of the colonies would fall almost as soon as we might please to summon them.” . . . . “For this purpose, a fortress, capable of sustaining a siege until it could be relieved, should be erected upon the upper valley of the St. John’s (which is debatable ground)” and connected with the settled country by a military road and a chain of fortified posts.” ….”As Americans, we cannot fear the final result of any contest that may arise. The relative strength of the two countries is continually changing, and becoming more and more favourable to us.” This language, which savours so strongly of confident assurance, arises from a discussion upon the boundary in dispute between the State of Maine and New Brunswick. The article proves how fully alive the Americans are to the value of the disputed ground, as an annoyance in a military point of view to their rival, which has already been almost cut off from the protection of the Canadas by concessions of the British Government, who have ever lost by treaty what they gained by the sword. It is a difficult matter to glean the full merits of the case, each party so pertinaciously adhering to its own interested statement. So far back as the treaty of Ryswick in 1697, when the boundary line was attempted to be settled between Acadia, then under the dominion of the French, and New England under that of the mother country, an undecided question arose respecting the true river St. Croix, each party maintaining that stream to be the correct one which threw an additional tract of country into its territory. The same question was mooted with equal results in 1783, when time had wrought a wonderful change upon the face of affairs; that which had formerly been New England was now a free and independent state; and that which had been a French settlement was now New Scotland, paying allegiance to Great Britain. In the treaty of London, in 1794, the 5th article directly stated, “Whereas doubts have arisen what river was truly intended under the name of the river St. Croix,” that question should be referred to the final decision of commissioners.

Again, in 1814, an article was framed in the treaty of Ghent, agreeing upon commissioners being appointed to survey the boundary line which had been described in former treaties. At this time the question might have been decided; the resources of the United States were exhausted, and they would gladly have made peace upon any terms, now, that tranquility was restored upon the continent of Europe, England could turn its undivided powers against her more implacable enemy. But the high-minded British Commissioners yielded too easily to American chicanery, and, granting what could not be proved above a century previous, permitted a stream to be called the St. Croix, and that branch of it the main one, which at once deprived them of the strongest argument in their favour, and, to use the expression of a nautical man with whom I was conversing upon the subject, “Now, they have let fly the main sheet, and are snatching at the rope’s end.” No person endowed with common sense could imagine for a moment, upon inspection of the map, that the British Commissioners, in the treaty of 1783, would have consented to the territorial possessions of the United States approaching within thirteen miles of the St. Lawrence, and so deeply indenting into the British provinces. The Kennebec, to the westward of the present St. Croix, was the national boundary between the English and French in the 17lh century, and it is affirmed by many that the Penobscot was the original St. Croix. In the commission, dated September, 1763, appointing Montague Wilmot, Esq., Captain-General and Governor of Nova Scotia, the western boundary of that province is described as having “anciently extended and doth of right extend as far as the river Pentagonet, or Penobscot;” and the whole country to the eastward of that river was in actual possession of the British at the treaty of 1783. De Monts, the celebrated navigator ordered out by Henry IV of France, in 1603, to explore the coast of Nova Scotia, had the honour of giving name to the river where he wintered, which has been the subject of so much controversy. It is not probable that such an experienced seaman would risk his vessels amidst the drift ice opposite the present town of St. Andrews, when so many safe harbours were scattered along the coast to the south-west.

The boundary line is defined in the late treaties as passing up the centre to the source of the St. Croix; thence due north until it strikes the headlands, which divide the waters running into the Atlantic Ocean from those which join the St. Lawrence; thence along the said highlands to the north-westernmost head of the Connecticut River, and down along the middle of it to the 45th degree of north latitude. The commissioners differed so materially in the determination of these highlands (upwards of 100 miles in a direct line) that, in conformity with the treaty of Ghent, reference was made to the King of Holland, as umpire, who decided the matter to the disapprobation of both parties, giving the British so much of the territory as would include the mail road from Quebec to Halifax, and to the Americans a fortress built by them within the British frontiers near Lake Champlain, the most vulnerable point of the State of New York. At this very day the settlement of the question appears as far from adjustment as it was a century since. The United States would no doubt lay aside all claims, were an equivalent in the long sighed-for free navigation of the St. Lawrence offered to them. Maine has committed various acts of sovereignty upon the debatable ground within the last few years in granting lands, allowing her citizens to lumber upon the Aroostook River, and even opening a poll on the St. John’s, a few miles above the Madawaska settlement, the several candidates for magisterial offices addressing the people from a cart. Soon, most probably, the American standard would have been flying upon the ramparts of a fort had not, fortunately for the British interests, Sir Archibald Campbell arrived from England at this critical period to assume the reins of government, and, with that firmness and active decision which are so characteristic of him, proceeded in person upon a tedious journey 400 miles in extent and seized some of the aggressors. The principals absconded into Maine, and the authorities of that State interceded for the remission of the punishment justly awarded to those who were captured. The intrinsic value of the few thousands of square miles involved in dispute is trifling, but they are inestimable when viewed with regard to the future prosperity and retention of the British provinces.

Written by johnwood1946

July 22, 2015 at 8:29 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

Woodstock, the Only Village Between the Green River and Fredericton in 1834

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From the blog at

This story is from A Subaltern’s Furlough, Descriptive of Scenes in Various Parts of the United States, Upper and Lower Canada, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia during the Summer of 1834, by E.T. Coke.

Coke had been travelling the Tamiscouta Portage running from near the Pilgrim Isles just upstream of Rivière du Loup toward New Brunswick. For the previous blog posting we followed him from the area of Lake Temiscouta, to just above Grand Falls. For this posting he continues his journey from Grand Falls to Fredericton.

Coke tells the story of Mohawk invaders being washed over the Grand Falls, confirming that that story was a tradition even 181 years ago. We also find a family of seven people who consider that their neighbours, seven miles away, are too close to avoid quarrelling. Coke arrives at Woodstock, hardly even a village at that time, and finds a spirited community competing for the best locations, anticipating that the town would grow. This posting ends with his arrival in Fredericton.

Apple Seeds Woodstock

Saving Apple Seeds, Woodstock, NB, 1901

From the McCord Museum


Woodstock, the Only Village Between the Green River and Fredericton in 1834

Twenty miles farther brought us to the Great Falls, where we again landed, the Portage commencing at the rather dangerous vicinity of about l50 yards above them, the influence of the cataract being very evident upon canoes which must cross the river to gain the entrance of the Portage, situated in a small circular bay. The surface of the river is perfectly smooth and unbroken until it gains the very edge of the rock, when it is precipitated 70 feet in a sheet of amber-coloured foam into a narrow and rocky channel, not exceeding 35 feet in breadth, down which it boils and bubbles for the space of half a mile, and then expands into its original width of about 150 yards. There is a tradition, though seemingly not a very probable one, that several canoes of Mohawk Indians, who had attacked a tribe near the source of the river, and massacred all, excepting two old squaws, were (accompanied by their prisoners) floating down with the current at night, and were to a man dashed to pieces over the Falls, of whose existence they had not even the most remote idea. The squaws aware of the circumstance perished with them, not wishing to survive the destruction of their tribe. Sitting upon the rough crags on the margin of the cataract, we made a late dinner upon the last remains of our shoulder of mutton, sacrificing the well-picked bone to the shades of the old squaws and the Grand Falls.

The river banks formed of a hard rock with light covering of soil exceed 100 feet in height above the falls, and more than 200 half a mile below them. The man who conveyed the boats across the Portage earns a good livelihood by his two-fold occupation of farmer and boat-carrier. Our canoe, with the baggage in it, was drawn along a winding road on a sledge by two oxen, and launched again into the water half a mile below for a quarter of a dollar. Timber was formerly drawn up on the level of the bank, and then launched again into the water down an inclined plane, but this system was soon abandoned as too expensive, and it is now allowed to shoot the Falls, which in the freshets but little injures it.

For seven or eight miles the current carried us on with great velocity over the “White Rapids,” the “Black Rapids” and a series of others, all sufficiently dangerous to encounter without a skilful pilot, and we landed at dusk near a small log hut, the first we saw after leaving the Portage. The banks had continued a hundred feet in height, and covered with a dense pine forest, but we frequently passed groups of woodsmen bivouacking by their fires at the water’s edge after their day’s labour had ceased. Throwing part of the baggage over my shoulder, I walked up to the hut, through whose small window the bright light of the wood fire could be seen blazing cheerfully, and knocking at the door walked in, and found a family of seven, who welcomed me most hospitably. My companions following me, we joined the circle, and, after enjoying a bowl of excellent milk, asked the settler’s history. He had been a comrade of the veteran upon the lake [Tamiscouta], and had been settled there at the same time, when his nearest neighbour lived at twenty miles’ distance. He had now one within six miles, but considered it no advantage, and would rather that people did not settle so near to him, as he should then have no fear of quarrelling. Part of his house had been washed away by the freshets during the spring of the previous year and, although it was 20 feet above the level of the river, the water had stood 5 feet 5 inches in his kitchen which was the only room he had remaining. This summer, too, the bears had destroyed 13 sheep and 4 hogs of his stock, but he had yet 23 sheep remaining, and two cows. The only neighbours, however, he did not appear, in any manner, to approve, were the Americans, whose boundary was within five miles. He said that he had been over amongst some of them lately and told them that they had belter be silent upon the subject of the boundary question now, for that New Brunswick had a governor who had just been most satisfactorily arranging the same kind of a dispute in the East Indies.

As the night was advanced, wishing to obtain a few hours’ sleep. I threw my wet great coat upon the floor before the blazing hearth, as the most comfortable berth I could select; but the settlers wife would so positively insist upon Mr. Reid and myself taking possession of the only bed in the room, upon which, she asserted, “she had just placed new blankets for our express comfort,” that I was compelled most reluctantly to relinquish it, while the settler and his son went out and sought a nights rest amongst the straw in the stable I had heard from the boatman on the Madawaska River that the house was not celebrated for its cleanliness, and a sight of the bed convinced me that there must be very substantial reasons for its fame having spread through a hundred miles of nearly uninhabited country: so I walked out of the house with the intention of sleeping in the open air, and thus avoid giving any affront to our hostess, but the mist rose so thick and cold from the water, and remembering the story of the bears, I thought it more prudent to undergo a night’s tortures within doors. On returning into the house, I found my friend already between the far-famed blankets. The boatman had taken up my comfortable position on the hearth; the children were lying upon a bed at the foot of ours, and the settler’s wife sat in a chair watching the fast-dying embers. I was somewhat puzzled to discover how Mr. Reid had contrived to turn in: for I had no idea of risking myself otherwise than in my clothes. and. after considerable maneuvering took an opportunity, when the settler’s wife turned her head, to spring in and strongly intrench myself up to the chin between the coverlid and upper blanket. My friend had taken up a similar strong position, and was almost choked with attempting to smother his laughter. We were not such old soldiers, however, as to out-manoeuvre the enemy in this manner: for swarms of light infantry poured down upon us in every direction; and most stoically did we bear their attacks for the short time we were awake, but the fatigues of the day soon caused us to be unconscious of everything that was passing [mosquitoes and blackflies?]. Towards morning I was awaked by some heavy weight upon my feet, and at first, took it for a visit of the night-mare; but arousing my senses a little, and feeling it move, I was convinced it must be one of the children; so out of gratitude for our accommodation I could not remove it, but endured the evil, until rising to depart upon our voyage I discovered that it was a large black dog, which had favoured us with his company.

Two hours brought us to the mouth of the Aroostook River, and Stobec, a small Indian village on the opposite bank. Landing where we saw a bark canoe drawn up on the beach, we fortunately met a staff officer, who had been up the Aroostook to check some aggressions of the American lumberers in the forests on the disputed territory, and was now on his return to Fredericton. We proceeded in company through a fertile and from this time well-inhabited country, with fine bold scenery at every turn of the stream, and at night arrived at Woodstock, about sixty miles below the Falls and half a mile from the river, where we found a comfortable little inn kept by an American. The division of the counties, which had only lately taken place, had not been publicly stated more than three or four days, and Woodstock, which had formerly been in the county of York, was now the capital of the mew-formed county of Carleton. At present, it is but a small village, though doubtless, ere many years have passed, it will be one of the most considerable towns in the province, being situated in the most fertile part, and already possessing a large agricultural population. Persons anxious for posts under government and to establish themselves with the earliest foundation of the town, were flocking in from all directions; no fewer than three surgeons and four attorneys had already arrived, though there was neither fee nor food for one of them. The small and formerly quiet village had already divided opinions and clashing interests, and numerous little jealousies and bickerings had arisen. It is a straggling place, settled party upon a creek near the river, and partly upon the high ground where the inn was; so each party wished to establish their own spot as the site of the capital, and derive the advantage of having the public building there.

The evening gun from the American garrison of Houlton, only five miles distant, can be distinctly heard at Woodstock; and. as we were descending the river on the 11th of September, we caught a glimpse of Mars Hill, upon which the boundary monument has been erected. Large as the St. John’s River is, it is rendered utterly unnavigable by the numerous rapids, where, in many places, the depth does not exceed three feet. The beach everywhere was strewed with fine timber, which had been left by the falling of the spring freshets, and which could not now arrive at the port of exportation before the ensuing year, and flat-bottomed provision-boats can with difficulty reach Woodstock on the 3d day from Fredericton The scenery throughout the St. John’s, is of a superior order to the generality of that in America, and becomes bolder and more beautiful as the river nears the ocean: but the land decreases in fertility in an equal ratio every succeeding mile below Woodstock. The Falls of the Pokiok at its junction with the St. John’s seen through a wooded and rocky chasm, and an Indian village with some fine drooping elms upon a bold undulating country a few miles lower down, are exceedingly picturesque objects.

With the exception of Woodstock, it cannot be said that there is any settlement which can come under the denomination of a village between the Green River and Fredericton, a distance not short of 220 miles. In many parts, as at Madawaska, a narrow riband of farms extends along the banks of the St. John, and stretches back from a quarter to a mile inland. Three or four tribes also of Indians have their strange-looking collection of bark-built wig-wams huddled together upon the headlands formed by the junction of the Tobique and other tributary streams: the chief’s house is usually distinguished from the rest by having a flag-staff alongside of it, or the roof being rather more elevated. The costume of the females struck me as much gayer than that of the tribes I had previously seen in the Canadas. Their dress here was generally of brilliant and gaudy colours, with their black hats encircled by a broad silver band. The men, who appeared to subsist chiefly upon fishing in the summer season, had the same heavy and forbidding countenances I had observed amongst the Seneca and Iroquois tribes. I was informed, however, by officers of the army, and agents who had superintended the annual distribution of presents from the British government to the tribes upon the borders of Lake Huron, that fine athletic warriors of the Sac and Fox tribe of Indians, with noble features, used to attend upon those occasions with one side of their face painted sky blue, and the other chequered with vermilion and bright yellow: but all whom I saw fell very far short of the natives of Bengal and Pegu both in stature and countenance.

At ten o’clock on the night of the ninth day from our leaving Quebec, we arrived at Fredericton, 350 miles distant, rejoiced beyond measure that our fatiguing expedition was at an end. The cramping attitude of sitting crouched at the bottom of the canoe for sixteen hours, during four successive days, without being able to change that position, lest the heavily-laden and frail vessel should capsize, was irksome and overpowering in the extreme. But, when our troubles and vexations were over, as usual we laughed heartily at all our adventures; and, taking it all in all, I may fairly say that I enjoyed this journey more than any other portion of my travels on the continent of America. Our provisions had been rather short, and the bread on the 4th or 5th day became so excessively sour, from alternate wet and exposure to the sun, that it was unwholesome as well as unpalatable, and began to affect us seriously. Nor had our night’s rest been sought upon couches of the softest and most fleecy down, but, in the enjoyment of good health, other matters were felt trifling moment, and soon consigned to oblivion.

Written by johnwood1946

July 15, 2015 at 10:16 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

On the Tamiscouta Portage from Lake Tamiscouta to Just Above Grand Falls, 1834

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From the blog at

This story is from A Subaltern’s Furlough, Descriptive of Scenes in Various Parts of the United States, Upper and Lower Canada, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia during the Summer of 1834, by E.T. Coke.

Coke had been touring the Saint Lawrence River, and had turned inland onto the Tamiscouta Portage running from near the Pilgrim Isles just upstream of Rivière du Loup toward New Brunswick. For this story, I have joined him as he approaches Lake Temiscouta because of the startling beauty of that place. He visited the homes of several settlers along the way, and named them for the interest of future family historians. We find families living in the wilderness without neighbours, and children playing then as now. This was 181 years ago, but Archie Bunker’s remark about children applied even then: “Lord, you made them all the same.”

Madawaska River Map

The Madawaska River, New Brunswick, 1750-1800

From the McCord Museum


On the Tamiscouta Portage from Lake Tamiscouta to Just Above Grand Falls, 1834

We proceeded on foot, and by mid-day we arrived at the river St. Francis, a small stream which is involved in the boundary question between Great Britain and the United States, where we met the royal mail upon its way from Halifax. The letter bags were fastened upon a dray or low sledge drawn by a single horse, which was moving quietly along, cropping what little grass grew by the road-side. The guard, fifty yards behind, was taking it equally leisurely, amusing himself by blowing through his tin horn, and listening to the echo of the unmusical notes he produced, as they resounded amongst the distant hills. The meeting was unexpected on both sides, and as he came suddenly round a turn in the forest, raising his hand to salute us, he slipped over a stone, and fell upon his back in a mass of mud and water; but rising again immediately, with the most enviable unconcern, he stood up to his knees in it, answering our numerous queries. He travelled over the road, or seventy two miles, once a week, without meeting a human being in three months, and I will bear witness he had no sinecure.

At three o’clock we reached the first hut, where the guides proposed passing the night, but the interior was in such a filthy state, and so crowded by a large family, that I. preferred trusting to the weather in the woods, and, as an inducement to proceed, urged the possibility of arriving at a farm house upon the lake, fifteen miles farther. The Canadians willingly assented; so once more we toiled away over the rough hills, gathering the bilberries, nuts, gooseberries, strawberries, and other wild fruits, which grew in abundance on every side. Partridges too crossed the path frequently, almost within reach of our sticks, with the greatest impunity: for never were there such peaceably disposed travellers in the woods before: we had not even a pistol, gun, tinder-box, or, as Sheridan says, “a single bloody-minded weapon” with us.

Throughout the day we were journeying in a kind of no-man’s land. The British Government claim is partly by the right of possession (which, as everyone knows is nine points in law,) and have the credit of having expended at various times within the last dozen years, upwards of £1000 in forming this road, (which is the only one between Quebec and Halifax) out of an old Indian hunting path. A traveller has some difficulty in accounting for the expenditure, unless he comes to the conclusion that it has been sunk in one of the marshes, or frittered away upon a corduroy. The United States claim the debatable land by right of treaty (which same treaty each party construes according to its respective interests,) though it will be evident to anyone who will refer to the map, that brother Jonathan wants to possess it merely in order that he may serve as a thorn in the side (to which indeed the form of the tract in question bears a strong resemblance) of the British provinces, thus cutting off the direct route to Quebec, the key of British North America in time of war, dividing the lesser provinces from the Canadas, and probably erecting fortifications upon a frontier which would extend within thirteen miles of the St. Lawrence. The intrinsic value of the land is next to nothing, and can be but insignificant to a nation already in possession of 1,205,000,000 acres of land, or 2,000,000 of square miles.

Three hours after sunset the guides, who were ahead, hailed us with the cheerful sound of “une bonne espérance.” This was followed by a charge of several cows, which, rushing past, were greeted also by us as a happy omen. Scarcely more exultation could have been expressed by Xenophon and the 10,000 Greeks of old, when the ocean again displayed its broad waters to their view, than was by us when we saw the light surface of the Temiscouta Lake lying far beneath us. But a few minutes before we had held a council of war about bivouacking in the woods, the want of the requisites for striking a light, and a sprinkle of rain, alone causing us to persevere in our journey, which came to an end by eleven o’clock, when we arrived at Mr. Frazer’s house and farm, after eighteen hours of most fatiguing toil, over twenty-four miles of ground, and through forest where we could never see twenty yards from the road, the only object worthy of notice being the majestic hemlock trees, or the branches of the pine, with long streamers of green moss hanging from them. Although the hospitable owner of the house had retired to rest some time, he rose immediately upon our knocking, and gave us a hearty welcome, with a cup of excellent tea, and a shake-down upon the floor. He told us he had lived there nine years, but the land was poor, and he was so tired of his solitary life that he inclined to leave his farm, and retire to some property he possessed on the river du Loup, situated in a district of which he was Seigneur.

He furnished us, the next morning, the 8th of September, with two canoes and a man in each, and, parting with our Canadian guides, we paddled down the lake until we arrived at the residence of Mr. Blazer’s next and nearest neighbour, six miles distant. We presented him with some late newspapers, and his wife in return soon provided a comfortable breakfast. The settler, when we arrived, was sitting at the window, poring over an old number of the Sailor’s Magazine. He had served twenty-four years in the 49th regiment, and three years in a veteran battalion, when, receiving his discharge, he was settled with several other soldiers on the borders of the lake and upon the portage, to keep open a line of communication with the St. Lawrence. All the others, despairing of making a livelihood after the first two or three years, when their rations of flour were withdrawn, had migrated to some more populous and promising country. Sixteen years had expired since he landed in the thick forest, on the spot he then occupied, with his wife and two boys. He said that for the first twelve months he much felt the loss of his barrack-room society: but, setting to work with a good heart, he built a log hut, which was now occupied as a pig-sty, and persevered in clearing the ground until the seventh year, when disease attacked his cattle, and carried off every head. This so discouraged him that he quitted the place, and returned into the inhabited part of the country, but soon again visited his old farm and commenced anew. From that time everything had gone on in a flourishing manner. He now possessed nine cows and a hundred acres of cleared land, and was perfectly happy and contented. His sons were grown up men, and were mowing a few acres of grass, but the corn was yet green, and did not appear as if it would ripen before winter. It did not, however, seem at all to concern the worthy veteran, who said “he must hope for the best.” I asked him how he disposed of the produce of his farm, and his answer was that “his farm did not yield anything more than would provide his family. Butcher’s meat they did not require, and were well satisfied with salt pork and vegetables.” His maple sugar was most excellent, and he had made 400 lbs. from 800 trees the preceding year; but the land in the vicinity was generally poor, and upon the headlands (to use his own expression) “there was not enough to feed a mouse, though there was a good farm here and there away from the lake.” He was a true Corporal Trim in the first instance, he fought the battles of Chippewa and Lundy’s Lane, for my edification, upon the white hearth stone with a piece of charcoal, but, finding my undivided attention was bent upon something more substantial, he transferred the scene of action to the breakfast table, where he most gallantly carried the heights of Queenston upon the top of the loaf of bread, and stormed Fort Erie through the spout of a tea-pot. He talked with the greatest pride of having served in the same regiment with Lord Aylmer and Sir Isaac Brock, regretting much that the former was not at home when he made his biennial trip to Quebec for his pension during the summer. To show, however, his esteem for him, he had a large proclamation respecting the cholera, and the performance of quarantine, with the signature of the Governor General, nailed up against the wall of his house.

Wishing him success, we again pushed on, lashing the two canoes together and keeping close under the lee-shore, there being so fresh a breeze that we were several times in imminent danger of being swamped, from the frequent strong gusts of wind which swept down the valleys between the highlands with which the lake is skirted. In the widest parts, the lake does not exceed a mile and a half in breadth, and is about twenty-five in length. After entering the narrow and rapid stream of the Madawaska River (the outlet of the Temiscouta Lake) we glided swiftly along between undulating and beautiful banks, the hills rising from 100 to 500 feet in height, and covered with every description of forest tree, but touched only here and there with the dark foliage of the pine, while, at the very margin of the water, the white trunks of the birch were most prominent. We rested an hour at mid-day for the purpose of dining, our table and couch being one of the veteran’s hay-cocks, in a cleared spot of ground twenty miles from his house, the first open space we had seen since quitting it. Ten miles farther we heard the merry chattering of some children, evidently Irish, from their accent, and, rounding a point, found a parcel of little urchins in high glee throwing pebbles and sticks of wood at another who was angling in a most artist-like manner, as he floated down the stream in a bark canoe. In the background, a party of five or six newly-arrived emigrants were sitting round a fire superintending the cooking department, their log huts being in an unfinished state. The ground for the space of an acre was covered with the smoking trunks of trees, and blackened logs, and here and there the murky skeleton of some decayed giant of the forest was gradually consuming away as it retained its erect position. From this small settlement there were partial and new clearings for an extent of five or six miles, when the thick forest again closed in upon the river.

About eight o’clock we were moving along with increased velocity, having passed over several Rapids most gallantly, and shipping but a small quantity of spray, when I heard a hollow roar ahead, which I was well aware must arise from some cataract, and hinted to the boatmen that they had better keep a sharp look out ahead. They, however not pleased I suppose at being dictated to by a greenhorn in such matters, ran on in the same course, until we could not well make the shore, and had a good chance of taking a leap over some falls of 12 or 14 feet, had not a rock 20 or 30 yards above them luckily intervened, and brought us up with such a shock as nearly to throw Mr. Reid out of the bottom of the canoe, where he lay fast asleep, into the water. I was on the point of throwing myself in to swim, when I observed that our headway was stopped, and after some difficulty we succeeded in gaining a little inlet formed by a rock on the verge of the Falls. Taking out our baggage, we carried it as well as the canoes over the rocks to the level below, and, again stepping in, were in a few minutes at the settlement of Madawaska at the confluence of the Madawaska and St. John’s Rivers. It was formed by the Acadians, after their expulsion from Nova Scotia about the year 1754, and is situated in a pretty and rather fertile spot, but with no regular village. We could obtain some tea and beds at a small inn, the landlord of which also filled the twofold occupation of grocer and retailer of rum; but, as elsewhere upon our journey, there was no butcher’s meat, not more than half a dozen travellers visiting the settlement in the course of the year.

When we arrived the landlord was superintending the erection of a grist mill, some miles distant; but his son rode off and summoned him to attend his guests: and, before we had dressed in the morning, a tall, dark, but sanctified and clean shaved man, walked into the room, and announced himself as our host and humble servant to command—Simeon Abair by name. After the creation of many difficulties upon his part, he agreed (as the Rapids were too dangerous to attempt paddling ourselves down the St. John’s) to provide us with a canoe and man for £5, assigning “harvest time” as the reason for making so exorbitant a demand. As he would not abate anything, the money was paid him; but upon proceeding to the river, to which, as we subsequently remembered, he hurried us, without allowing the boatman to approach, or even to speak to us, we found a little cockle-shell which would have filled and swamped in the first cats-paw or a slight summer shower. Protesting that I would not run the risk of my life and loss of baggage for a distance of 150 miles in such a craft, sooner than loose such good customers he furnished us with a more capacious one and we proceeded on our course down the St. John’s. Two days afterwards, we had the curiosity to inquire of the boatman whether he had been paid for the trip; he said. “Yes; that he had received £3.” The sight of the man’s features, when informed of the sum the landlord had charged us, was worth the other £2, and we could not forbear bursting into a hearty laugh as he told us, with the most piteous face imaginable, that he “should not have so much cared if anyone else had cheated him, but that the landlord was his godfather,” that he had said we were fatigued, and wished not to be annoyed by seeing the boatman, but would make a bargain with him; and “that though he had made a good thing of it, he could screw only £3 out of us.” Had not our time been so valuable, scarcely anything would have given both of us so much pleasure as returning and ducking the old bear, making him refund the money, and then handing it over to our honest hard-working boatman.

Our canoe was a long one, 24 feet in length by 3 in breadth, so that with our baggage and three heavy people, its sides were within four inches of the water. As we floated along, numerous fair damsels at work in the fields on the river’s banks, waved their large black hats to our boatman, or gave him innumerable commissions for ribbons and other finery to be purchased at the capital. Although he answered “oui, oui” a hundred times, yet still, as he paddled along, there was a last request, until we were so distant that nothing but an indistinct murmur reached our ears. The day was squally, with heavy showers of rain, so, coming in sight of a respectable looking farm house, about twenty miles below Madawaska, we pulled in shore and landed, for the purpose of seeking a few minutes’ shelter from a heavy storm which was threatening to burst over us momentarily. Upon entering the house we found half a dozen men and women most earnestly engaged in discussing a substantial dinner, and drinking tea at the same time. The whole party were crowded round a little table where there was just sufficient space for them to squeeze their elbows in, while a rear rank or corps of reserve, was formed of ten or twelve hungry looking young children whose countenances expressed the greatest anxiety to be called into action. Although we took our seats on a bench fastened to the wall, with the usual salutation, not the slightest notice was taken of us by any of the party, so intent were they upon the subject before them; nor was any offer made about partaking of their cheer, though we were drenched to the skin, and might reasonably be supposed to have no distaste for the good things we saw upon the table. At intervals we heard one of them addressed by the title of Captain, and I must acknowledge, though I had seen many strange captains in the United States. I had never before been in the presence of such a libel upon a military rank. The noble commander had a face as round and as red as the rising moon, with little grey eyes protruding from his head like those of a boiled lobster; a few white hairs scantily covered a forehead whose capaciousness would have puzzled Spurzheim himself, and his rotundity would have even put old Falstaff to the blush. Our boatman wishing to consult him upon some military matter, he waddled down to the water’s edge with us after the shower had passed over, and laid down the law in the most direct terms. As we proceeded on our voyage, the boatman informed us that he carried a musket in the captain’s company in the militia, and had been called out on duty the preceding year to check some aggression of the Americans; but, not having received any remuneration for his services, his captain had given him the requisite directions for obtaining it by making application at Fredericton. Excepting the lately arrived Irish upon the Madawaska River, these were the first British settlers we had seen since leaving the veteran’s house upon Temiscouta Lake, and from this specimen we were almost justified in forming but a mean opinion of the New Brunswickers’ hospitality.

Written by johnwood1946

July 10, 2015 at 9:50 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

Men of Honor and Probity Run Amok

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From the blog at

Government based on British Parliamentary practice was long sought in New Brunswick, where the elected Assembly were limited in their powers by the Governor and Council. To make things worse, Council members served at the pleasure of the Governor, which ensured that they would support the Governor in all matters. There were therefore two governing bodies, and the Governor and Council had more power than the elected representatives.

James Glenie had famously fought for British legislative rules to apply in New Brunswick. He was a very abrasive personality, however, and could not gain the necessary support. Much later, Lemuel Allan Wilmot, and others, also argued for a redistribution of legislative authority. He had some success but the work was not yet done and more time would pass before New Brunswick truly had Responsible Government.

The following description of an Assembly sitting in 1802 is from an anonymous document entitled A Statement of Facts Relative to the Proceedings of the House of Assembly on Wednesday the third, and Thursday the fourth of March, 1802, and shows how fragile legislative procedures were at that time. There were two issues:

  1. The meeting of a few select members of the Assembly to re-decide a matter which had already been determined by the full House.
  2. The connivance of Council to manipulate the Assembly to amend a money-bill, even though Council had no authority to determine a budget.

This session of the Assembly was a long time ago and does not resonate in our collective memories. It was a sad affair, however, and merits a place in that memory. The anonymous writer entitled it “Statement of Facts, &c.”, but I will give it the name “Men of Honor and Probity Run Amok.”

Province Hall

Province Hall, burned in 1880 and replaced by current legislature.

Provincial Archives of New Brunswick


Men of Honor and Probity Run Amok

I was at Fredericton during the latter days of the late session of the General Assembly, and was one of the many attentive auditors in the gallery to the proceedings of Wednesday the third, and Thursday the fourth of March instant. I had been informed on Tuesday, that all the business of the session was closed, which could claim the attendance of the members of the Lower House, except that of receiving the Lieut. Governor’s assent to the bills sent up;—that to two of these bills the concurrence of the Council had not been then received—that some objections had been signified by the Council to one of them—that some alteration had been made by the Lower House in consequence thereof—that a further objection had arisen above, and that the House of Assembly or a majority of them, had determined on making no further alteration therein, as the same was a money bill in which the Council had no right to prescribe the mode or manner of appropriating, nor were entitled to the exercise of any power on bills of supply except that of a negative to, or concurrence with, the whole.—Thus circumstanced, and a majority of the members viewing the business of the session as closed, so far as related to the duties of the Lower House, it appeared to them, I was told, unnecessary that the whole should remain at great expense to the province, and no small inconvenience to themselves, for the completion of mere matter of form; and therefore they returned home; having fulfilled, as they say (and I think justly) their duties to their constituents, to whom and to the House of Assembly they are amenable for the full and faithful execution of the trust reposed in them: the departure of eight members on Tuesday left only ten behind, including the speaker, a number incompetent to the exercise of their legislative function as a House, which it is fair to presume was a fact in the knowledge and contemplation of, the members who withdrew from a longer attendance as useless and oppressive.

I am, Mr. Printer, a man of some observation, and would willingly communicate for the information of the public, the lights I derive from a cool and dispassionate attention to those matters in which the public appear to me to be materially interested.

In the evening of Tuesday I understood in part what I witnessed in the House on Wednesday, and in particular that some great lawyers were of opinion that any number of members could resolve themselves into an House, competent to the exercise of all those functions to which heretofore thirteen had been thought absolutely necessary: I heard once of a man whose grief for the loss of a shrew of a wife (whom he had that evening seen securely nailed up in her coffin and deposited in the family vault} was not a little increased about midnight, by her return home again with the Sexton’s lantern, who had wickedly disturbed her nap, by, a rude attempt to take from her finger ring, which her good man in his haste to put her to rest, or through fear of disturbing her, had deposited with her. I mention this anecdote to show that what we repose to a coffin will sometimes, meet with an earlier resurrection than we usually calculate on; having heard so much outdoors, I was not the next day without some expectation to hear, from any station in the gallery, the overture which, came from a noble colonel in his place in the House; proposing that the judges of the Supreme Court (who are, by and by sure members of the Council) should be consulted on the right in the members then present to proceed to business, and to the full exercise of all their functions as a House competent thereto: the gentleman appeared full of zeal and confidence, and to be somewhat astonished at the assurance of Mr. St—t, who presumed to interrupt him, by a motion that the speaker should count the House; which being done, only ten members were numbered, including the speaker. A young man then arose apparently of great diffidence and very prepossessing address; I think he was the noble Colonel’s colleague, but lest I should be mistaken, it will more certainly describe him by saying that he was the gentleman, who, earlier in the session, had given to the House (in the course of a debate on the bill for the easy and speedy recovery of small debts) that useful piece of information, that the justices of this province are limited in the exercise of their powers to the parish in which they reside (a circumstance the House would have remained quite in the dark about, if the gentleman’s deep erudition and elaborate course of law-readings had not enabled him to throw this light on the subject) this young man, I say, arose in support of the Colonel’s proposition; Mr. St—t, requested that if he meant to bring forward any motion, he would reduce it to writing: this he in part did, or appeared to me to do, and then moved “that the House of Assembly do request the opinion of the judges on the following question,” which he read from a paper in his hand, viz. “Whether any number of members of the House of Assembly less than thirteen be a competent number to legislate as one branch of the legislature.” The motion was seconded by the noble Col. and was supported also by Captains, A—n and McL—n: Mr. St—t then arose, and after expressing his great deference and respect for the judges of the province, and for their opinions in all matters where they could with propriety be referred to; he with some warmth opposed the motion and its object as unwarrantable in every point of view; he observed that the powers of the House were derived from the constitution and could neither be diminished or extended by any authority but their own—that ancient usage was the only guide to the proper exercise of the powers vested in them, and was therefore termed the Law of Parliament; that the usage of his Majesty’s Colonies had established thirteen as the number absolutely requisite to the formation of an House for the dispatch of business:—That a less number were not competent as a Grand Jury to find a bill of indictment at a general session of the peace, against one subject, and as the House were to be considered as a Constitutional Grand Jury for the Province, it would be absurd to presume that a less number of them should be competent to the passing of bills which were to effect the lives, liberties and properties of His Majesty’s subjects at large throughout the Province. It had been observed, he said, by the senior member from King’s County, that there was no law which restrained a smaller number of members from the full exercise of the functions of that House and to this, he would only reply that laws were not originally made for restraining men of honor and probity, but for persons of a very different description:—that the House of Commons of Great Britain were a great and dignified body;—that their own usage was to them law sufficient for securing their privileges;—that although they were the great Grand Jury of the realm, yet their importance and extent as a Representative Body, was such that forty members were, by ancient usage, requisite to the formation of an House, and that without that number (including the Speaker,) invariable usage in that House had always been found law sufficient to prevent the Speaker taking the chair (except to receive a message from the King, or for the purpose of adjournment:—that though it was comparing small things with great, yet he thought himself justified (comparatively within the Province) in viewing the House of Assembly of New Brunswick, as a great and dignified Body;—that what had prevailed as an usage with them from their first existence, and with all other His Majesty’s Colonies in America, at all times, could not be conceived, need the support of stronger law to enforce the continuance of its practice; nor to infringe upon it for the very purpose which It was meant to guard against, that of taking the House by surprise; was an attempt the most dishonorable he had ever witnessed; he therefore moved that the Speaker quit the Chair, in which he was seconded by Major D—n, a respectable veteran officer of the half pay list, and the only member with him in his opposition to the formidable phalanx of seven, who seemed determined to bid defiance to all those honorable ties of usage which the House forever held sacred.

The Speaker accordingly arose and adjourned the House at half past one till eleven the next day.

The shock which this adjournment gave to the Seven Champions (not of Christendom) but of the ——— was easy to be discerned by the strong traits of dismay, disappointment and chagrin which marked the countenances of the whole; the noble Colonel (as completely unhorsed as Richard the Third, at Bosworth Field) railed aloud for the Speaker; Mr. St—t, with assumed gravity recommended the election of new one; The mortification was too great to be patiently borne, and the Seven Champions suddenly decamped from a longer exposure to public ridicule and contempt.

Here I must digress a little, and, as a man of observation, to express my surprise that the very modest and ingenious young gentleman who brought forward the motion (for application to the Judges for their opinion as to the competency of a less number of than thirteen to legislate on a pinch) should have been under the necessity of making such a motion; for I noticed that on Wednesday morning, before the Speaker took the Chair, the seven gentlemen withdrew from the House below (as it appeared to me) to a general consultation Above; I thought at the moment it had the semblance of unanimity and a good understanding between the two Houses and that where there were such open habits of communication, an unlimited confidence might be supposed to subsist: I therefore confess I took it for granted, that the opinions of the gentlemen on both sides were well known to each other, and could not but be a little surprised at the anxiety of gentlemen (on their return to the House) to obtain the opinion of their friends above: but we must live and learn; I have been often told that it’s the easiest thing in the world to be mistaken, and I believe I may safely subscribe to the truth of it, for simpleton as I am, I never found any difficulty in the science of blundering; and as the Devil will have it, the inquisitive part of my acquaintance are always sure to see clearest when I could wish them blinded with snuff.

Curiosity has led me many a dance, and upon this occasion it had taken full possession of my poor devoted fabric of mortality: to my post it hurried me on Thursday full of speculative expectation, the day seemed portentous of some great event; but I could not yet discover it, and with all my watchful attention remained quite in the dark till about half past two in the afternoon, when the Speaker took the Chair: all I could observe before was a general confused bustle, detached whispering parties in different quarters frequent visits from the gentlemen below to the gentlemen above; great appearance of treaty and negotiation, but nothing intelligible; at length the Speaker having taken the Chair requested the members to take their places.

Mr. St—t moved to count the House: The Speaker counted it, and found only eight members including himself. The member for Queen’s and his colleague had retired to the Otium cum dignitate of recess, he was certainly one day too late. I believe the man with the iron mask would have caught a severe cold during the latter years of his life, if he had taken it off for a day, and exposed his real face to the world; and I suppose the same effect would ensue to any other person who has been long accustomed to wear a mask.

A motion was then made by Mr. St—t, and seconded by the firm old Veteran Major D—n, for the Speaker to quit the chair; this was opposed by all except the Gentleman by whom the motion was made and seconded.

A message then came in from the Council with a Bill in addition to an Act to regulate the Terms of the Sittings of the Inferior Court of Common Pleas, &c. with an Amendment, which was read and concurred in by all except Mr. St—t, and Major D—n, the former expressing himself nearly in these words;—I will neither say Yea nor Nay, as I protest against the Speaker keeping the Chair, or proceeding to any business to which the members present are incompetent; in which he was joined by Major D—n.

A message then came in from the Council requesting a conference on the Bill for raising a revenue and for appropriating the same, &c. to which all agreed except Mr. St—t, and Major D—n, the former of whom desired to be heard on his objections to these proceedings; but whilst he was speaking the Captains A—n, and McL—n, appeared to me to be hurried out to the conference which was settled in two minutes or thereabouts, and they returned to the House, delivering to the Speaker, as it appeared to me the Bill in question, together with a written paper expressive, I presume, of the Council’s objection thereto, and at the same time informing the Speaker that they required the words “Samuel Denny Street Esq.” to be expunged from the 17th section thereof. The question was then put by the Speaker; whether the words ”Samuel Denny Street, Esq.” should be expunged; and passed in the affirmative, I observed then that the Bill was handed by the Speaker to Mr. St—t, to make (as Clerk I presume) the alteration proposed; and I also observed that Mr. St—t, returned the Bill to the Speaker, declining to make any alteration in a Bill that had passed the House, at the instance of a few members, of whom he himself had declared that they possessed no power to make any alteration whatever therein. The Speaker then as far as I could discern, made the alteration himself, and the Bill was returned to the Council, who, shortly after, sent a message informing the House of their concurrence therewith.

And thus I conceive the first ordinance for raising a revenue in this province, and for appropriating the same has derived its birth.

That we shall never have a second, I feel the strongest confidence, and that the first may meet with no resistance from the public, I sincerely hope, for the preservation of the peace and harmony of his Majesty’s Province, as I have pride in asserting myself to be one of his firm, loyal and affectionate subjects. But if any have infringed the privileges of the House, and have usurped the exercise of powers they had no just claim to, for the purpose of altering two Bills which had duly passed that House, 1 hope they will be made answerable for their conduct at a future day, and that in a manner so exemplary and effectual as to prevent any repetition of so daring an outrage on our Constitution in future.

For the purpose of fair investigation, Mr. Printer, have I written, that the public may be informed so to enable them to form a proper judgment of the facts I have presented to them and I here challenge the selection of one single error in statement throughout this letter.

On the second of April, 1604, the House of Commons of Great Britain, made the following rule:— “That a question being once made and carried in the affirmative or negative, cannot be questioned again, but must stand as Judgment of the House,”—This rule has never been deviated from, except in instances where a question of weight may have been put in a thin House, and the consideration of it afterwards confirmed by a faller House, for the purpose of obtaining more fully the sense of the House by the additional members.

What then shall we say, or what mast we think of those who reverse this rule of honour and equity; and after a question has been once put in a full House and negative, resume the same in a thin House, composed wholly (except one and the Speaker) of those who held the affirmative when the question was first put.

Read and receive light; for nothing but facts shall be given to you.

On Monday the 1st of March, 1802, a bill for appropriating and disposing of the public monies, was read the third time as engrossed; and a motion was then made, that the name “Samuel Denny Street, Esquire,” be taken out of the bill, and the word “the” inserted: upon which the House divided—yeas seven, nays ten, and the motion was negatived.

On the Thursday following, seven Members only present, including the Speaker (who were entitled to vote) and five of the seven well known to be of those who held the affirmative when the question was first put; the question was again put, for expunging the words “Samuel Denny Street, Esquire” from the said bill, and the same passed in the affirmative.

Thus you must perceive, Mr. Printer, that by this mode of putting the question a second time, the affirmative of five was allowed to prevail against the previous negative of ten.

Is this a fair and honourable discharge by our Representatives of the trust reposed in them by us, or is it not? Or will it admit of a question, after the facts I have adduced?

It is time, my worthy and loyal fellow subjects of a great, a good, and virtuous Monarch, that we should act with caution. We have proved ourselves faithful and loyal subjects, and we are entitled to the enjoyment of that constitution for which we have shed our blood, and sacrificed so many of our dearest friends, and connections, during a long and bitter conflict. We are, I presume, on the eve of that period, when we are again to exercise our right to elect those by whom we are to be represented; and we are to form one branch of the legislature. If any of those to whom we have hither to given our suffrages have deceived or betrayed us, it is then that we can shake them off, and consign them to that contempt which they merit; it is then that we can legally (and without disturbing the peace and harmony of His Majesty’s loyal Province of New Brunswick) effectually redress ourselves; it is then that we can frown indignant on the artful, fawning sycophant, who shall ask us to vest him with power, that he may barter it for the promotion only of his private views and interests.

Attend, I entreat you, to the manner in which this caution is given. It is not to promote the interests of any particular persons or proposed candidates for your future confidence; it is not to answer any partial or interested purposes; but it is to prevent your being cajoled and flattered into a sacrifice of the invaluable privileges, which you derive from the best of Constitutions. And it is a caution preceded by a state of facts incontrovertible in themselves; highly interesting to the Province at large; and in a particular manner [illegible] the weighty consideration of those Counties who may consider the conduct of their present members reprehensible.

For the information of the public, it may be proper to subjoin the following parliamentary authorities, viz. “It doth not belong to the Judges to judge of any law, custom, or privilege of Parliament.” Coke’s Instit. 50.

“When laws shall be altered by any other authority other than that by which they were made (says King Cha. 1st in his speech at Newark to the inhabitants of Nottingham, 1642) your foundations are destroyed.”— Rush. vol. 3. Page 653. Lex. par. 359.

“The difference between an act of Parliament, and an ordinance in Parliament, is, for that the ordinance wanteth the three-fold consent, and is ordained by one or two of them.” Coke’s Inst. 25. Lex. par. 365.

The application of these authorities is too obvious to need any comment from


[“Creon” was the ruler of Thebes in the Greek legend of Oedipus. This was a pseudonym.]

Written by johnwood1946

July 1, 2015 at 8:25 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

By Steamer, to the So-Called City of Fredericton

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From the blog at

The following is from a travelogue entitled Rambles Among the Bluenoses, Reminiscences of a Tour Through Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and was written by Andrew Learmont Spedon. His travels were during the summer of 1862. The following excerpt describes his experiences upon a steamboat, travelling from Saint John to Fredericton.

Spedon describes a very pleasant trip up the river. He was perhaps tired of describing pleasant things and, as he approached Fredericton, his writing reverted to its sarcastic best. That is why I have entitled this segment “By Steamer, to the So-Called City of Fredericton.”


The Steamer Westchester on the Jemseg River

N.B. Museum via the McCord Museum


By Steamer, to the So-Called City of Fredericton

Having taken a general peep at St. John and its vicinity, I took steamer at Indian Town,—distant a mile and a half from the city, and thence proceeded en route for Fredericton,—the Capital of New Brunswick, and distant eighty-five miles up the St. John river; it was a lovely morning in June,—a gentle breeze was fanning the bosom of the water, and all on board appeared to be happy and conversive. Both decks were crowded—the usual number being augmented by a company of Baptist ministers, with their wives and families, going to the Gemsec [Jemseg] river to hold a “Spiritual Association” with others of their brethren. These “General Assemblies” of the Baptists in New Brunswick are similar to the “Camp Meetings” of the Methodists in Canada. They assemble in vast multitudes,—encamping in the fields or woods, and attend to the wants of the outer and inner man,—and for days, and perhaps weeks, have a good time of it, in fostering and promulgating their religious principles, and cherishing their united feelings of cordiality and friendship.

The river St. John was discovered in 1804 [sic], by Mons. de Monts, a French navigator, and by him named, after the Patron Saint of France; it being found on that anniversary day. It was then called by the Mimacs, Oungandy; and by the Milete, Walloostook, signifying long river. Its entire length is 450 miles. It takes its rise in the hills between Canada and the state of Maine. From its mouth, to a point above the Grand Falls, it runs exclusively through New Brunswick,—its east bank only for 75 miles further up is within the Province. For 112 miles above this, its course is wholly through American territory; and a further distance of 38 miles to its source, it is the dividing line between Canada and Maine. It is navigable for vessels of about 100 tons to Fredericton—eighty-five miles from its mouth,—and steamers of lighter draft ply to Woodstock, sixty-two miles further up, and at some periods of the year they ascend as far as the Grand Falls. The St. John river is to New Brunswick what the St. Lawrence is to Canada,—the main artery of the Province, into which numerous tributaries empty themselves; many of which are navigable to various distances.

During summer, six small steamers ply daily between St John city and Fredericton,—and the number of persons who pass up and down the river is estimated at 60,000.

The river, in proportion to its general size, for some distance above its mouth is extremely narrow, circuitous, and apparently deep, and is called the “Narrows.” The shores in this part are bound by rugged ledges of rock, rising perpendicularly to the height of from one to two hundred feet, and their bold fronts looking down with stern sublimity, threatening an invasion upon the waters. Gradually, the river widens; but ranges of rocky hills still line the shores seemingly unfit for animal existence to subsist therefrom. Seven miles from the city, the Kennebecasis river enters the St. John; and in the distance it appears as a mountain lake. Some twenty miles further up, the land assumes a less formidable aspect; and as we advance, the hills become beautifully modified, particularly on the northern side of the river, and at length gradually recede, leaving extensive flats of alluvial land. These intervals are low, marshy grounds, producing immense quantities of hay, from being enriched by the annual inundations of spring. The farmers in these parts obtain an animal and a vegetable crop yearly from their farms; for during spring the inundations bring large quantities of fish to their very doors; and afterwards the soil produces an abundant harvest. In some places, these flats are indented with little silvery lakes. The most beautiful and picturesque scenery along the river is in the vicinity of Long Island, and at the entrance of the Gemsec. At the latter, the river resembles an archipelago, and might with propriety be called the “Valley of Waters.” Around islets of romantic beauty the arms of those rivers are thrown as if embracing them with affectionate delight, and the vessel glides as a thing of life among those lovely isles that nestle upon the bosom of the waters, while the eye wanders in poetic fancy over the elysian scene. The steamer now deviated from its usual course by entering the Gemsec, in purpose to carry our “spiritual brethren” to their destination, at the distance of a few miles. The scenery here is also delightful, and every heart appeared to appreciate its charms. Nature is to be met here in forms of modest and magnificent beauty, whose features are more designed to please the fancy than excite the feelings into ecstasy.

The country on each side of the river St. John, for many miles beyond its confluence with the Gemsec, is in keeping with the other portions of the river scenery. For miles are tracts of level land, gradually swelling into hills, and then hill and dale alternate,—the former, rising at times to the dignity of a mountain, and the latter subsiding into a valley; then the banks become abrupt, steep—and again they are terrace-like, sloping away with a graceful incline from the water’s edge. But as we approach Fredericton, the scenery assumes a less lovely appearance, and the soil apparently more sandy and sterile; but when we had reached the capital, an involuntary feeling of disappointment stole over my mind, and the painted bubble that I had been blowing up all day unexpectedly burst before my eyes. But, before entering the “Great City,” I feel disposed to linger a whil’e over the scenes of the day and comment a little further upon the general features of the country.

I have admitted that the river scenery is in general beautiful and pleasing to the fancy; but the true poetic eye soon discovers that there is a marked deficiency in some of the ingredients essential to constitute an agreeable picture to the taste of the epicurean admirer of nature. The beauty of the scenery arises more from the mere outlines of exterior and position, than from the contributaries of the general features, or the combination of the minutiae with the greater. Every candid observer of nature will admit that the river possesses a noble appearance,—winding as it does through a romantic country. Its form is large; its water pellucid,—and beautiful islets dot its surface in many places. The form of the hills are also finished with geometrical skill, in places receding with gentle acclivity in ranges; and at others rising, as it were, out of the bosom of each other,—and all united as a family in one extended chain of brotherhood.

But a further observation informs us that the country is destitute of that verdant vegetation and vivid vitality that Canada is possessed of, particularly at that time of the season. The trees in general are of the fir kind, small, and scroggy, and apparently the worst specimens of the species. The softwood and evergreens are naturally designed to exist in marshy lands; but here, we find them high and dry, as if nature had pitched her productions of the swamp at random upon the heights. In vain do we look for the vegetable emblem of Canada, and the graceful presence of the leafy grove. Nothing but fir, fir continually—everywhere we go; and the eye at length feels so disgusted with its monotonous omnipresence, that neither the beauty of the river, nor the symmetry of the hills can relieve the feeling. I have, indeed, an inveterate antipathy to the fir ever since,—and were I to become a botanical author I would totally exclude it from the genera of that species of natural philosophy.

Again, the cultivated land of the hills, on both sides of the river, from St. John to Fredericton, and farther, appeared to be universally covered with weeds bearing a white flower, and known by the very romantic cognomen of “Bull’s Eyes.” A product so general and utterly useless shows, at once, that the soil is either puerile by nature or rendered so by the lack of proper attention;—both may possibly be true. In many places, red soil, apparently sand, was visible through the verdure of the fields; and, judging from the appearance of things in general, I venture to say that agriculture is sadly neglected. Fishing and lumbering, I fear, too much absorb the time and attention of the farmer,—and to that degree, that farming may only receive a secondary consideration.

The islands and intervals are the formations of alluvial deposits brought down from the hills and mountains by the rains and rivers,—and within the memory of the old settlers, many parts, then covered with water, are now dry and producing immense crops of hay.

The country may be rich in its resources,—the people may be wealthy,—but another indication of something wrong in the wheels of progress is the want of towns and villages. Not one single instance of such is visible along the St. John river, between the city of St. John and Fredericton. A paltry wharf or so, with a house or two at the rear, are the only “stepping stones” to commercial business in those parts. It may now be asked, “How then are travellers and freight disposed of?” When a passenger on board has arrived nearly opposite his destination, a signal is made, known to his friends on shore or persons stationed there for the purpose of attending to the steamer, who immediately come out to receive the person or whatever freight has to be taken ashore; or when any party or freight is to be exported, as soon as the steamer makes its appearance, a boat with its cargo is hurried out—a signal is made,—and responded to by the bell or steam whistle, and the process of removal is performed in almost an instant of time. Indeed the whole affair is very ingeniously and expertly accomplished. As the small boat approaches the side of the steamer, it is drawn closely to, and held by catch poles, while a man descends a step-way that is let down, and the passengers and freight, are instantly removed, without scarcely a perceptible halt in the motion of the steamer. In my downward trip by the “Heather Bell,” that runs in opposition to the “Anna Augusta,” I counted no less than two hundred persons who had to undergo this process of “positionary exchange.” A spirited competition is manifested by these steamers; and as they ran together, they were continually striving to out-wit each other in the picking up of passengers frequently passing and repassing each other, at times coming so close as to almost touch sides. This afforded considerable amusement to many of the passengers who were evidently desirous to out-win their opponents. But, from such reckless and irresolute actions and “goaheaditiveness” of our fast going age, too frequently has it been the case that fatal and calamitous events have ultimately resulted therefrom.

The morning after my arrival at Fredericton,—the “city capital” of New Brunswick, I strolled out to get a peep at this “great central emporium” of the province; but after pedestrianizing for half an hour, straining my eyes in vain to see more than could be seen, I felt a sort of bewildered disappointment creep over my feelings of anticipation, and, like the man that denied his own self when he discovered in the morning that his whiskers had disappeared during the night, I concluded that I must either deny the capital, or doubt my vision; or, perchance, that I had committed an error by landing at the wrong place,—so in order to satisfy my mind, and do justice to the city, I stepped into a shop in the main street to make inquiry.

Beyond the counter stood a youthful scion of the weight and measure species, and apparently but newly initiated,—yet, affecting a sort of mercantile air and position, and my “humble servant” in full readiness to wait upon me as soon as I had entered.

Having introduced my presence by the usual morning salutation, and taken a mental survey of his clerkship’s scarlet colored cranium, and speckled countenance, I inquired, with bare-faced Yankee inquisitiveness, if this was the city of Fredericton.

“Ye-es sir,” was the reply.

“Is it the capital of New Brunswick?”

“Ye-es sir.”

“Is this the principal street of the city then?”

“Ye-es sir.”

“Is there much business done here?”

“Ye-es sir,” was again the reply.

Like Abraham of old, I ventured to ask another question, peradventure I might strike his natural vein of conversation.

“Are there many soldiers here at present?”

“Ye-es sir,” he hesitatingly replied, somewhat astonished and staring at me as if I had come in the undercovered capacity of a Yankee spy, to get a peep at the garrison.

Having obtained so much information through the medium of only two words, and not wishing to tamper with his humor and civility by extracting a further repetition,—and perhaps get myself into as bad a fix as did Slidell and Mason, I thanked him for his kindness, and made my exit with good decorum, leaving his “clerkship” to his own reflections.

Indeed, I narrowly escaped a temporary detention. Whilst at supper in the evening, a gentleman was telling with great gusto, that a Yankee had been seen that day loafing around the barracks, and making himself very inquisitive about the city affairs in general: whereupon a universal volley of national anathemas was inflicted upon the suspected spy, and the doings of Yankee Jonathan’s children in general. I could not refrain myself from smirking under the eyelids at such a personal remark. The whole affair reminded me of Chamber’s visit to a burying-ground in Scotland, the contents of which, are as follows:

Scarcely had he entered the hallowed ground, and began to decipher the almost obliterated inscriptions upon the gravestones, when an old wife showed her head over the paling, and demanded his errand. Mr. Chambers very calmly informed her of it; and thence interrogated a series of questions about the “auld kirk yaird” whereupon she suspected him to be a resurrectionist,—and away she ran to the village; and, in less than no time, about thirty “auld wives” were after him with stone and turf, and had he not been possessed of such speedy legs, he might have been sacrificed, Stephen-like, as a martyr to his local inquisitiveness, and met with his death and grave at the one place.

Fredericton, with only about two or three thousand inhabitants, is in reality an incorporated city, and the capital of the Province; but, I know of no feature connected therewith that should have given it the pre-eminence. Properly speaking, New Brunswick like Nova Scotia—has only one city, namely, Saint John, which, I think, is fully entitled to the preference of that title, which the insignificant, so called city of Fredericton presumptuously inherits.

The city is built upon the side of an eminence; and when viewed from the river it possesses a somewhat lively and romantic appearance. The principal part in the city, and where the business in general is conducted, consists of one wide street of a mile in length, running parallel with the river;—the houses of which are chiefly composed of brick;—large, elegantly finished, and principally used as ware-rooms and shops.

The other buildings of the city are generally inferior, and on the whole destitute of sufficient attraction to elicit a description. The governor resides in the city. A battalion of soldiers is also stationed there.

Written by johnwood1946

June 24, 2015 at 7:54 AM

Posted in Uncategorized


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