New Brunswick History and Other Stuff

Table of Contents, Rev. August 26, 2015

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

  1. The Many Fires in Saint John, 1784-1877 – Aug. 26, 2015
  2. A Proposal for an Attack on N0va Scotia – Aug. 19, 2015
  3. Fredericton’s Great Flood of 1936 – Aug. 12, 2015
  4. A Letter about the Acadians and the Expulsion – Aug. 5, 2015
  5. Saint John in 1834, Before it was Forever Changed by the Great Fire – July 29, 2015
  6. New Brunswick, No Country for a Mere Gentleman, 1834 – July 22, 2015
  7. Woodstock, the Only Village Between the Green River and Fredericton in 1834 – July 15, 2015
  8. On the Tamiscouta Prtage from Lake Tamiscouta to just above Grand Falls, 1834 – July 10, 2015
  9. Men of Honor and Probity Run Amok – July 1, 2015
  10. By Steamer to the So-Called City of Fredericton – June 24, 2014
  11. A Quiet and Business-Like Little City – June 17, 2015
  12. Rambles Among the Bluenoses in 1862 – June 10, 2015
  13. Edward John Russell, a New Brunswick Artist – June 3, 2015
  14. Provincial Lunatic Asylum, Report of the Medical Superintendent, 1875 – May 27, 2015
  15. The Saint John River and Port Royal in the Early 1600’s – May 20, 2015
  16. What Should We Think of Benedict Arnold? – May 13, 2015
  17. Diphtheria in New Brunswick in the Year 1889 – May 6, 2015
  18. The Official Account of the Destruction of Burnt Church – Apr. 29, 2015
  19. The Exchange Coffee House and Saint John’s First Club – Apr. 22, 2015
  20. The Wigwams and Dwellings of the Gaspesians – Apr. 15, 2015
  21. The Story of Brook Watson – Apr. 8, 2015
  22. Where Stood Fort LaTour? – Apr. 1, 2015
  23. Things This Morning Really Wear the Aspect of War – Mar. 25, 2015
  24. At Portland Point – Mar. 18, 2015
  25. Electrical Power From the Reversing Falls – Mar. 10, 2015
  26. Father Rale’s War – 1722-25; How it Ended – Mar. 4, 2015
  27. What Was the Big Deal About the Marco Polo? – Feb. 25, 2015
  28. Grand Manan to Petitcodiac, in 1786 – Feb. 18, 2015
  29. A Trip From St. John to Fredericton in 1870 – Feb. 11, 2015
  30. A Tour of St. John, N.B., in 1870 – Feb. 4, 2015
  31. Destruction by Fire of the First Cathedral in Chatham – Jan. 28, 2015
  32. Burgan the Burglar – Jan. 21, 2015
  33. Facts and Reasons Against Confederating With Canada – Jan. 14, 2015
  34. Discontent in Early Halifax in 1756 – Jan. 7, 2015
  35. A Trip on the ICR From Bathurst to Miramichi – Dec. 31, 2014
  36. Early Attempts to Introduce the Cultivation of Hemp in Eastern British America – Dec. 24, 2014
  37. Touring Campbellton and Dalhousie, Despite the Mosquitoes, 1876 – Dec. 19, 2014
  38. The Fire of 1837 in Saint John – Dec. 10, 2014
  39. The Cruise of the Rechab – Dec. 3, 2014
  40. A Night in the Deep – Nov. 26, 2014
  41. Robert Foulis (A Misplaced Genius) – Nov. 19, 2014
  42. The City Mills – Nov. 15, 2014
  43. The Brothers d’Amours – Nov. 5, 2014
  44. John Allan’s Revolutionary Mission to the Saint John River – Oct. 29, 2014
  45. Relics of the Acadian Period – Oct. 22, 2014
  46. Some Odd Old Advertisements – Oct. 15, 2014
  47. The Miramichi Fire – Relief of the Sufferers – Oct. 8, 2014
  48. Jonathan Eddy’s Account of the Attack on Fort Cumberland, November, 1776 – Oct. 1, 2014
  49. Which of These Two is the Wisest and Happiest? – Sept. 24, 2014
  50. Fredericton Bridge, a Prophetic Writing – Sept. 17, 2014
  51. A Speech to Distinguished Persons of Stake and Consideration – Sept. 10, 2014
  52. Building an Education System From Almost Nothing – Sept. 3, 2014
  53. Cape Tormentine to the Baye des Chaleurs in the 1600’s – Aug. 27, 2014
  54. The Customs of the Mi’kmaq in the 1600’s and Before – Aug. 20, 2014
  55. Two Documents Relating to the Fenians in New Brunswick – Aug. 13, 2014
  56. The Lazaretto for Lepers in Tracadie, 1862 – Aug. 6, 2014
  57. Thoughts About the Augustine Mound at Metepenegiag Mi’kmaq Nation – July 30, 2014
  58. What am I Bid for This Pauper? – July 23, 2014
  59. Trouble at Madawaska, 1831 – July 16, 2014
  60. The Great Fire at Saint John, June 20, 1877 – July 9, 2014
  61. The Poor Fellows Shook as if They Would Fall to Pieces! – July 2, 2014
  62. How to Build a Logging Camp in Around 1850 – June 25, 2014
  63. Risen from the Ashes, Phoenix Square in Fredericton – June 18, 2014
  64. Rocks and Water, Magnificence and Squalor; St. John in 1876 – June 11, 2014
  65. Moncton as Seen by a Journalist in 1876 – June 4, 2014
  66. Events Leading to the Caraquet Riots of 1875 – May 28, 2014
  67. A Dramatic Account of the Miramichi Fire – May 21, 2014
  68. Saint John in the Early 1840’s – May 18, 2014
  69. A Note to Subscribers, and a Memorandum for me – May 14, 2014
  70. The Myth that Kerosene was Invented in New Brunswick – May 7, 2014
  71. A Church with Military Boots and Fixed Bayonets – Apr. 30, 2014
  72. An Opening Salvo in an Ongoing Argument – Apr. 23, 2014
  73. May living worms his corpse devour – Apr. 16, 2014
  74. He don’t look any better than some of our own boys – Apr. 9, 2014
  75. The Disputed Territory Between New Brunswick and Maine – Apr. 2, 2014
  76. Navigation on the Saint John River – Mar. 26, 2014
  77. Shepody as a Hot Investment Opportunity, 1868 – Mar. 19, 2014
  78. To Her Majesty, RE: Reciprocity, 1853 – Mar. 12, 2014
  79. Diary on the Tobique, 1851 – Mar. 5, 2014
  80. Growing up in Fredericton in the 1820s and 1830s – Feb. 26, 2014
  81. Travels From Eastport, Maine, to Fredericton, 1851 – Feb. 19, 2014
  82. The Saint John General Public Hospital, 19th Century, Part 2 of 2 – Feb. 12, 2014
  83. The Saint John General Public Hospital, 19th Century, Part 1 of 2 – Feb. 5, 2014
  84. The Story of the Great Brothers – Jan. 29, 2014
  85. A Trek up the Tobique, and Onward to Bathurst – Jan. 22, 2014
  86. Summer Tourists. A Manual for New Brunswick Farmers – Jan. 19, 2014
  87. A Trek from Grand Falls to Campbellton, 1862 – Jan. 15, 2014
  88. A Trek From Taymouth to Boisetown, 1862 – Jan. 12, 2014
  89. Capt. William Owen’s Journal, Campobello, 1770-71 – Jan. 8, 2014
  90. The Founding of Campobello Island – Jan. 5, 2014
  91. New Brunswick Roads and Railways, 1855 – Jan. 1, 2014
  92. Grand Manan – Dec. 29, 2013
  93. The Shipyard Fire in Saint John, in 1841 – Dec. 26, 2013
  94. Christmas as it Was in Saint John, in 1808 – Dec. 22, 2013
  95. The Saint John Grammar School – Dec. 18, 2013
  96. William Wishart Blasts the New Brunswick Education System, 1845 – Dec. 15, 2013
  97. The Diary of Sarah Frost – Dec. 11, 2013
  98. Pŭlěs, Pŭlowěch′, and Beechkwěch (Pigeon, Partridge, and Nighthawk) – Dec. 10, 2014
  99. The Government of New Brunswick, 1837 – Dec. 4, 2013
  100. The Whales and the Robbers – Dec. 1, 2013
  101. The Ashburton Treaty – Nov. 27, 2013
  102. Glooscap and His Four Visitors – Nov. 24, 2013
  103. The Pioneers of Saint Stephen – Nov. 20, 2013
  104. The Adventures of Kâktoogwâsees; a Tale of Ancient Times – Nov. 17, 2013
  105. The Asylum at Saint John – Nov. 13, 2013
  106. The Liver-Colored Giants and Magicians – Nov. 10, 2013
  107. Smuggling Between Calais and St. Stephen – Nov. 6, 2013
  108. The Two Weasels – Nov. 3, 2013
  109. A note to subscribers – Oct. 30, 2013
  110. The European and North American Railway, 1862 – Oct. 30, 2013
  111. The Origin of the War Between the Mi’kmaq and the Kwěděches – Oct. 23, 2013
  112. Trouble on the Line: The Early Telegraph in New Brunswick – Oct. 16, 2013
  113. The Invisible Boy; Team′ and Oochigeaskw – Oct. 9, 2013
  114. Transportation to and from Fredericton, 1841 – Oct. 2, 2013
  115. The Boy That Was Transformed Into a Horse – Sept. 25, 2013
  116. McAdam: Notes From the Early Days – Sept. 18, 2013
  117. The Magical Food, Belt and Flute – Sept. 11, 2013
  118. European & North American Rly. Staff, 1861 – Sept. 4, 2013
  119. Glooscap and the Megumoowesoo: A Marriage Adventure – Aug. 28, 2013
  120. The Loss of the Royal Tar – Aug. 21, 2013
  121. Robbery and Murder Revenged, Plus a Grand Falls Story – Aug. 14, 2013
  122. The St. John River From Below Fredericton to the Reversing Falls – Aug. 7, 2013
  123. A Proposal for a Wooden Railway – July 31, 2013
  124. ‘On the Early History of New Brunswick’ – July 24, 2013
  125. The Maugerville Settlement, 1763-1824 – July 17, 2013
  126. 1930 Circus Train Wreck Near Moncton, N.B. – July 10, 2013
  127. Horses or Oxen? Pick one – July 3, 2013
  128. The St. John River; Andover to Fredericton – June 26, 2013
  129. Origins of Some Place Names on N.B.’s Eastern Shore – June 19, 2013
  130. The St. John River; Grand Falls to the Tobique – June 12, 2013
  131. Gabriel Acquin – June 5, 2013
  132. The Seigniories of New Brunsiwck – May 29, 2013
  133. An 1841 Trek up the Oromocto River – May 22, 2013
  134. Fredericton’s Exhibition Palace, and Bears in N.B. – May 15, 2013
  135. Murder on Diamond Square Road – May 8, 2013
  136. Acadian Historic Sites in New Brunswick – May 1, 2013
  137. John C. Tracy’s Book, Part 5 of 5 – Apr. 24, 2013
  138. John C. Tracy’s Book, Part 4 of 5 – Apr. 17, 2013
  139. John C. Tracy’s Book, Part 3 of 5 – Apr. 10, 2013
  140. John C. Tracy’s Book, Part 2 of 5 – Apr. 3, 2013
  141. John C. Tracy’s Book, Part 1 of 5 – Mar. 27, 2013
  142. A Retrospective Look at Saint John – Mar. 20, 2013
  143. The Wreck of the England – Mar. 13, 2013
  144. The First Decade of the 1800’s in St. John, N.B. – Mar. 6, 2013
  145. St. John’s Poorhouse and Workhouse – Feb. 27, 2013
  146. New Brunswick Scenes From an Old Book – Feb. 20, 2013
  147. Nice Pictures From Another Old Book – Feb. 13, 2013
  148. Life in the Backwoods of New Brunswick, Part 2/2 – Feb. 6, 2013
  149. Life in the Backwoods of New Brunswick, 1845 – Jan. 30, 2013
  150. The Works of W.O. Raymond – Jan. 23, 2013
  151. The Year of the Fever – Jan. 16, 2013
  152. Hanged for the Theft of 25 Cents – Jan. 9, 2013
  153. Reversing Falls – Pictures – Jan. 2, 2013
  154. Christmas as it was in 1808 – Dec. 25, 2012
  155. Nice Pictures From an Old Book – Dec. 19, 2012
  156. The Saint John Bridge Collapse of 1837 – Dec. 12, 2012
  157. The First Road Bridge Across the Reversing Falls – Dec. 5, 2012
  158. The Mystery of the First Lizzie Morrow – Nov. 28, 2012
  159. The First Murder Trial on the River St. John – Nov. 21, 2012
  160. The March of the 104th Regiment in 1812 – Nov. 14, 2012
  161. Partridge Island – Nov. 7, 2012
  162. Fredericton’s First Bridge Across the Saint John River – Oct. 31, 2012
  163. 1816, The Year Without a Summer – Oct. 31, 2012
  164. Winslow to Wentworth, 1781 – Oct. 31, 2012
  165. Oops! An explanation – Oct. 31, 2012
  166. The Saxby Gale of 1869 – Oct. 31, 2012
  167. New Brunswick’s Third Town in 1838: Saint Andrews – Oct. 31, 2012
  168. Fredericton and York County in 1838 – Oct. 31, 2012
  169. The City and County of Saint John in 1838 – Sept. 26, 2012
  170. The St. Andrews and Quebec Railroad – Sept. 19, 2012
  171. The Studholm Report of Saint John River Pre-Loyalists in 1783 – Sept. 12, 2012
  172. Caleb Jones. Further RE: Ann, otherwise known as Nancy – Sept. 5, 2012
  173. The Wreck of the Martha – Aug. 29, 2012
  174. The Early Settlement of Maugerville and the Sheffield Parsonage Dispute – Aug. 22, 2012
  175. Lieutenant Governors of New Brunswick to Confederation, Part 2 of 2 – Aug. 15, 2012
  176. Lieutenant Governors of New Brunswick to Confederation, Part 1 of 2 – Aug. 8, 2012
  177. The Morrow House at French Lake, N.B. – New Information – Aug. 1, 2012
  178. Sound by Glen Glenn, Revision 1 – July 25, 2012
  179. Ann, otherwise known as Nancy – July 18, 2012
  180. The Fire of October 7, 1825 – Beyond the Miramichi – July 11, 2012
  181. Lemuel Allan Wilmot – July 4, 2012
  182. The Great Fire at Miramichi, October 7, 1825 – June 27, 2012
  183. Robert Rankin in New Brunswick – June 20, 2012
  184. Who Owned the Mill at Tracy, New Brunswick? – June 13, 2012
  185. Signatures of Sunbury County Ancestors – June 6, 2012
  186. Daniel Wood’s Log Cabin, and Little Field Barn at French Lake, New Brunswick – May 30, 2012
  187. Rusagonis and George Garraty – May 23, 2012
  188. Epitaph Transcriptions from a Collection – May 16, 2012
  189. Central New Brunswick Gravestones from a Genealogy – May 9, 2012
  190. Nashwaak River Pictures with Stewart Family Connections – May 2, 2012
  191. More Sunbury County Photographs from a Collection – Apr. 25, 2012
  192. An Indian Burial Ground at Oromocto; and Coal Mining on the Oromocto River – Apr. 22, 2012
  193. “Days of Old” by Katherine DeWitt and Norma Alexander – Apr. 18, 2012
  194. The Wood Cemetery at French Lake, New Brunswick – Apr. 11, 2012
  195. James Glenie in New Brunswick – Apr. 4, 2012
  196. Four Generations of the Stewart Family on the Nashwaak River – Mar. 28, 2012
  197. Three Generations of the Mersereau Family in New Brunswick – Mar. 21, 2012
  198. Three Generations of the Smith Family of Sunbury County, New Brunswick – Mar. 14, 2012
  199. Three Generations of the Wood Family of French Lake, New Brunswick – Mar. 7, 2012
  200. New Brunswick Education in 1883 – Feb. 29, 2012
  201. Riots and Demonstrations in Saint John – Feb. 20, 2012
  202. Making Better Butter – Feb. 18, 2012
  203. York County Place Names, 1896/1905 – Feb. 8, 2012
  204. Sunbury County Place Names, 1896/1905 – Feb. 1, 2012
  205. Stereoscopic slides from Fred Stewart, Part 3 of 3 – Jan. 25, 2012
  206. Stereoscopic slides from Fred Stewart, Part 2 of 3 – Jan. 18, 2012
  207. Stereoscopic slides from Fred Stewart, Part 1 of 3 – Jan. 11, 2012
  208. The Hon. Thomas Baillie: Gone, but not soon forgotten! – Jan. 5, 2012
  209. The Fort at Oromocto, 1780 – 1783 – Dec. 29, 2011
  210. The Great Fire in Fredericton, 1850 – Early Accounts – Dec. 15, 2011
  211. The Morrow House at French Lake, and More – Dec. 8, 2011
  212. The Old Woman House at French Lake, New Brunswick – Dec. 1, 2011
  213. Smith Family Photographs from a Collection, Sunbury County, N.B. – Nov. 25, 2011
  214. French Lake from Before we Remember – Nov. 20, 2011
  215. How Geary became known as Geary – Nov. 9, 2011
  216. Elizabeth (Smith) Secord; N.B.’s First Woman Registered Doctor – Nov. 4, 2011
  217. Phillips Family Photographs from a Collection, Rusagonis, N.B. – Nov. 2, 2011
  218. Mersereau Family Photographs from a Collection, Sunbury County, N.B. – Oct. 30, 2011
  219. Wood Family Photographs from a Collection, French Lake, N.B. – Oct. 25, 2011
  220. Jeremiah Tracy: Pioneer of the Village of Tracy, New Brunswick – Oct. 20, 2011
  221. Two Old Railroad-Inspired Songs – Oct. 16, 2011
  222. Ode to the Oromocto River – Oct. 10, 2011
  223. John Mersereau, Loyalist 2 – Oct. 4, 2011
  224. The Earliest American Railroads and Locomotives – Sept. 14, 2011
  225. The Mersereau Manufacturing Company of Brooklyn, New York, Notes – Sept. 3, 2011
  226. George Morrow of French Lake, New Brunswick – 1801-1868 – Aug. 26, 2011
  227. The Wood Family of French Lake, New Brunswick – Legends – Aug. 9, 2011
  228. The Baptist Church on the Oromocto River in New Brunswick – Aug. 7, 2011
  229. John Wood of French Lake, New Brunswick – 1788-1868 – Aug. 2, 2011
  230. Daniel Wood of French Lake, New Brunswick – 1764-1847 – Aug. 1, 2011
  231. Three Stewarts on the Nashwaak – July 24, 2011
  232. Bunker Genealogy – Five Bunkers – July 20, 2011
  233. Statistics From the 1851 and 1871 Sunbury County New Brunswick Census Reports – July 19, 2011
  234. Historical Development of the Beam Bending Equation M=fS – July 18, 2011
  235. Seth Noble, Maugerville and the American Revolution – July 16, 2011
  236. Columns, the Long and the Short of it – 1729-1900 – July 15, 2011
  237. The Great Saint John Steel Cantilever Bridge – July 13, 2011
  238. The Upper Oromocto River in 1847 – July 11, 2011
  239. Early Glimpses of the Rusagonis Baptist Church in New Brunswick – July 11, 2011
  240. Abraham Gesner’s 1847 Observations of Sport Hunting in New Brunswick – July 11, 2011
  241. It Sounds a bit Too Easy – July 10, 2011
  242. James Buncker – July 10, 2011
  243. Inconsistent Petitions; Changed Self-Interests – July 10, 2011
  244. Abner Mersereau and a Letter – July 9, 2011
  245. Early Glimpses of the Patterson Settlement Baptist Church in New Brunswick – July 9, 2011
  246. The Textile Mill at Geary, New Brunswick – July 8, 2011
  247. Letter of Mi’kmaq’ Chief Pemmeenauweet to Queen Victoria – 1841 – July 7, 2011
  248. New Brunswick in the 1840s – July 7, 2011


John Wood

Written by johnwood1946

August 26, 2015 at 8:28 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

The Many Fires in Saint John, 1784 to 1877

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From the blog at

The following is from a book The Story of the Great Fire in Saint John, June 20, 1877, by George Stewart Jr. It is from an introductory chapter, however, and is a summary not just of the 1877 fire, but of the many fires that preceded it.

Market Slip in Flames 1877

Market Square and South Market Slip in Flames, 1877



The Many Fires in Saint John, 1784 to 1877

One of the most destructive fires of modern times occurred at St. John, N.B., on Wednesday, the 20th June, 1877. It was more calamitous in its character than the terrible conflagration which plunged portions of Chicago into ruin, and laid waste the great business houses of Boston a few years ago. In a relative sense, the St. John fire was a greater calamity, and its people for a time suffered sterner hardships. The fire in the large American cities was confined to a certain locality, but in St. John an immense area of territory was destroyed in the incredibly short space of nine hours, and fully two-fifths of the entire city were laid in ashes, and one thousand six hundred and twelve houses levelled to the earth. The fire raged with overwhelming violence, carrying in its wake everything that came before it. At one time three portions of the city were burning at once, and all hope of checking the conflagration died in the hearts of men as the terrific volume of flame thundered and crackled, and hissed in sheets over their heads. The blinding smoke rolled heavenwards in a thick heavy mass; the flying embers were carried along for miles, and the brisk north-west wind brought the destroying flame to a thousand households. Men and women stood paralyzed in the streets, fearing the worst and hoping against hope. Those who had worked all afternoon trying to save their property now sank to the earth and barely escaped with their lives, for the fire was upon them. Nothing appeared to stay the march of the fiend. Immense piles that seemed to stand like an army of picked guardsmen, were swept away in an instant; granite, freestone, brick and marble were as ineffectual in staying the conflagration as the driest tinder-box houses which fed the flames at every turn. Even old stone buildings that had stood for sixty years, in the outskirts of the city, and had withstood many a serious fire before, now crumbled and tumbled before the conquering scourge. 200 acres were destroyed, all that part of the city south of King Street, regiments of houses, stores and public buildings were burned, and the fire was only stayed when the water-line prevented its going further. The boundary of the burnt district followed a line on the eastern and northern sides of Union Street to Mill Street, Mill Street to Dock Street, northern and eastern sides of Market Square, centre of King Street to Pitt Street, Pitt Street to its junction with the water; thence around by the harbour-line to the starting point. In brief, this was the battle-ground through which the grand charge of the fire was made unparalleled in its brilliancy by any similar exploit which the annals of military deeds unfold. Men, horses, rows of stoutest building material, steam, water, all succumbed and went down like chaff before the whirlwind. Nothing was too strong to resist, nothing too weak to receive clemency.

A glance at the earlier history of St. John will show that destructive fires have been of frequent occurrence, and its people have suffered much from this system of devastation. In 1784, on Friday, the 18th June, the first fire of which we have any knowledge took place. At that time it was considered a terrible blow, and the sparse population thought that many years would elapse before the little city could recover from the wreck which the fire had made. Eleven houses were burned, and a large number of discharged soldiers of the 42nd Regiment were the principal sufferers. About this time a woman and child were burned to death at the Falls, and seven houses in this quarter were destroyed.

In April, 1787, the people decided to take active measures for protection against fire, and accordingly the following document was drawn up:

We, the subscribers, taking into our serious consideration the alarming situation of the city for want of fire engines and public wells, should a fire break out in any part of it, and, at the same time, being sensible of the present inability of the city corporation to advance money for the purpose, do severally promise to pay the mayor, aldermen and commonalty, of the City of St. John (or to such persons as they shall appoint), the several sums annexed to our names as a loan upon interest, for the purpose of importing from London two suitable fire-engines, and for sinking a sufficient number of public wells in this city.

Which several sums the said corporation have engaged to repay to each separate subscriber with interest annually, as soon as their funds will enable them so to do, as appears by an abstract from the minutes of the common council, dated the 20th March last:

[The list of contributors is presented here. About £294 was contributed by 45 people and companies. That amounted to about £6 10s. each on average, and none of the contributions exceeded £10. The contributors were: Gabriel G. Ludlow (Mayor), Ward Chipman (Recorder), Jonathan Bliss (Atty.-General), James Putnam (Judge), Christopher Billop, Zeph Kingsley, Samuel Randall, Gilbert & Hansford, Isaac Bell, Robert Parker, Benedict Arnold, William Wyly, Mark Wright, C.C. Hall & Co., William Pagan, John Colwell, Thomas Bean, Francis Gilbert, Samuel Hallet, William Hazen, James Ruon, John Califf, Isaac Lawton, Sar mel Mills, Paul Bedell, William Wanton (Collector Custom), Adino Paddock, M.D., McCall & Codner, Thomas Horsfield, John McGeorge, Thos. Elliot, William Bainy, Thompson & Reed, Christopher Lowe (King’s Printer), W.S. Olive, (Sheriff), Wm. Whittaker, Pe-er Quin, Charles Warner, Abiather Camp, James Peters, Daniel Michean, Fitch Rogers, Manson Jarvis, Nehemiah Rodgers, and Edward Sands.]

On the 2nd February, 1786, the corporation paid Peter Fleming £136 6s. 8d. for two fire engines. These must have proved ineffectual, for the reader will notice that the above loan was made up hardly a year afterward, and the present sum was raised for the special purpose of buying London engines, and sinking wells.

The movement was not inaugurated a moment too soon, for in 1788 the following year, a fire occurred in the store of General Benedict Arnold, of revolutionary fame, which threatened to become very serious before it was got under way. Arnold’s store was situate in Lower Cove, where the sewing machine factory adjoining John E. Turnbull’s sash factory stood, till the late besom of fire swept it away. A good deal of excitement was occasioned at the time of the fire in Arnold’s premises. His former partner, Hoyt, charged him with setting fire to the store. Arnold sued him for slander, and recovered a verdict of twenty shillings!

The next fire broke out in 1816 in a large two-story house on the corner of Germain and Britain Streets, occupied by a military physician named Davis. The doctor and his wife were saved from burning by the heroic conduct of their next door neighbour. A party of soldiers were engaged the next day sifting the ashes and searching for the silver which had melted; not a trace of it was found however.

The fire of 1823 was a very serious one, and caused great destruction. It began on Disbrow’s Wharf and took along with it nearly both sides of Prince William Street; the old wooden building on the latter street lately occupied by The Telegraph newspaper, alone escaped. The lot on which it stood cost Dr. Adino Paddock five shillings in 1786. During this fire over forty houses were burned, and the loss of property and goods was estimated at £20,000, which in those days was felt to be enormous.

The fire of 1837 will linger long in the memory of many of the inhabitants of St. John. It was the most wholesale destruction of property which the people had ever known. Many today contrast the misfortunes of that day with those of the present hour. Even when the flames were carrying death and destruction on all sides on that warm day in June, 1877, men stopped to compare notes and whisper a word or two about the fire of 1837. Of course the loss was not as great then, or the number of lives lost so large, or so much valuable property destroyed as at the present time, but the people were less able to bear the trials which came upon them then, and many never recovered from the shock. The city was young and struggling to gain a foothold. The city was poor and the people were frugal. They were not able to bear the burdens which were in a night entailed upon them, the magnificent system of relief from outside sources was not in operation, and without help of any kind save that which they themselves brought into requisition, the citizens nobly worked long and hard to rebuild their little seaport town. There was a prejudice against insurance, and many lost every dollar they possessed. The hardships of those days are remembered by many who passed through them then, and who once more endure the horrors of a great calamity with almost Spartan courage. The time of the ’37 fire was in the very heart of a rigorous winter, on the 13th of January, and we can only picture the destruction of Moscow to enable the reader to understand how terrible the sufferings of the people must have been, when snow and ice were on the ground, and not a shelter covered the heads of the afflicted women and tender babes. It was a day remembered long after by those who had passed through its trials. The fire originated on Peters’s Wharf, and in a moment, like lightning, it darted along South Market Wharf and extended up to the ferry boat. Both sides of Water Street and Prince William Street between Cooper’s Alley and Princess Street were destroyed. The old Nichols House was saved; it was occupied then by Solomon Nichols and stood on the corner of Cooper’s Alley and Prince William Street, lately the site of Farrall & Smith’s dry goods store. It was originally built of wood and it was a marvel that it was not carried away with the rest; but it stood like an oasis in Sahara, or the old sentinel who was left on guard and forgotten after the army had fled. One hundred and fifteen houses were consumed, and nearly the whole of the business portion of the city, and one million dollars’ worth of property were destroyed.

Hardly had the people recovered from the disaster of 1837, when another scourge came upon them causing nearly as much destruction as before. This was in August, 1839, when a fire started in Nelson Street and burned the entire north wharf, both sides of Dock Street, Market Square, with the exception of the house standing on the site now occupied by the Bank of British North America, and a house on Union Street west, occupied by Mr. Hegan. It didn’t cross Prince William Street. The old Government House, Union Street, escaped.

The spring of 1841, 17th March, was the scene of another fire, when four lives were lost and much excitement prevailed. Mr. Holdsworth, of Holdsworth & Daniel, (London House) perished while endeavouring to keep off the sparks from the roof of his store.

On the 26th August, a £30,000 fire in Portland carried off sixty houses; and on the 15th November, 1841, a fire broke out on the South Wharf and burned the whole of that wharf together with Peter’s Wharf, south side of Water Street, and the large brick Market-house in Market Square, which was occupied by butchers in the ground flat, and used for the civic offices in the second story. This building could have been saved, and was lost through gross carelessness. Incendiarism was rampant and the greatest excitement filled the public mind.

In 1845, 29th July, forty buildings were burned from a fire which took its start in Water Street, and in 1849 the famous King Street fire broke out in a store in Lawrence’s building. The Commercial Hotel, then kept by the late Israel Fellows, father of James I. Fellows, Chemist, was destroyed, together with the Tower of Trinity Church, which had to be pulled down that the Church might be saved. Pilot Mills climbed to the cupola and secured the fastenings by which it was brought to the ground.

The fire in Prince William Street of March 8th of the present year, which broke out in the building owned by the Ennis and Gardner estate, and resulted in the loss of seven lives and nearly two millions of dollars’ worth of property, is still fresh in the minds of our readers.

Thus the reader will see that St. John has had a goodly share of the great fires, which, in a moment lay prostrate a city, and plunge her inhabitants into almost hopeless ruin.

Written by johnwood1946

August 26, 2015 at 8:27 AM

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A Proposal for an Attack on Nova Scotia

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A Proposal for an Attack on Nova Scotia

Following is a plan attributed to John Allan, for the invasion of Nova Scotia during the American Revolution. Allan was from Cumberland, N.S., and his revolutionary activity on the Saint John River is reviewed in another posting in this blog. His plan was never carried out in full, though the British fort at Cumberland was attacked unsuccessfully.

Had this invasion been approved then it might well have been successful. The threat from British troops at Halifax would have been eliminated and the Americans would have gained a base for blockading the Saint Lawrence River.

Many Nova Scotians sympathised with the Americans in the Revolution, and many others were prepared at least to be pragmatic about it. John Brebner’s The Neutral Yankees of Nova Scotia covers this period.

Spelling is as found, and the document is from the Collections of the Nova Scotia Historical Society for the Years 1879-80, Volume 2, Halifax, 1881.

Halifax 1750

A View of Halifax, ca. 1750

Map by Thomas Jefferys, from Wikipedia

  • — — — — — — — — — —

Some proposals for an attack on Nova Scotia, with some other observations respecting the province, laid before the Honorable Council of the Massachusetts State.

Three thousand men with provisions and ammunition, cannon for the siege of Fort Cumberland, eight armed schooners and sloops for the expedition.

Fifteen hundred men to proceed up the Basin of Menas, 500 of which to go on to settlements at the head of Cobequide Bay, in order to take the road that way for Halifax; 750 go on to the Landing at Windsor, or up the river St. Croix; 150 of which to invest Fort Edward, at Windsor, the others to proceed for Halifax, which with that party by Cobequide, will join within about 14 miles from Halifax. Fifty men to be left at Partridge Island to secure that ferry. Two thousand to land near the town of Cornwallis, in order to march through the settlements to secure the disaffected, then to join those left at Windsor, there to make necessary preparations for a retreat, or succor those gone to Halifax. By this operation all the avenues to the Capital by land will be shut up from the country. Various may be the methods for entering the town, what may be best will be judged of, when on the spot, though I cannot perceive any obstacle in immediately entering the town, and in order to make the matter more sure and less dangerous could two or three armed vessels, with a number of men lye in some adjacent harbor to Halifax, and an intelligence could be easily communicated for them to run into the N.W. Arm, which runs on the Coast of Halifax, it must put them into such hurry and confusion that the town might be carried with very little trouble. Should it so happen that our people could not take possession of the town by reason of any fortification on the road, or otherwise deterred, the town and naval yard might be easily destroyed. As to the latter, there is no fortification, seaward, it has been generally conjectured that an enemy would attack it by sea, and there being a necessity of keeping clear for the reason of heaving down ships. Their only strength is the shipping which lies abreast of it, and seldom above one. In this situation a number of men might very easily, in the night, land from boats, and should an alarm be given, the men-of-war dare not fire as their men would be as much exposed as the others.

Should it not be practicable to get in with the army, or even destroy it as before mentioned, the dividing this part of the country from Halifax must soon bring them to conditions, as their whole dependence for necessaries is from this part. Even a small measure of this kind would be of great service to distress the enemy, for a short stagnation of business will for some time after be severely felt. After matters were done there, they might easy retreat to Cumberland, if thought most expedient, as also any familys who might be suspicious or afraid of difficulty from the king’s troops.

The rest of the troops I would have proceed up Chegneito Bay to the River Memramcook. I doubt not but Fort Cumberland could be easily taken by surprise, notwithstanding what has happened, but should it not, the diff’t avenues must be guarded, and the disaffected secured. Artillery, if necessary, can be easily conveyed to a proper place for use, by many ways, either sea or land. Any armed vessels after this to proceed up Cumberland Bay, where they may lie a sufficient distance to prevent any hurt from the cannons at the forts, and secure from any vessels of greater strength than themselves. This would prevent any escape from the garrison by water, or any assistance going to them. Two armed vessels, to cruise between Island St. John and Bay Verte, would be necessary. I think from the operations of Captain Eddy, that Fort Cumberland will be as difficult to take, if not surprised, as any part. However, I am persuaded that if this plan could be pursued, the whole province would fall very soon from the British power.

This plan is proposed, supposing that none of the inhabitants would join, but lye inactive. But I doubt not but that they will act, which, if the case, a number not short of 1600 distributed, in proportion as before mentioned, would fully answer the purpose. In regard to magazines and stores, the River St. John’s is most essential part for one place, where a number of men should be stationed to prevent the enemy from cutting off the communication between Nova Scotia and New England, and open a communication into Canada, which I am somewhat afraid they will attempt to do the ensuing summer; there is many advantageous places on this river to secure any stores; the lakes and rivers which run from its exterior within 6 miles of Miramichi, near Bay Chaleur, and within 7 miles of one of Cumberland rivers. The river itself goes within 44 miles of the River St. Lawrence, near Quebec. But Fort Cumberland is the most suitable for the diff’t operations throughout the province, it having the greatest command over the distant parts; it lyes near the centre, and from its situation is of great consequence in the present plan or of any other which might be carry’d on in that province. There is many other matters might be observed, but presume a suff’t is said to give satisfaction.

An objection may be made, that the subduing of Nova Scotia is not the greatest task, but the keeping possession afterwards, as it is surrounded by the sea. The inhabitants being so scattered, and their indegent circumstances that they cannot defend it, therefore the expense would be infinitely more to the States, than any advantage that could arise from it. In answer to it in general, was Great Britain in the same situation as some years ago; it might be feared, but I am sensible their present ability is no way sufficient, except they draw all the troops from the southward to assist their ships there. But in my present plan, I want to have nothing done to hold any possession to the westward of Halifax, nor is it of any consequence to take it. But Kings County, in the Basin of Minas Cobequide settlements, and Cumberland County, which is the cream of the Province. The British ships have no such advantage.

Cumberland as mentioned before, from its situation is as easy to be defended as any part in America, it lying on the isthmus. The Bay of Fundie lying on the westward, and Bay Verte in the Gulph of St. Lawrence on the eastward; both these are inaccessible for any large vessels. The former by reason of the rapidity of the current. The tide rising commonly between forty and fifty feet, and the flats dug at low water. King’s ships dare not approach nearer the landing than ten miles. The great advantage is with small vessels. There is a number of small rivers which run many miles into the country, which vessels under 80 tons may easily go up on the tide of flood, and securely lye there at any time. Small armed vessels may deprive any attempt against them from the whole British navy. Bay Verte the tide rises commonly six feet. The Bay for 4 leagues down has not more than 4 fathoms of water. I never know’d any king’s vessels to come nearer than ten miles.

The French and English esteem’d Fort Cumberland as the most important post in that country; it commands extent of sea coast; it all way supported the Indians in their depredations committed in the eastern country; commanded the sea coast towards Cheuleur, the Indian Trade and Fishery. I am convinced (of a sufficient number of men) it is as easily secured. Provisions and necessarys may be safely transported as to any of the eastern settlements in New England.

Should it not be thought expedient to pursue the forementioned plan that is by extending the operation immediately over the province. I woud recommend that one thousand men with provisions and ammunition, 6 or 8 pieces of cannon, be as soon as possible sent to River St. John’s; from there form their plan how to proceed for Cumberland. I am confident from the account I received that the garrison may still be taken. This number by being stationed in Cumberland County, may harras the whole of the Province, and in process of time, I doubt not will subdue the whole, that is, bring them under the American bannar. A communication would be open’d to St. John’s, by cutting a road which might be conveniently done in a short time, as the inhabitants of Cumberland and Sunbury are very hearty in the matter. I would also recommend that no person whatever belonging to Nova Scotia should have the command, or liable to have it by death or otherwise, nor that commissions should be granted to any, to command the inhabitants of their countrys, but only those whom the committee particularly recommends.

The necessity of doing something with that province must be obvious, when we consider the many benefits Great Britian receives from their present quiet possession there. At present and for some past, great quantities of fresh provisions, vegetables, hay, &c., have been procured and sent to the enemy. The King’s yard at Halifax, on which their whole dependence for to succour their navy abroad depends, in July past had £500,000 of stores in it; this place is of the greatest, and I may say the last importance to Britian in this contest. I have heard several gentlemen of the Army and Navy often signify their dread and fear least it should be destroy’d. If done, (say they) we must give the matter up for the present. In its present situation Nova Scotia commands an extensive sea coast; along which is very valuable fishery for cod, salmon, bass and sea cows. Great quantitys of fish and oil ship’d the past season by English markets trading in the Gulph of St. Laurance. Transports with other vessells bound up St. Laurance with supplys to the enemy, puts into harbours to gete refreshments, and receive their orders how to proceed. By this the Gulph lyes intirely unmolested, that the enemy have it in their power to treat with the Indians, and instill into their minds what they please; all this with many other particulars within the circle of my own knowledge. Altho Nova Scotia is looked upon such a deminutive light, am well acquainted with their situation and circumstances, and know well their indigency, that they cannot allways even support themselves; still they are capable to furnish our enemys, and the permiting them to lye still and unmolested appears clearly to me is of an evil tendency to their states, and may be the means of keeping up the war for many years longer.

Should it be thought expedient to pursue any of these plans, it will prevent all those evils mentioned, with the furthur advantage that it would open a communication into Canada by Rastigouche on the head of the Bay of Cheuleur. Secure the interest of the Indians, and there being a number of very secure rivers and harbors, from Canso to Cheuleur, round to Gaspie, where small priviteers may lye secure and concealed, might intercept every vessel going up St. Laurence.

These operation should they take place, would put the enemy in such confusion, and knowing their miserable circumstances in that quarter, they could not send that suitable assistance by which it must annoy their operation in Canada, and be of great service to the cause in general.

Should none of these take place, the inhabitants must remove, if so, could two hundred men be sent to asist them to get off their cattle and affects, and defend any opposition under our Govt: the River St. John’s is talked of by the inhabitants.

I intend myself to settle up one of the lakes in the river to carry on my agency there, as it will be handy for both partes.

Written by johnwood1946

August 19, 2015 at 3:44 PM

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Fredericton’s Great Flood of 1936

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Fredericton’s Great Flood of 1936

The Fredericton area is no stranger to spring flooding, and the flood of 1973 is often cited as the worst on record. In fact, the flood of 1973 was the worst open water event, but there was another flood that was made more damaging by an ice jam at Fredericton, and that was in March of 1936. Furthermore, the flooding of 1936 was not just a local or Saint John River event, but was caused by a weather system that ravaged all of the northeast United States, the Maritime Provinces and Quebec.

The winter of 1935-36 had been cold, and there was more than the normal amount of snow. A warm storm front then moved in during the second week of March, before the usual spring thaw, bringing warm temperatures and heavy rain over a wide area. As much as seven inches of rain fell in parts of Maine and this was in addition to the effects of snow-melt and the damming effect of the ice jams. At least one dam was heavily damaged on the Connecticut River. Much of this damage occurred between March 11 and 13.

Another warm weather storm system moved in a few days later, and some areas that had seen as much as seven inches of rain then received another ten inches. By this time, ice jams had cleared in most of Maine and southern New England and the result was flooding without the added effect of ice jams. Conditions were similar in New Brunswick and Quebec, but the ice jams had not all broken. The overall effect of these floods was greater than had been seen before, and nothing like it has been seen since.

By March 20th, 160 lives had been lost and 40 other people were missing in the United States, and President Roosevelt declared a state of emergency. The news reporting was frantic, and there were projections that as many as 1,000 people might eventually be lost. Sand bags were placed around the Washington monument, and the whole area between there and the Lincoln Memorial was threatened. A newspaper declared that “No less than 104 cities in 14 states reported themselves flooded, with essential services crippled or altogether stopped,” and “Unless it stops raining there is every danger that the great part of New England will be completely devastated.”

The damage through the Saint Lawrence River valley was severe. Many bridges were lost, including one on the main highway between Montreal and Quebec. A boy drowned in Verdun, south of Montreal, and hundreds of homes were damaged between there and the eastern townships. Displaced families numbered in the hundreds and the number of people must have been in the thousands.

An electrical plant at Drummondville was forced out of service, and dams failed at other locations. Businesses had to close for lack of power. Police patrolled the streets in rowboats in Saint-Hyacinthe.

The flooding in Fredericton was worse than had ever been experienced, and it was also the earliest date at which flooding had occurred. The flood was made all the worse by an ice jam, and on the night of March 19/20, 1936, the jam broke and tons of ice were thrown against the C.N.R. bridge. This bridge had been opened in 1888 by John A. Macdonald. The spans were old-fashioned pin-connected trusses with I-bar tension members, and the spans were therefore very light. All nine spans were easily tossed into the river and destroyed, at an estimated loss of $1,500.000. This cut off rail service from Fredericton to Newcastle and Moncton. The ice jam then re-formed between Sheffield and Burton, and 150 square miles of land was flooded.

CNR bridge FrederictonThe C.N.R. bridge at Fredericton, just prior to its collapse.

Most of the Fredericton business district was flooded, including Queen Street from St. John Street to Waterloo Row. The legislature was surrounded by water and it was expected that the Legislators would have to access the building by rowboat. The water rose at least a foot higher than in 1973, and there is a marker on the Assembly building attesting to this. Cellars were flooded and some people had to move to upper floors. Brunswick Street was under water as was an area from York to Westmorland and back to Argyle Street and the southern portion of Victoria Street.

1936 Carleton BrunswickCorner of Carleton and Brunswick Streets, March 19, 1936. N.B. Provincial Archives.

Damage around New Brunswick was extensive. There were ice jams all along the Saint John River from Long Reach upward to the Tobique and the Green River. The Oromocto River, the Nackawic Stream and other tributaries also developed ice jams, and many bridges and some dams were lost, including highway bridges at Bailey, Blissville and Hoyt. Edmundston was isolated for a while, and there was as much as fifteen feet of water over some railway tracks. Railway tracks at other locations disappeared altogether, having been washed out. Telephone lines were destroyed and many people were forced from their homes, including on the flats at Woodstock.

There were several ice jams on the Miramichi River, and two large farms were flooded out on the Little Southwest Miramichi. Bridges were damaged and dynamite was used to break ice jams. Newcastle were flooded for days. Town employees worked to keep the drainage systems clear in Campbellton. In Charlotte County, the Magaguadavic River was described as “being on the rampage at Bonny River and Second Falls.”

So, that is my description of a regional weather event, which created the highest flood waters ever observed in Fredericton, and ravaged other vast areas of North America.

Written by johnwood1946

August 12, 2015 at 2:33 PM

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A Letter about the Acadians, and the Expulsion

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A Letter about the Acadians, and the Expulsion

Rev. Andrew Brown spent time in Halifax and was interested in compiling a history of that city. His personal experiences in Nova Scotia occupied only an eight year period following the arrival of the Loyalists, however, and he therefore sought information from others. One of the people that he consulted was Brook Watson who was the subject of an earlier posting in this blog. You may recall that Watson was an orphan who went to Boston, and subsequently lost a leg in a shark attach in Cuba. Despite these disadvantages, he became Commissary General of British forces in America, Sheriff and Lord Mayor of London, Member of Parliament for London, and a baronet.

Brook Watson was an extraordinary person, and was well qualified to advise Andrew Brown. Following is his contribution of July 1, 1791. His letter covers a fairly long period, but the most interesting part deals with the expulsion of the Acadians. Watson’s role during the later arrival of the Loyalists is documented to a lesser extent.

This is a British view of events. Many British people distanced themselves from the expulsion, and Watson’s claim that his role was a “painful task” needs to be verified from other sources. His empathy for the Acadians seems genuine enough, however. This letter from Brook Watson to Andrew Brown in from the Collections of the Nova Scotia Historical Society for the Years 1879-80, Volume 2, Halifax, 1881. Spelling is as found.

Brook Watson 2

A Caricature of Brook Watson, by Robert Dighton, 1803, Wikipedia

  • — — — — — — — — — —

Hon. Brook Watson to Rev. Dr. Brown

London, 1st July, 1791

Rev. Sir,—

I have been favored with your letter bearing date ye 13th November last, wherein you inform me of your having been employed for some years in collecting materials for compilating a History of Nova Scotia, and that conceiving from my knowledge of the country which commenced at an early period of my life, and my connections with it continued up to the present time, I should be able to aid your endeavors; you express a desire to receive from me information respecting the most interesting events which have occurred to my observation. It is true, sir, that I knew the Province in the year 1750, and my connection with it has from that period been uninterruptedly continued up to the present day, but it must be remembered that my whole life has been spent in one continued scene of mercantile business, consequently I am but ill qualified to aid your labors. I will, nevertheless, evince my respect and regard to the recorders of truth for the benefit of mankind by giving you the best account in my power of those occurrences to which your letter seems more immediately to point.

In the sixteenth century Acadie, or Acady, was first settled by people from Normandy, they were placed under the Government of Canada, but so remote their situation from Quebec, little communication could be held with them; they were, therefore, suffered to possess this extensive and fertile country with little or no control; their chief settlements were made on the borders of navigable rivers emptying into the Bay of Fundy, where marsh, or interval, lands abounded, and which, when dyked to keep off the water occasioned by high tides, produced excellent pastures, and without manure abundance of fine grain and pulse; hence the country soon became plentifully stocked with neat cattle, horses, sheep, hogs, and poultry of all sorts; the people left to themselves, without burthens on their property, or restraints on their industry, increased rapidly, possessing the means essential to substantial happiness. Luxuries they did not covet, to ambition they were strangers; bigoted Catholics they were, no doubt, governed by their priests, but these were few in number and moderate in their views, till the year 1750, when one of their order, Monsieur LaLoutre, from Canada, laid the foundation for the miseries they experienced in 1755.

Acadie was ceded by England to France by the Treaty of Breda, in 1661, but afterwards taken by the English. It was acceded to them by the Treaty of Utrecht, in 1713, under the express stipulation that the inhabitants might remain with their possessions subjects to the crown of Great Britain, with a right to the free exercise of their religion according to the usage of the Church of Rome, and thenceforth they were called Neutrals. Their principal settlement was Annapolis Royal. Here the English built a fort and garrisoned it with English troops, changing the name of the Province from Acadie to Nova Scotia; but they took no measures for settling it with other inhabitants till the year 1749, when Colonel Cornwallis was appointed its first Governor, and carried from England a number of people who he settled at Chebucto, which he named Halifax, after the noble Earl who was then First Lord for Trade and Plantations. France, seeing the steps taken by England in settling the country, and dreading the influence it would give us with the savages in the neighborhood of Canada, took every measure in their power to retard its progress. To this end they sent an officer with some troops from Quebec, in 1750, to encourage and support the Acadians and savages in impeding the English settlers. In this design they succeeded so well that in 1755 they became hardy enough openly to take part with the French in defending their garrison of Beausejour, which had been built in 1751 on a hill at the bottom of the Bay of Fundy, within three miles of Fort Lawrence, fortified by the English the preceding year. The former was taken the end of May or beginning of June, 1755, by four hundred British and two thousand Provincial troops, under the command of Lieut. Colonel Robert Monckton. The French garrison were allowed to go to Louisburg; the Acadians to their respective homes. But Admiral Boscawen, then commanding a considerable fleet at Halifax, with Colonel Lawrence, the Governor of the Province, soon after determined on sending all the Acadians out of the country, and sent orders to Lieut. Colonel Monckton to embark them. He, in consequence, issued a proclamation commanding them all to appear at Beausejour (now Fort Cumberland) on a given day when, not suspecting the purpose, they were surrounded by troops and the men shut up in the fort, the women and children suffered to return home, there to remain till further notice should be given them. In the meantime transports were preparing to carry them out of the country. In September I was directed to proceed with a party of Provincials to the Baie Verte, then a considerable and flourishing settlement, there to wait further orders, which I received on the following day, to collect and send to Beausejour, for embarkation, all the women and children to be found in that district, and, on leaving the town, to fire it; this painful task performed, I was afterwards employed in victualling the transports for their reception; the season was now far advanced before the embarkation took place, which caused much hurry, and I fear some families were divided and sent to different parts of the globe, notwithstanding all possible care was taken to prevent it. These wretched people, given up by France without their consent, were for adhering to those principles which the liberal mind must deem praiseworthy, plucked from their native soil, cast out by the nation who claimed their obedience, and rejected by that from whence they sprang, and to whose religion, customs and laws they had evinced the strongest attachment. Many of the transports having on board were ordered to France, about thirteen hundred perished by shipwreck on the voyage, those who arrived, France would not receive; they were landed at Southampton and other ports where, taking the small-pox, they were carried off in great numbers. Of those who went to the French West India Isles the greater part died for want of food, a famine at that time prevailed in the island, the people could not support them, the Governor-General said that they were not French subjects. Those who survived the calamity were sent to join their remaining brethren who had been sent to the British colonies from New England to Georgia; they were here more fortunate, for notwithstanding the rancor which generally prevailed against all Roman Catholics, their orderly conduct, their integrity, sobriety and frugality secured to them the good-will of the people and gained them comfortable support. But still longing for their native country, all their industry was stimulated, all their hopes supported by that landmark of their former felicity, many of them built boats, and taking their families, coasted the whole American shore, from Georgia to Nova Scotia; others dreading a tempestuous sea went up the Mississippi and, crossing the lakes to Canada, descended the River St. Lawrence and so regained their former settlements. But alas! what did they find! all was desolated for the more effectually to drive them out of the country, all their houses had been burnt, all their cattle killed by order of Government, hence they found no shelter, still they persevered with never-failing fortitude with unremitting industry, and established themselves in different remote parts of the Province, where they had been suffered to remain, but without any legal property, at least I have not heard of any land having been granted to them; their numbers, I am told, have increased about two thousand, and am informed they still continue what I know them to be in their prosperous state, an honest, sober industrious, and virtuous people; seldom did any quarrels happen amongst them. The men were in the summer constantly employed in husbandry, in the winter in cutting timber—fuel and fencing—and in hunting; the women in carding, spinning and weaving wool, flax and hemp, of which this country furnished abundance; these with furs from bears, beaver, foxes, otter, and martin, gave them not only comfortable, but in many instances, handsome clothing, and wherewith to procure other necessaries and conveniences from the English and French who carried on a trade of barter with them; few houses were to be found that had not a hogshead of French wine on tap, they had no dye but black and green, but in order to obtain scarlet—of which they were remarkably fond, they procured the English scarlet duffil which they cut, teized, carded, spun, and wove in stripes to decorate the women’s garments. Their country abounded with provisions, that I have heard people say they bought an ox for fifty shillings, a sheep for five, and wheat for eighteen pence per bushel. Their young people were not encouraged to marry till the maid could weave a web of cloth, the youth make a pair of wheels; their qualifications were deemed essential to their well doing and little more was necessary, for whenever a marriage took place the whole village set about establishing the young couple, they built them a log house, and cleared land sufficient for their immediate support, supplied them with some cattle, hogs, and poultry, and nature, aided by their own industry, soon enabled them to assist others. Infidelity to the marriage bed I never heard of amongst them. The winters long and cold were spent in cheerful hospitality, having fuel in abundance their houses was always comfortable, the rustic song and dance made their principal amusement. Thus did they live, so have they been visited. In 1755 I was a very humble instrument in sending eighteen hundred of those suffering mortals out of the Province. In 1783, as Commissary General to the army serving in North America, it became my duty, under the command of Sir Guy Carleton, now Lord Dorchester, to embark thirty-five thousand loyalists at New York to take shelter in it, and I trust all in my power was done to soften the affliction of the Acadians and alleviate the sufferings of the loyalists who were so severely treated for endeavoring to support the union of the British empire; they have great reason to bless the considerate mind and feeling heart of Lord Dorchester, under whose directions and providential care, ever awake to their wants, I had the pleasing task of liberally providing for them everything necessary to their transportation and settlement with provisions for one year after their arrival, and this allowance was still longer continued to them by the Public to the eternal honor of the nation will be the record of their having considered the particular case of every individual who claims to have suffered by their loyalty, and after a ruinous war which added one hundred and twenty millions to the public debt, granted compensation for their losses and relief for their sufferings to the amount of between three or four millions, besides annuities amounting to sixty thousand pounds a year.

You will perceive I have not noticed the division of the Province, which took place in 1784 or 5, when the line was drawn from Cumberland to the Baie Verte, leaving the former and all to the north of it in the newly erected Province of New Brunswick, on which lands the loyalists had generally settled.

If aught which I have communicated may in any degree prove useful to your work my feelings will be gratified. I give you thanks for having recalled to my mind transactions which were nearly obliterated, but being awakened, may be the means of producing some good to the poor Acadians who still remain in the Provinces, and they may have cause to bless you for recording their sufferings.

I am, sir.

Your most humble servant,


Rev. Mr. Brown,

Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Written by johnwood1946

August 5, 2015 at 8:18 AM

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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


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