New Brunswick History and Other Stuff

Table of Contents, Rev. August 24, 2016

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

  1. Blog past #300: Port Royal from 1604 to 1613. Of Heritage Value to all North Americans – Aug. 24, 2016
  2. Hunting Down the Last of the Old Growth Pine – Aug. 17, 2016
  3. Dr. James Robb – Aug. 10, 2016
  4. Peace Negotiations With Pierre Tomah on the Saint John River – Aug. 3, 2016
  5. Business Opportunities on Campobello Island – July 27, 2016
  6. A Pompous Captain on the Evils of Logging – July 20, 2016
  7. The Too-Easy Life of Nova Scotians Disproved – July 13, 2016
  8. Why Not to Marry a Nova Scotia Woman, and How to Make Maple Sugar – July 6, 2016
  9. The Bloody Assault on Fort Louisbourg in 1758 – June 29, 2016
  10. The Medical Men of Saint John in its First Half Century – June 22, 2016
  11. Henry Ketchum and the Chignecto Marine Transport Railway – June 15, 2016
  12. A War Journal from Majabidwaduce on the Penobscot – June 8, 2016
  13. Mi’kmaq Magic and Medicine – June 1, 2016
  14. Thomas Wood, and His Visit to the Saint John River in 1769 – May 25, 2016
  15. The Northern Colonies: Languishing in Mediocrity – ca 1804 – May 18, 2016
  16. Fredericton’s Victoria Cottage Hospital – May 11, 2016
  17. The Passamaquoddy Wampum Records – May 4, 2016
  18. Slog on, or Die – Apr. 27, 2016
  19. Changes Nova Scotia Underwent from Discovery to 1758 When the First General Assembly Met in Halifax – Apr. 20, 2016
  20. The Disastrous Winter on St. Croix Island, 1604-05, and Other Adventures – Apr. 13, 2016
  21. Missions to the Mi’kmaq and Maliseet in the Early 1800’s – Apr. 6, 2016
  22. It Sounded Like a Residential School Philosophy – Mar. 30, 2016
  23. The Acadian Fugitives – Mar. 23, 2016
  24. Giddy, Eccentric, and Discontented Characters, or Misguided Souls, or Turncoats? – Mar. 16, 2016
  25. Indian Routes of Travel in New Brunswick – Mar. 9, 2016
  26. Historic Sites from the English Period on the Saint John River – Mar. 2, 2016
  27. How to Hunt a Moose, a Goose, and a Caribou in New Brunswick in 1791 – Feb. 24, 2016
  28. William Hubbard Complains to Edward Winslow about the Congregationalists in Sheffield – Feb. 17, 2016
  29. Good Fences Make Good Neighbours – Feb. 10, 2016
  30. WE NEED THE ACADIANS TO REMAIN: Lieut Governor, 1715 – Feb. 2, 2015
  31. Guy Carleton on the Fur Trade in Canada, 1767 – Jan. 27, 2016
  32. A Letter on Irish Immigrants – Jan. 20, 2016
  33. The Wreck of the ‘Lord Ashburton’ – Jan. 13, 2016
  34. A Ghost at Noonday – Jan. 6, 2016
  35. Silas Rand on the Mi’kmaq People – Part 3: Will Not the Bright Sun and the Blue Heavens Testify Against Us? – Dec. 30, 2015
  36. Silas Rand on the Mi’kmaq People – Part 2: To Every Thing There is a Season – Dec. 23, 2015
  37. Silas Rand on the Mi’kmaq People – Part 1: All Men From One Blood – Dec. 16, 2015
  38. Limits to the Royal Bounty – Dec. 9, 2015
  39. Nova Scotia, a Receptacle for Superfluous People? – Dec. 1, 2015
  40. From New Ireland to New Brunswick – Nov. 25, 2015
  41. The Most Gentlemanlike Government on Earth – Nov. 18, 2015
  42. I Love You for Your Plainness – Nov. 11, 2015
  43. Ward Chipman Remembers the Final Evacuation of New York – Nov. 4, 2015
  44. A Reply to “Men of Honor and Probity Run Amok” – Oct. 28, 2015
  45. A Century of Educational Progress in New Brunswick from 1800 to 1900 – Oct. 21, 2015
  46. Notes About the Earliest Public Markets in Saint John, New Brunswick – Oct. 14, 2015
  47. The Provincial Dairy School at Sussex, New Brunswick, 1900 – Oct. 7, 2015
  48. An Account of Nova Scotia in 1743 – Sept. 30, 2015
  49. The Petition of the Infamous 55 – Sept. 23, 2015
  50. Francis Sharpe’s Woodstock Apples – Sept. 16, 2015
  51. The Expulsion of the Acadians, a Military Surgeon’s Diary – Sept. 9, 2015
  52. The New Brunswick Election of 1785 – Sept. 2, 2015
  53. The Many Fires in Saint John, 1784-1877 – Aug. 26, 2015
  54. A Proposal for an Attack on N0va Scotia – Aug. 19, 2015
  55. Fredericton’s Great Flood of 1936 – Aug. 12, 2015
  56. A Letter about the Acadians and the Expulsion – Aug. 5, 2015
  57. Saint John in 1834, Before it was Forever Changed by the Great Fire – July 29, 2015
  58. New Brunswick, No Country for a Mere Gentleman, 1834 – July 22, 2015
  59. Woodstock, the Only Village Between the Green River and Fredericton in 1834 – July 15, 2015
  60. On the Tamiscouta Prtage from Lake Tamiscouta to just above Grand Falls, 1834 – July 10, 2015
  61. Men of Honor and Probity Run Amok – July 1, 2015
  62. By Steamer to the So-Called City of Fredericton – June 24, 2014
  63. A Quiet and Business-Like Little City – June 17, 2015
  64. Rambles Among the Bluenoses in 1862 – June 10, 2015
  65. Edward John Russell, a New Brunswick Artist – June 3, 2015
  66. Provincial Lunatic Asylum, Report of the Medical Superintendent, 1875 – May 27, 2015
  67. The Saint John River and Port Royal in the Early 1600’s – May 20, 2015
  68. What Should We Think of Benedict Arnold? – May 13, 2015
  69. Diphtheria in New Brunswick in the Year 1889 – May 6, 2015
  70. The Official Account of the Destruction of Burnt Church – Apr. 29, 2015
  71. The Exchange Coffee House and Saint John’s First Club – Apr. 22, 2015
  72. The Wigwams and Dwellings of the Gaspesians – Apr. 15, 2015
  73. The Story of Brook Watson – Apr. 8, 2015
  74. Where Stood Fort LaTour? – Apr. 1, 2015
  75. Things This Morning Really Wear the Aspect of War – Mar. 25, 2015
  76. At Portland Point – Mar. 18, 2015
  77. Electrical Power From the Reversing Falls – Mar. 10, 2015
  78. Father Rale’s War – 1722-25; How it Ended – Mar. 4, 2015
  79. What Was the Big Deal About the Marco Polo? – Feb. 25, 2015
  80. Grand Manan to Petitcodiac, in 1786 – Feb. 18, 2015
  81. A Trip From St. John to Fredericton in 1870 – Feb. 11, 2015
  82. A Tour of St. John, N.B., in 1870 – Feb. 4, 2015
  83. Destruction by Fire of the First Cathedral in Chatham – Jan. 28, 2015
  84. Burgan the Burglar – Jan. 21, 2015
  85. Facts and Reasons Against Confederating With Canada – Jan. 14, 2015
  86. Discontent in Early Halifax in 1756 – Jan. 7, 2015
  87. A Trip on the ICR From Bathurst to Miramichi – Dec. 31, 2014
  88. Early Attempts to Introduce the Cultivation of Hemp in Eastern British America – Dec. 24, 2014
  89. Touring Campbellton and Dalhousie, Despite the Mosquitoes, 1876 – Dec. 19, 2014
  90. The Fire of 1837 in Saint John – Dec. 10, 2014
  91. The Cruise of the Rechab – Dec. 3, 2014
  92. A Night in the Deep – Nov. 26, 2014
  93. Robert Foulis (A Misplaced Genius) – Nov. 19, 2014
  94. The City Mills – Nov. 15, 2014
  95. The Brothers d’Amours – Nov. 5, 2014
  96. John Allan’s Revolutionary Mission to the Saint John River – Oct. 29, 2014
  97. Relics of the Acadian Period – Oct. 22, 2014
  98. Some Odd Old Advertisements – Oct. 15, 2014
  99. The Miramichi Fire – Relief of the Sufferers – Oct. 8, 2014
  100. Jonathan Eddy’s Account of the Attack on Fort Cumberland, November, 1776 – Oct. 1, 2014
  101. Which of These Two is the Wisest and Happiest? – Sept. 24, 2014
  102. Fredericton Bridge, a Prophetic Writing – Sept. 17, 2014
  103. A Speech to Distinguished Persons of Stake and Consideration – Sept. 10, 2014
  104. Building an Education System From Almost Nothing – Sept. 3, 2014
  105. Cape Tormentine to the Baye des Chaleurs in the 1600’s – Aug. 27, 2014
  106. The Customs of the Mi’kmaq in the 1600’s and Before – Aug. 20, 2014
  107. Two Documents Relating to the Fenians in New Brunswick – Aug. 13, 2014
  108. The Lazaretto for Lepers in Tracadie, 1862 – Aug. 6, 2014
  109. Thoughts About the Augustine Mound at Metepenegiag Mi’kmaq Nation – July 30, 2014
  110. What am I Bid for This Pauper? – July 23, 2014
  111. Trouble at Madawaska, 1831 – July 16, 2014
  112. The Great Fire at Saint John, June 20, 1877 – July 9, 2014
  113. The Poor Fellows Shook as if They Would Fall to Pieces! – July 2, 2014
  114. How to Build a Logging Camp in Around 1850 – June 25, 2014
  115. Risen from the Ashes, Phoenix Square in Fredericton – June 18, 2014
  116. Rocks and Water, Magnificence and Squalor; St. John in 1876 – June 11, 2014
  117. Moncton as Seen by a Journalist in 1876 – June 4, 2014
  118. Events Leading to the Caraquet Riots of 1875 – May 28, 2014
  119. A Dramatic Account of the Miramichi Fire – May 21, 2014
  120. Saint John in the Early 1840’s – May 18, 2014
  121. A Note to Subscribers, and a Memorandum for me – May 14, 2014
  122. The Myth that Kerosene was Invented in New Brunswick – May 7, 2014
  123. A Church with Military Boots and Fixed Bayonets – Apr. 30, 2014
  124. An Opening Salvo in an Ongoing Argument – Apr. 23, 2014
  125. May living worms his corpse devour – Apr. 16, 2014
  126. He don’t look any better than some of our own boys – Apr. 9, 2014
  127. The Disputed Territory Between New Brunswick and Maine – Apr. 2, 2014
  128. Navigation on the Saint John River – Mar. 26, 2014
  129. Shepody as a Hot Investment Opportunity, 1868 – Mar. 19, 2014
  130. To Her Majesty, RE: Reciprocity, 1853 – Mar. 12, 2014
  131. Diary on the Tobique, 1851 – Mar. 5, 2014
  132. Growing up in Fredericton in the 1820s and 1830s – Feb. 26, 2014
  133. Travels From Eastport, Maine, to Fredericton, 1851 – Feb. 19, 2014
  134. The Saint John General Public Hospital, 19th Century, Part 2 of 2 – Feb. 12, 2014
  135. The Saint John General Public Hospital, 19th Century, Part 1 of 2 – Feb. 5, 2014
  136. The Story of the Great Brothers – Jan. 29, 2014
  137. A Trek up the Tobique, and Onward to Bathurst – Jan. 22, 2014
  138. Summer Tourists. A Manual for New Brunswick Farmers – Jan. 19, 2014
  139. A Trek from Grand Falls to Campbellton, 1862 – Jan. 15, 2014
  140. A Trek From Taymouth to Boisetown, 1862 – Jan. 12, 2014
  141. Capt. William Owen’s Journal, Campobello, 1770-71 – Jan. 8, 2014
  142. The Founding of Campobello Island – Jan. 5, 2014
  143. New Brunswick Roads and Railways, 1855 – Jan. 1, 2014
  144. Grand Manan – Dec. 29, 2013
  145. The Shipyard Fire in Saint John, in 1841 – Dec. 26, 2013
  146. Christmas as it Was in Saint John, in 1808 – Dec. 22, 2013
  147. The Saint John Grammar School – Dec. 18, 2013
  148. William Wishart Blasts the New Brunswick Education System, 1845 – Dec. 15, 2013
  149. The Diary of Sarah Frost – Dec. 11, 2013
  150. Pŭlěs, Pŭlowěch′, and Beechkwěch (Pigeon, Partridge, and Nighthawk) – Dec. 10, 2014
  151. The Government of New Brunswick, 1837 – Dec. 4, 2013
  152. The Whales and the Robbers – Dec. 1, 2013
  153. The Ashburton Treaty – Nov. 27, 2013
  154. Glooscap and His Four Visitors – Nov. 24, 2013
  155. The Pioneers of Saint Stephen – Nov. 20, 2013
  156. The Adventures of Kâktoogwâsees; a Tale of Ancient Times – Nov. 17, 2013
  157. The Asylum at Saint John – Nov. 13, 2013
  158. The Liver-Colored Giants and Magicians – Nov. 10, 2013
  159. Smuggling Between Calais and St. Stephen – Nov. 6, 2013
  160. The Two Weasels – Nov. 3, 2013
  161. A note to subscribers – Oct. 30, 2013
  162. The European and North American Railway, 1862 – Oct. 30, 2013
  163. The Origin of the War Between the Mi’kmaq and the Kwěděches – Oct. 23, 2013
  164. Trouble on the Line: The Early Telegraph in New Brunswick – Oct. 16, 2013
  165. The Invisible Boy; Team′ and Oochigeaskw – Oct. 9, 2013
  166. Transportation to and from Fredericton, 1841 – Oct. 2, 2013
  167. The Boy That Was Transformed Into a Horse – Sept. 25, 2013
  168. McAdam: Notes From the Early Days – Sept. 18, 2013
  169. The Magical Food, Belt and Flute – Sept. 11, 2013
  170. European & North American Rly. Staff, 1861 – Sept. 4, 2013
  171. Glooscap and the Megumoowesoo: A Marriage Adventure – Aug. 28, 2013
  172. The Loss of the Royal Tar – Aug. 21, 2013
  173. Robbery and Murder Revenged, Plus a Grand Falls Story – Aug. 14, 2013
  174. The St. John River From Below Fredericton to the Reversing Falls – Aug. 7, 2013
  175. A Proposal for a Wooden Railway – July 31, 2013
  176. ‘On the Early History of New Brunswick’ – July 24, 2013
  177. The Maugerville Settlement, 1763-1824 – July 17, 2013
  178. 1930 Circus Train Wreck Near Moncton, N.B. – July 10, 2013
  179. Horses or Oxen? Pick one – July 3, 2013
  180. The St. John River; Andover to Fredericton – June 26, 2013
  181. Origins of Some Place Names on N.B.’s Eastern Shore – June 19, 2013
  182. The St. John River; Grand Falls to the Tobique – June 12, 2013
  183. Gabriel Acquin – June 5, 2013
  184. The Seigniories of New Brunsiwck – May 29, 2013
  185. An 1841 Trek up the Oromocto River – May 22, 2013
  186. Fredericton’s Exhibition Palace, and Bears in N.B. – May 15, 2013
  187. Murder on Diamond Square Road – May 8, 2013
  188. Acadian Historic Sites in New Brunswick – May 1, 2013
  189. John C. Tracy’s Book, Part 5 of 5 – Apr. 24, 2013
  190. John C. Tracy’s Book, Part 4 of 5 – Apr. 17, 2013
  191. John C. Tracy’s Book, Part 3 of 5 – Apr. 10, 2013
  192. John C. Tracy’s Book, Part 2 of 5 – Apr. 3, 2013
  193. John C. Tracy’s Book, Part 1 of 5 – Mar. 27, 2013
  194. A Retrospective Look at Saint John – Mar. 20, 2013
  195. The Wreck of the England – Mar. 13, 2013
  196. The First Decade of the 1800’s in St. John, N.B. – Mar. 6, 2013
  197. St. John’s Poorhouse and Workhouse – Feb. 27, 2013, Rev. Sept. 9, 2015
  198. New Brunswick Scenes From an Old Book – Feb. 20, 2013
  199. Nice Pictures From Another Old Book – Feb. 13, 2013
  200. Life in the Backwoods of New Brunswick, Part 2/2 – Feb. 6, 2013
  201. Life in the Backwoods of New Brunswick, 1845 – Jan. 30, 2013
  202. The Works of W.O. Raymond – Jan. 23, 2013
  203. The Year of the Fever – Jan. 16, 2013
  204. Hanged for the Theft of 25 Cents – Jan. 9, 2013
  205. Reversing Falls – Pictures – Jan. 2, 2013
  206. Christmas as it was in 1808 – Dec. 25, 2012
  207. Nice Pictures From an Old Book – Dec. 19, 2012
  208. The Saint John Bridge Collapse of 1837 – Dec. 12, 2012
  209. The First Road Bridge Across the Reversing Falls – Dec. 5, 2012
  210. The Mystery of the First Lizzie Morrow – Nov. 28, 2012
  211. The First Murder Trial on the River St. John – Nov. 21, 2012
  212. The March of the 104th Regiment in 1812 – Nov. 14, 2012
  213. Partridge Island – Nov. 7, 2012
  214. Fredericton’s First Bridge Across the Saint John River – Oct. 31, 2012
  215. 1816, The Year Without a Summer – Oct. 31, 2012
  216. Winslow to Wentworth, 1781 – Oct. 31, 2012
  217. Oops! An explanation – Oct. 31, 2012
  218. The Saxby Gale of 1869 – Oct. 31, 2012
  219. New Brunswick’s Third Town in 1838: Saint Andrews – Oct. 31, 2012
  220. Fredericton and York County in 1838 – Oct. 31, 2012
  221. The City and County of Saint John in 1838 – Sept. 26, 2012
  222. The St. Andrews and Quebec Railroad – Sept. 19, 2012
  223. The Studholm Report of Saint John River Pre-Loyalists in 1783 – Sept. 12, 2012
  224. Caleb Jones. Further RE: Ann, otherwise known as Nancy – Sept. 5, 2012
  225. The Wreck of the Martha – Aug. 29, 2012
  226. The Early Settlement of Maugerville and the Sheffield Parsonage Dispute – Aug. 22, 2012
  227. Lieutenant Governors of New Brunswick to Confederation, Part 2 of 2 – Aug. 15, 2012
  228. Lieutenant Governors of New Brunswick to Confederation, Part 1 of 2 – Aug. 8, 2012
  229. The Morrow House at French Lake, N.B. – New Information – Aug. 1, 2012
  230. Sound by Glen Glenn, Revision 1 – July 25, 2012
  231. Ann, otherwise known as Nancy – July 18, 2012
  232. The Fire of October 7, 1825 – Beyond the Miramichi – July 11, 2012
  233. Lemuel Allan Wilmot – July 4, 2012
  234. The Great Fire at Miramichi, October 7, 1825 – June 27, 2012
  235. Robert Rankin in New Brunswick – June 20, 2012
  236. Who Owned the Mill at Tracy, New Brunswick? – June 13, 2012
  237. Signatures of Sunbury County Ancestors – June 6, 2012
  238. Daniel Wood’s Log Cabin, and Little Field Barn at French Lake, New Brunswick – May 30, 2012
  239. Rusagonis and George Garraty – May 23, 2012
  240. Epitaph Transcriptions from a Collection – May 16, 2012
  241. Central New Brunswick Gravestones from a Genealogy – May 9, 2012
  242. Nashwaak River Pictures with Stewart Family Connections – May 2, 2012
  243. More Sunbury County Photographs from a Collection – Apr. 25, 2012
  244. An Indian Burial Ground at Oromocto; and Coal Mining on the Oromocto River – Apr. 22, 2012
  245. “Days of Old” by Katherine DeWitt and Norma Alexander – Apr. 18, 2012
  246. The Wood Cemetery at French Lake, New Brunswick – Apr. 11, 2012
  247. James Glenie in New Brunswick – Apr. 4, 2012
  248. Four Generations of the Stewart Family on the Nashwaak River – Mar. 28, 2012
  249. Three Generations of the Mersereau Family in New Brunswick – Mar. 21, 2012
  250. Three Generations of the Smith Family of Sunbury County, New Brunswick – Mar. 14, 2012
  251. Three Generations of the Wood Family of French Lake, New Brunswick – Mar. 7, 2012
  252. New Brunswick Education in 1883 – Feb. 29, 2012
  253. Riots and Demonstrations in Saint John – Feb. 20, 2012
  254. Making Better Butter – Feb. 18, 2012
  255. York County Place Names, 1896/1905 – Feb. 8, 2012
  256. Sunbury County Place Names, 1896/1905 – Feb. 1, 2012
  257. Stereoscopic slides from Fred Stewart, Part 3 of 3 – Jan. 25, 2012
  258. Stereoscopic slides from Fred Stewart, Part 2 of 3 – Jan. 18, 2012
  259. Stereoscopic slides from Fred Stewart, Part 1 of 3 – Jan. 11, 2012
  260. The Hon. Thomas Baillie: Gone, but not soon forgotten! – Jan. 5, 2012
  261. The Fort at Oromocto, 1780 – 1783 – Dec. 29, 2011
  262. The Great Fire in Fredericton, 1850 – Early Accounts – Dec. 15, 2011
  263. The Morrow House at French Lake, and More – Dec. 8, 2011
  264. The Old Woman House at French Lake, New Brunswick – Dec. 1, 2011
  265. Smith Family Photographs from a Collection, Sunbury County, N.B. – Nov. 25, 2011
  266. French Lake from Before we Remember – Nov. 20, 2011
  267. How Geary became known as Geary – Nov. 9, 2011
  268. Elizabeth (Smith) Secord; N.B.’s First Woman Registered Doctor – Nov. 4, 2011
  269. Phillips Family Photographs from a Collection, Rusagonis, N.B. – Nov. 2, 2011
  270. Mersereau Family Photographs from a Collection, Sunbury County, N.B. – Oct. 30, 2011
  271. Wood Family Photographs from a Collection, French Lake, N.B. – Oct. 25, 2011
  272. Jeremiah Tracy: Pioneer of the Village of Tracy, New Brunswick – Oct. 20, 2011
  273. Two Old Railroad-Inspired Songs – Oct. 16, 2011
  274. Ode to the Oromocto River – Oct. 10, 2011
  275. John Mersereau, Loyalist 2 – Oct. 4, 2011
  276. The Earliest American Railroads and Locomotives – Sept. 14, 2011
  277. The Mersereau Manufacturing Company of Brooklyn, New York, Notes – Sept. 3, 2011
  278. George Morrow of French Lake, New Brunswick – 1801-1868 – Aug. 26, 2011
  279. The Wood Family of French Lake, New Brunswick – Legends – Aug. 9, 2011
  280. The Baptist Church on the Oromocto River in New Brunswick – Aug. 7, 2011
  281. John Wood of French Lake, New Brunswick – 1788-1868 – Aug. 2, 2011
  282. Daniel Wood of French Lake, New Brunswick – 1764-1847 – Aug. 1, 2011
  283. Three Stewarts on the Nashwaak – July 24, 2011
  284. Bunker Genealogy – Five Bunkers – July 20, 2011
  285. Statistics From the 1851 and 1871 Sunbury County New Brunswick Census Reports – July 19, 2011
  286. Historical Development of the Beam Bending Equation M=fS – July 18, 2011
  287. Seth Noble, Maugerville and the American Revolution – July 16, 2011
  288. Columns, the Long and the Short of it – 1729-1900 – July 15, 2011
  289. The Great Saint John Steel Cantilever Bridge – July 13, 2011
  290. The Upper Oromocto River in 1847 – July 11, 2011
  291. Early Glimpses of the Rusagonis Baptist Church in New Brunswick – July 11, 2011
  292. Abraham Gesner’s 1847 Observations of Sport Hunting in New Brunswick – July 11, 2011
  293. It Sounds a bit Too Easy – July 10, 2011
  294. James Buncker – July 10, 2011
  295. Inconsistent Petitions; Changed Self-Interests – July 10, 2011
  296. Abner Mersereau and a Letter – July 9, 2011
  297. Early Glimpses of the Patterson Settlement Baptist Church in New Brunswick – July 9, 2011
  298. The Textile Mill at Geary, New Brunswick – July 8, 2011
  299. Letter of Mi’kmaq’ Chief Pemmeenauweet to Queen Victoria – 1841 – July 7, 2011
  300. New Brunswick in the 1840s – July 7, 2011


John Wood

Written by johnwood1946

August 24, 2016 at 9:11 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

Blog past #300: Port Royal From 1604 to 1613. Of Heritage Value to all North Americans

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From the blog at

Blog post #300: Port Royal From 1604 to 1613. Of Heritage Value to all North Americans

Champlain Port Royal

Champlain’s Drawing of Port Royal, 1605

From Calnek and Savary’s book

This story of Port Royal, from 1604 to 1613 is a condensed version of that found in Chapter 1 of History of the County of Annapolis: including old Port Royal and Acadia, by William Arthur Calnek and Alfred William Savary, 1897.


What memories cluster around the basin of old Port Royal! What visions of brave hearts and strong hands, of adventurous enterprise and religious zeal, of toil and hardship, and success and failure! It was the site of the first permanent settlement by Europeans in Canada, established three years before any settlement at Quebec. A fort and a village were built, cultivation of the soil took place, it was the site where the first vessel was ever built on the Continent, and the first mill in North America. There also echoed the first notes of poetic song heard in Canada. It also saw the first blood to fall in the long struggle between France and England for the possession of North America. It is a locality of especial interest to every Canadian, no matter to what province he belongs, or from what lineage he descends.

It was probably about the middle of June, 1604, that De Monts and his associates entered the Annapolis Basin. The ships sailed from Havre-de-Grace, on the 7th of March, 1604, and proceeded to Port Mouton, where they landed and remained nearly a month, awaiting the arrival of another ship laden with supplies. During this interval De Monts and his secretary, Rallieu, accompanied by Champlain and a few others, among whom was D’Aubrey, a priest, proceeded in a boat, or patache, finally arriving at the Bay of Fundy, and into Port Royal Basin. It was during this exploratory voyage that the priest managed to become lost. They returned to Port Mouton, where the store-ship had arrived and set sail again, finding the priest who had strayed seventeen days before. The Huguenots of the party must have been relieved, as they had been tacitly accused of murdered him.

As they passed up the basin, on the left they beheld a range of hills, rising abruptly to an average height of four to six hundred feet. On their right was another range of hills in a generally parallel direction, but less abrupt, with depressions, through which streams flowed northwardly into the waters over which they sailed. These heights and slopes were all covered in forests.

After some exploration and delay they proceeded to Passamaquoddy Bay, where, on St. Croix island they fixed their winter-quarters. L’Escarbot says, that among their difficulties during the ensuing winter, was a “want of wood, for that which was in the said isle was spent in building.” Champlain tells us that, in the spring, “Sieur De Monts decided upon a change of place,” and having found no other suitable location in the limited time available, proceeded to Port Royal.

Champlain described the basin at Port Royal as he saw it in 1604. He said, “We entered one of the most beautiful ports which I had seen on these coasts, where two thousand vessels could be anchored in safety. The entrance is eight hundred paces in width. Then we entered a harbour which is two leagues in length and one in breadth, which I have named Port Royal, into which descend three rivers, one of which is large, flowing from the east, called the River L’Equille.”

Nearly every writer who has described the events of the initial period of our history, has fallen into the error of representing them as having transpired on the site of the present town of Annapolis; but the evidence makes it very clear that the spot was on the Granville shore, and a little to the east of Goat Island, which is still known as the locus of the old Scotch fort of 1621-31.

Champlain explained that “Having recognized the site of our habitation as a good one, we commenced to clear the land, which was covered with trees, and to put up the houses as rapidly as possible everyone was thus employed.” Pontgravé, who had spent the winter in France and thus avoided the privations at St. Croix, returned to St. Croix about the time De Monts had resolved to make Port Royal his settlement. Pontgravé came with forty men to join the colony, and considerable supplies, which aided them in its work.

After the greater part of the buildings done, Sieur De Monts decided to return to France to represent to His Majesty what was needed. Pontgravé was given charge, and he undertook the work of completing the buildings. Champlain, at the same time, resolved to remain, in the hope of making discoveries in the direction of Florida.

Friendly relations were soon established with the Indians, who readily parted with their furs, game, and other articles of trade for such commodities as they were offered in exchange. The winter, no doubt, seemed long and dreary enough to the adventurers, who remembered with a shudder the miseries at St. Croix a year before, but only six of their number died before the spring had fully opened. The labour of grinding their corn in hand-mills, insufficient surface drainage, and drinking snow-water may have caused this mortality. In addition, their huts were an inadequate defence against the winter cold and storms.

In the spring of 1606, Pontgravé fitted out a vessel to explore the coasts southward, but being frustrated by adverse winds, he abandoned this plan. The supplies which De Monts had promised had not arrived, nor any tidings concerning them. Pontgravé therefore turned his attention to shipbuilding. He built a barque and a shallop, which were intended to convey the colonists to Canseau and maybe fall in with French ships, in which to transport the settlers back to France if necessary. His was the first shipyard established in North America.

Poutrincourt, who had gone home with De Monts in the autumn of the preceding year, induced Marc L’Escarbot, an advocate of Paris, to join them at Port Royal, and from his writings we glean much of our knowledge of the events of the period. A ship named the Jonas sailed for Acadie, on the 13th of May, 1606. After a long voyage, on the 27th of July they reached their destination, where they found only two men, who had been placed in charge of the property left by Pontgravé who had departed homeward, with the remainder of the inhabitants. He returned, however, a short time after the arrival of the Jonas, having been informed by some fishermen that the Jonas had passed Canseau. Clearing away of the forests, with a view to agrplanting crops ensued together with the repairing of buildings. The Jonas had brought out a number of new immigrants and considerable fresh supplies.

The priests who had come out in 1604 had returned to France, and Poutrincourt had not secured others. L’Escarbot therefore assumed the duties of catechist and teacher, and also preached to the Indians who were ultimately converted. During this summer Poutrincourt made an exploratory voyage down the coast as far as Cape Cod, accompanied by his son Biencourt, Dupont Gravé, Daniel Hay, an apothecary, and others. Five young men, having landed, were attacked by Indians. Three of them were killed and others wounded. The survivors were greeted with rejoicing and L’Escarbot wrote verses in honour of the occasion. These verses were the first uttered in Canada in any European language. The celebrations over, they viewed the corn fields which they had sown where the town of Annapolis now stands. This was a great pleasure, as the growth of the grain pointed to a future when they would be relieved from the necessity of supplies from Francw. This was the initial step made in farming in North America. The year 1606 also witnessed the construction of the first lime-kiln, and the erection of the first forge, charcoal for which was first made there. The first efforts in North America at road-building also proceeded.

The winter of 1606-1607 passed pleasantly and. They formed themselves into a sort of club to which they gave the title “Order of Good Times.” This Order consisted of fifteen members who had insignia of office, and other forms of observance were also instituted. Each member in turn became the caterer, and they each endeavoured to excel his predecessor in office. “Thus did Poutrincourt’s table groan beneath the luxuries of the winter forests, flesh of moose, caribou and deer, beaver, otter and hare, bears and wild-cats, with ducks, geese, grouse and plover; sturgeon, too, and trout and fish innumerable, speared through the ice of the Equille, or drawn from the depths of the neighbouring sea … The invited guests were Indian chiefs, of whom Membertou was daily present at table with the French … Those of humbler degree sat on the floor or crouched together in the corners of the hall.”

The winter was a mild one, but four of the settlers died toward the spring. When spring finally opened the settlers resumed their agricultural labours on the cape; and Poutrincourt built a grist-mill, the first erected on the continent. The site of this mill was near the head of the tide, on what they named Mill Brook, afterwards known as the Allain and now miscalled the Lequille River.

Early in 1607, Poutrincourt received letters in which he was informed that the promoters could no longer defray his expenses, and nothing was left but to abandon the colony and return to France. Poutrincourt assured the settlers that he would return as soon as he could make arrangements and, on July 30th, L’Escarbot, with all the inhabitants, except eight souls, left Port Royal in the shallop and patache to proceed to Canseau, where the Jonas was awaiting them. Poutrincourt stayed behind until the 11th of August until the grain had ripened, so that he could carry samples to Paris. From these dates, it seems that the grain was rye or winter wheat.

The voyage to Canso was successful and they set sail on the Jonas on the 3rd of September, 1607, reaching France about the beginning of October. Desertion of the colony was complete; not a single European was left. On his arrival at Paris, Poutrincourt applied to Henry IV for a confirmation of the grant of Port Royal, which De Monts had given him in 1605. This was complied with; but Poutrincourt does not seem to have visited Acadie again before 1610. Somebody visited, however, for a stone was lately discovered were engraved the Freemasons’ arms and the date 1609.

It was not easy for Poutrincourt to finish arrangements for a return to Acadie, but on February, 1610, he set sail from France, and reached Port Royal about the 1st of June; early enough to sow the seeds they had brought with them, and for others to set about repairing the houses which had been vacant for more than two years. The king had required that Poutrincourt take with him a Jesuit priest or priests and, in consequence of this, he was accompanied by Father Flesché, who, on the 24th of June, baptized a number of Micmacs, among whom was Membertou. I believe that this was the first baptism in Canada. Biencourt was despatched to France to convey tidings to the king, and was directed to return with fresh supplies. These supplies did not arrive, however, until January, 1611. Two additional priests, Fathers Biard and Massé also arrived.

As the new supplies arrived, Poutrincourt had been responsible for twenty-three persons, and the food had diminished to such a degree that he had relied on the Indians to supplement his stores. The vessel had, however, brought but small additional supplies, it was necessary to obtain more, for he now had fifty-nine mouths to feed, instead of twenty-three. With this intention, he made a voyage to the coasts of what is now New England, where he fell in with four French vessels, from which he obtained what he needed. He then returned to France in order to secure further supplies. All the inhabitants, except Biard and Massé and twenty others, accompanied him on the homeward voyage.

Poutrincourt, who left Port Royal in July, reached France in August, but was not able to dispatch a vessel until the last day of December. This vessel arrived at Port Royal on January 23rd, 1612, not a moment too soon for the inhabitants, who had been placed on rations some weeks before. The vessel also carried Gilbert du Thet, a priest of the Order of Jesus, to take the place of Father Massé, who had gone to the St. John River.

The winter of 1612-13 was one of considerable hardship. Biencourt, who began to distrust the priests, had been informed of the purchase of the rights of De Monts in Acadie, by Madame de Guercherville, and he feared that plans were underway which could endanger his father’s rights in Port Royal.

Madame de Guercherville, having purchased Acadie except for Port Royal, dispatched a vessel from Honfleur with forty-eight persons, together with livestock and food, which arrived at Port Royal late in May. On her arrival, five souls only were found in the town, Biencourt and his men being absent on exploring expeditions. Hebert, the apothecary, acted as governor, and to him were delivered the letters from the Queen of France authorizing the return of Fathers Biard and Massé by Madame de Guercherville’s vessel. Du Thet, the new priest, disembarked, and the ship sailed to the island of Mont Desert and made a landing opposite to it. The English, who had recently formed a settlement at Jamestown in Virginia, had begun to look with fear, at the fort and settlement in Acadie, and commands were given to destroy it. Captain Samuel Argall was then despatched, and while on his voyage fell in with the French ship and party at Mont Desert. A fight ensued, in which Du Thet was killed. Argall then proceeded to Port Royal, where he “destroyed the fort and all monuments and marks of French power at Port Royal.”

When the news of this disaster reached Poutrincourt, he gave up forever all connection with Acadie, and was finally killed at the storming of Méry sur Seine, in December, 1615.

Written by johnwood1946

August 24, 2016 at 9:10 AM

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Hunting Down the Last of the Old Growth Pine

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Hunting Down the Last of the Old Growth Pine

Felling a Mast

Felling a Mast Tree

From the Penobscot Marine Museum

Following is an account of the difficulty of finding marketable pine trees in the mid-1800’s, when much of the easily accessed growth had already been cut. It is condensed and edited from John S. Springer’s Forest Life and Forest Trees, which focused on the logging industry in Maine and New Brunswick, and was published in New York in 1851.


Twenty-five or thirty years ago, large tracts of country were covered principally with pine trees. Those tracks seemed purposely located in the vicinity of lakes, large streams, and rivers; a winter’s work could then be made contiguous to improved portions of the country, which rendered little previous exploration necessary. But the woodman’s axe, together with the destructive fires which have swept over large districts from time to time, have, so to speak, driven this tree far back into the interior wilderness.

The diminished size and number of these pine renders exploring expeditions previous to the commencement of a winter’s campaign absolutely indispensable, at least to insure success. This labor is performed, more or less, at all periods of the year; but, perhaps, the more general and appropriate time is found to be during the earlier part of autumn. The work of exploring is also performed during the winter, while the crews are on the ground, in camp. The difficulty of traveling through deep snows is overcome by the use of the snow shoe.

When the business of timber-hunting is deferred until autumn, the following method is practiced: Two or three men accustomed to the business take the necessary provisions, which usually consists of ship-bread, salt pork, tea, sugar, or molasses; for cooking utensils, a coffee-pot or light tea-kettle, a tin dipper, sometimes a frying-pan, a woolen blanket or two for bed-clothes, and an axe, with gun and ammunition; all of which are put on board a skiff or bateau.

With these slight preparations, away we start; now making our way up the main river, then shooting along up the less capacious branches; sometimes performing a journey of two hundred miles far into the interior. The locations for our nightly encampments are selected in time to make the necessary arrangements for refreshment and repose near some gushing spring. We pitch our tent, which formerly consisted of a slender frame of little poles, slightly covered on the top and at each end with long boughs, the front entirely open, before which burns a watch-fire.

In some instances a large blanket is spread over the frame; and when there are good reasons to expect rain, we haul our boat up, turn it bottom side up, and crawl beneath it. Of late, small portable tent-coverings are used, which prove very convenient.

Next the evening meal is prepared. Here the tea is thoroughly boiled, in the coffee-pot or tea-kettle, over the little fire. A thin slice of salt pork is cut, and, running a sharp stick through it, it is held over the fire and roasted, being withdrawn occasionally to catch the drippings on a cake of pilot or ship bread. This is a good substitute for buttered toast, the roasted pork making an excellent rasher. Sometimes we ate the pork raw, dipping it in molasses, which some relish; and though the recital may cause some qualms, yet we can assure the uninitiated that, from these gross simples, the hungry woodsman makes many a delicious meal.

Sometimes our slumbers are disturbed by the shrill whooping of the owl, and sometimes the tramping of timid deer, attracted by the waning light of our watch-fire, or some roving beast of prey, attracted by the savory vapors of our evening meal, startle us from our slumbers. One of my messmates recalled the following:

“As I lay upon my back, I turned my eyes upward, when they met the full gaze of a large bear, which stood with its fore paws on the log directly over my head. In an instant I sprang upon my feet, and, seizing a brand from the fire. I hurled it after him, at the same instant making the woods tremble with the echo of my voice. Next morning we came across an old she-bear and her cubs. We had a spirited little dog with us, who instantly encountered the bear; but one blow from her paw completely disabled him, and his injuries proved so serious that we were obliged to kill the little fellow. One of our men caught a cub; it struggled and whined, which soon attracted the attention of the old one. She at once rushed after him, and he was soon glad to drop his prize, but not until the old dam had nearly torn the clothes from off his back.”

Arriving at length upon or near the territory to be explored, we haul our bateau safely on shore, and turn it bottom upward. Then, dividing our luggage into parcels, and making use of our blankets for knapsacks, we begin to traverse the wild forests.

The uneven surface of the country, together with the density of the forest, circumscribe the range of vision. To overcome this impediment, we ascend into the top of some lofty tree. Sometimes extensive views of the surrounding forest are obtained from the side of abrupt ridges, and from the top of a horseback.

When it is necessary to obtain views from low lands, the obstructions are overcome by ascending the highest trees. When an ascent is to be made, the spruce tree is generally selected, principally for the superior facilities which its numerous limbs afford the climber. To gain the first limbs of this tree, which are from twenty to forty feet from the ground, a smaller tree is undercut and lodged against it, clambering up which the top of the spruce is reached. In some cases, when a very elevated position is desired, the spruce tree is lodged against the trunk of some lofty pine, up which we ascend to a height twice that of the surrounding forest.

From such a tree top, large clumps and veins of pine are discovered, whose towering tops may be seen for miles around. Such views fill the bosom of timber-hunters with an intense interest. To detail the process more minutely, we should observe that the man in the tree top points out the direction in which the pines are seen; or, if hid from the view of those below by the surrounding foliage, he breaks a small limb, and throws it in the direction in which they appear, while a man at the base marks the direction indicated by the falling limb by a compass which he holds in his hand, the compass being quite as necessary in the wilderness as on the pathless ocean.

In fair weather the sun serves as an important guide; and in cloudy weather the close observation of an experienced woodsman will enable him to steer a tolerably correct course by the moss which grows on the trunks of most hard-wood trees, the north side of which are covered with a much larger share than the other portions of the trunk. This Indian compass, however, is not very convenient nor safe, particularly in passing through swampy lands, which are of frequent occurrence.

After spending several days in scouring the wilderness in search of the pines, minutely examining their quality, calculating the distance the logs may have to be hauled, and noting the surface of the land through which the logging roads are to be cut, &c., we retrace our steps to the landing, where the bateau has been left. Once more our frail bark floats upon the stream.

It is known to those versed in the habits of the black bear, that late in the fall of the year they manifest an uncommon fondness for pitch or resinous substances. In the course of my travels through the forest, I have often seen fir trees which contained large quantities of balsam, with their bark entirely stripped from the trunk by these craving depredators. Under the impulses of this peculiar appetite, they sometimes tear even our bateau to pieces for the tar with which it is besmeared. If injured beyond the means of repair, we are compelled to pursue our journey down on foot. Perchance we may fortunately meet some Indian trapper with his frail canoe, which we charter for a portion of the journey. As a conveyance, the Indian canoe seems to occupy a space between riding and flying; not in respect to its speed, although this is considerable, but its fairy-like buoyancy quite dissipates the idea of one’s gravity.

Having determined, during the exploration, upon the territory from which we wish to cut and haul our logs, we proceed to obtain permits.

Among other preliminaries which anticipate the winter operations of lumbermen is the putting up of large quantities of meadow hay. Much of the intervale land is covered with a heavy growth of this meadow grass, which is gathered in plentiful supply for the subsistence of the teams employed in procuring lumber in its immediate vicinity.

Crews of men resort, with the usual haying implements, provisions, &c., for making and stacking the hay to be used during the ensuing winter. In the latter part of autumn the meadows are covered with water, which finally freezes. It is therefore necessary to erect temporary scaffolds, called staddles, upon which the hay is to be piled in large stacks. These staddles are made of poles laid upon cross-stakes or crutches, sufficiently high to protect the hay from the water beneath. From these the hay is removed, sometimes in boats before the waters freeze, and afterward upon sleds on the ice.

Since agricultural interests have invited men far into the interior in the vicinity of lumber berths, where large tracts of land have been cleared up, less value is attached to, and less use made of meadow hay than formerly, as English grass becomes more plenty, is more available, and is much better in its quality.

A distinguishing characteristic of this kind of business is the unceasing encounter by our lumbermen with the blood-thirsty millions of flies who swarm and triumph over these sanguinary fields. The only respite is afforded when there is rain, or high winds.

At night the mosquito lancers take up the action, and no coat of mail is proof against the attacks of the midget, which is so small as to be almost imperceptible to the naked eye. The black fly and the mosquito can only reach the exposed parts of the body, but to the midget every portion is accessible.

In one process of the haying operations, in particular, the flies are very annoying. The hay, when cut, is carried in small cocks upon two poles by two men to the scaffolding, to be stacked. While thus employed, with both hands engaged, millions of these little invisibles insinuate themselves under the garments, and, whatever interest or ambition may fail to do, by way of producing energetic motion, the irritating smart of their bite abundantly makes up.

But, notwithstanding the labor and annoyances of meadow life, there are pastimes and adventures to be met with. A shot now and then at some stray deer who may chance to stroll upon the meadow to graze; the hooking of beautiful trout, pickerel, and other delicious pan fish, afford agreeable relief from ennui; while the spoils of the forest and the brook afford most agreeable changes of diet.

At the proper time, which varies in different localities, but generally during the early part of fall, a more extensive outfit is made for another up-river expedition, for the purpose of erecting winter camps, clearing the main roads, and attending to such other preliminaries as may be necessary.

Several years ago the whole distance from our homes to the interior was traveled by water, on which occasions heavily laden boats were taken up these rivers and streams, and across the lakes, an operation which was both hazardous and laborious, particularly where the swift current of rapids was to be overcome, and when it became necessary to carry the boat and cargo around impassable falls—a frequent occurrence, the river in some places being nothing but one continuous succession of rapids for miles. In some places, to save the labor of ‘carrying by,’ attempts are made to shove the boats up fearful rapids, where a single mistake or false maneuver would swamp them. A lively little incident of this kind is quoted below, from Doctor Jackson’s account of an excursion on the business of a geological survey:

“While we were engaged in exploring the rocks, our men tried to shove the boat up the falls, but the violence of the current prevented their effecting their object, the boat being instantly filled and sunk in the attempt, while all our baggage and provisions that remained on board were swept off and carried down the stream. A scene of unwanted activity now ensued in our endeavors to save our articles, as they were rapidly borne down the foaming waters. The boat, fortunately, was not much injured, and we succeeded in hauling it upon a rock, and bailed out the water, after which we gave chase to our lost articles, and succeeded in saving those that were most essential to our safety. The bread-barrel, although scuttled, was but half full of bread, and floated down stream with its opening uppermost, so that but little of it was injured. Our bucket of rice burst open and was lost. The tea-kettle and other cooking apparatus sank in the river, and were fished up by a hook and line. The tent was found about a mile down the river, stretched across a rock. The maps and charts were soaked with water, so that it required as much labor and patience to unroll them as the papyri of Herculaneum. Our spare boots and shoes were irrecoverably lost. Having rescued the most important articles from the water, we carried by the falls, camped, and dried our papers and provision, being thankful that no worse an accident had befallen us. Fortunately, we had taken the precaution to remove our surveying instruments and the blankets from the boat before the falls were attempted.”

Amid pleasant scenes, we are, however, subject to contrasts of a less agreeable kind; and here our Indian, while cutting wood, suffered a severe accident; his hatchet, accidentally slipping, was driven directly into his leg between two bones, so as to expose the anterior tibial artery. I was then called upon in my surgical capacity, and, having my instruments with me, dressed his wound in the usual manner, and early next morning we took him away and made arrangements with another Indian, Louis Neptune, to supply his place while he was recovering from his wound.

These difficulties of transportation have been somewhat abated by the construction of roads, which penetrate much nearer to lumber berths than formerly, and enable us to convey our provisions, implements, and even boats, with horse teams, a considerable portion of the distance once laboriously performed by water. I am not familiar with any kind of labor which tests a man’s physical abilities and powers of endurance more than boating supplies up river. The labor of carrying by falls, and portages from lake to lake, imposes a heavy tax upon the body. Barrels of pork, flour, and other provisions, too heavy for one man to carry alone, are slung to a pole by the aid of ropes, one man being at either end, and thus we clamber, under our heavy burdens, over rocks, the trunks of fallen trees, slippery roots, and through mud sloughs, sometimes without any path, through the thickets and groves of trees. The boat is turned bottom upward, he gunwales resting upon the shoulders of three men, two abreast near the bows, and one at the stern. In this position we pass over the same route through which provisions have been carried to the next landing, where the goods are again reshipped, and we proceed by water on lake or stream, with the alternate routine of paddling, poling, and lugging, until the place of destination is reached.

When I call to mind the intemperate habits to which most lumbermen in times past were addicted, I am surprised that no more accidents have occurred while navigating our rivers. We had plenty of rum on board, which was used at stated intervals, as, according to the faith of nearly every man in those days, it gave to the arm more vigor in the necessary labor of plying the paddle. It soon became evident that one of our number had imbibed too freely, to the imminent hazard of our lives. The reader may easily imagine our perilous condition under such circumstances. Our frail skiff was about eighteen feet long, and four feet across the top of the gunwale amidships, tapering to a point at either end, constructed of thin slips of pine boards nailed to some half dozen pair of slender knees about two inches in diameter. On board were some fifteen hundred pounds of provisions, with seven men, which pressed her into the water nearly to the gunwale; three inches from the position of a level, and she would fill with water.

As men usually are quite insensible to danger when in liquor, so was it with Dan in this instance. Too comfortable in his feelings to keep still, as indeed was indispensable to the most steady among us, he kept constantly lurching about, and periling us with a capsizing repeatedly. He was admonished in the most pressing and peremptory manner to keep quiet; but in his drunken idiocy he became a terror, and it was manifest that something must be done to insure our safety.

“My God! We are gone!” shouted some half dozen voices at the instant. However, by a counter-motion we raised the submerged gunwale from sinking further. In an instant our helmsman was upon his feet, and, raising his paddle in a most menacing attitude over the bead of the intoxicated man, “D—n you” said he, “If you move again I’ll split your skull open!” The threat was terrible, and he would have cleft his head open in an instant. I expected he would strike, for our lives depended upon quieting him in some way; but the fellow seemed to awake to our perilous condition, and slunk down into the bottom of the boat. We put about instantly for the shore, and in a few moments touched the beach.

Written by johnwood1946

August 17, 2016 at 8:41 AM

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Dr. James Robb

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From the blog at

My memory of a book entitled The Letters of James and Ellen Robb, edited by Alfred Bailey, Fredericton, 1983, attracted me to this account of Robb’s life. The account is from Dr. James Robb, First Professor of Chemistry and Natural History, King’s College, Fredericton, as presented before the Natural History Society of New Brunswick by Loring Woart Bailey on April 5, 1898.

Robb Bailey

James Robb, left, and Loring Woart Bailey

From the U.N.B. Archives and Special Collections, online


Dr. James Robb

In the course of the development of knowledge as regards the structure, history and natural resources of a country, it is usually the case that distinct steps of progress may be recognized, and that with each of such steps the life and labours of some one individual are prominently associated. The names of such men as Aristotle, Linnæus, Cuvier, Agassiz and Gray, make such steps of progress for the world at large, but even within the comparatively narrow limits of a single state or community a like process of development by successive, well-marked stages is usually recognizable, and New Brunswick is no exception.

The first period in all such cases is usually that in which some one individual, as a result either of a more intense sympathy with nature or circumstances especially favorable for her study, devotes his whole energy to such work, and thus, by gathering and comparing the isolated and disconnected observations of many observers, begins to give to the latter a definite direction and definite methods. To us who have to labour in fields already pre-occupied by so many workers, and where the discovery of even one new fact or species is a rare occurrence, in some departments indeed well-nigh an impossibility, a glance backward into the territories investigated by the early pioneers cannot but awaken a feeling of envy. On whichever side they turned something entirely novel was almost sure to meet their gaze. They had only to stretch out their hands and a veritable Klondike of rich rewards awaited their grasp. No wonder that their imaginations were aroused to the highest pitch, and that conclusions and anticipations should be indulged in, which would require time and the crucible of criticism, and more exact observation to reduce to their proper value. In New Brunswick the period of pioneer exploration, and of enthusiastic but not always well justified prophecy, is identified with the name of Dr. Abraham Gesner, a sketch of whose life and labours has been published by the Society in its No. XV Bulletin. That of the beginning of more exact observation and of critical analysis is similarly associated with the subject of the present sketch, Dr. James Robb.

Dr. Robb was born in the city of Stirling, Scotland, in the year 1815. Of his early life and education I have been unable to obtain any particulars, but, from letters written at the time, I find that he entered upon a course of medical study in Edinburgh University in the year 1831. He could hardly have ever entered seriously upon the practice of his profession, for in August of the year 1835 we find him travelling, while still a student, on the continent of Europe, and in September, 1837, he had already come to New Brunswick to accept the position of Lecturer in Chemistry and Natural History in King’s College (now the University of New Brunswick), in which as Professor he continued to work until the time of his death, in 1861.

It is very evident that, even at the time of his European journey, which lasted for several months, he had already acquired a fondness for scientific, as distinguished from merely medical or professional work, for he himself says, in writing to his mother, that the trip “was more for science than for pleasure,” and resulted in the “collection of vast numbers of plants and shells and minerals.” He must also have already gained for himself an enviable reputation as a naturalist, for he was accompanied by Dr. Van Beneden, already well known in the scientific world, and carried with him letters to many distinguished savants, making, as he says, the entire journey a “voyage d’agrément.” Switzerland would seem to have had special attractions for him, though Nice, Milan, Genoa and Sardinia were also visited. The journey was made on foot, and in the passage of the Juras was not unattended with danger, the party being on one occasion storm-bound for three days in a hut on the Auberge, from which they only escaped with difficulty, und where, to use his own words, “had they been much longer confined, they would have had to eat each other, like the Kilkenny cats, because there was nothing else to eat.” He grows quite enthusiastic over their reception at the University of Pavia, where, despite their clothing, much the worse for travel, “the Professors of that time-honored seat of learning vied with each other in attentions and affability, one giving us objects of natural history, another presenting us with his works, and a third giving us iced sherbets and chocolate.” He would never, he says, “think of his visit to Pavia but with feelings of the highest gratification.” He adds that not at Pavia only, but throughout the journey, every moment was not only pleasurable, but of inestimable value to him. He was constantly in an atmosphere of science, and as the collections then made were undoubtedly those which subsequently became the nucleus of the cabinet now in the University in Fredericton, the writer of this notice, to whom these facts have only recently become known, can now the more readily understand, as he has always been surprised at, their extent and value.

The special circumstances which led to Dr. Robb’s coming to New Brunswick are not definitely known; but at about the same time at least one other Professor from Scotland came to the Provinces for a similar purpose, it is probable that enquiries or advertisements had been instituted there with a view to the obtaining of properly qualified instructors. However this may have been, it is certain that Dr. Robb had not long been here before his influence began to be felt in the community. Accustomed to cultured society, fond of music, well read in the literature of the day, and, though not practising medicine, recognized universally as one thoroughly competent to advise, and, in the case of the poor, ever ready to give advice without compensation, he could not fail to be an acquisition to any community, and especially to such a one as then existed in Fredericton. Proofs of the estimation in which he was held are not wanting. Old residents of the city, and among all classes, speak of him even now in terms of the highest regard. His opinion was sought upon many .subjects outside the line of his ordinary professional work. He was the first President and the most active spirit in the Fredericton Athenæum, a society or club for the promotion of literary and scientific research; he was nominated, in 1849, and chosen a member of the first Council of his adopted city, and again in 1850, in this latter case declining to serve that he might be the more free to give his attention to what he conceived to be a still more important duty— the promotion of the agricultural interests of the Province. He enjoyed in an eminent degree the confidence of the then Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick, Sir Wm. Colebrook, as also that of the Bishop, the Chief Justice, the Master of the Rolls, and the other chief officials of the colony. As a teacher he was loved as well as respected by his pupils, seeking always for accuracy and clearness of statement rather than for a show of words, and endeavoring, as far as his very isolated position and remoteness from books and fellow-labourers would allow, to keep himself acquainted with the latest results of scientific thought and experiment. In December, 1840, he married Miss Ellen Coster, daughter of the Archdeacon of New Brunswick, and from that time his residence in the College building was a centre from which he continued to influence for good a constantly widening circle of individuals and of interests.

We, as naturalists, are chiefly concerned with his scientific labours. As might be expected, the natural products of a country quite new to him were quick to attract his attention, and the dates attached to specimens in the college herbarium show how soon after his arrival he entered upon the study of the botany of the Province. Practically he was our first botanist, for though others had made a few scattered observations on the occurrence of particular species, he seems to have been the first to attempt anything like a systematic collection. This collection is now in the museum of the University of New Brunswick, and embraces several hundred species, some of them forms of very rare occurrence, and some species re-discovered long afterwards by other observers. It was, of course, arranged on the old Linnæan system, but both in its extent and in the accuracy of its determinations shows clearly the labour expended upon its preparation. It is to be regretted that in this, as in so many other instances, the results of his work were never printed, so that little besides the collections which he made remains to indicate the extent of his services. He must, however, have maintained correspondence and exchanged specimens with naturalists abroad, as along with his own collection are many specimens sent from the herbaria of Messrs. Hooker and Balfour. He must also have continued to enjoy an enviable reputation among the botanists of the motherland, as his letters indicate the interesting fact of his having been suggested as a possible successor to Sir W. Hooker in the botanical chair in Glasgow, a position which, however, he says that he could not, in view of his engagements here, honourably accept.

A study of the wild plants of the Province was accompanied by an interest in the cultivated forms and in the conditions of their production. In April, 1850, having refused to be elected to the Fredericton City Council, he took hold of a Provincial Society for Encouragement of Agriculture, which, he says, “gave him more to do than the Council.” He was elected its president, and soon after wrote a paper on the subject of Manures, which, with others, was afterwards printed, though no copies, so far as known to the writer, are now extant. Practically, he became Secretary of Agriculture for the Province, an office not actually established until a much later period, retaining the position until his death, and in that capacity visiting many parts of the Province, giving frequent lectures on agricultural subjects, and correlating the statistical returns submitted to him by his many correspondents. I have before me his lecture, “On Agricultural Progress in New Brunswick,” and find it to be a model of terse statement, extended observation, careful criticism of existing methods, and sound judgment in the direction of possible improvement. The government of today could not do better than to have this lecture reprinted and widely circulated among the class for whom it was chiefly intended.

Such a man as Dr. Robb would of course naturally understand the intimate relationship between the nature of soils and that of the rocks from which they are derived. His interest in geology had, moreover, already been aroused by his European tour, the fruits of which were before him, and no doubt employed in the illustration of his daily lectures. We may be sure, therefore, that it was with no indifferent eye that he scanned the results of the geological survey begun by Dr. Gesner in 1837, and continued during the four following years.

In the commencement of this sketch it was stated that Dr. Robb represents the second period in the history of scientific progress in New Brunswick. Strictly speaking, he and Dr. Gesner were contemporaries, but the first published observations of Dr. Robb, of a geological. nature, are subsequent to those of Dr. Gesner, and are largely in the direction of criticism of the latter,—criticisms, however, based on his own personal observations and evidently having no other object than that of reaching more reliable conclusions.

[A technical discussion of Dr. Robb’s geological findings as compared with those of Abraham Gesner followed. It included a discussion of coal formations in N.B., and touched briefly on the debate about the nature of “albertite.” Bailey then continued as follows:]

It has been said that Dr. Robb’s published observations are but few. But important as these are, we should form a very inadequate idea of the man and of his work if we restricted our estimate to these only. In reality his researches took many different directions, and, had his manuscript notes, after his death, not unfortunately gone astray, their publication would have been a source of much valuable information. This is especially true of researches made by him in regard to the early occupation of the country by the French, as well as regards the language and traditions of the still earlier Indian tribes.

In referring to these manuscripts Rev. W.O. Raymond, in whose keeping they now are, says in a letter to the writer:

After the attempt by Peter Fisher in 1825, of Alex. Wedderburn in 1836, Moses Perley in 1841, Calvin Hatheway in 1845, and Abraham Gesner in 1847, to give something of the history of the Province, Dr. Robb seems to have formed the design of writing a history of a more elaborate kind, embracing the Acadian period as well as the history of the Pre-Loyalist English settlements and the later history. To this end he compiled, from time to time, such materials as he could glean from Champlain, Charlevoix and other French writers, and also from certain documentary materials in Halifax and Massachusetts. The manuscript books in which the result of his researches are to be found are interesting. They contain many corrections, interlineations, and on the pages opposite to the ink-written narrative, many supplementary notes in pencil, and observations which go to show that the work was regarded by him as of a tentative nature.

There is also among the Robb papers a lot of Indian words with observations on the same, and rude attempts at classification. In nearly all the papers one is struck with the industry that Dr. Robb displayed, and although he did not live to complete his historical work sufficiently for publication, he was following the right path, and really, with the time and opportunities afforded, he accomplished a good deal. Modern students of provincial history have fuller and better sources of information than had he, and I do not know that his manuscript contains much that is original, which is to be regretted.

The museum which Dr. Robb founded in connection with King’s College (now the University of New Brunswick) is well worthy of notice. It has been already said that during his European tour Dr. Robb embraced every opportunity to make collections of minerals, rocks, fossils and plants. From the nature of the collections now in the college, it is quite evident that the larger part of this material was brought with him across the Atlantic, though it may possibly have been supplemented by orders subsequently given. In particular may be mentioned a collection of European fossils, several hundred in number, all duly named and classified, similar collections of minerals and rocks, partly from the continent and partly from Scotland, examples of slags and furnace products, models of iron and soda furnaces, specimens of moulds and utensils employed in the manufacture of china and porcelain, Sopwith’s geological models, glass models of crystals, etc., etc. In the botanical department, besides numerous flowering plants, are many specimens of mosses, lichens, ferns and sea weeds, also identified and classified.

Dr. G.F. Matthew tells me that he remembers Dr. Robb very well, and when the former began to study mineralogy he received much assistance and advice from Dr. Robb. This could only be on the rare occasions when Dr. Matthew visited Fredericton and had time to go up to the college. Dr. Robb took great pleasure in showing and explaining the collections in the museum, among which were specimens from the copper mines of Lake Superior, including an example of quartz crystals containing native copper, which Dr. Robb exhibited as a remarkable inclusion, not easily explained. It was from him that Dr. Matthew learned that Rogers had found “Lingulæ” in the slates at St. John, and that there were obscure remains of plants at the Barrack Shore in St. John city.

A somewhat curious specimen is that of a Malay child, which is partly double, having only one face, but four arms and four legs, obtained from a sea-captain, and which so interested its possessor that he sent all the way to Paris for standard works on the subject of monstrosities. It is accompanied by a number of carefully executed drawings, which indicate not only his interest in the subject, but also his skill in the use of pencil and brush. This latter faculty is also evidenced by the large number of pictures, some in pencil, but many in water colours or oils, and embracing views of volcanoes, coral atolls, coal plants, fossil fishes, etc., besides numerous geological sections, which are still in the possession of the university, and which were evidently made by Dr. Robb for the illustration of his lectures.

A circumstance which must have greatly embarrassed him, as it has his successor, was the want of access to libraries or books of reference. This want he endeavoured to remove, as far as in his power, by additions to the college library, and a review of the works of a scientific character possessed by the latter at the time of Dr. Robb’s decease, shows with what judgment his selections were made. The extent of this collection would have been much larger had it not been for the unfortunate shipwreck, on Sable Island, of a steamer containing a large number of books, among them the publications of the Ray Society, destined for him, besides a large quantity of furniture, crockery, etc. He must also have had an extended correspondence, one proof of which is of personal interest to the writer. Soon after assuming the duties laid down by Dr. Robb, he had occasion to make a detailed inventory of the apparatus and specimens in the chemical laboratory and museum of the college, and quite early in the search was at once surprised and gratified by finding a considerable number of packages, the written labels of which were recognized as being in the handwriting of the writer’s father, the late Prof. J.W. Bailey, of West Point, N.Y. They contained samples of the so-called Fossil Infusoria, and, as the gentleman last referred to was at that time the principal authority in America on these microscopic organisms, he had evidently been written to by Dr. Robb that the latter might thereby be the better able to identify any similar forms which he might meet with here.

Dr. Robb’s choice of apparatus, like that of books, was most judicious. Nothing but the best would satisfy him, and his chemical laboratory, though small, was a model of convenient arrangement, and, for the time and place, of ample equipment. The necessities of the case made him also his own mechanic, and in one of his letters he refers to his having been required to polish and repair a lot of instruments injured in, but recovered from, the Sable Island disaster, and which he describes as a “shocking wreck.” His laboratory was fully supplied with carpenter’s tools, and there is no doubt that he knew how to use them. He was a good analyst, and many specimens of ores now in the university collection are accompanied by labels bearing the results of his quantitative determinations.

His association with the Fredericton Athenæum has already been referred to. In this connection he prepared and published an almanac, of which he says, in a letter to his mother, “I can tell you it cost me a good deal of work.” It was issued in 1849, is a volume of 142 pages, of which the object, as avowed on the preface, was neither profit nor remuneration, but the “furnishing of a compendium of information, useful for the time and place.” He adds, “In a colony like this, where as yet food for the mind is but scantily supplied, care ought to be taken that the quality of it is good, and that the poor settler, who often has no other library than his Bible and his almanac, should find in the latter something more nourishing than the chaff of Astrology, Alchemy and Divination.” With this purpose in view, there is given a vast quantity of information, including, besides the usual monthly tables and accompanying tidal and lunar changes, a most interesting synopsis of provincial chronology, revised lists of provincial latitudes and longitudes, a register of the executive and legislative departments of the government, the judicial department, the roll of barristers and attorneys, a list of clergy of all denominations, banks, public institutions, etc., etc. It contained, also, tables of exports and imports, rates of duties, abstracts of revenue returns, tables of temperature, times of the opening and closing of navigation for successive years, tables of roads and distances in New Brunswick, and rules for the calculation of interest. It was, in fact, a sort of universal gazetteer, which, in the breadth and accuracy of its information, would compare favorably with much more recent and more pretentious volumes.

It will appear, from what has now been stated, that the life of Dr. Robb, though it has left but few records in the form of published contributions to knowledge, was a very busy one, and exerted a very extended influence upon the progress of intellectual and scientific development in New Brunswick. In estimating the results of his labours we must, as with Gesner, bear in mind the fact that science in that day was, in many of its branches, and especially in geology, in its early infancy. Dr. Robb’s isolated position, as has been said, also made it difficult for him to know what was being done in the way of investigation elsewhere. And, finally, the facilities for travel in the Province were far inferior to such as exist at present. Of railways there was only one, that of St. Andrews, and, speaking of the proposed construction of another, he remarks, “There is great talk of railways at present (this was in 1847), but I am doubtful. Unless there be a federal union of the provinces, I doubt whether the great line from Halifax to Quebec would pay.”

Dr. Robb was a member, and in 1849 and succeeding years President, of the Fredericton Society of St. Andrews, as also member of the Church Society of New Brunswick, and in both capacities is remembered as a zealous and energetic worker.

The removal at an early age of a man of such great and varied capacity, occupying so many different positions in the community, and at the same time ever ready to give advice, professional or otherwise, to those who needed it, irrespective of their rank in society, could hardly fail to be deeply and universally deplored. That it was he, is sufficiently indicated from the following announcement of his death in the Fredericton Reporter of April, 1861:

The sudden death of Dr. Robb, occasioned by a violent pulmonary attack, which took place on Tuesday afternoon, in an event which, while it will awaken feelings of the deepest regret in this community, will also be regarded as a public loss all over the Province. His earnest and constant devotion to the duties of his profession, his zealous attachment to the agricultural interests of the country, his high qualifications as a scholar, and his kind and affable manners as a man, have for many years been recognized and duly acknowledged by all who either had the pleasure of his personal acquaintance or who knew him only through the medium of the familiar, yet learned and useful essays with which he so frequently favored the public. It is, however, now that he has gone, that the full impression of this loss we have sustained becomes painfully evident. Every one bewails his loss; and every one, in this city especially, has good reason for unaffected sorrow.

Any one of whom the above could be written, as voicing the feeling of the community in which he lived and labored, needs no other eulogy.

Written by johnwood1946

August 10, 2016 at 8:40 AM

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Peace Negotiations with Pierre Tomah on the Saint John River

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Peace Negotiations with Pierre Tomah on the Saint John River

Big Chief Thunder

Big Chief Thunder—Maliseet—1907

Abenaki/Wabanaki and Maliseet Culture and People website

It was a great loss for the British when George Washington established cannons overlooking Boston in 1776 and, in March of that year, several ships with hundreds of Loyalists headed out of the harbour for the safely of Halifax. One of those ships carried Roger Davis, a lad of seventeen years, with his mother and two sisters, including Caroline. A friend named Duncan Hale was also on board.

These evacuees were a little more fortunate than those who came to Saint John in 1783, but not by much. Halifax was a ‘place’ at least, if only a small one. They were accommodated as best the authorities could manage, but sheds, barns, and warehouses were home for many of them. Roger rented somewhat better lodgings for his mother and sister.

The Davis family’s money dwindled quickly and Caroline decided to take a job as a domestic, for which she would be paid ten shillings per week. “Caroline, you must remember your family, your name, and social standing,” said the mother, but Caroline insisted: “We are poor now, and our money is half spent already. What are we to do when it is gone?” Reality had set in, that the evacuees were, in fact, refugees. Roger was also concerned for his obligations to support his mother and sister.

Duncan Hale had learned that the Governor was not confident that Halifax would remain safe from the revolutionaries. A more present danger were the Indians, who had aligned with George Washington and were likely to go to war against the English. Duncan had accepted to join a delegation to go to the Saint John River to negotiate with them, and Roger joined this delegation as secretary to one of the officers for the sum of six shillings per day.

Following, is the story of Roger’s trip to the Saint John River, as found in Roger Davis, Loyalist, published in Toronto in 1907. It is a simple little story, but fascinating in its rarity. Maliseet chief Pierre Tomah even made an appearance. The Maliseet were aligned with both the revolutionaries and the British from time to time. They did not want to be overrun by either side, and their shifting loyalties were more consistent than they would appear to have been. Self-preservation was their goal. Following is the story:


The details of the expedition to the Indians on the St. John were finally arranged, and we set off. Duncan Hale was to act as secretary to Sir Richard Hughs, the lieutenant-governor, while I was assigned to a similar position under a certain Colonel Francklin, who had been appointed by the Government as superintendent of Indian affairs. There went with us also a Rev. Father Bourg, a former missionary to the Indians, a Romanist, a man of French descent, but, as I was afterwards to learn, a valuable and loyal subject of King George.

Our party, including soldiers and a few gentlemen who went to look over the country north of the bay, with a view to getting some of the many farmers who had come from Boston to settle upon it, numbered, in all, twenty-seven persons.

Somewhat tired from the long journey on horseback over a road that was exceedingly rough, we finally reached Annapolis. The country about here was partly settled, and seemed to be remarkably fertile. There were wide, rich marshes, orchards, and many well-cultivated farms, occupied mainly by settlers who had come in from the American Colonies before the war. These lands, Father Bourg explained to me, had originally been occupied by his ancestors, who had come from France over a hundred years previously.

From Annapolis we took a sailing vessel, and were soon across the Bay of Fundy, and in the harbour at the mouth of the great St. John River. The shores of the harbour seemed to be particularly rocky and forbidding. At a place called Portland Point, where we landed, there were a few buildings, somewhat rudely constructed, and used mainly by a trading company that, for years, had done business with the Indians and others up the river. On a hill to the eastward was a fort, called Fort Howe; everywhere else, down even to the water’s edge, stretched the black unbroken forest.

We found the members of the trading company here, though American born, unlike some others afterwards discovered up the river to be true and loyal subjects of the King. They exerted themselves to house us comfortably, and then proceeded to give us much valuable information.

“The Indians,” I heard Mr. Simonds, the head of the company, tell Colonel Francklin, the evening of the day of our arrival, “are becoming more and more insolent. Not only have agents from the rebels been among them, but their chiefs have, in answer to a special invitation, visited General Washington at Boston. He there spoke many flattering words to them, told them also that the English were planning to take their country and make them slaves. Besides this he gave them large presents, presented them with a wampum belt, a flag—a new design with stars and stripes—provided them with arms, and finally exacted a promise from them to kill or drive out the English found on the St. John.”

I saw Colonel Francklin’s face take on a look of keen anxiety. “Have these chiefs yet returned?” he asked.

“They have. For some days on the upper waters of the river they have been poisoning the minds of the tribes. Cattle of the loyal settlers have been driven off by them, houses burned, while the boats and nets of some of our fishermen have been destroyed.”

That night there was a long conference at the little trading post. The next morning Colonel Francklin, Father Bourg, Mr. Simonds and myself with some dozen others, went on board a small sailing vessel and proceeded up the river, the plan being to meet with the Indians and bring them to the fort for an interview with the lieutenant-governor.


As our vessel swung away from the wharf and proceeded up the river, I could not help admiring the grandeur of the scenery. On the right there arose great cliffs of bluish white limestone. Far up this a few workmen, in the employ of Mr. Simonds, were chipping and drilling the rock, while down by the water’s edge, where two schooners were being loaded with barrels of lime, great puffs of smoke rose from the kilns. It was my first glimpse of industry in the new country.

After passing the cliffs, the banks of the river fell away back, affording us a full and magnificent view of the great stream and its surroundings. Far up ahead, narrowed by the distance and sparkling in the flood of May sunlight I could see the winding line of the river sliding among other lower hills, which showed blue through the lifting mist. White, circling gulls shrieked out protests as they swooped angrily very near to the Union Jack at our masthead; but apart from this, and the strong swish of waters about our bows, the unbroken silence of the great wilderness was over all.

Standing on the deck and looking about, a feeling of exceeding smallness and loneliness came in upon me. I had seen nothing like this in New England, nor yet in Nova Scotia, for richness, for real magnificent bigness and beauty. The sky above seemed higher and bluer, the water below was clearer, the wind purer, the sweep of scenery finer than any my memory could recall. Was nature to help in compensating us for what we had lost and left behind? Had fate been cruel a year ago in order to be kinder now? At any rate I felt as I looked out over it all, then up at the small flag flaunting its red gaily against the blue, that with these hills about me, with this river in front and with that flag and God above me, I could be happy. I breathed a prayer, then I resolved to make a home for my mother and sisters on the River St. John.

The evening of the second day on the river was approaching when I saw Father Bourg rise from his seat on the deck, and advancing to the vessel’s prow, look eagerly up the stream. When he turned he said simply, “De Indian; dey are coming in great number.”

For some time I could see nothing; but under the direction of the good priest I was finally able to make out a long, thin line far up the river, stretching almost from bank to bank.

“Dese are canoe,” he said, and then leaving me to look and wonder, he was off to seek out Colonel Francklin and Mr. Simonds.

In half an hour our vessel was surrounded by over five hundred warriors in ninety canoes. It was evident from the first that they were hostile. The flag at our masthead became a target for many arrows; now and then there sounded out sharply the crack of an American rifle; there was also much shouting and wild jeering such as I had never heard before. In one of the leading canoes waved a flag that bore stars and stripes upon it. It was the new flag of the rebel colonies, and had been presented to the chiefs by Washington. The sight, of this filled me with much bitterness.

As the canoe bearing the flag came nearer to our vessel, I saw some of the anxiety disappear from the face of Father Bourg. He said something I did not hear to Colonel Francklin, then the next moment advanced to the rail. “Pierre Tomah,” he shouted, “Pierre Tomah”; then still speaking very loudly in a language I had never heard before, he briefly addressed a distinguished looking warrior who sat under the flag.

When he had finished the warrior rose He was a man of magnificent proportions. His tall plume swayed in the gentle wind, and his brilliant costume glittered in the evening sun. “I baptize him feefteen years ago on de Restigouche,” I heard Father Bourg say in a low voice to Colonel Francklin. “Dis is most fortunate: we may yet succeed.”

The chief lifted his hand commandingly to those behind him. Without a word the five hundred warriors dropped their rifles and removed the arrows from their bowstrings. A great silence fell over the fleet of swaying canoes. On our vessel each man breathed uneasily. Pierre Tomah was the chief of all the Indians in the great country north of the Bay of Fundy. On the Restigouche, on the wide, full Miramichi, on the St. John and all its branches, his word was law.

“Pere Bourg,” I heard the great chief say in opening, and then all was unintelligible to me for a time. At length I caught the word “Washington” and a moment after I saw him point upward to the flag that flew above him.

Father Bourg replied with great spirit, waving his hands as he did so. I heard him use the words “Washington,” “England,” and “King George.”

For a time Pierre Tomah was silent. Then his eyes wandered toward the wide sandy stretch of shore. In a few moments fuller discussion of the questions at issue.

Colonel Francklin and Father Bourn then proceeded to reason with the chiefs most of whom showed themselves openly hostile. Finally Pierre Tomah said he could not decide without having first consulted the Divine Being. He then threw himself upon the sand and remained lying face downward, speechless and motionless for a long time. On rising he informed the other chiefs that he had been advised by the Great Being to keep peace with King George and his people. For a time the decision was very unpopular with many of the warriors, but all finally yielded, and consented to accept the invitation of the lieutenant-governor, asking them to go to the mouth of the river.

The next morning, surrounded by the flotilla of canoes, we started on the return journey, reaching the trading-post and fort at the river’s mouth after having been absent four days. Negotiations were at once entered into, and the terms of a treaty of peace were, after several days, finally agreed upon. When all had been arranged, the lieutenant-governor, representing King George, accompanied by Colonel Francklin the commander of the fort, and several soldiers who formed a bodyguard, marched down from the fort to a meeting-place previously arranged. When the King’s representative was seated, Pierre Tomah the other chiefs, and many of the principal Indians who had gathered from all parts of Nova Scotia, came and solemnly knelt before him.

First they delivered up the flag received from General Washington, also the letter written by him to them, as well as the numerous presents he had sent, together with the treaty made with the Massachusetts government some weeks previously, binding them to send six hundred warriors into the field. They then took a solemn oath, “to bear faith and true allegiance to His Majesty King George the Third; to take no part directly or indirectly against the King in the struggle with his rebellious subjects, and to return to their homes to engage in the usual pursuits of hunting and fishing in a peaceable and quiet manner.”

This declaration made, as a pledge that should be kept, Pierre Tomah then gave into the hand of the lieutenant-governor a belt of wampum, while that gentleman, in turn rising and walking along the line of kneeling chiefs, placed a decoration on the shoulder of each. He also presented the warriors with a large Union Jack. When handsome speeches had been made on both sides the chiefs performed a song and dance in honor of the great conference. The night was spent in feasting and rejoicing under the British flag.

The next day the warriors, accompanied by the loyal and clever Father Bourg embarked for the return up river. In answer to the salute from the cannon on Fort Howe, they gave three huzzahs and an Indian whoop. The last sound we heard as they drew around a bend in the river above was Father Bourg with his French accent, leading in singing, “God Save the King.”

That night, after talking long with Duncan Hale of the clever manner in which we had outwitted Washington and his agents. I fell asleep and dreamed of the new home I was to build on the now peaceful St. John for my mother and sisters. One step at least had been taken: from being an enemy the Indian had been turned into a friend.

Written by johnwood1946

August 3, 2016 at 8:59 AM

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Business Opportunities on Campobello Island

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Business Opportunities on Campobello Island

A group of papers were published in London in 1839, relating to the Campobello Mill and Manufacturing Company. The papers included a prospectus, an act of incorporation, and the following description of the island by Jacob Allan, Deputy Commissioner of Crown Lands.

I am always conflicted when reading about the timber trade in those days. I am glad that so many generations have benefitted from the forests, but am sad that so much of it is gone. We no longer afford to neglect “spruce under ten inches in diameter.” The description of Campobello is a good one, however.

Campobello map



St. Andrew’s, New Brunswick, 29th July, 1836

Sir,—Accompanying this, I send you a correct map of the Island of Campobello, and the following will be found an accurate description of the Island—its facilities as a place for trade, fishing, lumbering mills, and manufacturing privileges; as also of the quality of the land, and timber thereon.

The Island is beautifully situated in the Passamaquoddy Bay, opposite the towns of East Port and Lubec, in the State of Maine: it contains about twelve thousand acres of land, is eight miles in length, and averages two miles in breadth; contains about six hundred inhabitants, young and old: it has the advantages of excellent harbours, as that of being a free warehousing port. Friar’s Bay is so extensive as to offer a most commodious harbour for ships of any size. Harbour de Lute is also fine and commodious, and extends into the centre of the island, at the head of which there is an excellent site for a number of mills, which could be worked to great advantage, either as saw-mills, grist-mills, or plaster-mills, as vessels of large size could approach close to them. Curry’s Cove lies opposite East Port, and is one of the best harbours, particularly for small craft; and for fishing establishments, indeed, all along the western shore of the Island, there is no want of good harbours and excellent privileges for the fishing business.

Head Harbour is another valuable harbour, being protected on the eastern side by Penguin, or Head Harbour Island. Vessels of any size can run in at any time of tide, and proceed to sea again, by way of the island channel, without difficulty. This harbour having the advantage of the lighthouse, makes it very much frequented by all the pilots, and particularly the coasting vessels. At the head there is also a fine site for mills, surrounded by plenty of timber. Then to proceed round the eastern shore: Mill Cove is a snug little harbour—has a good mill privilege, and, like Head Harbour, abounds in a great quantity of excellent spruce, a large quantity of cedar, and some pine. The shore from thence down to Herring Cove presents a bold appearance; but the island through is beautifully covered with pine spruce and birch of large size.

Herring Cove is a remarkable place, and truly valuable as a herring fishery: from thence down the shore is bold, and the island presents nothing calling for particular remark, till you approach the Narrows, except being well covered with timber. I should here however observe, that about Liberty Point there appears to be a large quantity of ore, but of what description I do not feel myself competent to give an opinion. I have often heard that the island possesses a large quantity of lead ore, and this may be of that description. Near the head of the Narrows, opposite Lubec, the situation for a town is admirable; and were a town laid out there, lots would sell at a high rate. From thence up to Friar’s Bay you are in a harbour at every little distance.

The inhabitants residing on the island are chiefly fishermen: they have all made more or less improvements; but from the indolent habits they acquire as fishermen, they have paid but little attention to their farms. After clearing the land, they work it year after year without putting on the least manure, and the consequence is, the land gets exhausted; but the soil is generally good throughout the island, and is well calculated for farming purposes: it would yield most excellent grass and crops of any description. The island contains nearly one hundred houses and erections, some very valuable, particularly at Friar’s Bay, where a village is now built, as also large stores and wharfs sufficient to carry on an extensive business.

I will now proceed to give you a brief description of the timber, its growth, and quality, having made an exploration through the most part of it:—The growth generally is spruce and black birch, intermixed with beech and maple; near Mill Cove there is a good deal of excellent cedar, and some good pine: by reference to the plan I have made, you will observe its situation. In the first place you will see that along the western shore the improvements and erections are made, but none of them extend far in the interior of the island, and generally at their termination the timber begins, and extends along and through the island. At the lower or southern end, around the Duck Ponds, the land is low, and in some places heathy; yet there are large bodies of good spruce, with a mixture of hardwood: but as you advance northward towards Herring Cove, the growth increases in size, and very tall—the spruce of fine size for mill purposes, and the birch for square timber, and for shipbuilding of any size; and so it continues in fine and extensive bodies until you reach Head Harbour, and on the eastern side of Head Harbour, to the northern extremity of the island.

The island affords such a large quantity of excellent ship timber, that shipbuilding could be carried on there to great advantage; and it is a well-known fact, that the growth of timber on those islands surrounded by the salt water is much superior and far more durable than the timber on the fresh water rivers.

From the situation I hold as Deputy Commissioner of Crown Lands and Forests, it has been my incumbent duty to ascertain the value of land, and the quantity and value of timber thereon, by estimation; and from the pains I took in the present instance in making the exploration of the island, I feel fully satisfied that the following estimate, upon further exploration, will be found rather under the quantity than over it:—In the first place, to the best of my judgement, there are about 2,000 acres cleared and fit for cultivation; about 5,000 acres heavily timbered with spruce and black birch, averaging of spruce at least 4,000 superficial feet per acre; about 3,000 acres not so heavily timbered, averaging of spruce 2,500 feet per acre; of birch and other timber, before mentioned, I cannot give anything like a correct average, and must therefore refer you to my general observations on that head. As to cord wood, for fuel, I should judge that there are 8,000 acres, that would average at least fifteen cords per acre.

In making the foregoing estimate, I have not taken into consideration any of the spruce under ten inches in diameter; of those there is an immense number, and when there is such a continual succession of growth, so very thrifty as those all appear, there will not for many years be a want of logs; and I do think that were four double saw-mills put into operation, there would be logs sufficient to supply them for forty years. In giving an opinion as to the value of the island in its present slate, I am governed by the quantity of timber, taking its value as standing—the value of the land without the timber, and the value of the buildings thereon belonging to the proprietor of the island—after making all allowances for waste lands, &c., I cannot estimate it at less than £60,000, and by adding to this all the advantages the island possesses in mill privileges, and in a commercial point of view, it would, of course, bear a much higher estimate.

I am, Sir, your obedient servant,

Jacob Allan, Deputy Com. of Crown Lands, and Dept. Surveyor

To Alfred L. Street, Esq., &c. &c. St. Andrews

Written by johnwood1946

July 27, 2016 at 9:24 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

A Pompous Captain on the Evils of Logging

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From the blog at

Logging with Oxen

Logging With Oxen

From the McCord Museum

This story is from the anonymous book Letters from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick Illustrative of Their Moral, Religious, and Physical Circumstances During the Years 1826, 1827, and 1828, Edinburgh, 1829. The letters are fictional, but honestly reflect some of the social issues of the day.

Here, an old retired Captain complains of the neglect of agriculture in favour of logging. The Captain was a cranky old man, but the subject, that agriculture was being neglected, was a popular one.

A Pompous Captain on the Evils of Logging

March 17, 1826

My Dear Sir,

In my last letter I wrote you of my visit to Dr. — of the —, and of our conversation till Captain — of the — entered the room. Permit me to introduce you to my friend the Captain. He is a stout muscular tall man, and though he has not seen fifty summers and winters, yet his head has many gray hairs, and his body bends considerably, the effect of twenty years of military labour. His aspect is stern, and his manners altogether are rough, but when he opens his lips to speak in a private company, his features seem to relax, and there is a kindness in his eyes, and a softness in his tones, which win and delight. Though fond of argument, though, like Goldsmith’s schoolmaster, even when vanquished he can argue still, though he debates just as I should believe he fights, with his whole might, and yields as reluctantly to the moral power of demonstration as the bravest soldier to the physical strength of his adversary, yet he can be “pleased with a rattle and tickled with a straw.” He delights in politics. His principles are ultra-tory, and I am positive that he would prefer, like Peter the Hermit, to marshal the nations to war against the political infidels of his times, as he designates the Whigs and radicals, to the noblest honours of the British army. We differ on almost all subjects, and therefore we have had many stormy disputes; but still I have whiled away many pleasant hours in his company, and I respect him.

“When saw you —,” he exclaimed as he entered the room. “Oh, Mr. —, I beg your pardon, how are you. Were you at the launch to-day” I replied in the negative. “Oh!” said he, “the timber trade is the ruin of this country. The soil, I say the soil is the basis of a nation’s wealth, and just as its capabilities are developed and improved, does it rise in importance.” “The trees,” said I, “are a mine of wealth. They fetch riches into the country.” “The trees,” he replied, may put a few pounds into the farmer’s pockets, but they, do not at all better the circumstances of these provinces.” (The Doctor begged to interrupt him for a moment to ask him to fill a glass which the servant bad just set down before him. “Oh, no. Not that cold stuff, Doctor. Have you got any warm water? I shall take a tumbler of rum toddy.”) “If the farmer produce a sufficiency for his own yearly consumption, and then cut down trees and manufactures them for the foreign market, that he may have the means of obtaining foreign articles, he does not benefit his property. He may, in this way, have plenty of luxuries. He may make himself rich, not because his grounds are a farthing more valuable than they were previously, but because he has got a liberal remuneration for his labour; because he has been a fortunate workman. In this way, indeed, (the doctor fell asleep,) he may be enabled to uphold a vast establishment, to furnish his premises with plenty of foreign furniture, and his table with plenty of foreign luxuries, yet his son, but for the money he has in his pockets, is as poor as his father was at the commencement of his, I mean to say that his exertions have not contributed to the benefit of his country, and that his landed property at his death is just what it was at his succession to it.” “But you must allow,” said I, “that the cutting down of the trees is a necessary preliminary to the cultivation of the soil.” “I admit it, Sir. But then the labour employed in manufacturing them into boards, and in conveying them to the wharves, is not necessary, and from this labour, not from the trees, for in themselves they are almost valueless, the profit arises.”

“And how do they employ the ready cash, which obtain from their labour?” “They have plenty of food to eat, but then they will not eat; and plenty of clothing to put on, but then they will not put it on.” “No, Sir. In their opinion the flour from the United States makes more excellent bread, than the wheat, or rye, or maize of Nova Scotia, and, therefore, they sell their own produce, and buy it. The poorest of the poor looks with contempt upon any bread, which is not wheaten, and will not eat it upon any account.”

“I will tell you another way in which the farmers employ the ready cash, which they make by the timber trade. By expensive entertainments. The winter may be said to be seven months long; and, during the whole of this time, they are at parties two or three times a week. Their daughters must be dressed in all the elegance of British or French manufacture, and, instead of attending to the duties of domestic economy, their days and nights must be employed in reading novels, butchering tunes upon the pianoforte, and playing cards.” The Doctor awoke out of his sleep and heard these last words; “I say, Captain,” he exclaimed, I will not permit any gentleman to speak so lightly of the ladies of Nova Scotia in my company.” The Captain smiled. “I admit, my dear Doctor, that I have small pretensions to determine concerning the employments of the fair, but I do not think that as rational creatures, their happiness can be permanently secured; or, that as famers daughters, their fathers’ estates can be benefited by a ceaseless routine of engagements, like those which I have mentioned.” “I maintain. Sir,” said the Doctor, “that the ladies of Nova Scotia are pretty, and ought to have amusement.” “Beauty is, indeed,” replied the Captain, “an useful property, my dear Doctor, but the most valuable part of the young farmers of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick will not be caught by it without other good qualities. The light and airy, girl,— the sport of the ballroom, (‘hear, hear,’ from Dr. —) will grow old in her maidenhood, while those who have sunk into littleness before her, are wives and mothers. The reason is obvious. The qualities which make a pleasant flirt are wholly different from those which make a good wife and mother of a family.” “Just,” said the Doctor, “as the qualities which make Irishmen good soldiers or sailors make them bad farmers.”

“Now, Gentlemen,” said the Captain, “I will tell you of another way by which the farmers are kept poor, in spite of the profits of the timber trade. The habits, which many months of idleness and enjoyments have formed, cannot be cast off like an old coat, like an old coat at the commencement of summer. It is more easy to mortgage their property for any surplus of their expenditure above their means, and to trust to the contingencies of coming years for its liquidation, than to work, and the temptation is frequently a sufficient one. Lawyer — told me last night, that farmers allowed their accounts frequently to swell in the merchants’ books, till they were obliged to grant a mortgage upon the lands for their payment of them. Instead of buying with ready money only; instead of going to Halifax for their supplies, they purchase in country stores perhaps at 100 or 160 per cent, above the town prices.”

“They seem to forget, perhaps not to feel, that every shilling which is added to the sum total of their account to the store-keeper, takes away something from their freedom. They must obey the mandate of their creditor; not their own wishes. It is a fact, Captain. I know it is a fact. Think of the perpetual war in Ireland betwixt the landlords and the priests—betwixt earth and heaven. It is an excellent illustration of the contest, which the consciences of the inhabitants of this country have constantly with the commands of their creditors;” “Talk not to me of Ireland, Doctor, I detest it.” “I am sorry, Captain, that I cannot quarrel with you upon that subject. For, though dear to me, as an Irishman; though my soul loves to linger at times over its hills of verdure, and its valleys of fruits; yet the fact of its overgrown population, with all its debasement; comes upon me perpetually, and almost makes me wish that I had not been a native of Erin. But, for men, like those in Nova Scotia, who have the means of making themselves independent, to idle away their time in slavery, bespeaks a spirit so low, so mean, so abject, as to excite something like a mixture of pity and disgust. To while away the hours in idle indulgencies, while their families are ruining their constitutions, and acquiring habits, sufficient to blast all their prospects of happiness in after years, as exceedingly foolish as —“ “As you?” said the Captain, “to dwell like a hog in this den, when you might have all the comforts of a gentleman.” “I trust, Captain, you do not mean to impeach my conduct as an officer and a gentleman, for if —. “ “What a notion, my dear Sir; I might with equal propriety call the snow black before your doors. But certainly —.” “Oh, I know what you are about to say—but I maintain that knowingly to allow one’s property to be wasted, and, consequently, one’s independence to be stolen away from him, is a proof of a degradation of mind, which fits its subject for the political atmosphere of Turkey or of Spain.” “Speak not, Sir,” said the Captain, “so lightly of the allies of Great Britain.”

I was afraid of a long and stormy discussion upon this subject, which the Doctor had inadvertently introduced; and, therefore made a movement indicative of my departure. The Captain rose also, and took up his hat; but just as he had groped his way nearly to the door, his foot came in contact with a heap of books, &c. &c. and he fell prostrate upon the floor. He rose immediately; but his look, when the Doctor asked him if he had received any injury, I cannot picture.

Written by johnwood1946

July 20, 2016 at 8:58 AM

Posted in Uncategorized


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