johnwood1946

New Brunswick History and Other Stuff

Inconsistent Petitions; Changed Self Interests

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By JohnWood1946@hotmail.com

A large number of people petitioned the Sunbury County Court of General Sessions in 1833 in support of the fishery on the Oromocto River. One of those people was George Morrow of French Lake. George was a big-time lumber merchant. The petition read:

“The fishery of Alewives and Gaspereau at the falls of the North Branch … was of inestimable value before the erection of mill dams on the said stream. That not only the settlers on the branches of the Oromocto but the inhabitants of the River St. John and its tributary streams for a distance of fifty miles above Fredericton were plentifully supplied. That at one time an old resident on the Oromocto recollects to have counted eighty-four boats and canoes on the fishery ground which went away loaded. That by the erection of mill dams on the said stream the passage of fish to the Oromocto Lake(which they periodically visited) has been totally obstructed. That the vicinity in general and the Branches of the Oromocto in particular have therefore sustained an incalculable loss. Petitioners therefore pray your Honorable Court will compel the overseers of Mills on the said stream to make sufficient fish-ways past the respective dams, that the few fish which yet come to make the attempt may find a practicable passage. Petitioners flatter themselves your Honorable Court will agree with them in opinion that a matter of such importance should not be longer neglected as the advantage resulting will in all probability extend to remote posterity.”

By 1839, however, George Morrow had obtained a licence to cut timber from crown lands at Yoho Stream above Tracy’s lumber mill. Tracy and Morrow were competitors, but also cooperated when their interests coincided. So, in 1840, when many streams were choked by sawdust and timber slabs, and when the fishery was thus endangered, Morrow came up with another petition. His signature appeared together with those of his friends, relatives, and employees and read as follows:

“Your petitioners have heard with much surprise and regret that your Honorable Body are about to pass an act to prevent mill owners from throwing slabs into mill streams in certain parts of this province. That petitioners consider that such a law would be unnecessarily imposing a serious tax on mill owners in this county as petitioners do not consider that any difficulty or damage can arise to any person from throwing slabs in the streams in any part of the county of Sunbury, but on the contrary we consider they are a very great benefit, large quantities being used annually as fuel, fencing and many other purposes – a privilege which we should be very sorry to be deprived of. Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Honorable Legislature will not pass any law preventing mill owners within the county of  Sunbury from throwing slabs in any of the streams within the said county.”

This page from history shows that environmental interests changed as self-interests changed. People were no different in this unfortunate way than we are today.

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Written by johnwood1946

July 10, 2011 at 3:22 PM

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