New Brunswick History and Other Stuff

It Sounded Like a Residential School Philosophy

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From the blog at

It Sounded Like a Residential School Philosophy

Following are some notes written by Edward Winslow in the early 1800’s respecting the Indians and Acadians in New Brunswick.

Caution is advised in reading this, as Winslow was a white, imperial, English-speaking ‘gentleman’ whose attitudes and expressions were outside present norms. The notes are historically significant, however, and are presented here as found. I was particularly struck by his description of the academy for the education of native children. The objective of the academy is not stated thus, but seems to have been to ‘take the Indian out of the Indian.’ We’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go.


Mi’kmaq Camp, ca. 1838-42 From Collections-Canada


Edward Winslow’s Notes

The Savages who possessed this province before our arrival obtained as good a living as savages wish for in any country. The River St. John, and the other great rivers & their branches, afforded the most favorable situations for hunting, and the islands & intervals afforded the most tempting and delightful spots for temporary residence and for the cultivation of Indian Corn, which were the principal objects of their attention. The waters of those rivers furnished an easy communication to the sea coast, where they were always sure of a ready market for their furs and other commodities, and where they could always procure Rum and such other Luxuries as they wanted.

Besides the savages, there were scattered about in different parts of the province a considerable number of Acadians, who had escaped from the other side of the Bay of Fundy when the French inhabitants were removed from Nova Scotia after the conquest of that country by the English. These people, whose immediate ancestors had suffered what to them appeared like the most unmerited persecution & oppression from the British Government, occupied some of the most fertile tracts on the River St. John and in other parts of the province. Embittered by the recollections of their past sufferings the majority were rejoiced at any opportunity of shewing their enmity to the British Government, and during the war with America their conduct evinced a disposition to favor the American Cause. The Acadians & Indians lived in constant habits of intimacy and familiarity. * * * The remainder of the inhabitants (except a very few) were Americans who had removed from the States before the Revolution and were notoriously disaffected to the British Government. By those settlers both the Savages & Acadians were encouraged to acts of hostility.

This was the state of the country at the peace when the disbanded Provincial Corps & Loyal Refugees took possession of the country. The Indians were of course compelled to leave the banks of the rivers (particularly the St. John) and hunt on other grounds. The French, who had taken possession of farms without even a license of occupation or any sanction from the Government, and were so situated as to interrupt the general settlement of the country, were, by order of the Government of Nova Scotia, removed again from their possessions and obliged to seek for situations more remote. These events undoubtedly increased their resentment against the Government—and altho’, after the establishment of a separate province, the Governor & Council of New Brunswick did make every effort in their power and did eventually more than compensate them by Grants at Madawaska and other places, they have never been really conciliated.

All this time the savages have been retreating farther and farther from the places to which they were formerly so much attached. The settlements being extended over the best part of their hunting grounds, they were soon reduced to the most abject poverty and distress. Thus circumstanced they became dependent upon the English settlers. The benevolence of individuals and some attention from government seemed to remove their prejudices. * * * The legacy, which had been formerly left by Mr. Boyle for the Christian purpose of civilizing the aboriginals, being applied in this country, was considered by the Indians (who did not comprehend the meaning of it) as a strong proof of national protection and kindness, and it had undoubtedly a tendency to reconcile them more effectually to English Government. The erecting of a convenient building at Sussex-Vale, as an academy exclusively for them, the employment of a preceptor to teach them the first rudiments of education, and the arrangements which were made for their accommodation & comfort, all contributed to soothe them in their state of distress; and although the Indians did not embrace the Christian religion with that alacrity which the pious Testator might have anticipated, they nevertheless considered this place as an Asylum where the aged and infirm could rest from the fatigues which are incident to savage life, and where the young of both sexes were fed, clothed, and instructed as far as they inclined to be. * * *

The attempts to convert and civilize the Savages, which were formerly made in the New England Colonies, while they were part of His Majesty’s dominions, were generally unsuccessful, and for many years before the American Revolution the sums supplied by the Company in England for propagating the Gospel among the Heathen Natives of New England and parts adjacent in America, were appropriated to general purposes by the overseers & corporation of Harvard College at Cambridge.

In the year 1785, the Company decided that as the part of America which is next adjacent to the Massachusetts state is the King’s colony of New Brunswick. Resolved therefore;—

“That the Commissioners we may hereafter employ be appointed out of the inhabitants of that colony, who are the King’s loyal subjects and living in the King’s dominions, and who are many of them Gentlemen of known integrity and fidelity and every way qualified to execute the trusts of our charter.”

In consequence of this resolution, Commissioners were appointed, and it will be shown by their first reports and the returns of the Missionaries and Instructors employed, that they effected more towards the education and civilization of the Indians than had ever been before accomplished.

In process of time it became obvious that some disadvantages resulted from dividing the schools which were at first established at Woodstock, Fredericton, Sheffield, Sussex, and Miramichi. It was then taken into serious and deliberate consideration by the Commissioners whether it would not be expedient to collect all the savages who were desirous of education into one place, and it became an important object to find a place the best calculated for that purpose. Some of the Commissioners contended that Fredericton would be the most eligible place, other places too were named, and after mature consideration, Sussex-Vale was considered to embrace more advantages than any other place and a College was erected there, in a situation where it was surrounded by a considerable extent of fertile country, cleared and under high cultivation, and in the possession of reputable and exemplary farmers. This circumstance it was supposed would offer to the Indians the fairest opportunity of observing the progress of agriculture and of contemplating the benefits which resulted from temperance and industry. * * *

Their condition, which by the encroachments made on their hunting grounds had been rendered truly wretched, was ameliorated, and they were proud of the attention which was shown them by Government in erecting so commodious a building for the education of their children. By associating and exchanging labour with the farmers, to mutual advantage, they were undoubtedly advancing in civilization. It is true literally that all the exertions which have been made have been hitherto ineffectual to conquer the prejudices of the savages against allowing their children to be bound out to trades, and they have another prejudice equally strong against the discipline of schools or chastisement for faults. To reconcile them to the latter it was proposed to introduce into the same school with them a certain number of the white children of the neighbourhood, in order that the savages might mix with them and learn that they were treated with equal justice and attention. This was not approved. * * *

[Reference is made by Edward Winslow in that portion of his letter here omitted to the retirement of Chief Justice Ludlow, Judge Bliss and Judge Allen from the Board of Commissioners of the Company, on account of some difference of opinion with the majority of the Commissioners as to the management.]

The vacancies made by these seceders may be filled with other gentlemen of equal honor and fidelity, and superior vigor and activity. The Mayor of the City of St. John, William Campbell, Esq., should be one; his integrity, zeal and activity have been sufficiently evinced. James White, Esq. should also be appointed—this gentleman is a magistrate in the City, was one of’ the old inhabitants born in the country and acquainted with all the savages in it—a man of abilities, strict honor, and uncommon activity. The third should be a clergyman of the vicinity, and there is in the same county a young man, the Rev. Elias Scovil, who is peculiarly qualified for such a situation. * * *

Three members of the Board should be compelled to visit the College once in three months and critically examine into its state and report the progress made. Clothing should be issued to those only who are fixed and permanent scholars, and to such of their parents or Guardians as reside at or near the College for the purpose of taking care of their children. * * *

Academies established in populous villages for general purposes of education, under the control of dignify’d trustees or corporations, are the worst of all possible places for an attempt to civilize Indians, and money thrown into those funds will—as it ever has been—be converted to other uses. I should therefore object to its being apply’d either to the University at Windsor or the Academy recently established at Fredericton.

[The latter part of Winslow’s description of the establishment of the Indian Academy, etc., is condensed.]


Written by johnwood1946

March 30, 2016 at 9:03 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. John, I was just recently introduced to your magnificent work of history. I have been a member of the Violette Family Association (VFA) since its founding in 1978, and a board member since 2002.  I am currently the Secretary and Genealogist for the association. I was asked to be the keynote speaker at the 2002 VFA reunion held in Edmundston, NB. I did a considerable amount of research for my topic which was “The Life and Times of Francois Violet (1744-1824). See attached. I then decided to attempt to write more extensively on the same subject. I enlisted the help of Guy Dubay a local historian and genealogist from Madawaska, ME and David Violette, current president of the association, who I recruited as editor because of his extensive experience with computers. The book ‘A Violette History’ contains 251 pages and was published in time for the family reunion held in Van Buren, ME in August 2014. I have attached a PDF file of the book for you to review. If you would like a copy, I would be delighted to send you one as a thank you for all the work you have been doing on New Brunswick history. I printed out the last essay you sent. I would like to print other selections, but do not know how to isolate them, other than select page numbers to print. Sincerely, Rod Violette (1932-?)916-434-8136     

    From: johnwood1946 To: Sent: Wednesday, March 30, 2016 8:06 AM Subject: [New post] It Sounded Like a Residential School Philosophy #yiv6123494631 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv6123494631 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv6123494631 a.yiv6123494631primaryactionlink:link, #yiv6123494631 a.yiv6123494631primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv6123494631 a.yiv6123494631primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv6123494631 a.yiv6123494631primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv6123494631 | johnwood1946 posted: “From the blog at http://JohnWood1946.wordpress.comIt Sounded Like a Residential School PhilosophyFollowing are some notes written by Edward Winslow in the early 1800’s respecting the Indians and Acadians in New Brunswick.Caution is advised in read” | |

    Rod Violette

    March 30, 2016 at 12:26 PM

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