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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

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