New Brunswick History and Other Stuff

The Governor’s House was an Outrage to Good Taste — Fredericton in 1832

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From the blog at

Following is a description of the ‘village’ of Fredericton, from Sketches of British America by John Macgregor, London, 1832.


Old Government House

Built between 1825 and 1828, it replaced the one that burned in 1825. This is therefore the one that was called an outrage to good taste.


The Governor’s House was an Outrage to Good Taste — Fredericton in 1832

Fredericton, although yet but little more than a village, is the seat of government; and is situated on a pretty point of land formed by a bend in the river, nearly ninety miles above St. John’s, and in front of as richly wooded hills as ever eye beheld; for soft picturesque scenery it is not surpassed by any part of the province. In front, the River St. John, something more than half a mile in width, flows past, sometimes smoothly, but often in rapid overflowing grandeur; and immediately opposite, it receives the Nashwaak, a rapid stream, which winds from the west thirty miles through fertile lands, settlements, and forests. The magnificent view from the College, lately built on the brow of a hill above the town, embraces, during summer and autumn, much of what poets and romance-writers tell us about Fairyland. Before us we have the neat white buildings of the town, with their pretty gardens, and the verdant foliage of their trees; then the River St. John, with the débouché of the Nashwaak, and an extensively ascending forest country, stretching far to the north. Downwards, we have a commanding prospect of several windings, for many miles, of the river; the banks and headlands of which are beautifully adorned with clumps of trees, interspersed among the cultivated uplands, or intermingled with the rich fringes of alluvial soil, which its waters have created. Upwards, our eyes and imagination feast on a splendid view of luxuriant islands, water, cultivated farms, farm-houses, blue distant hills, wooded to their summits; with the presence of human industry—herds of cattle on the farms and islands, one or more sloops on the river, timber-rafts, bateaux, and the white canoe of the Indian—to lend animation to the whole.

The plan of the town is regular, the streets crossing at right angles, and in appearance much like Charlotte Town, in Prince Edward Island. The building-lots contain each a quantity of an acre, eighteen of which form a square. The public buildings are, a provincial hall—a mean-looking building, in which the courts are held, and in which the Legislative Assembly sit—a jail, and a building which answers the double purpose of a market and county court-house. There are also an Episcopal church, of very humble appearance, but standing in a sweet spot, near the river, and three chapels, one each for the Catholics, Presbyterians, and Baptists. The barracks are handsome and commodious.

The new stone building, erected for the residence of the governor, stands at the west end of the town, in a charming situation. It is rather a large house, the front and elevation striking, but not elegant; and to me the design appeared, in many respects, to outrage good taste, as well as the rules of architecture; while convenience and comfort as to interior arrangements have also been either disregarded, or not understood. The drawing-room, ball-room, and presence chamber, are, however, magnificent.

The college is a spacious handsome stone building, and, in my opinion, exactly what it should be. Some consider it too large. For the present state of the province, it certainly is; but it will not be thought so, when twenty years more pass away.

The dwellings, however, are principally built of wood, and look clean and handsome.

The residence of the commissioner of crown lands, above the town in particular, attracts observation, from its pleasing and respectable appearance.

The inhabitants are principally loyalists, or their descendants. Society is limited, but respectable. The trade of Fredericton consists principally in selling British goods to the settlers along the River St. John and its streams, and receiving in return timber and agricultural produce. The town being at the head of the sloop-navigation, must increase and prosper in the same ratio as the settlement and prosperity of the vast interior country will necessarily advance. Many people consider that the capital should be at Oromocto, twelve miles below, and above which the river is much shoaler [sic]; others consider it should be still higher up. My own opinion is, that Governor Carleton, who founded it in 1785, could not have been more judicious in selecting any other spot. It has three or four religious institutions, an agricultural and emigrant society, printing establishment, a weekly paper, a public library, an academy, &c.


Written by johnwood1946

November 30, 2016 at 8:44 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

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