New Brunswick History and Other Stuff

From Passamaquoddy to the Petitcodiac: What it Was Like in 1832

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From the blog at

This is a description of New Brunswick’s southern shore from Passamaquoddy to the Petitcodiac with emphasis on the Passamaquoddy area. It is taken from Sketches of British America by John Macgregor, London, 1832. Saint John is omitted from the description since it is the subject of a separate blog posting.


The Lighthouse at Saint Andrews

From the University of North Carolina


From Passamaquoddy to the Petitcodiac: What it Was Like in 1832

The Bay of Passamaquoddy separates the seacoast of New Brunswick from that of the state of Maine. This magnificent and beautiful inlet is studded with numerous islands, some of which are richly wooded, and afford soil of fair quality, and most of them have convenient advantages for fishing.

Grand Manan, which lies at the entrance of the Bay of Fundy, is about thirty-five miles from Brier Island, on the coast of Nova Scotia, and from eight to nine miles from the shores of Maine. Its length is about fourteen miles, and its breadth six or seven. It is chiefly covered with trees, growing on a soil of tolerable fertility, 4000 to 5000 acres of which are under fair cultivation. The population is about 700 or 800, and consists principally of families, whose parents or themselves removed from the United States, and whose habits and manners resemble very much those of the inhabitants of the neighbouring state of Maine.

They have often been considered as particularly au fait at scheming and overreaching; but I think the reputation of the multitude has been too severely charged with all the villainy of some daring adventurers. The situation of the island certainly offers all that could be desired, either for a school or a rendezvous for smugglers; and the late American tariff offers temptations to evade revenue laws, and to despise the vigilance of revenue cruisers, of which they take the full benefit. It forms a parish, and has an Episcopal church.

Ship-building, fishing, and agriculture, as well as interchanging commodities, either by open or illicit means, are each followed by the inhabitants, in their turn. The dangerous ledges and rocks that abound round Grand Manan, particularly on the south and south-east; its perpendicular rocky cliffs, in some places 600 feet high; its position, at the entrance of the Bay of Fundy, with the violence of the tides, and the fogs which prevail, when the winds blow from the Atlantic, render this island at all seasons the dread of mariners. A lighthouse, as projected by the late Mr Lockwood, surveyor-general of the province, on Gannet Rock, and an efficient light on Brier Island, in place of the beggarly one now on it, are objects that should seriously engage the consideration of the respective legislatures of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. On Quoddy-head, the Americans have a good lighthouse, which renders the passage between it and Grand Manan comparatively safe.

Campobello Island, which is about ten miles long, lies within the Bay of Passamaquoddy; and a narrow deep channel separates it from Maine, in the United States. Its harbour is safe, and conveniently situated, and by many considered far superior to St. Andrew’s for a free port, more particularly for transshipping gypsum, or plaster of paris, from British to American vessels. No place can possibly be better calculated for smuggling; and many of the inhabitants here, and on the opposite coast, may be considered sufficiently vigilant and daring in carrying on a successful illicit trade, to rival even the far-famed “Dirk Hatteraick.”

There are many other islands within this bay, of which Deer Island is the largest.

In no part of America, north of New York, can vessels, during the severity of winter, proceed without being obstructed by ice, so far from the ocean, as up Passamaquoddy Bay and the River St. Croix. This is important, particularly to vessels which load with timber during winter for the West Indies.

On a point of low land at the mouth of the St. Croix, and in front of a hilly ridge, stands the town of St. Andrew. Its houses are respectable in size and appearance; and it has two principal streets, which are crossed by several others; a population of about three thousand; an Episcopal church; and a handsome Scotch Kirk, built at the expense of a resident merchant, Mr. Scott, and gratuitously presented by him to the members of the Church of Scotland. It has also its government school, court house, jail, printing establishment, weekly newspaper, commercial bank, savings’ bank, emigrant and agricultural society, Bible society, &c.

The site of the town is pretty, and the prospect from it, embracing the spacious Bay of Passamaquoddy, and a distant view of the islands, the coast of Maine, and the lands to the eastward, is truly grand and picturesque; yet, in more than one respect, objections to its situation are very apparent. The harbour is by no means a good one for large vessels, which can only enter it at full tide, while they have to lie aground within it, nearly twelve hours out of the twenty-four, and a bar and ledge render its entrance dangerous to strangers. The principal article of export, lumber, has also to be rafted at great expense to it down from the Rivers St. Croix and Schoodic, and from Magaquadavic. It is, however, a thriving place, and carries forward a brisk trade in exporting square timber, deals, and staves. Ship-building has also been a source of adventurous rather than profitable enterprise, in which the inhabitants of St. Andrew’s and its neighbourhood, have for some time been extensively engaged.

Proceeding twelve miles further up the St. Croix, near that part of the river called the ledge, its navigation for large vessels is interrupted; but here they can load near St. Stephen’s in safety, and this is, in many respects, the very place where the principal town on the river should be built.

A few miles above St. Stephen’s, the St. Croix divides into two main branches; that leading to the westward, called the River Schoodic, penetrates the state of Maine, and receives the waters of an extensive chain of lakes. The other, or the St. Croix, stretching far to the north and north-west, receives also the waters of several streams and lakes; and flows through a fertile country covered with lofty forests, but its navigation is often interrupted by rapids and cataracts. There are numerous saw-mills on these rivers, and the annual average quantity of lumber sawed by the whole is estimated at twenty-two millions of feet. On the Digdaquash, a few miles east of St. Andrew’s, there are several saw-mills.

The river Magaquadavic, or, as it is usually pronounced, Macadavick, falls into the bay about ten miles east of St. Andrew’s, and carries down the waters it receives from numerous streams and lakes, along a course of more than sixty miles through the province. Its resources are great, having extensive fertile lands, and excellent timber on its banks. Its navigation is, however, interrupted near its mouth by high falls; and numerous cataracts and rapids occur in its course, but still a vast quantity of timber is rafted down to the harbour.

From St. John’s Harbour, along the coast, up the Bay of Fundy, a distance of about eighty miles, to Shepody Bay, small settlements are scattered. The principal of these is Quaco.

The lands near the sea-coast, along this extensive distance, are remarkably stubborn, and difficult to cultivate, but not unfruitful in producing barley, oats, potatoes, &c. The ripening of wheat crops cannot be depended on. The shores of Shepody Bay, which receive the Rivers Petit Coudiac and Memramcook, are thickly settled. The Petit Coudiac is a rapid river; and, following its winding course, is about seventy miles long, and up which the tide flows forty miles. It has excellent marshes, and remarkably fine lands, well wooded along its banks, which are in many places, particularly at the beautiful settlement of Dorchester, thickly inhabited. Ships occasionally proceed as far up as Dorchester for timber; but the impetuous tides of the Bay of Fundy render the navigation difficult. The river Memramcook has fine extensive diked marshes, and is settled by Acadian French. Large clearings abound along the river, and many farmers, living a great way up, follow agriculture alone; but most of the inhabitants have devoted their time occasionally to the timber business.

In that part of the province comprehended within the county of Charlotte, the spirit of agriculture appears lately to have acquired fresh animation; and the cultivation of the soil is followed with greater attention than before the eventful commercial crisis of the year 1826.

There are several other settlements along the coasts between Passamaquoddy and St. John’s, among which L’Etang, Beaver Harbour, Le Preau, and Musquash are the principal, and at each of which ship building, hewing timber, fishing, and a little agriculture, have alternately been followed by the inhabitants.

The country bordering on Shepody Bay, Cumberland Basin, and the rivers which fall into them, and which are included in the county of Westmoreland, is equal in respect to population, soil, and cultivation, to any part of the province. It was formerly comprehended in the county of Cumberland, as belonging to Nova Scotia, which it adjoins. The inhabitants are principally farmers and graziers; among whom are several settlements of industrious Acadian French. The most thriving settlers, however, are Englishmen from Yorkshire, or their descendants, who rear large herds of cattle, and raise luxuriant crops of grain and hay on their fine diked marshes. They export their over-plus butter and cheese, and drive their fat cattle to the markets of Halifax, St. John, and Miramichi. Great quantities of grindstones are sent from the county of Westmoreland, most of which find their way to the United States.


Written by johnwood1946

December 14, 2016 at 9:13 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. Fine diked marshes for sure, but you failed to mention that they were stolen from the Acadians.

    Norman Cormier

    December 14, 2016 at 10:46 AM

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