New Brunswick History and Other Stuff

Shabby Streets, Decaying Houses, and Steep Plank Sidewalks. Saint John in 1874

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Shabby Streets, Decaying Houses, and Steep Plank Sidewalks. Saint John in 1874

Market Square and South Market Slip in Flames, 1877


In this story, an American journalist named Charles Warner is traveling from Boston to Baddeck on Cape Breton Island, and we join him as his steamer approaches the Bay of Fundy on its way to Saint John. He had hoped that Saint John would be only a short stop on his way to Baddeck, but he spent more time than he anticipated arranging for transportation.

Mr. Warner was a sarcastic little fellow and he did not have much good to say about Saint John or New Brunswick in general. However, he does give us a picture of a sleepy little provincial city where it was difficult to find anyone who could help him plot his journey. The story is condensed from his book Baddeck and that Sort of Thing, Boston, 1874.


When we looked from our state room window in the morning we saw land. We were passing within a stone’s throw of a pale-green and rather cold looking coast, with few trees or other evidences of fertile soil. Upon going out I found that we were in the harbor of Eastport. I found also the usual tourist who had been up, shivering in his winter overcoat, since four o’clock. He described to me the magnificent sunrise, and the lifting of the fog from islands and capes, in language that made me rejoice that he had seen it. He knew all about the harbor. That wooden town at the foot of it, with the white spire, was Lubec; that wooden town we were approaching was Eastport. The long island stretching clear across the harbour was Campobello. We had been obliged to go round it, a dozen miles out of our way, to get in, because the tide was in such a stage that we could not enter by the Lubec Channel.

We approached Eastport with a great deal of curiosity and considerable respect. It had been one of the cities of the imagination. Lying in the far east of our great territory, a military and even a sort of naval station, a conspicuous name on the map, prominent in boundary disputes and in war operations, frequent in telegraphic despatches,—we had imagined it a solid city, with some Oriental, if decayed, peculiarity, a port of trade and commerce. The tourist informed me that Eastport looked very well at a distance, with the sun shining on its white houses. When we landed at its wooden dock we saw that it consisted of a few piles of lumber, a sprinkling of small cheap houses along a side hill, a big hotel with a flag-staff, and a very peaceful looking arsenal. It is doubtless a very enterprising and deserving city, but its aspect that morning was that of cheapness, newness, and stagnation, with no compensating picturesqueness. White paint always looks chilly under a gray sky and on naked hills. The tourist, who went ashore with a view to breakfast, said that it would be a good place to stay in and go a-fishing and picnicking on Campobello Island. It has another advantage for the wicked over other Maine towns. Owing to the contiguity of British territory, the Maine Law is constantly evaded, in spirit. The thirsty citizen or sailor has only to step into a boat and give it a shove or two across the narrow stream that separates the United States from Deer Island and land, when he can ruin his breath, and return before he is missed. We ought to have war, if war is necessary to possess Campobello and Deer Islands; or else we ought to give the British Eastport. I am not sure but the latter would be the better course.

We sailed away into the British waters of the Bay of Fundy, but keeping all the morning so close to the New Brunswick shore that we could see there was nothing on it; that is, nothing that would make one wish to land. A pretty bay now and then, a rocky cove with scant foliage, a lighthouse, a rude cabin, a level land, monotonous and without noble forests,—this was New Brunswick as we coasted along it under the most favorable circumstances. But we were advancing into the Bay of Fundy; and my comrade, who had been brought up on its high tides in the district school, was on the lookout for this phenomenon. From the Bay of Fundy the rivers run up hill half the time, and the tides are from forty to ninety feet high. For myself, I confess that, in my imagination, I used to see the tides of this bay go stalking into the land like gigantic water-spouts; or, when I was better instructed, I could see them advancing on the coast like a solid wall of masonry eighty feet high. “Where,” we said, as we came easily, and neither uphill nor downhill, into the pleasant harbor of St. John, “where are the tides of our youth?”

They were probably out, for when we came to the land we walked out upon the foot of a sloping platform that ran into the water by the side of the piles of the dock, which stood up naked and blackened high in the air. It is not the purpose of this paper to describe St. John, nor to dwell upon its picturesque situation. As one approaches it from the harbor it gives a promise which its rather shabby streets, decaying houses, and steep plank sidewalks do not keep. A city set on a hill, with flags flying from a roof here and there, and a few shining spires and walls glistening in the sun, always looks well at a distance. St. John is extravagant in the matter of flag staffs; almost every well-to-do citizen seems to have one on his premises, as a sort of vent for his loyalty, I presume. St. John is built on a steep side hill, from which it would be in danger of sliding off, if its houses were not mortised into the solid rock. This makes the house foundations secure, but the labor of blasting out streets is considerable. We note these things complacently as we toil in the sun up the hill to the Victoria Hotel, which stands well up on the backbone of the ridge, and from the upper windows of which we have a fine view of the harbor, and of the hill. Opposite, above Carleton, where there is the brokenly truncated ruin of a round stone tower. This tower was one of the first things that caught our eyes as we entered the harbor. It gave an antique picturesqueness to the landscape which it entirely wanted without this. Round stone towers are not so common in this world that we can afford to be indifferent to them. This is called a Martello Tower, but I could not learn who built it. I could not understand the indifference, almost amounting to contempt, of the citizens of St. John in regard to this their only piece of curious antiquity. “It is nothing but the ruins of an old fort,” they said; “you can see it as well from here as by going there.” It was, however, the one thing at St. John I was determined to see. But we never got any nearer to it than the ferry landing. Want of time and the vis inertia of the place were against us.

But it must not be forgotten that we were on our way to Baddeck; that the whole purpose of the journey was to reach Baddeck. St. John is the sort of a place that if you get into it after eight o’clock on Wednesday morning, you cannot get out of it in any direction until Thursday morning at eight o’clock, unless you want to smuggle goods on the night train to Bangor. It was eleven o’clock Wednesday forenoon when we arrived at St. John. The Inter-Colonial railway train had gone to Shediac; it had gone also on its roundabout Moncton, Missaquat River, Truro, Stewiack, and Shubenacadie way to Halifax; the boat had gone to Digby Gut and Annapolis to catch the train that way for Halifax; the boat had gone up the river to Frederick, the capital. We could go to none of these places till the next day. The people of St. John have this peculiarity: they never start to go anywhere except early in the morning.

The reader to whom time is nothing does not yet appreciate the annoyance of our situation. Our time was strictly limited. The active world is so constituted that it could not spare us more than two weeks. We must reach Baddeck Saturday night or never. To go home without seeing Baddeck was simply intolerable. Now, if we had gone to Shediac in the train that left St. John that morning, we should have taken the steamboat that would have carried us to Port Hawkesbury, whence a stage connected with a steamboat on the Bras d’Or, which would land us at Baddeck on Friday. How many times had we been over this route on the map and the prospectus of travel! And now, what a delusion it seemed!

One seeking Baddeck, as a possession, would not like to be detained a prisoner even in Eden,—much less in St. John, which is unlike Eden in several important respects. The tree of knowledge does not grow there, for one thing; at least St. John’s ignorance of Baddeck amounts to a feature. This encountered us everywhere.

The clerk at the Victoria was not unwilling to help us on our journey, but if he could have had his way, we would have gone to a place on Prince Edward Island which used to be called Bedeque, but is now named Summerside, in the hope of attracting summer visitors. As to Cape Breton, he said the agent of the Inter Colonial could tell us all about that, and put us on the route. We repaired to the agent and he entered at once into our longings and perplexities. He produced his maps and timetables, and showed us clearly what we already knew. The Port Hawksbury steam boat from Shediac for that week had gone, to be sure, but we could take one of another line which would leave us at Pictou, whence we could take another across to Port Hood, on Cape Breton. This looked fair, until we showed the agent that there was no steamer to Port Hood.

“Ah, then you can go another way. You can take the Inter Colonial railway round to Pictou, catch the steamer for Port Hawksbury, connect with the steamer on the Bras d’Or, and you are all right.” It took us half an hour to convince him that the train would reach Pictou half a day too late for the steamer, that no other boat would leave Pictou for Cape Breton that week, and that even if we could reach the Bras d’Or we should have no means of crossing it, except by swimming. The perplexed agent thereupon referred us to Mr. Brown, a shipper on the wharf, who knew all about Cape Breton, and could tell us exactly how to get there.

Mr. Brown was not in. He never is in. His store is a rusty warehouse, low and musty, piled full of boxes of soap and candles and dried fish, with a little glass cubby in one corner, where a thin clerk sits at a high desk, like a spider in his web. The cubby is swarming with flies, and the glass of the window sash has not been washed since it was put in. The clerk is not writing, and has evidently no other use for his steel pen than spearing flies. Brown is out, says this young votary of commerce, and will not be in till half past five. We go out into the street to wait for Brown.

In front of the store is a dray, its horse fast asleep, and waiting for the revival of commerce. The dray is of a peculiar construction, the body being dropped down from the axles so as nearly to touch the ground,—a great convenience in loading and unloading. The dray is probably waiting for the tide to come in. In the deep slip lie a dozen helpless vessels, coasting schooners mostly, tipped on their beam ends in the mud, or propped up by side-pieces as if they were built for land as well as for water. At the end of the wharf is a long English steamboat unloading railroad iron, which will return to the Clyde full of Nova Scotia coal. We sit down on the dock and meditate upon the peacefulness of the drowsy afternoon. One’s feeling of rest is never complete unless he can see somebody else at work,—but the labor must be without haste, as it is in the Provinces.

While waiting for Brown, we had leisure to explore the shops of King’s Street, and to climb up to the grand triumphal arch which stands on top of the hill and guards the entrance to King’s Square. Of the shops for dry-goods I have nothing to say, for they tempt the unwary American to violate the revenue laws of his country; but he may safely go into the book-shops. The literature which is displayed in the windows and on the counters has lost that freshness which it once may have had and is, in fact, if one must use the term, fly-specked, like the cakes in the grocery windows on the side streets. There are old illustrated newspapers from the States, cheap novels from the same, and the flashy covers of the London and Edinburgh sixpenny editions. But this is the dull season for literature, we reflect.

It will always be matter of regret to us that we climbed up to the triumphal arch, which appeared so noble in the distance, with the trees behind it. For when we reached it, we found that it was built of wood, painted and sanded, and in a shocking state of decay; and the grove to which it admitted us was only a scant assemblage of sickly locust-trees, which seemed to be tired of battling with the unfavorable climate, and had, in fact, already retired from the business of ornamental shade-trees. Adjoining this square is an ancient cemetery, the surface of which has decayed in sympathy with the mouldering remains it covers. I have called this cemetery ancient, but it may not be so, for neglect, and not years, appears to have made it the melancholy place of repose it is. Whether it is the fashionable and favorite resort of the dead of the city we did not learn, but there were some old men sitting in its damp shades, and the nurses appeared to make it a rendezvous for their baby carriages, — a cheerful place to bring up children in, and to familiarize their infant minds with the fleeting nature of provincial life.

But Mr. Brown, when found, did not know as much as the agent. He had been in Nova Scotia; he had never been in Cape Breton; but he presumed we would find no difficulty in reaching Baddeck by so and so, and so and so. We consumed valuable time in convincing Brown that his directions to us were impracticable and valueless, and then he referred us to Mr. Cope. An interview with Mr. Cope discouraged us; we found that we were imparting everywhere more geographical information than we were receiving. Returning to the hotel, and taking our destiny into our own hands, we resolved upon a bold stroke.

Our plan of campaign was briefly this: To take the steamboat at eight o’clock, Thursday morning, for Digby Gut and Annapolis; thence to go by rail through the poetical Acadia down to Halifax; to turn north and east by rail from Halifax to New Glasgow, and from thence to push on by stage to the Gut of Canso. This would carry us over the entire length of Nova Scotia, and, with good luck, land us on Cape Breton Island Saturday morning. When we should set foot on that island, we trusted that we should be able to make our way to Baddeck, by walking, swimming, or riding, whichever sort of locomotion should be most popular in that province. Our imaginations were kindled by reading that the most superb line of stages on the continent ran from New Glasgow to the Gut of Canso. If the reader perfectly understands this programme, he has the advantage of the two travellers at the time they made it.

Written by johnwood1946

March 22, 2017 at 9:11 AM

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In the Beginning – Wabanaki Creation Stories

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From the blog at

In the Beginning – Wabanaki Creation Stories

The Wabanaki are the people of the rising sun, the Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, Passamaquoddy, Abenaki, and Penobscot Indians.

The following Wabanaki stories attempt to explain the world around us. Glooskap is introduced in the first story, because he is the principal creator of natural things. The second story not only explains the creation of creatures but also references far-away places well beyond Wabanaki territory. There were ‘wild’ people in the far west and, in the north there were white bears and people who kept dogs, for example. The third story presents another explanation of how Glooscap came to be. He arrived in a granite canoe from the east – like the sun. The canoe is still there, having become an island covered with trees.

These stories are taken from Charles Godfrey Leland’s The Algonquin Legends of New England or, Myths and Folk Lore of the Micmacs, Passamaquoddy and Penobscot Tribes, London, 1884. We see Glooscap in these stories as a divinity, and Leland classifies these as divinity stories. Other authors have said that Glooscap was not a god, but was a ‘culture hero.’ Either way, he was important in Wabanaki lore.

The Sea, the Land, and the Rising Sun

Flag of the St. Francis Band of the Wabanaki, from Wikipedia


Of Glooskap’s Birth, and of his Brother Malsum the Wolf

Now the great lord Glooskap, who was worshiped in after-days by all the Wabanaki, or children of light, was a twin with a brother. As he was good, this brother, whose name was Malsumsis, or Wolf the younger, was bad. Before they were born, the babes consulted to consider how they had best enter the world. And Glooskap said, “I will be born as others are.” But the evil Malsumsis thought himself too great to be brought forth in such a manner, and declared that he would burst through his mother’s side. And as they planned it so it came to pass. Glooskap as first came quietly to light, while Malsumsis kept his word, killing his mother.

The two grew up together, and one day the younger, who knew that both had charmed lives, asked the elder what would kill him, Glooskap. Now each had his own secret as to this, and Glooskap, remembering how wantonly Malsumsis had slain their mother, thought it would be misplaced confidence to trust his life to one so fond of death, while it might prove to be well to know the bane of the other. So they agreed to exchange secrets, and Glooskap, to test his brother, told him that the only way in which he himself could be slain was by the stroke of an owl’s feather, though this was not true. And Malsumsis said, “I can only die by a blow from a fern-root.”

It came to pass in after-days that Kwah-beet-a-sis, the son of the Great Beaver, or, as others say, Miko the Squirrel, or else the evil which was in himself, tempted Malsumsis to kill Glooskap; for in those days all men were wicked. So taking his bow he shot Ko-ko-kkas the Owl, and with one of his feathers he struck Glooskap while sleeping. Then he awoke in anger, yet craftily said that it was not by an owl’s feather, but by a blow from a pine-root, that his life would end.

Then the false man led his brother another day far into the forest to hunt, and, while he again slept, smote him on the head with a pine-root. But Glooskap arose unharmed, drove Malsumsis away into the woods, sat down by the brook-side, and thinking over all that had happened, said, “Nothing but a flowering rush can kill me.” But the Beaver, who was hidden among the reeds, heard this, and hastening to Malsumsis told him the secret of his brother’s life. For this Malsumsis promised to bestow on Beaver whatever he should ask; but when the latter wished for wings like a pigeon, the warrior laughed, and scornfully said, “Get thee hence; thou with a tail like a file, what need hast thou of wings?”

Then the Beaver was angry, and went forth to the camp of Glooskap, to whom he told what he had done. Therefore Glooskap arose in sorrow and in anger, took a fern-root, sought Malsumsis in the deep, dark forest, and smote him so that he fell down dead. And Glooskap sang a song over him and lamented.

How Glooskap made Elves, Fairies, Man, and Beasts; and the Last Day (Passamaquoddy)

Glooskap came first of all into this country, into Nova Scotia, Maine, Canada, into the land of the Wabanaki, next to sunrise. There were no Indians here then (only wild Indians very far to the west).

First born were the Mikumwess, the Oonabgemessũk, the small Elves, little men, dwellers in rocks.

And in this way he made Man: He took his bow and arrows and shot at trees, the basket-trees, the Ash. Then Indians came out of the bark of the Ash trees. And then the Mikumwees said . . . called tree-man. . . . [the story teller became unclear] Glooskap made all the animals. He made them at first very large. Then he said to Moose, the great Moose who was as tall as Ketawkqu’s, [a giant] “What would you do should you see an Indian coming?” Moose replied, “I would tear down the trees on him.” Then Glooskap saw that the Moose was too strong, and made him smaller, so that Indians could kill him.

Then he said to the Squirrel, who was of the size of a Wolf, “What would you do if you should meet an Indian?” And the Squirrel answered, “I would scratch down trees on him.” Then Glooskap said, “You also are too strong,’ and he made him little.

Then he asked the great White Bear what he would do if he met an Indian; and the Bear said, “Eat him.” And the Master bade him go and live among rocks and ice, where he would see no Indians.

So he questioned all the beasts, changing their size or allotting their lives according to their answers.

He took the Loon for his dog; but the Loon absented himself so much that he chose for this service two wolves, — one black and one white. But the Loons are always his tale-bearers.

Many years ago a man very far to the North wished to cross a bay, a great distance, from one point to another. As he was stepping into his canoe he saw a man with two dogs, — one black and one white, — who asked to be set across. The Indian said, “You may go, but what will become of your dogs?” Then the stranger replied, “Let them go round by land.” “Nay,” replied the Indian, “that is much too far.” But the stranger saying nothing, he put him across. And as they reached the landing place there stood the dogs. But when he turned his head to address the man, he was gone. So he said to himself, “I have seen Glooskap.”

Yet again, — but this was not so many years ago, — far in the North there were at a certain place many Indians assembled. And there was a frightful commotion, caused by the ground heaving and rumbling; the rocks shook and fell, they were greatly alarmed, and lo! Glooskap stood before them, and said, “I go away now, but I shall return again; when you feel the ground tremble, then know it is I.” So they will know when the last great war is to be, for then Glooskap will make the ground shake with an awful noise.

Glooskap was no friend of the Beavers; he slew many of them. Up on the Tobaie are two salt-water rocks (that is, rocks by the ocean-side, near a fresh water stream). The Great Beaver, standing there one day, was seen by Glooskap miles away, who had forbidden him that place. Then picking up a large rock where he stood by the shore, he threw it all that distance at the Beaver, who indeed dodged it; but when another came, the beast ran into a mountain, and has never come forth to this day. But the rocks which the master threw are yet to be seen.

Glooskap’s Great Deeds; How he Named the Animals; His Family (Passamaquoddy)

Woodénit atók-hagen Gloosekap [this is a story of Glooskap]. It is told in traditions of the old time that Glooskap was born in the land of the Wabanaki, which is nearest to the sunrise; but another story says that he came over the sea in a great stone canoe, and that this canoe was an island of granite covered with trees. When the great man, of all men and beasts chief ruler, had come down from this ark, he went among the Wabanaki. And calling all the animals he gave them each a name: unto the Bear, mooin; and asked him what he would do if he should meet with a man. The Bear said, “I fear him, and I should run.” Now in those days the Squirrel (mi-ko) was greater than the Bear. Then Glooskap took him in his hands, and smoothing him down he grew smaller and smaller, till he became as we see him now. In after-days the Squirrel was Glooskap’s dog, and when he so willed, grew large again and slew his enemies, however fierce they might be. But this time, when asked what he would do should he meet with a man, Mi-ko replied, “I should run up a tree.”

Then the Moose, being questioned, answered, standing still and looking down, “I should run through the woods.” And so it was with Kwah-beet the Beaver, and Glooskap saw that of all created beings the first and greatest was Man.

Before men were instructed by him, they lived in darkness; it was so dark that they could not even see to slay their enemies. Glooskap taught them how to hunt, and to build huts and canoes and weirs for fish. Before he came they knew not how to make weapons or nets. He the Great Master showed them the hidden virtues of plants, roots, and barks, and pointed out to them such vegetables as might be used for food, as well as what kinds of animals, birds, and fish were to be eaten. And when this was done he taught them the names of all the stars. He loved mankind, and wherever he might be in the wilderness he was never very far from any of the Indians. He dwelt in a lonely land, but whenever they sought him they found him. He traveled far and wide: there is no place in all the land of the Wabanaki where he left not his name; hills, rocks and rivers, lakes and islands, bear witness to him.

Glooskap was never married, yet as he lived like other men he lived not alone. There dwelt with him an old woman, who kept his lodge; he called her Noogumee, “my grandmother.” (Micmac). With her was a youth named Abistariaooch, or the Martin. And Martin could change himself to a baby or a little boy, a youth or a young man, as befitted the time in which he was to act; for all things about Glooskap were very wonderful. This Martin ate always from a small birch bark dish, called witch-kwed-lakuncheech, and when he left this anywhere Glooskap was sure to find it, and could tell from its appearance all that had befallen his family. And Martin was called by Glooskap Uch-keen, “my younger brother.” The Lord of men and beasts had a belt which gave him magical power and endless strength. And when he lent this to Martin, the younger brother could also do great deeds, such as were only done in old times.

Martin lived much with the Mikumwess or Elves, or Fairies, and is said to have been one of them.

Written by johnwood1946

March 15, 2017 at 8:30 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

Pride versus Rascals and Villains in Saint John in 1791

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From the blog at

Simonds and White had some commercial establishments in Saint John before 1783 when the Loyalists arrived; and there was a fort on the high ground. Other than that, there was nothing to distinguish Saint John as a ‘place’. And so, the city was in its infancy in 1791 when the following story unfolded.

William Sanford Oliver was the Sheriff and was involved in all of the city’s early events. The following dispute of 1791 was between him and the Grand Jury, but both sides were so uncompromising as to indicate that Oliver had not been getting along with other officials. This seems to have been a ‘last-straw’ event.

These documents are from Oliver’s A Collection of Papers and Facts relative to the Dismission of Wm. Sandford Oliver, Esq., from the Office of Sheriff of the City and County of St. John, New Brunswick, London, 1791. It is a story of petty differences and pride running amok and ruining the sheriff’s career.


Fort Howe in 1781

From the New Brunswick Museum, via the McCord Museum


Pride versus Rascals and Villains in Saint John in 1791

To a Man of feelings nothing is so dear as his Character,—Injuries offered to hit property, may be repaired, but it is not so with those that affect his reputation. When a Public Officer is dismissed from his employment on a charge of misbehaviour, the world takes it for granted that his disgrace is justly incurred and should it be otherwise, it is incumbent upon him to undeceive them. This has induced me to publish a collection of papers and facts relative to the late dispute between me and the Grand Jury—for the authenticity and veracity of which I pledge my honor. The perusal of them will enable every candid reader to determine how far my conduct has been excusable and how far it has been reprehensible; and should it prove the happy means of rectifying the misrepresentation which have been most industriously propagated concerning this business, the pleasure to be derived from such an events will, in a great measure, counterbalance what I have suffered in being deprived of my office. — W.S.O.

A Collection of Papers and Facts

On the 16th of March last, my duty, as Sheriff, leading me to the County Goal, where there were then no prisoners, excepting criminals, I was informed, by the Turnkey, that the Grand-Jury had been there that morning, examined the upper part of the Goal, narrowly and curiously inspecting the rooms where debtors were usually confined, and the lodgings of the Goaler and Turnkey—and had been very inquisitive respecting the treatment of debtors, and the appropriation of their several apartments; that he had given them all the information in his power, and was willing to have shewn them the lower part of the Goal, where criminals are kept, but they declined seeing it, saying they had seen enough and departed. This visit somewhat surprized me, as it was altogether unexpected, and no complaint had been made to me respecting the treatment of any prisoners under my care.

From the Goal, I walked down to Mallard’s tavern, where the Quarter Sessions were sitting, and found the Grand Jury had broken up, after finishing their business for the day; seeing one of their number, a Mr. Squires, standing upon the stoop, I entered into conversation with him, and the late visit to the Goal being mentioned, I expressed my displeasure in pretty strong terms; what was said on the occasion, was scarcely uttered, before a number of the Grand Jurors collected round me, whose behaviour I am almost ashamed to relate.—The language they addressed me in, was highly menacing and insulting; they repeatedly declared “they would visit the Goal whenever they pleased in spite of me;” they dared me to prevent them, and went so far as to declare “they would force me to open the doors for them.” Many threats, and much opprobrious language, were bestowed on me, and on my returning homewards, a number of them forgetful of their characters as Grand Jurymen, unmindful of my office of Sheriff and in open violation of all decency and decorum, followed me down the street in a riotous disorder and actually MOBBED me as far as market house at noon day. They after[…?] repaired to the Attorney General, who […?] no opinion as to the right they claimed of visiting the Goal, but informed them, if they had been ill-treated in the discharge of their duty, they might indict the offender for a misdemeanor, and furnished them with the form of a bill for that purpose which they did not think proper to find.

On the Friday and Saturday following, there passed the papers subjoined, in the order in which they are numbered.

No. I: We the Grand Jury for the current sessions of the City and County of Saint John, having met together on Wednesday last, for the dispatch of our duty, a proposal was made, and unanimously agreed to, that we should go and examine the present condition of the County Goal. After having gained admittance in the usual way, from the common Goaler, we Examined the different rooms of said Goal, and returned to our place of meeting but to our astonishment, were attacked in the public street by William S. Oliver, Esq., who insulted us in a most abusive and threatening manner, by calling us “a parcel of rascals or villains, and impertinent fellows; that it was a rawcally proceeding to go to the Goal without his leave, and had he been there, he would have locked us all in.”

As this insult, so offered by the said William S. Oliver, to us as Grand Jurors, in the discharge of our duty, is so flagrant an infringement of our constitutional rights, and an abuse as individuals, we cannot think of proceeding farther in the business for which we were summoned together, until a sufficient reparation is made by the said William S. Oliver, and ’till we are assured of the protection of the Court in our future proceedings. In this we are unanimous. — (Signed) A.L. Black, Foreman, with witnesses Isaac Bell, Jun. and Moses Ward.

No. II: The Worshipful the Grand Jury, for the body of the City and County of Saint John, have anticipated my intention of bringing before the Court a question of great importance to me in my office of Sheriff, which is, whether, any set of persons have a liberty to enter the Goal of this County, without my permission.

The Court will recollect, that I am responsible for the safe custody of the prisoners in it—and that when I bring up a prisoner by Habeas Corpus, I am entitled to an indemnity against his escape, before he quits the, prison; but if twenty persons (whatever may be their description) are at liberty to throw open the doors, and enter at pleasure, I conceive myself to run a much greater risque than in trusting a prisoner abroad under the care of my own officers.

I have hitherto supposed, that the admission or exclusion of persons, not having legal business in the Goal, was vested entirely in me as Sheriff, and this I hope to be further informed of by the Court, as well as whether it is part of the duty of the Grand Jury to enter and examine the state and condition of the Goal, and form their conclusions on what they may see there, without an order from a Court of Justice for that purpose.

That the Grand Jury, as the Grand Inquest of the County, should enquire into, and present, all nuisances within the County, whether existing in the Goal or elsewhere, I by no means deny; but what I contend is, that this enquiry, like other enquiries of a Grand Jury—(I say Grand Jury as having no reference to a Coroner’s Jury) must be made by witnesses.

The present Worshipful Grand Jury, allege, that for dispatch of their duty, they are free to go and examine the present condition of the County Goal. If this was part of their duty, they certainly performed it in a new method, as the principal object to which this duty of theirs led them, was to examine the private apartments of the Goaler’s wife and sister, especially the latter and this part of their duty, they discharged with a diligence and minuteness of investigation beyond all praise! What impression the objects they there met with made upon their imaginations, I know not, but it certainly affected their memories very materially, they forgot their errand and entirely omitted examining the lower part of she Goal, which contains four of the strong rooms in it. They forgot, when I casually met them on their return, that I never made use of the words rascals or villains; and from anything that appears on the face of their complaint, they have since forgot that I am High Sheriff of this City and County, and consequently that I had a principal concern in whatever passed in the Goal,—The words I used were, that they were a set of impertinent fellows, and I might perhaps add, that had I been there, I should have locked them in.

I confess it would have been, perhaps, as well to have laughed only at their inexperience, and not have remarked the impropriety of their behaviour quite so forcibly; but the very ungenteel manner in which they had intruded on my premises, in my absence, without notice, without leave, and for the purpose of picking up some cause of complaint, drew from me the words I used, before I had time for recollection; and if the Court think they need any apology, I hope it will be preceded by an apology from the Grand Jury to me, for having given me the provocation. — (Signed) W.S. Oliver, Sheriff

No. III: From the grievous complaints that have often been made respecting the condition of and manner in which the common Goal of this County has been appropriated We, as Grand-Jurors for the present session, thought it an incumbent duty to make enquiry after the grounds of those complaints.—And for that purpose, we went to the said Goal, and inspected its different apartments.

The upper floor, we find, is divided into four rooms, three of which are occupied as private lodgings, and one only appropriated for the reception of debtors—and that one, we conceive to be, in its present situation, very unfit for accommodating any description of prisoners—from its noufeous smell, and dirty appearance. The inconveniences that must arise from employing the principal part of the Goal as a dwelling house, are obvious. In the first place, it is contrary to its original design—and in the second, it is incapable of accommodating the different denominations of prisoners.

It is therefore hoped, that the Court, in its wisdom, will devise means to remedy a grievance which has been long and too justly complained of. — (Signed) A.L. Black, Foreman. Saint John, March 18, 1791, with witness Isaac Bell, Jun.

No. IV: To the Grand Jury for the City and County of Saint John, now sitting: A disagreeable misunderstanding and altercation having taken place between the Sheriff and Grand Jury, and the Court being desirous that there should be unanimity and concurrence in the different public bodies and officers, in the discharge of their public duties, have endeavoured to discover the cause of an event so unpleasant—and, upon enquiry, find, that the language made use of by the Sheriff to the Grand Jury, arose from a supposed intention in the Grand Jury, to treat him with pointed disrespect, in visiting and examining the Goal without his knowledge, which the Court is satisfied was by no means their design, but that they visited the Goal from motives of duty, in discharge of their public trust.—The Court, therefore, earnestly recommend, that such an explanation may take place between the Sheriff and Grand Jury, as will reconcile them to each other, and bury in oblivion the unfortunate dispute that has taken place. — (Signed) Elias Hardy, Clerk, March 18, 1791

No. V: The Grand Jurors having already put it in the power of William Sanford Oliver, Esq., High Sheriff, to make acknowledgment for his misbehaviour—and having received a contemptuous answer to their presentment, from the said William Sanford Oliver, Esq., conceive that they are perfectly justified in applying for redress to the fountain from whence this office originates. Yet, from motives of sympathy and compassion, and from a firm persuasion that the abuse proceeded from ignorance in Mr. Oliver, the Grand Jurors are willing to accept of a public acknowledgment as shall be approved by them.—Unanimous. — (Signed) A.L. Black, Foreman, Saint John, March 18, 1791.

No. VI: Mr. Oliver, upon the recommendation of the Court, is willing to acknowledge to the Grand Jury, that it was in consequence of an impression upon his mind, that the Grand Jury intended to treat him with pointed disrespect, that he made use of the language he did, and made the reply given to their complaint; and that, had he not thought it was so intended, he would not have made use of any expressions which could have been exceptionable, or given the least offence. If this explanation is satisfactory to the Grand Jury, Mr. Oliver wishes that both the complaint of the Grand Jury, and his reply to it, may be withdrawn, and considered as having never existed. — (Signed) W.S. Oliver, Saint John, March 19, 1791.

No. VII: The insult was given by Mr. Oliver in a public manner, and an acknowledgment MUST be made in the same way, either in the open Court or in public print, by asking the Jurors’ pardon.—And it is the earnest wish of the Grand Jury, that the difference may be accommodated without going any further. — (Signed) A.L. Black, Foreman, Saint John, March 19, 1791.

No. VIII: The finding of a Committee to the Court of Sessions, Saint John, March 19, 1791:

The Committee appointed by the order of yesterday, report that they proceeded to examine the state of the County Goal, and the ground of the complaint preferred by the Grand Jury—and found, upon that examination, that only one room on the upper floor, is kept for the confinement of debtors; but they are of opinion, that room is the most commodious for the purpose, being the large and best situated, and they found that room in proper order for the reception of prisoners, although, at present, there is no debtor in the Goal, the last having been discharged yesterday. Upon examining the Sheriff, the Committee were informed, that the debtors were put together in this room for the purpose of being accommodated by one fire, where either of them was able to procure fuel that, when occasion required it, the room now occupied by Pontius, the Goaler, was cleaned for the reception of debtors; and that debtors and criminals had not been confined together and that no complaint had ever been made to him by any debtor, of the mode of his confinement. The Committee do not see any cause to impute blame to the Sheriff, in any particular instance; they are, however, of opinion, that the hall ought to remain undivided—and that, for the convenience of confining debtors, of different description, in separate apartments, two rooms, upon the upper floor, ought to be kept constantly unoccupied for any other purpose than the confinement of prisoners. The Committee proceeded to examine the rooms upon the lower floor, which the Grand Jury did not inspect, which are kept for the confinement of criminals , these they found by no means fit for the reception of any prisoners, by reason of the water, at this season of the year, making its way through the floor, which is occasioned by the want of proper depth to the drain, which was dug or cut in the rock to carry off the water; they are, therefore, of opinion, that as soon as the season will admit, the drain ought to be cut to a proper depth, for that purpose, and such other work done, as will render the rooms upon the lower floor, habitable, without danger to the lives of the prisoners. — Ordered—[That the City make the repairs, etc.]

No. IX: [W.S. Oliver writes to his lawyer, Elias Hardy, Esq., on April 5, I791, asking how he should reply to the following letter, item X.]

No. X (Enclosed letter from the Grand Jury to the Sheriff, dated April 5, 1791): Sir, Having formerly informed you, that the Grand Jury intended laying their complaints against you, before His Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor, I now acquaint you, that it has been transmitted to the Secretary, and by him laid before the Governor. — (Signed) A.L. Black, Foreman of the Grand Jury. (N.B. Mr. Oliver applied for a copy of the complaint, but was refused it.)

No. XI: [Letter from Elias Hardy to W.S. Oliver, Saint John, April 7, 1791 (slightly abridged)] In the first place, I take it to be clear law, that you are keeper of the Goal, and that, as such, no person has a right to enter it, without your permission: This I lay down as a general rule, and I know of no exception to that rule, in favor of the Grand Jury, unless it can be supposed, that because they may present the condition of the Goal, when out of repair, they have, therefore, a right, at pleasure, to examine whether it wants repairs. As the Act of Assembly, recognizing their right to make such presentments, is silent on this head—and as the exercise of such a right must materially interfere with your responsibility for the safe custody of the prisoners under your charge, I am inclined to think they have no such right—but if they have it, it is, at most, only a right to examine whether the Goal wants repairs.

In the present case, such right is out of the question, as the intention of the visit (as I understand it) was not to examine whether the Goal wanted repairs, but to enquire how the particular apartments in it were appropriated; and even this enquiry, was restricted to the apartments for debtors: In this enquiry, I am of opinion, the Grand Jury exceeded the line of their duty,—Debtors may be confined wheresoever the Sheriff pleases (though it is otherwise with felons—and if there is any just ground of complaint against the Sheriff, the remedy is by action upon the case, at the suit of the party aggrieved, and not by presentment of a Grand Jury, it being a private injury, and not a public wrong. As to the words you made use of, viz. that the Grand Jury “were a set of impertinent fellows,” and that, “if you had been there, you would have locked them in.” In words addressed to public officers (and the Grand Jury I consider in a similar light) the law makes a great difference, whether, at the time the words were spoken, they were in the execution of their office or not… Mr. Black is wrong in stating himself Foreman of the Grand Jury, as the functions of that body ceased, when the Court dismissed them.—Nor can I see the propriety of preferring a complaint to the Lieut. Governor, when the Grand Jury, if insulted, had their legal remedy in the Supreme Court.

No. XII [Jonathan Odell to W.S. Oliver, on May 6, 1791, on behalf of the Lieut. Governor (abridged)]: I am directed to inform you, that, as the Grand Jury had an undoubted right, in their public capacity, to visit, and by their own inspection, ascertain the state and condition of the Goal—His Excellency thinks it was highly unwarrantable to offer the smallest insult, on that account, to a public body, whose importance in society, requires that they should be universally held in respect, and supported in the execution of their duty.—And His Excellency, therefore, expects that you will make an unqualified apology, to be delivered in writing under your hand, to the Foreman of the Grand Jury, asking their pardon for the insult of which they have complained.

No. XIII [W.S. Oliver to Jonathan Odell, on May 20, 1791, in reply to his letter (abridged)]: You are pleased to mention a memorial laid before his Excellency the Lieut. Governor, by the late Grand Jury, together with copies of certain proceedings in the Court of General Sessions of the peace.—This memorial, for reasons unknown to me, was denied both a sight and copy of by the Grand Jury, I cannot possibly say anything, therefore, as to its contents.

And, with regard to the proceedings before the Sessions, many material facts are entirely omitted, and others so defectively and erroneously stated, that no fair judgment can be formed from those papers, of the dispute to which they relate.—This I infer from my knowledge that the Grand Jury have never given themselves the trouble to possess themselves of some papers respecting the matter, which are materially explanatory of others. Had I been so fortunate as to have been indulged with a hearing, which I fully hoped, and the rather expected, as I flattered myself my conduct in office had been before unimpeached, I conceive I could have shewn, from the whole tenor of my behaviour, that I meant no unprovoked insult, and that I have acted consistently with the character I have hitherto supported.

The paper, signed by me, at the recommendation of the Court, will shew, that I have been no ways averse to an amicable adjustment of differences: This paper, with the further concessions offered at the time to the Grand Jury, on my part, of which the inclosed is a copy, and which the Grand Jury did not think proper to lay before the Governor, the Mayor and Recorder, and, I believe I may say, the whole Bench, considered as sufficient: My sentiments were in unison with theirs, nor have they since changed. After this declaration, I can only add, that, though the emoluments of my office are my sole dependence, yet, if his Excellency deems me unworthy of filling it longer, I shall receive his commands with the most profound respect and submission.

Notes by W.S. Oliver: To the foregoing letter no answer was returned—but sometime afterwards, a letter from Mr. Odell to the Mayor, desiring him to nominate to his Excellency the Lieut. Governor, a fit person to be appointed Sheriff of Saint John was communicated to a friend of mine, that he might acquaint me with it; and in a short time, John Holland, Esq. was appointed Sheriff in my room.

The reader being now in possession of all the material facts relative to this business, I beg leave to ask him the following Questions:

I. Supposing the Grand Jury had a right to visit the Goal, without my consent, was it civil in them to do it, without acquainting me—and, on the contrary, studiously to conceal their intentions?

IL When we consider that at the time the Grand Jury visited the Goal, there was not a single debtor in confinement—that no complaint whatever had been made to me, and no regular complaint to them, must it not appear singular that they should think of visiting the Goal at all? And yet more so, that they should restrict their examination to only a part of it?

III. With what propriety, after the unhandsome treatment I had experienced from them, in mobbing me down the street, could the Grand Jury complain of any expressions that had escaped me?

  1. Was it generous in them, to suppress entirely all mention of their behaviour to me?
  2. Was it candid to state, that I attacked them in the discharge of their duty, when they had broken up before the time alluded to?
  3. What could induce the Grand Jury to decline the mediation of the Court, to throw out the bill prepared by the Attorney-General, and insinuate so early in the dispute, a disposition to apply for redress, “to the Fountain from whence my office originated?”

VII. Was the demand of the Grand Jury, that I should make a public acknowledgment, “such as should be approved by them,” consistent with what they profess of an earnest wish that the difference might be accommodated without going any further, and the sympathy and compassion which they affect to feel?

VIII. Which party appeared most in earnest as to an accommodation?

  1. After the mobbing one through the public street, what would my friends have thought of me, had I asked the Grand Jury’s pardon?
  2. Ought not the Grand Jury to have, at least, allowed me a fight of the complaint preferred against me?
  3. What reason can be suggested to justify their refusal?

Written by johnwood1946

March 8, 2017 at 8:17 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

The Trent Affair

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From the blog at

The Trent Affair


Charles Wilkes, who seized the Trent in 1861

From the website ‘Civil War Talk’

The opening salvo of the American Civil War occurred on April 14, 1861, when Confederate forces captured Fort Sumter near Charlestown, South Carolina. Preparations for war then proceeded on both sides, and one of the first actions by the North was to declare a blockade of the Southern states to cut off their access to trade.

The North and the South both sought the support of European nations but this was not forthcoming for the Confederates. Prussia, Austria and Spain each absolutely refused to support the secessionists. Great Britain was in a difficult position, however, having important trading ties with both the North and the South. Cotton was a particularly important British import, and a decision as to what policy to take was required. Britain therefore decided to remain neutral in the Civil War and to continue their trade relations with both sides, particularly with the South.

Britain’s neutrality was an insult to the North, who saw it as a tacit alliance with the South. It also meant, of course, that Britain was routinely violating the blockade. The blockade-running business was very good because of shortages in the South, and Halifax thrived as southern traders and British blockade-runners bought everything that they could get their hands on for resale in the Confederate states.

William Seward, the American Secretary of State, was inclined to take actions against Britain as a way of diverting the national attention away from the developing conflict between North and South. Britain objected and gave notice that they would not be taken advantage of. Abraham Lincoln realized that nothing good could come from an international conflict at that time and that driving the British into the arms of the South would be counterproductive. Seward’s proposed actions were therefore dropped. Seward continued to believe that feelings of enmity against Britain would help to tie the nation together, however, and he instructed the states to fortify the eastern seaboard and the land borders from the Canadas to the Maritime Provinces.

Fort Sumter had been captured on April 14th, and all of these events had occurred when, on November 8, 1861, the U.S. ship San Jacinto, Charles Wilkes Captain, encountered the British ship Trent in the Bahamas and fired twice across her bow. The captain of the Trent, James, Moir, was then invited to board the San Jacinto for a conference, which he forcefully refused to do. The Americans then boarded the Trent and took away James Mason and John Slidell who were the Confederate ambassadors to Britain and France. News of this reached Halifax ten days later and opinion, which had been divided with regard to North versus South, swung decidedly against the North.

Reaction in the U.S. was very different. Some people regretted what had happened, but everyone was proud at having stood up against the British. Wilkes was banqueted, and praised in the press and by the Secretary of the Navy, and Congress passed a unanimous motion of thanks. Some Americans, including Abraham Lincoln, objected to what had been done and did not look forward to the prospect of war with Britain, but they were outnumbered by other voices.

By the end of November, Britain had passed a resolution demanding that Mason and Slidell be released within seven days and that an apology be made. Otherwise, they would withdraw their Ambassador from Washington. Warlike rhetoric escalated in Britain and Halifax and in the Canadas on the one side, and in American cities on the other.

By the end of December, 1861 Washington had agreed to the release of Mason and Slidell and, on the 27th, they were taken to a small port, away from the public eye, and loaded onto the British ship Rinaldo. Washington’s decision had come on day five of Britain’s seven day ultimatum.

Military preparations continued in Britain and in the northern colonies into 1862. Thousands of troops were dispatched to Quebec City, Halifax (5,000), Saint John and Saint Andrews. War ships were also dispatched to the Caribbean.

The 62nd Regiment landed at Saint Andrews on January 1st aboard the Delta and were transported to Canterbury, a small station near Woodstock at the end-of-line for the Saint Andrews and Quebec Railway. From there, they were to establish a route for themselves and for further troops out of Saint John to proceed to the Canadas. The movement from Saint John to Woodstock, and from Woodstock northward was by sleds through heavy snow. Houlton was to be taken in order to protect the route, if necessary.

The trip from Saint Andrews to Canterbury was more difficult than they had expected. One group left Saint Andrews by rail on January 1st, 1862 without food rations, expecting only a short trip, but soon came to a stop, mired in snow. After several hours the train was shortened, and tried again to force its way through the snow. That failed, so the engine abandoned the cars entirely and proceeded forward looking for assistance. It, however, also became stuck. By the next morning, still without food, the soldiers were scavenging along the track for fuel to keep their stoves burning, and it was not until that night that they were rescued by a snowplow and arrived at Canterbury.

Proceeding to Woodstock by sled, they found little food or lodging. Any available quarters were rented at huge expense, and the town of Woodstock thrived on all the money that the soldiers dropped.

Another group of troops landed in Saint John in mid-February, 1862. They left for Fredericton and Woodstock on the morning after their arrival, but only made it to Grand Bay before they were turned back by bitter cold, blizzard conditions, and heavy snow. They were prepared to try again on the next day but were warned off by a telegram from a scout, who reported the roads to be impassible. They finally made it to Fredericton after a two day trudge through the snow. Two days later they were in Woodstock, helping to support the local economy together with the Saint Andrews contingent. Onward they went, finally arriving in Riviere du Loup where they boarded the Intercolonial Railway.

It eventually became evident, however, that the Trent Affair was over. Mason and Slidell had been released and war had been avoided.

This blog posting is described as an ‘introduction,’ because there is very much more information available. The two references below are excellent, and you will be able to find other descriptions of the conflict online.


  1. George Johnson, The Trent Affair, in Report and Collections of the Nova Scotia Historical Society, volume 3, 1883, at
  2. Ken Homer, Winter Movement of British Troops Through the St. John River Valley, 1862, a paper presented at a meeting of the Carleton County Historical Society, January 25, 1985 at (David Bell and Ernest Clarke had been collecting information about troop movements through New Brunswick, and made some of this available to Ken Homer. Homer’s essay is an excellent resource and contains much more information than does this blog post.)

Written by johnwood1946

March 1, 2017 at 8:39 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

A Shocking Description of Anti-Confederates in Rural Nova Scotia in 1867

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From the blog at


Joseph Howe

Anti-Confederation advocate and famous Nova Scotian, from Library and Archives Canada

Alexander Gilbert was a Montreal journalist who toured the Maritime Provinces in 1867, with an interest in exploring anti-Confederation feelings there. The following is condensed and edited from his From Montreal to the Maritime Provinces and Back, first published in the Montreal Evening Telegram, and describes what he found in and around New Glasgow, Nova Scotia.

I don’t think that I would like Mr. Gilbert. He described ignorant and isolated rural Nova Scotians. If that wasn’t enough, he thought that anyone who differed from his views on Confederation was not worthy of being taken seriously. We, on the other hand, will have to acknowledge that some people were isolated and uneducated. So, I appreciate his window on New Glasgow in 1867, while still deploring his attitude.

Gilbert makes references to Joseph Howe who is quoted has having remarked “Poor old Nova Scotia, God help her, beset with marauders outside and enemies within.” He would have been able to counter Alexander Gilbert’s views with colorful enthusiasm.

A Shocking Description of Anti-Confederates in Rural Nova Scotia in 1867

Arriving in this place again, where the feeling is very high, and the Anti-Confederates very numerous, there being not more than 30 Confederates in the town, out of a population of 2,000 inhabitants, I determined to remain for a few days, in order to find who the people were, and the occasion for so much bitterness of spirit. New Glasgow is a straggling village, of wretched appearance, the buildings being all of wood, and put up in the most economical manner, without the slightest regard to comfort. Every store keeper, it would appear, has done his best to have his store if possible by itself, and the consequence is a mixture of small little wooden buildings, of all shapes and sizes, planted side by side, and giving the town an uncomfortable straggling appearance. Sidewalks are looked upon with delightful contempt; and the middle of the street, be it wet or dry, is the fashionable promenade. In rainy weather the streets are very muddy, and there is no other help for it but to wade often more than ankle deep through the sublime composition. The inhabitants are all Highland Scotch, with few exceptions narrow-minded and bigoted—and everyone knows what a bigoted Scotchman is. Being a Highland Scotchman myself, I at once saw the people I had to deal with, and immediately made myself quite at home with them, after very nearly getting a sound thrashing in so doing, boldly telling them who I was, what was my mission, and what I thought of them. There are four churches in the town, two Anti-burger and two Presbyterian. An English church, and especially if there was an organ in it, would be looked upon as an innovation not to be tolerated. On entering the village I met a few Canadians from Upper Canada, and I was at once greeted with “This is the strangest place in the world. The people don’t know a thing, and hate Canadians, and are down on Confederation.” “Why so.” I asked. “That’s the thing they can’t tell you themselves. Just wait until you have conversed with them”. There is not such a thing as a reading-room, or a book-store in the village. The people have lived here until the railroad was built, shut out from even the world of Nova Scotia. The consequences of such a state of affairs are that the people are primitive in their ideas. At present they read but one side of the question, the other they have no desire to see. They have formed an opinion without discussing the merits of the question, and their opinion once formed, they are too proud and obstinate to alter it one jot, or be convinced. They have been told by Howe and his emissaries, and they are quite content to receive what they tell as truth. The people have heard some dreadful things of the Canadians, and, without the slightest hesitation, believe them as truths. Canadians they look upon as smart swindlers, without knowing anything about them; and Confederation as a grand scheme to rob them of their country, and of what we can produce far cheaper and better in Canada. I have conversed with the most respectable and best educated anti, as well as the most ragged specimen of a McDonald or a Fraser, so that I could make a decided statement. From their own remarks, I have no hesitation in arranging the following scale:—

Educated Anti—So from offended dignity, because the people were not consulted.

Less Educated Anti—Because the country will be ruined by taxation, whereby Canada will be enriched, and a railroad built that will flood their markets with Canadian produce.

Ignorant Anti—(a large majority)—Because they hate Canadians. They want to do with the States that they have always dealt with. They won’t stand Confederation, and will fight first, before they will annex themselves to a people they hate. (Howe will be captain of this squad, when he takes to arms, as he says he will.)

Throughout the parts of the country in every direction I visited, the feeling was the same, and the primitive, narrow-minded people the same. If the people of New Glasgow are so far behind the age, the country must be far more so. And their actions on the first of July, will prove such to be the case. While all honour was paid the day in Halifax, in many parts of the country the most bitter feeling prevailed, and everything was done by the people to display their hostility to the scheme.

In New Glasgow those who had flags flying in honor of the occasion, were requested to take them down, and upon refusing to do so, were treated to the most violent language. Many of the flags were cut down by the Antis. One Unionist gentleman, whose flag had been cut down, procured another, and hoisting it, plainly told them, the first man that attempted to touch it would be shot. It was left alone, and the Union Jack fluttered bravely the whole of that day.

Near New Glasgow the rails of the track were greased for some distance, in order, it is supposed, to prevent the train with excursionists, who were on their way to Halifax, to take part in the display, from reaching that City. But sand was sprinkled on the rails, and the train went on. It was an action of the small minds to entertain such a project.

Conversations—Railway Incidents, &c

I shall give a few instances of the conduct, not from any ill-nature or prejudice, but simply to convey to the people of Montreal and Canada a correct idea of the Anti-Confederates of Nova Scotia and the allies of the Anti-Unionists of Canada. The country people of Nova Scotia are isolated, and see or hear very little of their newly formed relations, the Canadians, as they call them. But to return to the doings, the foolish ventings of spite of the Antis on Confederation Day.

In Antigonish, a town some distance from New Glasgow, a Union Jack was taken down, torn in pieces, and an American flag hoisted in its stead. In another town—I don’t remember its name, but there were only three Unionists in it,—having expressed their opinions rather boldly, the Confederates were chased about, and at last took shelter in a house, where they hid all day. The feeling was very high evidently.

It is a well-known fact that Dr. Tupper was burnt in effigy at Yarmouth, and that the paper of the town not only boasted of it but regretted that it was not the person of the gentleman that was consigned to the flames.

These facts I would perhaps not have given had not a statement been made by an Anti through the press that my remarks in regard to the primitive ideas and actions of the Anti-Confederates, were not true. I submit the above to the public of Montreal, and ask if such would be the actions of an enlightened and intelligent community?

When the rails of the Nova Scotia Railroad were being laid through New Glasgow, certain officials of the town, high in office, expressed their determination to tear up the rails when they were put down. And accordingly as the workmen were in the act of laying them down, one evening the officials proceeded to where the track ran across a street in the town, and great were their efforts to lift up the rails and pitch them to one side. They succeeded with one or two when the foreman of the laborers came up and, after an argument, the construction continued.

Defeated and very warm the anti-Railroad leaders retired vowing vengeance against the road. This but illustrated the feeling of the people who were generally opposed to the building of the road that was to develop their country. The Canadians were right when they stated “they were a queer people.” To this day the whistle of the locomotive is considered a nuisance. Is it any wonder Confederation should be beyond their comprehension?


A conversation that occurred on the train, between a respectable farmer’s wife sitting beside me in the car, and another a seat or two further off, will be a good instance of the expansive views entertained by the country people of Anti-land in the nineteenth century, in regard to railways. I give it word for word. When near New Glasgow, the lady furthest away cried out in a very loud voice:

“This is a very speedy way of getting home, Mrs. McDonald.”

Mrs. McD.—“Aye, it is, but I prefer travelling in my own conveyance. Still it’s a very handy way of getting home.”

Unknown Lady.—“To be sure you have more of your way in your own conveyance, and can go at your own speed, but it is much speedier and more comfortable this way.”

Mrs. McD. (doubtfully.)—“Yes, no doubt.”

There was an ally for the opponents of Confederation in Canada for you. It is easy to account for the strength of Mr. Howe. He tells these people that Canada is bankrupt, that they only wish a connection for the purpose of gaining a better credit, and that the people of Nova Scotia have been sold body and bones for eighty cents a head. And they believe him. The secret of Mr. Howe’s influence is the credulity of the people.

Meeting an intelligent Anti, I asked him, “Will you tell me why are you an Anti?”

“Because we have been sold, forced into this connection without being consulted.”

“Neither were the people of Upper or Lower Canada consulted, and yet they are almost a unit on this question.”

“Well, they should have been asked…. We are going to turn out the men that sold us”

“Well, why your objection to Confederation”

“I don’t like it.”

Upon asking him why, he stated that they were not fairly represented, and, among other objections, stated the Government was a worthless one, &c., &c. Had he been consulted he would have been a Confederate. But he was wrong in his opinion of the Government. It was the best they had ever had, and had done more for the country than any before. But all this was forgotten, and a Government that had done so much for the country was not to be trusted with the passing of Confederation. This good Government at once became worthless because the people were not consulted on the question. Upon asking an Anti of the second class, his reasons for opposition, the following conversation ensued:—

“Yes, sir, I am Anti, because we are going to have no good out of the plan. You will build a railway to flood our market with your butter, cheese and produce, and undersell us; and we will be heavily taxed for the building of the road to ruin us.”

“Then you are opposed to the Intercolonial Railway, and the opening of your country?”

“No; we want the Railway, but we can have it without Confederation.”

“Oh, I see you want to derive all the benefit without paying for it. But if a railroad is to be built, you must pay your share. But what about the produce coming down in such quantities?”

“Why, you will flood us with cheese and butter, which you make better than we can, and our farmers will be ruined.”

“And so they deserve to be, if with such a splendid country they are too lazy or ignorant to make a better article. But I cannot understand how it will pay to send these articles such a distance to compete with a market on the spot; however, it will be all the better for the country, if such is the case; for your farmers will have to learn to make as good an article as we make in Canada, and you will have the better food.”

“But our farmers don’t know how.”

“Then we will send our Canadians to teach you how, or you can send a deputation to Canada; but they must pay their own expenses, and your farmers and their wives will take a lesson and learn to make as good butter and cheese as they send you; and if you are not able then on the spot to sell as cheaply and monopolize the market, you are not fit to live. The railroad once built, your ports open all the year round will be an outlet for the lumber, grain and produce of our immense country that at present finds an outlet at Portland. In fact you will be brought into contact with the world, and you may depend upon it, if access is easy, your country will be overrun by Canadians. I am only afraid when they see such a fine country they will stay here altogether.”

“That’s all very fine, but we are doing very well ourselves.”

“That’s very false. Since the abrogation of the Reciprocity Treaty your coal trade has been at a standstill, the thousands of miners are living on a prospect and half-pay. You offer opposition to the opening of your country, and are getting on in a one-horse way.”

“It suits us. I suppose we can do as we like.”

“Once upon a time you could, but not now; for if, as you say, you are to be overrun by Canadians, you will have to work hard, and I know you would rather be at a standstill. To save yourselves you will have to work hard also. Pleasant prospect, isn’t it?

“We don’t like Canadians, nor your government; you are too extravagant.”

“I know you don’t, but we like this fine country of yours, abounding in coal and minerals, the very things we want. And we will make a fine country of yours.”

“Oh! You needn’t tell me such humbug; you will never take coal from us, you can get it cheaper from the old country. The vessels bring it to you in ballast, and you get it from the States.

“I am glad to hear we are so plentifully supplied with what we want so badly. But your coal never came to us in any quantity. You never had enterprise enough to try the experiment, and you had a good market at the time, and didn’t care for another. But your dear American friends treated you very badly, and spoilt your market. Just send us as much coal as you can really send, and see if it won’t monopolise the market, and be a source of wealth to your country.”

“That’s all very fine, but I can’t see it!”

“Of course as an Anti you will think so. You want to be left alone in your narrow mindedness. You want us to build a railway for your benefit at our expense. You call a government and people extravagant, that you know nothing about, but have been told that they are so. And instead of rejoicing at the prospect of having a large trade opened with your neighbors, you try to raise every objection possible, and indulge in gloomy forebodings. You evidently prefer to deal with the United States, and would go down on your knees to them to renew the Reciprocity Treaty. And that after their conduct to you. Such a spirit will cause you to be despised by your Canadian friends. In your disloyalty, you are like the Rouge, Annexation and Anti-Confederate party of Canada, but they are more cunning than you are. Those are the men who are your allies in Canada.”

“We will deal with the people that have the best market.”

Anti Arguments of the Third Class

“I am Anti because the country has been sold.”

“But your men of wealth in Halifax with large fortunes are the most of them Confederates.”

“But Tupper and the rest are so because they will be bettered by it.”

“But your leader, Mr. Howe, was once a Confederate, and a very strong one. Was he not? You should find out his motives and policy for such a change. A short time ago he said Confederation was a grand thing. Today he says it is a curse, and goes so far as to say he will fight if necessary. Will you fight also?”

“Yes, sir, if it comes to that.”

“Then you and your leader will be rebels, that’s all.”

“Well we are not going to join people we hate. The Canadians are too smart for us.”

“You believe everything you are told, eh! Then you must believe the moon is made of green-cheese, because you have been told so. Go to Canada, and to Montreal and other cities. See the people, and then form an opinion of them. The enlightened people of Canada read both sides of the question, then form an opinion. You should do the same. It is very despicable to abuse a people you know nothing of.”

“Tuppcr had the cheek to tell the people at home that it was no use submitting the scheme to us, for we were not capable of dealing with it.”

“And Dr. Tupper was right if he did say so. You are fast proving the truth of his remark. He is your own countryman, and knows how to deal with you.”

It must not be thought that the above conversations are imaginary. Far from it; they really occurred, but at much greater length than can be given, and the language was more bitter. In giving vent to a bitter feeling, the language was in keeping.

Written by johnwood1946

February 22, 2017 at 8:13 AM

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Surveying Through the Wilderness in 1844

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From the blog at

In the 1840’s, the British wanted to establish a mail road or military road from Halifax to Quebec. The road would go from Halifax to The Bend (Moncton), and thence across the unsettled interior of New Brunswick to Grand Falls and northward from there. In 1844, Sir James Alexander was engaged to survey that part of the route from The Bend to Grand Falls.

The merchants at Saint John thought that it would be a better idea to build from Halifax to Annapolis, then to transport the mail or troops by ship to Saint John and directly up the river. There was already an unfinished road to Annapolis, they argued, and the road across the wilderness in New Brunswick would be avoided. But the route across New Brunswick had already been decided upon and the merchants’ arguments were unheeded.

The exchange with the merchants was interesting in that Saint John always argued in favor of the city and, if it disadvantaged Nova Scotia, then all the better.

The following account joins Alexander at The Bend where he has marshalled men and supplies for the survey, and follows him to the northwest corner of Westmorland County. It is a story of extraordinarily hard work as they slog their way through the wilderness. It is condensed and edited from Alexander’s book L’Acadie or Seven Years Explorations, London, 1849.


The Petitcodiac River at High Tide

From Wikipedia


Surveying Through the Wilderness in 1844

The loads of pork, biscuit, &c., being distributed next morning, each carrier passing his arms through the straps, shouldered his load (about one hundred pounds to begin with) they then walked sturdily off into the forest, each bearing in his hand an axe, kettle, or a fowling-piece. The big cooking kettle, containing the tin plates, knives, forks, &c., was in a black case, and being on a wooden carrier, like what is used in France, was called Satan by the men; and being rather an awkward load, was not a general favourite with them.

We blazed, marked with the broad arrow with M. 0. (miles 0) an old hemlock tree at the edge of the wood in Mr. T. Horseman’s field, set up the circumferenter, and commenced exploring ahead, and brushing out a six-foot path for chaining and for carrying along the loads. All were alert and in good spirits. There was a bird’s cry in the wood, and Andre crept towards the sound, fired, and knocked over a plump grouse, which was drumming for its mate.

After passing some distance through the forest, we came to a small clearing at the last log-house we were to see, and proceeding into the forest beyond it, we made our first camp. It was still rather early for going into the woods, as they were wet from the melted snow; but we picked out as dry a place as we could find. When the fires blazed up, and we had got on dry trousers and moccasins, we felt perfectly comfortable. There is no undressing in the bush, so rolling ourselves in our blankets after supper, we slept soundly.

Next morning, I roused all hands at five o’clock by means of a few blows with an axe-handle on one of the poles of my shed; all turned out of their blankets at once, and shaking themselves (the only toilette till Sunday came round) the breakfast of pork, biscuit, and tea was discussed, pipes were smoked, the tents were struck and packed, loads arranged, and by seven o’clock, the exploring, brushing out the line, and carrying the loads along it, was going on steadily.

There were seventeen packs in all, and six men to carry them. They accordingly moved backwards and forwards along the line, and deposited their burdens after short trips. Mr. McGill, with the chainman, John Bair, measured the line, and kept an account of the different sorts of wood we passed through. I went ahead, axe on shoulder, and with a compass and haversack, sometimes alone, and sometimes with the Indian Andre, or I explored to the right and left as occasion required. So all were at work simultaneously, and all were up at twelve at noon, which was the dinner hour. There was pork, biscuit, and tea again, and at half-past one the work went on as before till five p.m., when all hands made camp.

To vary the evening’s meal, we had occasionally bean-soup, or some salt fish; from eight to ten, I read by the light of my lamp; the men were very glad to sleep after their day’s fatigue, particularly the carriers. The anxious inquirer may now ask how many miles we got over in a day, suggesting eight or ten, and will doubtless be surprised to hear that a mile and a quarter a day or sometimes double that was cut through the bush. This was considered a fair day’s work from morning till night.

Be it remembered that in these primeval forests, we must hew our way painfully and with much heat of body in these hot summer months, with perspiration from eleven o’clock to six.

At sunrise the thermometer was usually 60°, at noon 75°, at sunset 65°; but in the dense forest there is, of course, little circulation of air; we heard the breeze at the top of the trees, but seldom felt it at their roots. In short, the air seems to stagnate there, and the closeness is oftentimes terrible to bear, especially as it is accompanied with, first, the minute black fly, the constant summer torment; the mosquito, with intolerable singing; the sand-fly, with its hot sting; the horse-fly, which seems to take the bit out of the flesh; and the large moose, or speckled-winged fly. Yet, though the heat and flies did not improve one’s appearance, or tend to one’s comfort, there was no unmanly complaining among the men, and their using no brandy helped us much; for those who do so, could not remain in these woods in summer.

To a person accustomed, like myself, to severe exercise from boyhood, there would be no great difficulty in walking ‘right on end’ through the woods, with moccasins on feet and bearing a compass, axe, haversack, and blanket, any number of miles say twenty or thirty a-day, though to the uninitiated in forest walking, the constant lifting the leg high and striding over the prostrate trees, wading through swampy places, getting oneself severely scratched and bruised, and the occasional pitch forward on one’s face are sore trials. In surveying and chaining we require to go differently to work; we cannot chain over the bushes, but clearing them away, and all other obstructions, we measure carefully along the ground in the following way.

The person at the head of the chain is provided with a number of pointed sticks; he carries the chain ahead to its length, and calling out to the man at the other end “set!” he at the same time plants a stick, and the other answering “down” lays his end of the chain on the ground. The first goes on again, the second takes up the stick, and the same “set,” “down,” are repeated till all the sticks are expended by the first man, when he calls out “tally;” the second then keeps his reckoning by cutting with his knife a notch on a piece of wood hanging from his waist. Slow progress is occasioned in the forest by everything being carried on men’s backs, and heavy loads are necessary for a lengthy explorations.

On Saturday night there was some conviviality, yet without the assistance of ardent spirits. I encouraged the men “to tell the tale and pass round the song”, and one played the flute.

On Sunday, there was no work done, the camp on the previous evening had been selected with some care, near a clear stream, and where the tall trees were not too closely set. Every one now shaved, washed and put on clean clothes: after breakfast we had prayers and a chapter of the bible was read.

A Christian spectator would have been interested our small congregation trying to offer up praise to the Creator of the mighty forests, which lifted their lofty stems and green tops on every side.

In the afternoon the people rested, or mended and washed their clothes, and read to one another. The wash-tub was a square hole cut deep with an axe in a prostrate log. I usually went out from the camp in the afternoon to walk, and look about with Andre to see what sort of country we had next to encounter; the Indian as we strode through the dark forest, ever and anon broke off a twig to mark our way back, and watched always how the sun shone upon his shoulder, as a guide for our direction.

At our evening meals the moose bird would sometimes perch singly or in pairs on the branches, and flit down to peck up a chance morsel. This bird is so fearless, that sometimes it is pecking at one end of a slain deer when the hunter is engaged at the other.

Sometimes Andre and myself had hard work over the logs and entangled twigs of the moose wood (a shrub with large heart-shaped leaves and white blossoms, a species of guilder rose) to make an offset to avoid a stream. We would see traces of the large-footed caribou or reindeer, on swampy ground, then we might hear bark being stripped off a tree, followed by the sudden brushing aside of branches. It was a bear which had been enjoying a meal off the inner bark of some of the fir tribe, which was soft at this time and full of sap. At various distances and with different degrees of loudness, the woodpeckers would interrupt the dead silence around.

I remarked to Andre one day whilst we rested at the foot of a tree, and were rolling the black flies from our foreheads, that there was not much to eat in these woods, neither roots, fruits, nor berries, and I asked him what he would do if left without gun or fishing-tackle, he answered, in French, that going down a stream might lead to a river, and a river to a settlement, or an Indian camp.

On the 1st of June at mid-day, we ate our meal where large trees lay prostrate, decayed, covered with a thick coat of moss, and on which young fir-trees grew. The old logs looked as if they had been laid low seventy or eighty years.

Two of the mountain settlers, of whom Bryan Martin was one, came after us on our track, guided by the blazes on the trees. They wished to see how we were getting on, as they were anxious to see the proposed military road and the access that it would bring to their area.

I did not feel particularly comfortable after some days of unusual salt pork, the weather at the same time being hot, but I left it off for a couple of days and took some boiled rice, whilst my hunter got two or three spruce and Savannah grouse. Soon all was well again, except our wrists which were so swelled with the black flies that I could not sometimes button the sleeves of my red flannel shirt.

On the 3rd and 4th of June we saw some good land and some spruce barrens or swamps. I wondered at first what end these spongy plains could answer, producing neither trees nor grass, but only wet moss on a sandy bottom. I found that these so-called barrens were, in this region, without mountains, the sources of the streams; the moss collecting, retaining, and giving out the moisture when overcharged.

The trees round the edge of these barrens have a singular appearance, from the green and black hair-like moss hanging from their stunted branches. This is the lichen usually called Absalom’s hair. In two or three places on our route, we drove a pole six feet into the soft moss of the barrens, but the average depth was one or two feet. On them we saw the tracks of the caribou deer, whose broad feet are well adapted for moving across the barrens without sinking into them, whilst we sometimes were wading and struggling through them up to our knees.

We saw also the tracks of bears, wolves, porcupines, skunks, martins, &c. on our line, and of birds; besides the grouse, woodpeckers, and moose birds already noticed, we observed kingfishers, loons, plovers, night hawks and owls. The cry of the last Andre imitated at night, in order to discover its locality, and he would then steal up and shoot it for his own private eating, though it is merely a bundle of feathers.

The prevailing rock was of a coarse sandstone, stratification horizontal. I also saw boulders of granite and hornblende rock, also some manganese, whilst the banks of streams showed indications of coal. I made a herbarium of dried plants and collected every portable thing, and noted and sketched everything of interest on our route.

In deep and retired places in the woods it was interesting to creep upon and watch the partridge, or more properly the ruffed grouse, drumming on a prostrate log; after a pause he would elevate his ruff on his neck, ruffle up his brown feathers, spread his tail and strut like a turkey-cock. Then at first slowly, afterwards rapidly, he would strike the log with his wings, and thus produce the drumming sound, which has a remarkable effect when heard in the solitude of the forest.

On the 6th of June, near low wetland, the flies, which had all along been very tormenting, became insufferable. At mid-day when we halted to eat, we were obliged to sit in the middle of half-a-dozen “smokes” made by laying damp moss over small fires, and the same thing happened several times afterwards. Our foreheads, necks, and wrists particularly suffered. Fortunately for settlers, with the progress of clearing, black flies and mosquitoes immediately disappear.

Sometimes with, and sometimes without the assistance of the creeping irons, I ascended large trees to look out. The prospect was everywhere the same. One day I saw Butter Nut Ridge to the south, but no ridges north of our line were visible. It was a great relief to sit on the cool top of a pine, out of the reach of the flies below, though I have even there been followed sometimes by a hungry mosquito or two.

On the 9th of June, on exploring for a mile and a half to the right of our line, I found a branch of the New Canaan River running to the S.W. sixteen feet broad, one and a half deep. We reached this river, a beautiful clear stream, flowing briskly between banks covered with tall trees; fir, spruce and birch; on the margin of the stream, which resembled such as might be seen in a nobleman’s domain, there were white and blue violets and strawberries. The breadth of the river was here about sixty feet, apparent rise of freshets five feet. There is sandstone in the bed of the stream and on the banks, and the abutments of a bridge might here be of stone. We forded the river, and caught chub and trout. But fishing in gloves and through a veil, and with countless tormentors buzzing about one’s head, is not very pleasant. The camphorated oil helped a little, but it required constant renewing. At meals the men used the last bit of pork to grease their faces. From that process and from smoke they did not look very prepossessing, still they were better looking than those woodsmen who, to protect their faces, use tar and oil.

On the 12th of June we were on the edge of a large caribou plain of a hundred and more acres, and afterwards crossed with our line a part of it. Water was scarce after leaving this Savannah, and we searched about and dug for it with our hands and axes for some time before we got any. One way I adopted was to dig a hole in the moss and make a couple of men stamp round it and so squeeze the water into the hole.

On the 13th of June we passed over two fertile tracts where settlements could be made. We had now a good deal of thunder and rain which saved our moss treading. On the 15th, we came to a very fertile meadow where fifteen or twenty families might be well settled. I explored for a mile and a half up a clear stream to the right, and the land was good all the way. There were no traces of Indians, or of any human being having ever visited these solitudes.

The black bear is irritable, and attacks vigorously when molested. It is impossible to hurt him by striking at him with a club, as he so dexterously wards off the blows from his head with his fore paws, whilst to strike his thick, hairy and fat body, would inflict as little injury on him as striking a sack of grain. Firearms are best, but it is cruel to molest any wild thing unless pressed by hunger.

After passing over land of good and of middling quality, on the 19th of June, we reached a fair meadow of excellent land, with a fine stream running through the midst. We saw about eighty acres clear of trees, and it probably extended much further on our left. I heard one of the men say to his comrade, “This is first rate; we must keep this to ourselves, and come back here and marry and settle.”

After this we were on a ridge of very noble trees of the ancient forest, where there were no marks of former fires. The trees of one hundred and ten feet in height, as fir, pine, maple, beech and hemlocks, rose from the ground like the pillars of a pagan temple.

On the 21st of June, after crossing a blazed line, being that run in 1841 from Shediac to the N.W. angle of Westmoreland, and dividing Kent and Northumberland Counties from Westmoreland, we reached with our line within half a mile (and to the north) of the N.W. angle of Westmoreland. This I hope will be considered reasonably good steering from the Bend,— distance thirty-three miles in twenty five days, including the halts on the Sundays.

Written by johnwood1946

February 15, 2017 at 7:48 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

At the Bend of the Petitcodiac in 1844: Moncton

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From the blog at

James Alexander set out in 1844 to survey a new military road between ‘The Bend’ (Moncton) and Grand Falls. We join him as he leaves Saint John on a precarious coach trip to The Bend, where he describes what existed there at the time. The story is edited from his book L’Acadie or Seven Years Explorations, London, 1849.


Bridge Over the Petitcodiac River at Moncton, ca 1910

From the N.B. Museum via the McCord Museum


At the Bend of the Petitcodiac in 1844: Moncton

I engaged with a sturdy little sea captain, Arklow by name, commanding the Helen schooner, to take a like supply of provisions, and three of my men in charge of them, from Saint John up the Bay of Fundy to the Bend, whilst I went overland with the rest, one hundred miles, in a hired stage, as I was desirous of seeing the country.

It is right that travellers should expose tricks which may be attempted on them, so that those who happen to come after may benefit. There was an attempt at imposition in St. John’s, which was rather absurd. The landlord of the hotel had, as I said, received me with considerable distinction on my arrival, and perhaps was rather surprised to notice that instead of pursuing the exclusive system, I took my meals at the public table, where useful information is often picked up. When I went to settle accounts at the bar, I looked about and saw on the wall the rate of charges. “Board and lodging per day 6s. 3d.” but my bill was made out at 12s 6d. I pointed out that this was not according to the card the landlord said that he had been expecting me and had kept a room for me. I said I had never written about a room, and now had lived like other people, whereat he was constrained to take off half the amount of his bill, and his revenge was to walk out of his bar with his hands below his coat skirts and whistling, to show his independence.

On the 24th of May, I left St. John’s in a comfortable covered stage, my people being inside, whilst I sat in front, with the driver, to see the country. On our left, after leaving the city, was the estuary or lake at the mouth of the Kennebecasis River, a fine sheet of water, stretching many miles into the country. We crossed the Hammond River, passed a salt spring, and breakfasted at the “Finger board,” where the mail road from Halifax turned off towards Fredericton. In the afternoon we were travelling through the beautiful Sussex Vale with its wooded ridges, rich intervale land below, and an abundant supply of water. We saw a curious contrivance of poles standing in the low grounds; round these poles the hay is heaped in stacks to prevent its being carried off by the periodical floods.

The rocks in Sussex Vale are in all probability chiefly of the Devonian system; generally red or variegated sandstone with salt springs and gypsum. In the Petitcodiac District the carboniferous system appears to predominate.

At ten at night we were descending the Boundary-Creek-Hill, a steep pitch with a turn in it; the horses had snaffles as usual, and there was as usual also, no drag or skid for the wheels. The driver was unable to control his horses, though he had only two to manage; he stood up and, hauled on them and “wo hoed” as much as he could, and then got frightened. I held on as well as I was able expecting a crash; it came, accompanied with a shout from the insides, and I found myself pitched head foremost in the dark down a steep hill, on the left of the road stage and all, and struggling among the legs of one of the horses which was lying on his back.

I scrambled out of my unpleasant position as fast as I could, and climbing over the bottom of the stage, the wheels of which were in the air, I regained the road, where I found the driver (who had jumped off on the right) with the other horse, which had caught on a railing. Thanking God heartily for my escape, which was complete, with the exception of two cuts on the forehead from the horse’s heels, I immediately went down to the men, and called out to them to keep quiet, (they were shouting and scrambling inside the coach), and all would soon be well. The coach was prevented by the trees from going further down the precipice.

The first man, an Irishman, who was extricated, ran at me open-mouthed, and hoped I was not killed. They all got out with difficulty, and were more or less bruised and cut; but providentially none were disabled. I sent a man to the first farm-house for help, and a Mr. Nixon came with his men, and brought a lantern, ropes and an axe. We took the bag gage off the stage, cut away some impediments, hauled the coach up to the road, (fortunately it was not injured), and then got up the poor horse, which was groaning and struggling below. The animal was found to be deeply wounded in the chest, and was left with Mr. Nixon, who kindly lent us another to take us on. He also, like a Good Samaritan, applied hot brandy to our cuts and bruises. This adventure seemed rather a bad beginning for our enterprise; but the age of omens has gone by.

We reached the scattered village at the Bend of the Petitcodiac River in the middle of the night, and put up at a small inn among civil people. There I tarried for three days, for an easterly wind accompanied with rain, prevented the schooner with my supplies coming round.

At the Bend (which is in 46° 6″ 15″ of N. lat., 64° 44′ 45″ E. long., with 18° of W. variation) it is interesting to watch the tremendous flow of the tide from the Bay of Fundy. It sometimes comes in with a bore or line of foam several feet high, and rising sixty feet (and sometimes even ninety), covers with an inland sea where was lately extensive mud flats.

I reconnoitred about the Bend, and my first walk was to the Mountain Settlement, through which it appeared that our military road must pass. The long hard wood ridge, called here the Mountain, rises about two hundred feet above the level of the low and fertile lands of the surrounding country, and it is distant from the Bend seven miles. There are two mountains, Lutz’s and Sleeve’s Mountain; the former is nearest the Bend. The houses are half way up the gentle ascent. Lutz, the first settler, established himself there thirty years ago; he has upwards of two hundred acres of beautiful land, which he would not part with for £500. There were in 1844 twenty-three families on Lutz’s Mountain, and about half that number on Sleeve’s Mountain, S.W. of the other. More westerly is Butternut Ridge, with a very thriving settlement, and north easterly is Irishtown.

I fell in with a tall and well-made young man, named Anderson, belonging to the Lutz’s Settlement; we walked on together, and I found him intelligent and communicative.

It appeared that the people of the mountain settlement, a stalwart race, had been rather wild till this last spring, when a preacher visited them, and they began to think of their souls. I asked Anderson if they had a clergyman, and he said none at all (though there were two or three hundred people there); “but we have got our bibles,” he said, “and two good schools and this spring many have been baptized, from the age of fourteen to forty.”

The road was very bad towards the neglected and almost unknown Mountain Settlement. It was wet, and full of holes, which were filled up with roots, and the trees, which consisted of hemlock, spruce, maple and birch, grew close to the edge of the road. At a small clearing, where there was a log hut, there was a venerable tar, an old sailor of Nelson’s, named Jimmy Mina, who had here anchored himself. An old woman kept house for him. He had sailed as he said, on board the Bellyruffen (Bellerophon), and in talking of her he said, “I could love that ship!” On ascending the ridge, there was a scattered line of log-houses at long intervals, whose occupants cultivated land of great fertility. The view from the Mountain Settlement was extensive, embracing much forest, the white houses at the Bend of the Petitcodiac, and the distant range towards Nova Scotia, called the Shepody Mountain.

During another walk I had taken to fill up the time till our provisions arrived, I went to a farm house near the Bend to ask about the roads in the neighbourhood, of which I made a survey. The farmer gave me a rough reception, and desired me to be off, and that he had nothing to give me: it turned out that he mistook me for a soldier who was deserting.

The schooner having at length arrived, and as I had obtained all the information regarding the forest that was known to the people about the Bend and the Mountain, and having ascertained the existence of two large swamps, which it was desirable to avoid, I determined on a course of N. 52° west, so as to steer between them through the thick forest, for the N.W. angle of Westmoreland.

I took my point of departure for the Military Road on the 28th of May, from a hemlock tree between the Free Meeting-house and school at the Bend, and we chained the road to the Mountain Settlement, whither I had transported my supplies in a waggon to save my men’s backs the first day. We established our quarters for the night at Jeremiah Lutz’s, where we slept under a roof,—the last time for a considerable period.

Written by johnwood1946

February 8, 2017 at 8:58 AM

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