New Brunswick History and Other Stuff

Promoting New Brunswick in 1832

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Promoting New Brunswick in 1832

“Portland Valley”, Saint John, N.B. 1870-75

From the N.B. Museum via the McCord Museum

It was less than 50 years following the American Revolution when Thomas Baillie wrote An Account of the Province of New Brunswick… (London, 1832), wherein he describes the Province with emphasis upon the benefits of immigration.

Baillie’s descriptions were very optimistic about how easy it would for the superfluous population of Britain to find prosperity in the Province, but this is to be expected since he was the Commissioner of Crown Lands and Surveyor General at the time. He was an eccentric and tyrannical leader, as outlined in another article in this blog entitled Thomas Baillie, Gone but Not Soon Forgotten.

There was a recession in New Brunswick when he wrote his book. Britain was not buying the same quantity of timber or ships, and many timber merchants and ordinary woodsmen were ruined. This predicament is reflected in Baillie’s text which I have edited and abridged:


The Province of New Brunswick formed originally part of Nova Scotia, and at that period was thinly settled and little known even to the people of that country, but was looked upon as the desert and considered as the wilderness of the important and improving province of Nova Scotia. In the year 1784, however, the territory was erected into a separate province, and called New Brunswick. A governor was appointed, and a Council selected by His Majesty, and a House of Assembly was chosen by the inhabitants. Most of the Council members and citizens were Loyalists, who had brought what property they possessed in America at the termination of the Revolution.

A small population located in a dense wilderness could be expected to do but little towards the improvement of the country. Whatever it was possible for men to do, however, has been done. Towns have grown up, and roads have been formed in the wilderness, where fifty years ago the bear had his den and the deer had his lair, and I may well say that the people are intelligent and enterprising. Out of the forests of New Brunswick has arisen a trade with the mother country beneficial to both. The colony receives the British manufactures in exchange for the produce of her woods, and the labour of the active merchant and hardy lumberer. This trade, protected as it is at present by the laws of England, forms the nursery of her mariners, and the surest bond of union between the parent state and her colony. Of the value of this trade, some idea may be formed from the fact of upwards of 1,000 sail of vessels having arrived this season at the port of Quebec, and about 700 at the different ports in New Brunswick. Next to the protection of our trade, the most essential thing towards our increasing prosperity is a greater population; and while the small farmer in England is year after year becoming poorer, and endeavouring to eke out an existence, and pay a high rent and necessary taxes, some of the finest land in the world is open to his labour in New Brunswick, and invites him to cultivate and improve it. A man possessing a small capital would in a few years find himself in comparative affluence; his children, which are here a clog to his exertions, will there be his support and assistants, for often have I seen a boy of twelve years old handle his axe and fell a huge tree with the ease and dexterity of an old woodsman. The girls will in winter spin, and in summer use the hoe. All will enjoy health, comfort, and contentment.

The face of the country presents a wild appearance, owing to its being a continuous forest, in which the evergreens grow indiscriminately with the deciduous trees, shrubs and bushes occupying the spaces between their trunks. A thick clothing of moss, fallen trees, and ligneous and vegetable substances in every stage of decay, encumbers the earth.

The margins of most rivers are studded with cottages, and checkered with the worm-fences peculiar to a country. They abound with wood, interspersed with hamlets of a few families, connected by paths or bridle-roads.

The settlements contain, collectively, about 200,000 acres of cultivated land, and are surveyed into allotments of one hundred and two hundred acres, from forty to eighty perches in width. This mode of allotting land admits of a minute division of all the advantages of a river or road frontage, and it is unquestionably the best. On these allotments, with a few exceptions, clearances have been made from five to fifty acres in extent, more particularly on the banks of those rivers which afford the best land, or present other commercial advantages.

The rivers and navigable streams present advantages of immense importance in a pathless waste, in the facility of communication by water in summer, and by ice in winter. The best land also, both alluvial and upland, is usually found on the banks of these streams; although the most extensive tracts lie in the interior where it is impossible to effect considerable settlements, for want of means for transporting provisions and implement by land or by water.

Generally, land communications between the settlements are by mere paths cut through the forest, by felling the trees near their roots for the space of eight feet in width, and leaving the stumps for time to destroy. Wheel-carriages of course on such roads are not to be used, but our long winters, enduring nearly five months of the year, overcome the obstacles arising from the inequality of the surface, as well as from the want of bridges, by freezing the swamps and the rivers, and covering the ground with from two to three feet depth of snow. Snow, when beaten by the passage of men and horses, soon form an excellent road for sledges of every description. During the winter, while snow covers the ground, all carriages are necessarily of the sledge kind; and two common horses will draw more than a ton weight upon them, at the rate of from five to eight miles an hour. The opening of new roads demands great labour and exertions, and walking in the wilderness is a violent and laborious exercise to which the people are accustomed from infancy. Difficulties are therefore to be expected, and many privations are to be endured by the new settler where there is not a road approaching within some little distance of his farm. In the absence of water communication, or of roads passable for carriages, he is compelled to carry all his provisions and necessaries on his back, and few persons have the energy to overcome such an obstacle.

When roads are made along the margins of rivers, as they generally are, the expense is greatly increased by the eminences and deep indents formed by the mouths of streams, which are not of so serious a character at a distance to the interior. Money will be necessary to explore the woods and lay out the most proper sites, and this labour will ultimately lead to economy.

In building an important road, it has been usual to open it through the forest for no greater width than twenty feet, and after the stumps, rocks, and every other obstruction are entirely eradicated and removed, the whole surface is levelled, and a ditch, about eighteen inches in depth, opened on each side. On wet land, logs, about sixteen or eighteen feet in length, and about eight inches in diameter, are laid across the road, flat upon the surface, and close together. The whole of the earth thrown out of the ditches on each side is then carefully laid upon the piles, which should previously be covered with boughs of evergreens, to bind the whole closely together. The water in the ditches should be drawn off towards the nearest brook or falling land, and the whole will then form a pretty durable and dry carriageway.

Bridges are built with wood or stone; but the latter material is of course preferred. The piers, when built with stone, are always made without cement, and the material rough from the quarry, in order to suit the expenditure to the limited means of the country. Timbers are then extended from pier to pier, on which a covering is laid, either of sawn plank or of trees about six inches in diameter, hewn flat on the upper side. When the piers are constructed with timber, hemlock logs, about two feet in diameter, are laid in a square form, and crossed one over another to a sufficient height for the reception of the sleepers and covering. Hemlock is the best species of timber we have, taking into consideration its great size and strength. The breaking up of the ice in the spring, and sometimes, though not frequently, in the winter, is a great and terrible destroyer of bridges. Permanency, strength, and durability, therefore, should be the ruling considerations in the erection of them, although the last-mentioned requisite has not received much attention, owing to the pecuniary circumstances of the province.

The great military road between Halifax and Quebec is of primary importance, and it has been proposed to be carried along the shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, I entertain of one day seeing it opened in a direct line through the interior of the country from Fort Cumberland to the foot of the Temiscouata Lake. From the bend of the Petitcodiac to the Temiscouata is a distance of 220 miles, and this road will cost at the rate of 100l. per mile, including bridges. Most of the other roads in request would diverge from Fredericton, as a common centre, to the different county towns. I should therefore propose to take one to Dalhousie, one to Richibucto or Liverpool, one to St. Andrews, and one to the Great Falls on the north side of the river St. John, forming the string of the Bow; one should also extend from Miramichi to the Great Falls. The whole distance of these roads would be about 500 miles. On the whole, about the sum of 50,000l. would be sufficient to effect this purpose. An undertaking like this, if well and efficiently executed, will form this province into a good military position, people the wilderness with a brave and hardy race, ready at all times to defend their homes, produce a great revenue from the sale of the wastelands, and erect the colony into one of the most valuable of all His Majesty’s transatlantic dominions. In five years a forest tree would scarcely be discerned within half a mile of these roads, and new settlements, under the care and auspices of the provincial legislature, would be commenced in the rear. Good roads are of the utmost importance to the improvement of land, not only to facilitate the transportation of agricultural produce, but also to create a market, and in affording an opportunity of meeting the wants of travelers and newcomers.


Written by johnwood1946

September 6, 2017 at 9:32 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

A View of Acadian History, from 30,000 Feet

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From the blog at

For New Brunswickers, Nicolas Denys, 1598-1688, is remembered as the great founder of the earliest European settlements at Miscou and Nepisiquit, on our eastern shore. His had travelled throughout Acadia, however, and was therefore able to write a book about the whole area when he was in his old age.

It seems that Denys was poorly educated, and his writing was poor. Nonetheless, W.F. Ganong was able to translate the book and published it as The Description and Natural History of the Coasts of North America, in Toronto in 1908.

The following is condensed and edited from Ganong’s Introduction to Denys’ book, and summarizes Acadian history up to the 1760’s. It was a remarkable feat to compress so much history into such a short text, and many details were necessarily left out. This is why I have called it a view from 30,000 feet.

Axes, attributed to Nicolas Denys, 1645

Musée Acadien, Université de Moncton


A View of Acadian History, From 30,000 Feet

In the eastern part of Northern America, near its farthest extension towards Europe, lies the country known of old as Acadia. It covered most of that huge peninsula which is nearly encircled by the great River Saint Lawrence, the Gulf, and the Atlantic Ocean, with a western limit at the River Penobscot. Today it is parted into five political divisions: the Provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and a portion of Quebec, together with a part of the State of Maine. It is a fair land, charming in summer though stern in winter, moderate in resources, varied in aspect, modest in relief, deeply dissected by the sea. Once it bore an unbroken mantle of forest, the shelter of a wandering native race and nurse of a great fur-trade, while its ample waters have ever yielded a rich return from the fisheries.

The discovery of Acadia followed close upon that of America, for John Cabot saw its shores in 1497, or at least in 1498. The records are most obscure, but upon them rests England’s nominal right to the country. Of the other explorers who came later Giovanni da Verrazano in 1524 and Jacques Cartier in 1534 were the chief, for their voyages gave France her title to this land. Yet these legal rights, based upon discovery, are of more academic interest than practical importance, since they had little weight with the final arbiters of the ownership of Acadia, which were might of arms and colonizing genius. Then followed a long interval marked only by the summer visits of traders and fishermen; and the first period of Acadian history, the period of exploration drew to a close with the end of the sixteenth century.

The period of settlement began in 1604. In that year the Sieur de Monts, obtaining from the King of France vice regal powers of government and a monopoly of trade in all Acadia, and came to the country with a strong expedition. His historian and geographer, Champlain, mapped its Atlantic coast, while the party established a settlement at Saint Croix Island and later another at Port Royal. He was worsted by his foes at court, however, and had to abandon the country in 1607 just as the English were establishing themselves in Virginia. But the fruits of his labour were not wholly lost, for a companion of his voyage, the Sieur de Poutrincourt, re-established the settlement of Port Royal in 1610 and placed it in charge of his son Biencourt. It was only three years later when, sharing the fate of a new French settlement forming at Mount Desert, Port Royal was destroyed by the Virginia English under Argal; and Biencourt with his few French companions, the two La Tours and some others, was forced to a wandering life with the Indians. Then for well-nigh twenty years the French Government, expending upon Quebec such colonizing strength as it could afford, ignored Acadia well-nigh utterly, and left it without defence or a capital. Yet Frenchmen did not abandon it. Missionaries came to convert the Indians, especially on the Saint John and at Nepisiguit; trading companies were formed to exploit the trade and fisheries, the most important being that of Miscou, founded in 1619; fishing vessels continued to resort every summer to all the harbours of the coast to catch and dry the cod. Gradually, too, the wandering companions of Biencourt settled down. The elder La Tour established himself for trade at the mouth of the Penobscot until driven thence by the English in 1628; and his son, after the death of Biencourt in 1623, built up a strong post near Cape Sable. In 1626-27, men wintered for the first time at the trading-post of Miscou; and here and there, at Port Lomeron near Cape Sable, at Yarmouth near Cape Fourchu, and perhaps elsewhere at the places of greatest resort of the fishing ships, adventurous individuals established the beginnings of settlements which, intended to be permanent, were mostly destroyed by New Englanders, who had come to establish themselves at Plymouth in 1620. Thus it came about that, in the year 1627, there was only a single French post of any strength in all Acadia, Charles de la Tour’s Fort Saint Louis near Cape Sable; and La Tour was in fact, if not in name, the French ruler of the country. Then in that year war broke out between England and France. The English attempted in 1628 to relieve the Huguenots besieged in La Rochelle by the armies of the Catholic King of France, but failed. In America they were more successful, for, under Thomas Kirk, they seized Port Royal, nominal capital of Acadia (leaving La Tour’s fort, no doubt, because it was strong and they were hurried), and captured some French ships, on one of which was the elder La Tour. The next year they took Quebec, and for the first time England possessed both Canada and Acadia. Then followed some events of no great concern to history, but of some importance to the subject of Nicolas Denys. The Scot, Sir William Alexander, had received from the King of England in 1621 a grant of Acadia, under the name of Nova Scotia, despite the fact that it was nominally French; but he had made little attempt to settle it. In 1629, however, he sent a colony to Port Royal. In the same year, Sir James Stuart, to whom Alexander had granted a Barony, attempted a settlement at Baleine Cove in Cape Breton, whence he was promptly ousted by the French Captain Daniel, who built himself a fort at Saint Annes, the first in that important place. The next year, 1630, Alexander sent a second colony to Port Royal, and on one of his ships was the elder La Tour, who, during his two years of residence in England, had renounced his French allegiance, married an English woman of quality, and accepted a Baronetcy of Nova Scotia from Sir William Alexander. But he did more than this, for he accepted a similar Baronetcy on behalf of his son, together with a great grant of the coast to them conjointly; and he promised to bring over his son to British allegiance. But when the ships carrying La Tour and the Scots colony of 1630 stopped at Cape Sable, Charles de la Tour refused utterly to make good his father’s promises, and resisted first his entreaties, then his threats, and finally an attempt at force. The father was obliged to go on in disgrace to Port Royal, whence he later returned by his son’s invitation to Fort Saint Louis and his French allegiance. Meantime it had become known that Canada and Acadia were to be returned to France, for reasons which were personal with the two Kings and concerned not the good of their empires. This restitution was finally effected by the Treaty of Saint Germain early in 1632, and with it ended the period of tentative settlement in Acadia.

The new period which now opened is of especial importance to us because our author, Nicolis Denys, early became a part of its history. It began in 1632 with Acadia restored to France but still well-nigh a wilderness. Through all its great extent there were only some four small settlements: the post near Cape Sable commanded by Charles de la Tour, who in 1631 had been created Lieutenant-General for the King, a weak fort at Saint Annes in Cape Breton, a trading post at Miscou, and a small Scots colony at Port Royal. The time was ripe for a change, and immediately the great Company of New France, a powerful organization formed in 1627 to manage the affairs of France in America, prepared to exploit Acadia. They chose as leader of the enterprise one of the most capable of their members, the chivalrous Commandeur Isaac de Razilly, who, in the same year, 1632, came to the country with full authority and ample means for its government and settlement. He received the surrender of the Scots at Port Royal, but fixed his own capital at La Have, a great centre for the fishery, where he established himself strongly. Here, later, he settled a number of French families, and thus made the first planting of the Acadian race in America. With him were two men, who later became leaders in the land. One was his cousin, Charles de Menou, Sieur d’Aulnay Charnisay, and the other was Nicolas Denys. D’Aulnay was given charge of the Penobscot, from which he drove the English, and where he built, or rebuilt, a fort and trading post, which he held successfully for several years; Denys at first remained near Razilly, and founded fishing and lumbering establishments at Rossignol (Liverpool) and La Have. Meantime Charles de la Tour remained at Fort Saint Louis until 1635, when he removed to a new and strong fort at the mouth of the River Saint John and engaged in the Indian trade. Then, just as these various settlements began to gather head way, in 1635, Razilly died, and a time of confusion and civil strife began.

The successor of Razilly as commander, and probably by his choice, was D’Aulnay, who later also purchased Razilly’s property-rights from the latter’s brother. He assumed full authority and removed the settlers of La Have to Port Royal, which he made his capital. Meanwhile Charles de la Tour, whose commission as Lieutenant-General for the King had never been revoked, continued to control the rich trade of the Saint John. Naturally it was not long before he and D’Aulnay, both masterful and ambitious men with indefinite spheres of command, came into conflict; and the history of Acadia for the next ten years is little more than a record of the strife, partly of diplomacy and partly of arms, between these two men. In 1638 the King of France intervened, and divided between them all that part of Acadia lying west of Canso, the eastern part being omitted, presumably, because then considered to belong rather to Canada than to Acadia, though possibly because of some existent understanding with Denys, who early began to trade and fish in that region. But with two such men as D’Aulnay and La Tour no division of authority was possible, and the struggle for mastery continued, until finally D’Aulnay, already victor at court, triumphed also in the field. In 1645 he captured La Tour’s fort at Saint John, despite its heroic defence by La Tour’s wife, and drove his rival into exile from Acadia. Two years later, in 1647, he was made Governor of the entire country from New England to the Saint Lawrence, expelled Denys from a post founded at Miscou two years before, and for some years ruled as absolute master in Acadia. He devoted himself to the extension of trade, but did little to promote the prosperity of the country in other respects. Then suddenly, in 1650, in the very height of his career, he died, and discord once more prevailed in the land.

The death of D’Aulnay was a signal which brought back to the country the two men, La Tour and Denys, whom he had dispossessed, and which called thither a third, Le Borgne, to whom he was heavily in debt. In 1651 La Tour, bearing a new commission from the King of France as Governor and Lieutenant-General of Acadia, returned to his fort on the Saint John. The next year he married the widow of his rival, D’Aulnay, and with her, so far as history reveals, he lived happily ever after. Meanwhile Denys, after sundry earlier attempts, established himself at Saint Peters in Cape Breton, an admirable station for the Indian trade and the fishery. Then Le Borgne, as claimant of the entire estate of D’Aulnay, attempted to evict both La Tour and Denys. La Tour he found too strong, but Denys he captured by stratagem, though he later allowed him to return to France. There, in the winter of 1653-54 Denys bought from the Company of New France all the great territory comprising the coasts and islands of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence from Canso to Gaspé, and was made Governor and Lieutenant-General thereof by the King. Then he returned immediately to Saint Peters. No doubt he and his friend La Tour would soon have worsted Le Borgne, and thenceforth would have divided the government of Acadia peaceably between them, but suddenly again, as so often in Acadian history, there fell the usual misfortune. In that very year, without any warning, an English force, instigated by New England, seized the principal French posts, and another period of Acadian history came to an end.

But while the English seized Penobscot with La Tour’s fort at Saint John and Le Borgne’s possessions at Port Royal, they left Governor Denys quite undisturbed at Saint Peters, nor did they, during the fifteen years they held Acadia, ever attempt to molest him. This was at first, no doubt, because his establishments seemed too weak and too remote to be worth the effort of suppression, combined with which was the feeling, it is likely, that this distant region belonged rather to Canada than to the Acadia with which New Englanders had especial concern. Perhaps his immunity later was due to the friendship of La Tour, who had great influence with the English. However this may be, we have in the fact itself a manifestation of that difference in history and development which has distinguished the Saint Lawrence from the Atlantic slope of Acadia down even to our own day. Then during the fifteen years of the English possession there was no progress, for the French could not, and the English did not, materially improve the country. La Tour became a friend of the English, and lived in quiet at Saint John until his death in 1666. Denys, though undisturbed politically, could make no headway, partly because of the uncertain status of the country, and partly because of a series of personal reverses which finally drove him, in 1669, from Saint Peters to Nepisiguit. But in 1667, by the Treaty of Breda, Acadia, which had been seized unjustly, was restored to France, and a new period of French rule began.

The actual restoration of the posts of Acadia did not occur until 1670, but thereafter for twenty years, under a succession of French Governors, the southern parts of the country, from Canso to Penobscot, made a slow advance marked by the expansion of the Acadian people. But all of the eastern part, from Canso to Gaspé, under the government of Denys, remained as backward as ever; for Denys, despite all efforts, was unable to settle it even to the small extent required by the conditions of his grant. As a result, his rights gradually lapsed, and were finally revoked a year before his death in 1688. Nor did those to whom portions of his lands were re-granted succeed much better, and the permanent settlement of all the Gulf coast had to wait half a century longer.

The later history of Acadia hardly concerns our present subject, but we may add this much. Port Royal was seized again by the English in 1690 and restored to France in 1697. The English took it again in 1710; but this time they did not cede it back, and have held it ever since. From 1713 to 1763, however, all that part now included in New Brunswick was claimed by both France and England, and this kept it a waste and contributed greatly to the causes which produced the expulsion of the Acadians in 1755. Finally, in 1763, all Canada and the remainder of Acadia passed to England, and then began the steady development which continues to our own day. The Atlantic coast of old Acadia gradually received a population from the New England States and the other English colonies to the southward; while the Saint Lawrence slope, the old government of Nicolas Denys, has been peopled in part by the expansion of the Acadian French and in part by later immigrants from Great Britain and Ireland. But the French are increasing much faster than the English, and time may yet work a strange revenge by restoring to the French race through this peaceful conquest the land which the English possess not by right but by might.

Written by johnwood1946

August 30, 2017 at 8:47 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

Nova Scotia During the Revolution, an American Perspective

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From the blog at

Nova Scotia During the Revolution, an American Perspective

Nova Scotia did not join in the American Revolution, but there was significant support among the people for the American cause. Some of my ancestors and, I suppose, others sailed southward to join in the fight against the British, while those who stayed at home were famous for not bringing convictions in cases of people accused of disloyalty. The best book that I have seen about that time and place was John Brebner’s The Neutral Yankees of Nova Scotia, New York, 1937.

Today’s blog contains a number of documents from the records of the state of Massachusetts, as reprinted by E.D. Poole, in his Annals of Yarmouth and Barrington in the Revolutionary War, Yarmouth, 1899. These transcripts are excerpted and slightly condensed and show what prospects the Americans thought possible in bringing Nova Scotia into the fight.

George Washington



Camp at Cambridge, May 18, 1775: We hear from Halifax that the people have at last shewn they have spirit. It seems that agents for procuring forage for the expected regiment of Dragoons had taken, without the consent of the owner, and were shipping for Boston, a great quantity of hay, on which the people set fire to and wholly destroyed it. And when that work was finished they attempted the like by the King’s Magazines, which they several times fired, but they were extinguished by the ships-of-war lying there, who made a brisk fire on the people, and prevented them from affecting their design.


1775: For the expedition purposed: One thousand men, including officers; four armed Vessels and eight Transports; the men to be raised at the Eastward. The Fleet to be made up at Machias, and then proceed to Windsor, captivate the Tories, make all the proselytes we can; and then proceed to Halifax. If possible destroy the King’s Dock-yard and Town, if thought proper.


Camp at Cambridge, Aug. 11, 1775: Gentlemen: I have considered the papers you left with me yesterday. As to the expedition proposed against Nova Scotia by the inhabitants of Machias, I cannot but applaud their spirit and zeal, but after considering the reasons offered for it, several objections occur which seem to me unanswerable. I apprehend such an enterprise to be inconsistent with the general principle upon which the Colonies have proceeded. That Province has not acceded, it is true, to the measures of Congress, but it has not commenced hostilities against them, nor are any to be apprehended. To attack it, therefore, is a measure of conquest rather than defence, and may be apprehended with very dangerous consequences. It might perhaps be easy, with the force proposed, to make an incursion into the Province, and overawe those of the inhabitants who are inimical to our cause, and for a short time prevent them from supplying the enemy with provisions; but to produce any lasting effects the same force must continue.

As to the furnishing vessels of force, you, gentlemen, will anticipate me in pointing out our weakness and the enemy’s strength at sea. There would be great danger that, with the best preparations we could make, they would fall an easy prey, either to the men-of-war on that station, or to some which would be detached from Boston. … I could offer many other suggestions against it, … but it is unnecessary to enumerate them, when our situation, as to ammunition, absolutely forbids our sending a single ounce of it out of the camp at present. I am. Gentlemen, &c. Go. Washington


Whitehall, September 1, 1775:The House of Representatives of the Province of Nova Scotia, in North America, having unanimously agreed to a loyal and dutiful address, petition and memorial to the King’s most excellent Majesty, the Lords spiritual and temporal, and the Commons of Great Britain, in Parliament assembled, containing declarations of their obedience and submission to the authority of the Parliament of Great Britain, as the supreme legislature of that Province, and all the British Dominions, and of their readiness, as an indispensable duty to submit to the payment of such taxes, to be raised upon a permanent plan, and at the disposal of Parliament as shall be their due proportion of the expenses of the Empire.


The address which was some time past sent from this place, and presented to His Majesty, has given rise to all the disturbance in this Province. It was declared to be an address from the inhabitants of the Province of Halifax in Nova Scotia, when, indeed, it was only managed by about one thousandth part of them, when most of the members of the House of Representatives were up in the country superintending their estates; and when they came to town and found in what manner the liberties of the House of Representatives bad been invaded in their absence, they, together with almost all the inhabitants, declared themselves friends to the cause in which the whole Continent of America are engaged, and refused being any longer subservient to the mandates of government; therefore no duties have been paid here since the latter end of August last, of which the Comptroller of the Customs is gone home to give an account. Yesterday a schooner arrived with two tons of tea, from Bristol; the liberty boys immediately committed it to the sea. They have strong assurances of assistance from the Provincial Army, therefore it is to be feared that His Majesty’s yard, stores and ammunition in this Province will be destroyed. The Tartar Frigate is here to protect them; and the master shipwrights, caulkers, joiners, house carpenters, smiths, bricklayers and labourers, form a militia, and mount guard every night, for the protection of the yard, &c. The inhabitants begin to grow very warm, therefore suppose it will not be very long before they find the militia some military employment. [Boston cannot afford any assistance for us, and the sending of supplies from here to Boston is in jeopardy.]


By His Excellency George Washington, Esquire, Commander-in-Chief of the Army of the United States, to Aaron Willard, Esq.:

The honourable Continental Congress having lately passed a resolve containing the following words, viz.: “That two persons be sent, at the expense of these Colonies, to Nova Scotia, to Inquire into the state of that Colony, the disposition of the inhabitants towards the American Cause, and the condition of the Fortifications, Dockyards, the quantity of Artillery and Warlike Stores, and the number of Soldiers, Sailors, and Ships-of-War there, and transmit the earliest intelligence to General Washington,” I do hereby constitute and appoint you, the said Aaron Willard, Esq., to be one of the persons to undertake this business … The necessity of acting with a proper degree of caution and secrecy is too apparent to need recommendation. … Given under my hand, this twenty-fourth day of November, 1775. George Washington


[We did] repair to a place called Campo-Bello, about twenty or thirty miles into the Province aforesaid, but could not cross the Bay of Fundy, for no vessel could be hired or procured, except we purchased one, as every vessel, even to a boat, that crossed the Bay, was seized as soon as they came Into port, except cleared from Halifax; and we could not travel any further into the Country, by reason of Governor Legg’s establishing martial law in said Province, and issuing several Proclamations, one bearing date July 5, 1775, [reading] “I [am] … hereby notifying and warning all persons that they do not, in any manner, directly or indirectly, aid or assist, with any supplies whatever, any Rebel or Rebels, nor hold intelligence or correspondence with them, nor conceal, harbour or protect any such offenders, as they would avoid being deemed Rebels or Traitors, and be proceeded against accordingly;” also a Proclamation, dated Dec 8, 1775, forbidding any stranger to be in Halifax more than two hours, without making his business known to a Justice of the Peace, upon the pain and peril of being treated as a Spy; also, forbidding any person entertaining any such stranger for more than two hours, without giving information, on the penalty aforesaid. From our own knowledge, and the best information of others, about nine parts out of ten of the inhabitants of Nova Scotia would engage in the common cause of America, could they be protected. There are no fortifications in the Province, only at Halifax, and those much out of repair; but they are at work on them. They have picketed the town in, and have about one hundred and fifty pieces of cannon, not mounted, and about twenty or thirty pieces mounted in the town. There were at Halifax about two hundred soldiers, the beginning of January, 1776, which were all that were in the Province at that time; but we are credibly informed that there are two regiments added there since that time. There was only one ship-of-war, of sixty guns, at Halifax, and one of fourteen at Annapolis, at the time aforesaid.


Resolved, That the council of Massachusetts Bay be requested to consider the case of the inhabitants of Cumberland and Sunbury counties, in Nova Scotia, who are sufferers by their attachment to the American Cause; and to devise and put in execution at continental expense, such measures as the said council shall think practicable and prudent, for the relief of the said sufferers; and to enable such of them as may be desirous of removing to a place of greater safety, to bring off their families and effects. And the said council is hereby authorized to raise a number of men if necessary, for that service, not exceeding five hundred, in such places as will least interfere with the raising their quota of troops for the continental army.

Written by johnwood1946

August 23, 2017 at 8:33 AM

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The Many Trials of Richard Valpey of Yarmouth, and his Service to American Cause During the Revolution

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The Many Trials of Richard Valpey of Yarmouth, and his Service to American Cause During the Revolution

Richard Valpey living in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, but wanted to relocate to Massachusetts because of the ongoing American Revolution. This was a problem, because travel was forbidden by both the British and the Americans.

Valpey had shown loyalty to the revolutionary cause by harbouring American castaways from examination by the British and, later, he was involved in freeing prisoners out of Halifax and transporting them to American controlled territory.

He was eventually seized by an American military or privateering ship and all of his goods were seized. He had his goods returned, however, when it was learned that his captors had acted more as pirates than as patriots.

Following is his story, taken from E.D. Poole’s book Annals of Yarmouth and Barrington in the Revolutionary War, Yarmouth, 1899. These documents are excerpted and slightly condensed.

A Small Schooner, from the McCord Museum

Perhaps of the type captained by Richard Valpey



To the Council of the State of Massachusetts Bay. The Petition of Richard Valpey most humbly Sheweth that your Petitioner is a native of Salem, where he always Resided until within a few years when he with his family and many others Removed to a place Call’d Yarmouth in the Bay of Fundy & Province of Nova Scotia, Inhabited chiefly by People from Salem and Beverly, who are now Bro’t to Great Straits & Difficulties, Owing to the Communications between this State & that Province being Cut off. That your Petitioner is very Desirous of Removing himself & family from Nova Scotia to Salem, the Place of his nativity. Could he have your Honor’s Liberty for his so Doing, and to Prevent his little furniture & Effects from being Captured on their Passage from Yarmouth to this Place your Petitioner humbly prays your Honors will be pleased to Grant him a License in Writing to Return to Nova Scotia in any way he may be able & to remove from thence himself, his Wife and nine Children and an aged mother together with his furniture, and your Petitioner as in Duty Bound shall ever pray. Richard Valpey


Whereas Ebenr Porter, Richard Valpey, Nathan Utley, Henry Coggin, Asa Hammond & Nehemiah Porter, all of Yarmouth, in ye Province of Nova Scotia, have petitioned this Board that they may have liberty to remove themselves, their Families and effects from sd. Yarmouth to this State & it appearing that the petitioners not many years since removed themselves and Families from this State. Therefore Ordered that [they be permitted to return] from this State to Yarmouth … & bring of their Families and effects …, and it is hereby recommended to All Commanders of all Armed & other vessels to let the above named petitioners, … pass unmolested….


That Capt. Richard Valpey, an Inhabitant of Yarmouth, in the Province of Nova Scotia, but formerly of this Town, hath made application to this Committee, setting forth, That being at Halifax in said Province, in May last, he was applied to by the following persons, Vizt., Capt. Habakkuk Bowditch, Messrs. Jonathan Payson, Charles Callahan and Andrew Millet, Inhabitants of this State, and who were then Prisoners at that Place, requesting him that he would devise some means by which their escape from their Captivity might be effected as they were then in the most necessitous and distressed circumstances and situation; that he accordingly procured a Vessel and engaged to bring the said persons from Halifax which he accordingly did, altho’ at the Risque of his Vessel as well as his liberty, as he must unavoidably have forfeited both, had he been detected in the execution of his plan by the Government at Halifax; that in pursuance of this Scheme he was proceeding to St. John’s in the Bay of Fundy, where he had engaged to land the said Persons, but while on his Passage, he was informed, that that place would be in the hands of our Enemies before he could arrive there, in consequence of which he put into Cape Porceau, where his Passengers before mentioned got a vessel to carry them to Newbury; that after this the said Valpey was proceeding to St. John’s, having on board, two hogsheads of Rum, two hogsheads of molasses, one piece of checked, and two pieces of white Linen, and two barrels of Pork, with which he was going to purchase a load of Staves for the use of persons residing at Yarmouth; that while he was at St. John’s a party of men from Machias, in this State, came and took his Vessel and goods into possession, and made himself and his Crew Prisoners; and carried them all to Machias, where they still hold the said Vessel and Goods. This Committee would therefore intercede with the Honorable Court in behalf of the said Valpey, and beg leave to acquaint the Honble. Court, that they are well assured that the Inhabitants of that part of Nova Scotia of which the said Valpey is an Inhabitant, are almost to a man friendly to the Interest of these States, that they frequently have assisted our countrymen, who have been Prisoners and carried in there, in making their Escape, and when any of our Vessels have been forced into that Place, they have afforded all the assistance and Relief which was in their Power to the Crews; particularly when the Brigantine Cabot was drove in there by the Milford, this same Capt. Valpey entertained and supported Capt. Olney, Lieut. Knight and about thirty others of the Cabot’s Crew three days and nights, in his own house and at his own expense, as will appear by a Certificate signed by the said Lieut. Knight herewith transmitted. And as the Cartel between this State and Nova Scotia is now stopped and no way for the Subjects of this State who may be carried Prisoners into that Province to be released, but by the assistance of such persons there, whose humanity and friendly disposition towards these States may induce to afford such assistance…

This Committee would therefore Pray that the said Capt. Valpey may have his … [goods restored to him and that he be compensated for services rendered…].


St. John’s River, May 26, 1777: Whereas Richard Valpey, Master & Owner of the Schooner Industry has risk’d his Person and Property in taking us Prisoners from our Confinement at Halifax & Settling us at Liberty in this place, We think to recommend him to the Countenance & favour of all the officers in the American Navy. [Sgd.] Jona. Patson, Charles Callahan, Andrew Millet, Hab’k Bowditch


These may Certify all whom It may Concern that the Subscriber was Lieutenant of the Brig Cabot at the time she was Chased on shore at Chebogue in Nova Scotia by the milford frigate and that after the officers and Seamen made their Escape from the wreck Capt. Olney, my Self and near thirty of the Cabot’s Crew was lodged and Curtisly Entertained by Capn. Rich’d Valpey at his house In Yarmouth Nova Scotia for three days and three knights and this entirely at the Expense of Said Valpey whose friendly disposition to my Self and others belonging to the United States demands my most grateful Acknowledgements and I do hereby recommend him as a person whose gineral Conduct merits the feavor of all the good people of these States. [Sgd.] Benj. Knight, Leftent, Salem, 30 June, 1777


Machias, June ye 12th, 1777, to Capt. Stephen Smith— William Albey arrived hear last Sunday with a prize Schooner, the Industry, Richard Velpay Late master which schooner was taken Last week by Capt. West & Company and sent in hear. Mr. Albey Sceemes to attend to the Bisness of the prize more than the Safety of the Staits, that [he] layed thare matter before the Committee that thare being no Letters from Mr. Allen and but a very blind account from Capt. West, did not very well know how to proceed, but recommended to Mr. Albee for him and his party to Secure the Prize in the best manner they Could and return to their Duty again. But Mr. Albee declined; but Mr. Hall, one of the Guard with him expressed his desire to return to Capt. West again, and with the rest set off today for St. John.

Mr. Albee seems intent upon libelling and getting the vessel condemned Immediately. The Committee recommended him not to proceed any further In the matter until he notifies Mr. Allen and sends him a copy of the vessel’s papers and an account of the whole proceedings, so that he may be consulted in the matter, as Mr. Allen was up the river with the Indians when they took and brought the said prize away. And the Committee told Mr. Albee that his present designs seem to carry an appearance of trying to get the vessel condemned to a few individuals and giving up all pretentions of being in the State’s service. We told him that if so, the Committee would insist upon the Expences of their provisions, boats and ammunition, to be paid out of the proceeds of the prize. However, that was a matter he gave himself no trouble about, and without the advice of the Committee, on his own account, he landed the cargo in Squire Jones’s store, and we suppose, either by himself or attorney, will soon have her libelled at Pownalborough. … We think that those persons who seek their own interests so much more than they do the safety of a bleeding Country, deserve no preferment In It. … By inquiry we understand her cargo is— 2 Hh W. India Rum; 2 Hh. Molasses; 5 Tierces Rice; 2 Barrels Porc; 1 Barrel Tobacco; about 300 wt. Cottons; 20 thousand nails, A good Schooner, about fifty tons.


The Committee … ask Leave to Report that Capt. Richard Valpey … is an Inhabitant of Yarmouth, in the County of Cumberland, in the Government of Nova Scotia, the Inhabitants whereof have been great Suffers By their attachment to the American Cause … Your Committee also find that the said Valpey hath frequently exerted himself to relieve and Comfort American Prisoners making their Escape from Halifax in sd. Government.

Therefore Resolved, that the Schooner Industry (taken by a Party of Capt. West’s Company, …) together with her Cargo and Stores intire be immediately restored to the said Valpey & the Committee of Correspondence, &c., of Machias and all other persons concerned are directed to cause this Resolution to be carried into execution. In Council, July 2, 1777. [Read In the House of Representatives & Concurred with, July 3, 1777.


Ordered, that Capt. Richard Valpey, master of a Schooner lately taken by a party of men under the Command of Capt. West & carried into Machias, be & be hereby is permitted to Depart this State for Yarmouth in Nova Scotia with his Said Schooner and all & Every Articles which were on board the said Schooner at the time of her Capture, and the Maritime Court of the Eastern District, the naval officer & the Committee of the Port and Town of Machias are hereby order’d and Directed to see this order Caryed into Execution.

Written by johnwood1946

August 16, 2017 at 8:20 AM

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From Saint John to Annapolis Royal, Around the Bay of Fundy in 1787

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S. Hollingsworth traveled between Saint John, New Brunswick and Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, in a clockwise sailing around the Bay of Fundy in 1787; and following is the memoir of that trip from his book The Present State of Nova Scotia …, Edinburgh, 1787.

This is an extremely early description of Loyalist settlements on the Bay, only four years after their arrival. The two Provinces were developing very rapidly.

Map, of the Bay of Fundy and Annapolis Royal, 1712-50, by Nathaniel Blackmore

From the McCord Museum


From Saint John to Annapolis Royal, Around the Bay of Fundy in 1787

Off the mouth of St. John’s River, lies a small island, high, rocky, and covered with woods near to which ships must pass, in going in or out of the river and, as it lies at a small distance from the mainland, is equally fitted to afford protection to the river against an enemy, and for the erection of a lighthouse to guide ships in passing up and down the bay, being very conspicuous for several leagues.

The town is built upon the east side of the harbour, within two miles of Partridge Island, which, lying directly opposite to the entrance of the river, breaks off the sea, and perfectly shelters it from all winds.

The river, a mile above the town, by being confined between some rocks that encroach upon it considerably, though of a great depth, has a large fall or rapid, particularly upon the ebb tide. When the flood has risen 12 feet in the harbour below, the falls are smooth, and continue to be passable for about twenty minutes; and the river is navigable from hence upwards of 70 miles for vessels of 80 to 100 tons burthen. In times of great freshets, when the rains fall, and the snows melt in the country, which is commonly from the middle of April to the beginning of June, the falls are absolutely impassable to vessels bound up the river, as the tide does not rise to their level, and the strong current, which runs continually down through the harbour at that season, frequently prevents vessels that are bound in from entering, unless assisted by a fair wind.

The town consists of upwards of two thousand houses, many of which are large and spacious, and being built upon a neck of land, almost entirely surrounded by the sea, is thereby rendered exceeding pleasant. The streets have been regularly laid out, are from 50 to 60 feet in breadth, and cross each other at right angles, corresponding with the four cardinal points, every house possessing 60 feet in front by 120 in depth, makes it capable of becoming one of the best cities in the New World, as the ground whereon it is built is of a moderate height, and rises gradually from the water.

Amongst other advantages possessed by this settlement, it ought not to be considered as the least, that a very considerable property was imported, together with a number of respectable merchants, from New York, at the evacuation of that city, whose unremitting industry and perseverance has embellished the town with a great many fine houses, the harbour with several fine quays and wharfs, and they already possess 60 sail of vessels, some of which are employed in carrying on trade with the West Indies, and the rest in the whale and cod fisheries. Most of the fur trade that can ever take place on this side of the province, must naturally center here, as no other navigable water extends far inland, besides St John’s River. Very good masts for the royal navy are cut at the distance of 50, 60, and 70 miles from the sea, as large as to 32 inches diameter, which are collected by persons appointed by government, below the falls, from whence they are shipped off for the King’s dock yards in England.

The harbour has from seven to ten fathoms water, with good holding ground, and an excellent beach for landing goods, and graving or repairing vessels of the largest size. Opposite to the town, on the other side of the harbour, is a small settlement, called Carleton, built and inhabited by the Loyalists, amongst whom are a considerable number of ship carpenters, whose talents have already exerted themselves in building many vessels; whilst the large quantity of fine timber, on every part of the river, equal in goodness to that of New England, and almost any other province in America, is not only a proof of their situation being very properly chosen, but a sure prognostic of the advantages which this place derives from shipbuilding.

To all the above recited advantages may be added the extent of population, which exceeds ten thousand persons of all denominations, among whom are several regiments disbanded at the late peace, that are not only highly respectable for their numbers and their industry, but still more so, if possible, from their forming a very strong barrier to the colony against the subjects of the United States. A small fortification, called Fort Howe, defends the town, but is too inconsiderable to withstand a regular attack, being very small, and entirely destitute of out works.

Twelve leagues further up the Bay of Fundy, E.N.E. from St John’s River, is a small settlement belonging to the Loyalists, called Quaco. About six hundred persons are here, who have very wisely directed their attention to agriculture, their lands being generally accounted good, whilst, on the contrary, they have no place fit to shelter vessels in, especially when southerly winds prevail. The timber of all kinds is very good, and the country abounds with game.

Eleven leagues east from the last mentioned place, the Bay of Fundy, after carrying everywhere in its course a great depth of water, and continuing from fifteen to six leagues wide, is suddenly divided by the land into two distinct arms, the largest of which, called the Basin of Mines, takes its course nearly due east for almost eighty miles, but having the rise and fall of the tide continually increasing as is advances, so as to be equal to 70 feet perpendicular at its head, and receiving the waters of several rivers, which from thence penetrate considerably into the country. All these rivers have settlements upon them, the inhabitants of which amount to upwards of 4000. The lands in the environs of Mines Basin are very good, and have store of timber, particularly on the south side, and continue so almost all the way to Halifax, from which it is distant upwards of 40 miles. The other head is called Chignecto Bay, taking its course N.E. from where the separation commences, for about 50 miles, receiving the waters of several rivers which discharge themselves into it, one of these being pretty considerable, called Petitcodiac, where about 2000 Loyalists are settled, and have the appearance of being a thriving colony. Many advantages are held out to persons that are obliged to settle in this province, whose views are not solely confined to trade, but who wish to attend to agriculture, and the raising of cattle, as most of the lands round the head of the Bay are very good, having been formerly possessed and cultivated by the ancient French colonists, distinguished by the name of Neutrals, whole industry had been crowned with a degree of success not always equaled, and but seldom exceeded, by the inhabitants of the southern colonies; nor can it be doubted, but that the persons in whose hands they now are, will very speedily render them an object of jealousy to their New England neighbours. There is a small fort, formerly called St Laurence, and now Fort Cumberland, built upon the isthmus which joins the peninsula to the main land, and, though of no great account at present, may, in a more improved state, be looked upon as the key of Nova Scotia, against the invasion of a land army. Returning from hence, down the Bay of Fundy, to the westward, there is no harbour, until nearly opposite to St John’s River, when we find Annapolis Royal, which has one of the noblest harbours in the world, perfectly sheltered from all winds, the entrance into it being between two capes or headlands, with from 20 to 30 fathoms water. This entrance is near a mile wide, and has a strong current, both upon the ebb and flood tides; the shore, at the same time, being so steep, that a ship may run her bow-sprit against the rocks, and yet be in 10 fathoms water. Immediately within this straight, is a large piece of water, called Annapolis Basin, capable of holding a considerable number of ships, with a sufficient depth of water for vessels of any size, and at least 20 miles in circumference, entirely sheltered from all winds. On this basin, a very handsome town, called Digby, has been built by the Loyalists. The situation of it is exceedingly well chosen, both for the fisheries and every other kind of trade adapted to the province. A small settlement is also forming at the mouth of Bear River, near Digby, by some Germans, formerly belonging to the auxiliary troops during the war in America.

From the Basin to Annapolis Royal, it is about 12 miles, upon a deep and narrow river, in which there is a great rise and fall of the tide, both sides of it are well peopled, and in many places are highly improved. A small island, half way between the Basin and the town, may be easily made to command the navigation of the river entirely, as nothing can pass either up or down without going close in with it. Since the arrival of the Loyalists, amounting to 2500, the town has increased to six times its former dimensions, the country about it clearing fast of the woods, having received an increase of population, unknown in any former period. The raising of black cattle will probably be one of their principal employments; as the inhabitants, who came here prior to the war, not only raise the largest and best cattle of any in the Province, but equal to any in America, except Rhode Island and Connecticut; so that they will be able, in a little time, to gather with the people of St John’s River, to raise all the livestock, or nearly so, that will be wanted for the West India marker. The anchorage of the town is very good, and on the side next the river; the fort which defends the harbour is of some consideration, but totally inadequate to a defence toward the land.

Written by johnwood1946

August 9, 2017 at 8:45 AM

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Nova Scotia in 1775: “Every Spot is Inhospitable and Frigid”

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Nova Scotia in 1775: “Every Spot is Inhospitable and Frigid”

Nova Scotia was part of Acadia, and it was not until 1749 that the English period took hold with the founding of Halifax. Efforts to bring in English-speaking settlers met with limited success until after the expulsion of the Acadians in the 1750’s, and colonization went slowly even after that. More concerted efforts to bring people in began in 1760’s.

So, Nova Scotia was an outback frontier in 1775 when today’s author, identified only as ‘An American’ published a book in London entitled American Husbandry and dedicated a chapter to Nova Scotia. At that time, the population included people from Scotland, Ireland, England and New England plus the Mi’kmaq.

Mr. ‘An American’ was not impressed with what he found, and following is his story.


A View of Halifax, ca. 1750

Map by Thomas Jefferys, from Wikipedia

To judge of the climate of Nova Scotia by the latitude would lead any person into the most egregious mistakes. Between 44 and 50 degrees of latitude in Europe we find some of the finest and most pleasant countries in this quarter of the world; but in Nova Scotia the case is very different. The winter lasts seven months, and is of a severity that is dreadful to newcomers. The deepest rivers are frozen over in one night, so as to bear loaded wagon; the snow lies in some places ten feet deep, and upon level tracts it has been known to be six feet deep. The inhabitants are shut up in their houses and, except in the towns, lead a miserable life almost in as torpid and lifeless state as the vegetables of the country. Much of the summer is spent in laying in fuel for the winter, and brandy and rum are then the greatest luxuries the people indulge in. Such a degree of cold as is then felt benumbs the very faculties of the mind, and is nearly destructive of all industry. When this severe winter goes, at once comes a summer (for they have no spring) of a heat greater than is ever felt in England. The snow is presently melted, and runs in torrents to the sea; the ground is thawed, the trees are presently in leaf, and the little husbandry here practised is then begun. But what is almost as bad as the extremes of heat and cold, are the perpetual fogs, which render the country equally unwholesome and unpleasant and are peculiarly provoking to the inhabitants. Such is the climate: it is bad almost in excess. But we are not to imagine that it banishes husbandry, which might be the first conclusion of such as were unused to northern latitudes.

The soil varies greatly. In many parts it is thin and gravelly on a bed of rock. For many years this was what they endeavoured to cultivate, but ill success taught the inhabitants a change which has proved very advantageous. They fixed in the salt marshes on the bay of Fundy, which, although they required a very expensive drainage, yet, from the fertility of the soil, repaid the farmer much better than other tracts gained with much less difficulty. The soil in these marshes is a white or blue clay, mellow when in culture and marly. If the water is well conveyed off, it is capable of producing great crops, being suitable to the heat of the summer. But the expense of getting this land is not small; the sea is to be dyked out, and those dykes are to be kept in repair, with temporary flashes conveyed off. Further, only the line next the coast is of value, as that only has the benefit of harbours for boats and schooners, and for carrying off lumber for the West Indies. Most of the advantageous trails were patented several years ago; but the lots change hands often, and at present many of them are to be sold cheap enough, though under culture.

An idea of their management may be gained from the following particulars. Upon the settlers first going they fix upon a piece of marsh, with an adjoining one of woodland, seldom less in the whole than from five hundred to eight hundred or a thousand acres. If the marsh is already banked, they pay an annual tax for that work; if not, they must execute it before any profit can be made. They build the house on the edge of the woodland; a work that costs nothing in materials from the plenty of wood, which is fine, consisting generally of oak, pine, or black birch but all the trees are grubbed, which makes the labour heavy.

Three years are nominally given to settle the tracts assigned, but this is not strictly adhered to, but extended by favour to six or seven. After ten years a quitrent is paid to the King of two shillings for every fifty acres; and also a covenant entered into of planting two acres with hemp of every fifty taken up. The planters are kept to this article, but with very little effect, for the climate is utterly improper for that production.

The marsh land is fine, and wants little more after draining; but to let the plough to work for sowing wheat, it is all covered with a short but thick and spongy moss, which they plough in, and on one ploughing harrow in their wheat. This work they perform as soon as the weather breaks, and the snow is all gone. They do it in a very clumsy manner, attending not the least to their lands being laid neat and regular. In September the corn is ripe and they usually mow it, and the crops they get, notwithstanding the soil being good, scarce ever amount to middling ones in England. I have been assured, that two quarters of bad wheat in quality, are a great crop. They have hardly any idea of fallowing, but in the succeeding year plough up the stubble for another wheat crop, which they continue as long as the land will yield it, and then leave it to recover itself. Sometimes, however, they change for beans. The woodlands, when cleared, they plant with peas, potatoes, cabbages, &c. the latter production is very useful to them, they keep under the snow in winter very sound.

As to enclosures, they have only a ring fence, and one or two near the house, and not always that. Sometimes there are none but what parts their marshland from the woods. Cattle, in summer, are turned into undrained marshes and the woods, and in winter are three parts starved.

It is much to be regretted, that the annual expenditure was not known, but if the high price of labour is considered — the wages of the fishermen, the repairs of the vessels, nets, implements, ammunition, wines, rum, tea, sugar, and other  luxuries, all these articles would certainly make a considerable deduction from this annual product. As to the products of the land, they are more than consumed at home. Can any unprejudiced person suppose that the sum of thirteen hundred pounds might not be expended on waste lands in Great Britain to much better advantage? I will not so far anticipate the subject as to calculate here, but most assuredly we may determine that, in point of profit, such a sum might be more beneficially expended in British husbandry, than in that of Nova Scotia.

I say, in point of profit, as to that of pleasure, there are other circumstances to be considered, which are material. These particularly concern the great plenty of game in the country, and the general freedom of all sporting and fishing. It has been asserted, and not upon bad authority, that a boy of twelve or fourteen years of age, with his gun, would maintain ten or twelve in family the year-round, pork and bread excepted. Two boys have been known to catch above two hundred hares in one winter with twine snares. Six boys, in three canoes, shot, in four days, one hundred and fifty wild geese, and four hundred black ducks. To this may be added, that eels are in the little rivers so plentiful, that they keep immense quantities of them frozen for winter provision.

These particulars, indeed, indicate, not only pleasure, but also a considerable degree of profit; for a country, which will admit of such circumstances, must yield no trifling advantages in housekeeping and, however insignificant such a point my seem in a general account of a country, yet is it of importance in the eyes of those who quit their own to settle in America. In Britain, the game laws are so strict that unqualified persons must give up all thoughts of the pleasure of shooting and fishing, as well as the advantage in feeding their families, or be liable to severe and infamous penalties. That this monstrous contrast sends no trifling number of people to the colonies I have not a doubt.

In the preceding accounts the reader finds that the whole product of the new plantation (and that a considerable one) consists in fish and lumber. It is remarkable, that without the fishery the inhabitants of this colony would starve. Their husbandry is inefficient to feed them; a circumstance strongly characteristic of the merit of Nova Scotia as a colony. In this respect the farmers somewhat resemble the inhabitants of Devonshire, Dorsetshire, and Cornwall, before the northern colonies almost beat the mother country out of her share of the fishery. A very great portion of the English Newfoundland fishery was carried on by little farmers on the above mentioned coasts, who went out as soon as their spring seed was over, and returned before harvest: but in Nova Scotia it is the principal dependence of the people for their subsistence; and the only sale by which they can supply themselves with manufactures and other necessaries.

Their other export is lumber to the West Indies, but of this the whole province does not send out more than sells for five thousand pounds, and sometimes not so much. A part of the winter season is applied to cutting and sawing trees, but from the severity of the season the progress made in this work is inconsiderable, and yields no great profit to the farmer. The distance of those islands, with the vast superiority of the more southern colonies in climate for the winter execution of this work, lessen the profit of the Nova Scotians greatly.

Neither the fishery nor the export of lumber prove advantageous enough to render the settlers comparable in ease and wealth to the people of New England, New York, &c. or, I may add (and this is what I mean particularly to inculcate) to the same class of men among our farmers in Britain; except in the articles, not immaterial I allow, of shooting and fishing. But when the difference of climate is considered, the agreeable and healthy life which is lead even in winter in England; the friendly society enjoyed by our lowest classes of farmers in our country towns and village ale houses, upon market days and other meetings — the goodness of our roads, and the security of living, what can tempt any that feel such advantages to leave them in pursuit of imaginary happiness in the woods of Nova Scotia? Where the winters are miserably severe, where society is scarcely anywhere to be found, without a road in the country, and where a hostile race of Indians, till very lately, rendered the whole colony unhappily insecure. But the great superiority remains to be mentioned: promotion, if I may so express myself, is cheaper in England; for it appears from the preceding calculation, that a much larger sum is necessary to go to, and settle, with any advantage in Nova Scotia, even on the smallest scale, than would be sufficient to stock a good farm in England. The fishing apparatus is expensive and if that employment is neglected, the most profitable branch in the country is lost: the planters must degenerate into mere tartars, without a commodity for sale wherewith to buy manufactures. Let these circumstances be considered, and I think it must be apparent, that many of the emigrants who go to Nova Scotia with a view to practice at husbandry, &c. more profitable than that of Europe, must find themselves miserably deceived.

What sort of a country must it be where government is forced to give a bounty on raising corn to keep the people from starving? Yet this is the case with Nova Scotia. On all wheat raised it is one shilling a bushel; on barley, oats, and pulse, nine pence, and on roots six pence.

Relative to the islands of Cape Breton and St. John [i.e., P.E.I.] I must observe, that the former has only a few plantations, made by connivance, by fishermen, merely for the convenience of its situation for the cod fishery. But the island of St. John was granted to some well-known noblemen, since the peace, with a view to colonize the whole. The scheme was originally formed by the late Earl of Egmont; but he did not live to see any success attend the plan, which yet was laid as well as most could be for such climates, and the execution begun with great spirit, at an expense that would have brought into culture no inconsiderable tract of waste in England or in Scotland; and that the success would have been greater and infinitely more beneficial at home than in America, cannot for a moment be doubted. Several hundred settlers have been fixed there, yet they are at present supplied with food from New York instead of a beneficial system of pasturage and planting hemp, they have already, like all these northern colonists, taken to the fishery, as the only means of paying for the necessaries of life, in direct contradiction to the designs of their patrons. This is, and ever will be, the consequence of colonizing in such northern latitudes, where agriculture must ever be carried on with feebleness; where the climate is to the last degree rigorous; and where every spot is inhospitable and frigid. To plant colonies in such situations, is acting contrary to every rational idea of colonization.

I am sensible that the original idea of planting Nova Scotia was not so much upon a plan of agriculture as defence. The encroachments of the French made settlements and fortresses necessary and the neighbourhood of Louisburg rendered a safe port, as a retreat for the navy, indispensable. Upon this plan garrisons were necessary, and these could not be supported without an adjacent agriculture. There is something rational in this, but it extends no further than the necessity of the case, and not to the immense expense which the nation has suffered on account of the colony, amounting to considerably more than a million sterling; besides, this argument, since the peace, has no longer any validity, whereas we have acted as if it continued in full force; and after feeling the unprofitable expense of one snowy desert, have planted a second. This conduct would have been excusable had we possessed no other territories in America, but while such immense districts remained uncultivated to the south, it was really inexcusable upon every principle of good policy.

Written by johnwood1946

August 2, 2017 at 8:50 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

Notes About Edward Cornwallis, Who Has Been in the News Lately

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From the blog at

Notes About Edward Cornwallis, Who Has Been in the News Lately

Protesting the memory of Edward Cornwallis

From the Chronicle Herald

The War of Austrian Succession, in the 1740’s included England and France, and brought to an end the fragile Peace of Utrecht of 1713. Utrecht had transferred Acadia to Britain, while France had maintained control of Cape Breton where they built Fort Louisbourg. This was not very satisfactory, however, since the two sides could not agree on the limits of ‘Acadia’, and Louisbourg remained an irritant to the British.

Britain finally captured Louisbourg and decided to strengthen their position in Acadia by building a colony in the wilderness at what would become Halifax. Nova Scotia was inhabited by the Acadians and the Mi’kmaq, while the English were mostly strangers.

The Acadians knew very well that another war, and another peace, and another transfer of sovereignty from one side to the other guaranteed nothing as to what might happen next. The British had given them one year during which they could either leave Nova Scotia or take a loyalty oath, but they refused both options. They became known as the ‘neutral’ French and wanted to remain so. They asked to be left out of future combat.

The Mi’kmaq were also in a difficult position. The Acadians were their friends and the English were not. The Mi’kmaq greeted the would-be colonists as potential friends, but the English were harassing the Acadians over the issue of loyalty oaths, and prospects for the Mi’kmaq were not encouraging. As far as the Mi’kmaq were concerned, Acadia had not belonged to the French and had not been transferred to the English. It belonged to them. Some of their comrades in Boston had faced a similar situation, and the Mi’kmaq would have agreed with their response: “Thou sayest that the French man hast given thee [lands] in my neighborhood, …. He shall give it to thee as much as he will [but,] for me, I have my land which the Great Spirit has given me to live on. As long as there shall be a child of my nation, he will fight to preserve it”

Following are excerpts from Duncan Campbell’s Nova Scotia, in its Historical, Mercantile and Industrial Relations, Montreal, 1873, about Edward Cornwallis and his time in Halifax. It is heavily edited and condensed and I have also added some material.


Britain was determined to retain a firm hold on Nova Scotia, and decided to establish a settlement there. An advertisement was accordingly published in the London Gazette, setting forth a proposal for peopling Nova Scotia and establishing a civil government. His Majesty had signified his approbation, and instructions had been issued to the Lords Commissioners of Trade and Plantations to present inducements to disbanded officers and private soldiers, as well as to such tradesmen and farmers willing to accept grants of land. Free passage, and subsistence during the voyage, and for twelve months after their arrival, were offered—also arms and ammunition for defence, with proper implements for husbandry, fishing, and the erection of houses. A civil government was to be established, with all the privileges granted to other colonies in British North America. These terms attracted a large number of applicants, many of whose descendants now live in Nova Scotia.

The emigrants embarked in thirteen transports to the number of 2,576 souls. The expedition was under the charge of the Honorable Edward Cornwallis, who was now in his thirty-seventh year, and was appointed Governor of the Province at an annual salary of a thousand pounds. This appointment was made through the influence of Lord Halifax.

Cornwallis sailed in the Sphinx on the 14th of May, 1749, and arrived on the coast of Nova Scotia about the 14th of June. He anchored in Merliguiche Bay (Lunenburg), where there was a small French settlement, communicated with the inhabitants who seemed in comfortable circumstances, and proceeded thence to Chebucto (Halifax). The Governor was followed by transports which arrived early in July. The ground, which is now the site of Halifax was then covered with a forest to the water’s edge. “The country,” said Cornwallis, “is one continued wood, no clear spot to be seen.” A few French families had settled some miles off, and visited the fleet on its arrival.

The Governor communicated with Mascarene, commander at Annapolis and acting Governor, and also with Louisbourg to which place he sent ships to gather two regiments of British troops.

Knowing the severity of the climate in winter, they proceeded immediately with clearing the forest and erecting habitations. It was at first intended that the town should be built near Point Pleasant, but, on further consideration, it was resolved to adopt a site further up the harbor. The ground was traced and subdivided into blocks of three hundred and twenty by one hundred and twenty feet. Streets sixty feet wide were projected, each block containing sixteen lots with a frontage of forty feet, and sixty feet deep. The present Buckingham Street was the north, and Salter Street the south limit. To prevent disputes the settlers drew for their lots. Timber for building purposes was sent from Boston, and construction proceeded rapidly.

Many of the structures that were throw up must have been very insubstantial, and insufficient for the coming winter. To this must, to a great extent, be attributed the great mortality of the succeeding winter. The intemperate habits of some of the colonists may also have contributed.

At their first meeting of Council, the necessity of a stringent oath of allegiance being administered to the Acadians was discussed. Mascarene informed the Governor that the French always asserted that the various oaths which they had taken were on the understanding that they should not be called upon to bear arms against their countrymen. Three French deputies were called in, and assured that all the privileges which they had hitherto enjoyed under English rule would be continued upon their taking the oath of allegiance usually administered to British subjects.

The Acadians were alarmed at this, and send deputies from all the principal settlements to Halifax to obtain a modification. On finding His Excellency resolved to have the usual oath, without any exceptional clause, they asked whether, in the event of their resolving to leave the country in preference to compliance, they would be allowed to dispose of their property. The Governor replied that such of them as were resolved to leave would not be permitted either to sell or take property of any kind, reminding them that the one year grace period had expired. They were required to take the oath before the 26th October on pain of forfeiture of all their property. The deputies returned to their constituents, and came back to Halifax on the 17th of September with an address, signed by one thousand inhabitants, in which they stated their willingness to take the oath, but with the usual provision of not bearing arms. They insisted that compliance with the Governor’s demand would expose them to the fury of the Indians, who were allied with the French. The Governor was not swayed by these arguments and replied that the Acadians were deceived if they thought they could choose whether to be the King’s subjects or not.

On the arrival of the Governor, the Indians seemed friendly. They visited his Excellency and received presents. Afterwards, a formal treaty was prepared, which was signed with due formality. By late October, the troops had surrounded the town with a barricade for protection against Indian attack. Also in October, the Mi’kmaq attacked six men while cutting wood near Dartmouth, killing four and making one a prisoner. The sixth man escaped. At Canso they took twenty English prisoners, and committed other hostilities.

The hostility of the Indians was blamed upon the priest Joseph de la Loutre who was the principal missionary to the Mi’kmaq in Nova Scotia as early as 1740. Mascarene described him as a very bad character, who had incited the killing of English, the destroying of cattle and the burning of houses. De la Loutre had acted in opposition to the instructions of the Bishop of Quebec, it seems, who accused him of bringing misfortune upon the Mi’kmaq and Acadians. The Governor at Quebec may have had a different opinion.

Cornwallis had been encouraged to initiate trade with the Mi’kmaq, but was convinced that there was no prospect for diplomacy and resolved to drive the Indians off of the entire peninsula of Nova Scotia. Whitehall disapproved of this and wrote to the Governor, saying “as to your opinion, however, of never hereafter making peace with them, and of totally extirpating them, we cannot but think that, as the prosecution of such design must be attended with acts of great severity, it may prove of dangerous consequence to the safety of His Majesty’s other colonies on the continent, by filling the minds of the bordering Indians with ideas of our cruelty, and instigating them to a dangerous spirit of resentment.”

Cornwallis went ahead and issued a Scalping Proclamation by which an award would be given for the killing of any Mi’kmaq man, woman or child. Estimates differ as to how many were killed, but there are reports of several attacks with dozens of scalps being brought in.

In the meantime, de la Loutre, crossed to the St. John River, and went to Quebec, embarking for France shortly thereafter. His vessel was captured by the British, and he spent the next eight years in prison.

The Scalping Proclamation failed. Attacks by the Mi’kmaq continued, including one in the early 1750’s when some people were scalped and others taken prisoner at the new village of Dartmouth. Relations with the Acadians also deteriorated. If they could not leave with their property, they said, then they would protest by not planting any seed. This would have left the English with no domestic foot source, and Cornwallis delayed his deadline for them to take the oath. The subsequent history was not kind for either the Acadians or the Mi’kmaq.

Cornwallis returned to England in the summer of 1752, and was succeeded by Peregine Thomas Hopson, in August of that year.

Written by johnwood1946

July 26, 2017 at 8:27 AM

Posted in Uncategorized