New Brunswick History and Other Stuff

Through the Woods in the Dead of Winter; Fredericton to the Miramichi

with one comment

From the blog at

Through the Woods in the Dead of Winter; Fredericton to the Miramichi

Richard Dashwood was a British military officer who was stationed in Fredericton for a while during the 1860’s, and later wrote a book entitled Chiploquorgan; or, Life by the Camp Fire … detailing his experiences. The following story is condensed and edited from that book. According to Dashwood, Chiploquorgan is the Maliseet name for the stick used to suspend a kettle over a camp fire.

Dashwood and a fellow officer left Fredericton on a hunting trip in late November of 1864, and were away for more than a month. They experiencing the worst that winter conditions could inflict upon them, but they were up to the challenge.

A Logging Scene, ca 1897

From the N.B. Museum via the McCord Museum


Early in December is the best time to proceed on a winter hunting expedition after caribou. At this season the skins of the fur bearing animals are in the best order; and the rivers, lakes and marshy barrens are frozen hard.

The caribou chiefly frequents the country bordering on the St. Laurence, and is met with in the Maritime Provinces, especially in New Brunswick. A full grown stag weighs over three hundred weight, and is about four feet in height. The head is full shaped, with none of the fineness of the red deer about it; the neck is very thick; the legs are beautifully fine; the hoofs large, round and split, which enables the animal to traverse the snow without sinking. The does are smaller and rather finer about the head. Cariboo vary in colour according to their age and the season of the year. In summer the stags are brown, and the does nearly black, while in winter they assume a much lighter shade. The big stags drop their horns in November, the smaller ones later; the females, whose antlers are small but prettily shaped, not until May.

Caribou feed chiefly on white moss and lichen, and also the moss that hangs in festoons from firs and tamaracks. In summer they will browse on leaves. During winter when the snow is deep, they dig down several feet with their hoofs to get at the white moss, and not with their horns, long since cast.

In summertime the old stags are solitary. The does are accompanied by their fawns, and sometimes by young stags. At the approach of the rutting season in September, caribou congregate in herds, each of which has a master stag, who fights all interlopers.

When winter sets in, the big stags herd together, the small stags still remaining with the does. The principal resort of these animals is in the neighbourhood of barrens, or in open woods of scrubby spruce or pitch pine, where grows the white moss, their favourite food. In the absence of fir growth they are frequently found in hard wood ridges, but from the comparative scarcity of food they are never in such good condition as when in the vicinity of barrens.

Caribou never remain stationary in one place like moose, but are always wandering about from plain to plain. No one, therefore, need be disheartened when hunting these animals at not seeing fresh tracks, provided there be old ones, as the herds are almost sure to come round again sooner or later. Their meat is excellent and, when fat, surpasses any other venison. The skins make capital rugs and sleigh robes, and when tanned, the leather is exceedingly close in the grain, and very strong.

Caribou can be called in the rutting season, but not in the same manner as moose. A solitary stag when looking for does in the rutting season, will come to the noise made by a stag, for the purpose of fighting him. As an instance, on one occasion a large caribou stag came out of the woods making a snorting noise, which Sebattis, our Indian, had imitated on his horn. The animal came right up to us, giving vent to a gruff kind of grunt and pawing the earth. He was immediately dropped by a ball from Farquharson’s rifle, a brother officer who was with me.

It is, of course, far better sport to hunt caribou in the autumn, when the horns are at their prime, than in winter, when the large stags have dropped them. However, there is great difficulty in finding the animal during the fall, for at that time the caribou are mostly hid in the thick woods along the edges of marshes where they cannot be tracked. It is better, therefore, to call moose in September, and wait until the snow falls, and the ice forms, to hunt caribou.

At the end of November, 1864, Farquharson and I arranged to proceed on a hunting expedition to the head of the Little Southwest Miramichi. This ground was a long way off, and rather difficult of access, but affording the inducement of beaver and other trapping, in addition to shooting caribou. We hired two Indians, Sebattis, the man I frequently employed, and Joe Bear, son of old Loui Bear, the most famous of the Malecite hunters. We also got together our hunting gear, including four toboggans. A hunting toboggan is six feet long, composed of two side pieces of spruce, six inches wide, and one inch in thickness, rounded off in front, and square behind; these are placed parallel to each other, at the distance of two feet, and joined at the upper sides by wooden benches of maple or other hard wood.

Starting from Fredericton, we drove to Boisetown, on the Miramichi, a distance of fifty miles. On arriving there we found the river still open, though large quantities of ice were floating down. Hiring a couple of settlers and their dugouts, we poled to the mouth of Rocky brook, ten miles upstream. Here we fortunately overtook a party of lumberers who were about to set out in our direction with a sled and team of horses for their camp, distant fifteen miles. There was not any snow on the ground, between the river and the green woods, which were three miles off; we therefore arranged with the lumber party to haul all our gear to their camp, where we arrived late in the evening, tired and glad to sit down and smoke our pipes opposite the fire, waiting until the cook had got ready the evening meal.

I will here give a short description of a lumber camp, and how the business is carried on. The camp is an oblong structure, built of spruce or fir logs notched at the ends, so as to fit into each other, the chinks are stuffed up with moss; the roof which slopes on each side from the centre, is composed of rough boards, split with an axe from cedar or pine, these are termed splints. There is a door at one end, and the roof over the fire place, which is situated in the centre of the camp, is left open.

In front of the fire on one side, and running the whole length of the camp, is a bench, hewn out of spruce or fir; this bench is termed the deacon seat; behind it the men sleep in a row, on fir boughs, with one long rug under and another over them. Two bunks are made at right angles to the fire; one of these is occupied by the teamster, who has charge of the horses, and is therefore enabled to get up and feed them without disturbing the other men; the other by the boss. The cook sleeps on the other side the fire, which it is his duty to keep going all night. On that side he has all his cooking apparatus, consisting of a couple of frying pans, baking oven, kettle and large iron pot, besides numerous tin plates and dishes, knives, &c. It is also part of his work to cut all the fire wood for the camp.

The men breakfast in winter an hour before daylight; dinner is served at twelve, supper at dark, and a fourth meal later if they wish. Their wages vary from twelve to sixteen dollars per month, not much considering the hard work.

A crew of lumberers have different occupations assigned to them; the fellers, who cut down the trees and trim them; the swampers, who swamp, cut roads to the felled trees, to enable the teamster and his assistants to haul them on a bob sled two sleds working independently and joined with chains to the banks of the river or brook where the lumber is yarded, or piled up, ready to be launched into the water in the spring.

It requires a large crew of men to pilot the floating timber down the streams, as many logs get hung up, the local term applied to these stoppages. Sometimes jams occur, the logs being piled up one above another to a great height. To break a jam and cut the log which holds the pile together requires skill, and is attended with considerable danger, as directly the key log is severed the jam gives way at once, some pieces of timber shooting up their ends high out of the water. The man on the jam has to get ashore quickly, jumping often from one floating log to another. To prevent him slipping he has spikes in his shoes.

The wages during the driving are higher than at other times, the men working at the head of the drive earn more than those at the tail where there are no jams. The work at this season continues from daylight till dark, and five meals a day are provided. Temporary camps are made along the banks, as the drive progresses down the stream. When the timber has been driven down to large rivers or lakes it is rafted, then wharped, or towed by steamers, to the saw mills.

But to continue: after we had supped, and all hands were in camp, we were cross questioned in the usual manner relative to where we came from, and where we were going to hunt, our guns minutely examined, and passed round from one to another with the remarks, “Well now,” and “What would she cost?” “I guess that is a complete gun and no mistake,” or alluding to our breech-loaders which more especially excited their curiosity, “That beats all.”

One or two of the men professed to know of places swarming with caribou and moose. Of course none of these stories were to be relied upon for a moment. The knowledge of these people with a few exceptions is confined to trees. As a rule, they know little of the animals, though spending half the year in the woods.

Having smoked sundry pipes and done a good deal of talking, we turned in for the night, Farquharson among the men. I had already experienced sleeping with a dozen men under one blanket. It is a case of one turn, all turn; nor is it pleasant to awake with one man’s elbow in your eye, and the knee of another in your ribs. So with a bag of flour for a pillow, I slept on the deacon seat, which afforded me room to turn to the fire when one side got cold.

Indians, when in a lumber camp never talk or make a remark, even at the most glaring yarns. On asking Sebattis what he thought of the stories of the preceding evening, he replied, “Lumber-men all liars, must think us big fools.” We were aroused long before daylight by the boss calling, “Now, boys, tumble up.” Farquharson had had quite enough of his couch, and declared he would not sleep among the men again.

After breakfast having packed our three toboggans, which when loaded, weighed heavy, we left the camp on our way. Farquharson and I had a toboggan between us, the Indians one each. We followed an old sable line, built formerly by Joe Bear. A sable line is a line of traps set for that animal. The hauling was exceedingly bad from the slight depth of snow and the numerous windfalls which intercepted our way, and over which our toboggans had to be lifted. We only got about five miles that day, and camped at night in an old hunting wigwam.

The next morning we proceeded on our way with the same difficulties, our progress being slower as we stopped to set up and bait the dead falls, wooden traps along the line. On this evening we were not able to reach a camp, of which there were several on our route, but camped in the snow at the bottom of a very steep hill, which we were too tired to face that day. It was some time after dark when we had rigged up a camp with a blanket, cut wood, and cooked our supper.

After two more days hauling we reached a bark wigwam on the Renous lakes. Here we set some traps for otter and one for beaver at a house nearby. We had performed a hard day’s work, and consequently slept soundly. During the night our camp, which was of birch bark, caught fire, and the consequences might have been serious had not Joe Bear awoke, and rousing us and managed to put it out.

The next morning Farquharson and Joe, leaving one toboggan behind, followed a fresh bear track. It was just the time of year that these animals were looking out for their winter habitations, so afforded a good chance to get him, provided they found him in his den.

Sebattis and I taking a toboggan apiece agreed to meet our companions at a camp on the Little Southwest Lake, our ultimate destination, which was only a day’s journey from the Renous lakes. We had a very hilly country to traverse, principally of hardwood growth and, what with setting up traps and building a few fresh ones, it was almost dark when we emerged on to a lake. Up to this time we had followed the line which was delineated by the blazes, marks in the trees.

Sebattis was a stranger to this part of the country and we had difficulty picking up the line of blazes in the dark. Our toboggans upset and we had frequent falls. We eventually emerged on to the lake and Joe told us his camp was situated nearby, but finding it in the dark was the difficulty.

In a short time the report of a gun was heard, which I answered, and we soon met our companions. Farquharson had not succeeded in getting a shot at the bear, though they came upon his newly made den.

We had now travelled a distance of thirty miles from the lumber camp, and had a line of deadfalls set nearly all the way, with several steel traps at beaver houses, and likely places for otters. We had not seen a single track of either a caribou or moose; the former we had not expected to meet with in the thick woods, but three years previously moose had been most plentiful in these regions, until annihilated by Indians and others, solely for their skins.

The following morning we left camp early, expecting to find fresh tracks of caribou. The country to the north of the lake was sparsely covered with scrubby spruce and pitch pine, with plenty of white moss growing everywhere, a most likely looking caribou ground. But after a long tramp we were surprised at seeing none but very old tracks, mingled with those of a pack of wolves, whose dung we was full of caribou hair. This accounted at once for the absence of the deer, and Joe informed us that when chased by wolves caribou do not return to the same ground for a long time.

Having come so far, we decided to make the best of it, and so set to work, trapping vigorously, setting steel traps at three beaver houses in the big lake, and at several others in the many lakes which lay in the surrounding country. We also set traps for otters in several good places, and constructed a new line of about fifty dead falls across a high hill, near the margin of the lake. It took us two or three days to complete this line, working together, two of us cutting out a path and blazing the line, the others building and baiting the traps.

We were now hard pressed for fresh meat, our pork was getting low, and it also turned out rancid, but it had to be eaten for we had as yet caught no beaver. I had observed some muskrat houses at one end of the lake, so I sent Sebattis to try and trap some, and he returned in the evening with three. Muskrats are not bad eating in winter time, made into soup, especially if you have no other meat. We also caught a porcupine which was almost uneatable. Grouse were very scarce in the neighbourhood. It is at all times difficult to find them without a dog in the middle of the forests. We also tried to catch trout through the ice, but without success.

The next day our luck turned, for on going round the traps we found three beavers. Another must have had a narrow escape, as a chip of wood gnawed off by the beaver had fallen on to the pan and, on the trap being sprung, flew up and was caught between the jaws, thus enabling him to escape. At the end of a week, our Indians went round our more distant traps, while Farquharson and I remained at the lake. One day we had occasion to visit a beaver house, and a short line at the further extremity of the large lake. I never remember feeling the cold so bitter. A strong east wind with driving sleet, blew in our faces, and we had to walk backwards most of the way. On reaching the woods, Farquharson was frostbitten in the hands, though wearing mitts. I had escaped, but was obliged to change the hand grasping the barrel of my rifle, every minute.

On our return we had not to face the wind, but the glare ice from which the slight covering of snow had been blown off made it very fatiguing. How I wished we had brought skates. We did not get back to camp until after dark, and there was not a stick of wood cut; luckily it was moonlight, so I set to work to fell trees and cut them into lengths, which my companion carried to camp. Joe and Sebattis returned in a couple of days with a beaver and two sable; they also brought the toboggan which had been left at Renous.

After spending here three weeks, we set out on our return. Farquharson had cut his leg with an axe, and consequently I was obliged to haul a toboggan single handed. The second day we reached a camp on the Dungarvon waters, where we remained a day, and attempted to kill some beaver in a dam, but all our efforts failed.

On the third day we reached the lumber camp, where we had previously passed the night. The following morning we made an early start, as we had fifteen miles to haul along a lumber road to the mouth of Rocky brook, and a very grievous and hard fifteen miles it proved. On the advice of the lumberers we took the brook near their camp, but we had not proceeded far when it gave way and Farquharson, who was in front, fell in. We were obliged therefore to retrace our steps to the camp, hauling up a steep hill, and make a fresh start along the lumber road, which was slippery.

We had not got more than a mile on our journey when a tremendous snow storm set in, and before the middle of the day we were ploughing through light snow up to our knees. Under no other circumstances is hauling so heavy; it was only with immense exertions that we were able to drag along our toboggans, and the distance appeared interminable. The road lay over several very steep hills, the surmounting of which from the slippery nature of the ground cost us many falls, nor would snow shoes have mended matters. At length quite done up we arrived on the banks of the river at dark, where we made a temporary camp by sticking up a blanket and clearing away the snow. It proved a miserable place to camp, being very open and with wood exceedingly scarce. Our supper consisted of a small portion of pork and bread with tea.

The snowstorm having cleared off, a bitterly cold night set in. The thermometer, we afterwards discovered, went down to thirty-nine below zero. We were all awoke by the cold, and sat smoking by the fire until morning. A grouse, happening at day break to perch above our heads, was shot by Farquharson, and made an addition to our breakfast. The next day we put on our snowshoes and proceeded down the river on the ice to the settlements, where we arrived in the evening, put up at a farm house, and enjoyed a plentiful meal.

The next day a farmer drove us to Cain’s River, where we took up our abode in an old lumber camp, hoping to get a shot at a caribou before our return to Fredericton. No such luck awaited us, for after scouring the country all round, we saw not a single track, although one of the men at the lumber camp had declared he had seen plenty in that neighbourhood. As Cain’s River was formerly famous for caribou, we believed him.

The following day, we set out with Sebattis to creep moose he had discovered. On approaching the yard we took off our snow shoes, and after proceeding for about an hour with caution, treading in each other’s tracks as the snow was now deep, we sighted four moose about one hundred yards off. Two of the animals were lying down, the others feeding. Those lying down immediately became aware of our approach and jumped up. We fired several shots, killing one and wounding another, which was found dead the next day more than a mile from where he had been struck. It occupied us several days to haul the meat to camp, after which we returned to Fredericton, as our leave was nearly at an end.


Written by johnwood1946

November 5, 2017 at 8:09 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

Acadia in 1720, as Seen by Paul Mascarene

leave a comment »

From the blog at

Acadia in 1720, as Seen by Paul Mascarene

1720 was very early in what would become the English period in Nova Scotia. The Peace of Utrecht had given Acadia to England in 1713 but, in effect, this included only the peninsula of Nova Scotia. Halifax would not be founded for another almost 50 years, and the final siege of Louisbourg would be even later. England was not giving much attention to Nova Scotia, despite the Peace of 1713, and the territory remained effectively under the control of the Acadians and the Mi’kmaq while British pondered whether it was worthwhile to settle English people there. In the meantime, France held Cape Breton and engaged in trade with the Acadians.

Paul Mascarene was the commander at Annapolis Royal, a derelict fortress, de facto Capital and home also to Governor Phillips. Most of their efforts around that time were in trying to persuade the Acadians to sign loyalty oaths (a hopeless task that the King had insisted upon) and in defending against the Indians.

Following is Paul Mascarene’s memorandum to the Lords of Trade describing Nova Scotia, its people, and the challenges of running a small military outpost in an area which was hostile and foreign. It is taken from Selections from the public documents of the province of Nova Scotia, and the spelling is as found.

Paul Mascarene, from Wikipedia

I am sure that he didn’t look like this when living in the wilds of Nova Scotia


Acadia in 1720, as Seen by Paul Mascarene

The Boundaries having as yet not been agreed on between the British and French Governments in these parts as stipulated in the 10th Article of the treaty of Utrecht no just ones can be settled in this description. The extent of the province of Nova Scotia or Acadie, according to the notion the Britains have of it, is from the limits of the Government of Massachusetts Bay in New England, or Kennebeck River about the 44th degree North latitude, to Cape de Roziers on the South side of the entrance of the River of St. Lawrens in the 44th degree of the same latitude, and its breadth extends from the Eastermost part of the Island of Cape Breton to the South side of the River of St. Lawrence. Out of this large tract the French had yielded to them at the above Treaty the Islands situated at the mouth of the River St. Lawrence and in the Gulph of the same with the Island of Cape Breton.

The climate is cold and very variable even in the southermost part of this Country, and is subject to long and severe winters.

The soil notwithstanding this, may be easily made to produce all the supplies of life for the inhabitants which may more particularly appear when mention is made of each particular settlement. It produces in general, Wheat, Rye, Barley, Oats, all manner of pulse, garden roots and Herbs, it abounds in Cattle of all kinds, and has plenty of both tame and wild fowl. It is no less rich in its produce for what relates to trade. Its woods are filled with Oak, Fir, Pine of all sorts fit for masts, Pitch and Tar, Beach, Maple, Ash, Birch, Asp &c. There are also undoubtedly several iron and Copper mines the latter at Cape Doré have been attempted three different times, but the great expense which would attend the digging and thoroughly searching them has discouraged the undertakers, the whole Cape being of a vast heighth and an entire rock, through the crevices of which some bits of Copper spaed. There are good Coal mines and a quarry of soft stone near Chignecto, and at Musquash cove ten leagues from Annapolis Royal, as also in St. Johns River very good and plenty of white marble is found which burns into very good lime, feathers and furs are a considerable part of the trade of this Country, but the most material is the fishing of Cod which all the Coast abounds with, and seems to be inexhaustable. It is easy from hence to infer of how much benefit it is to Great Britain that two such considerable branches of trade as the supplies for Naval Stores, and the Fishery may remain in her possession, and if it should be objected that New England and Newfoundland are able to supply the demands of Great Britain on those two heads it may be easily replied, that the markets will be better, especially in relation to fish when Great Britain is almost the sole mistress of that branch of trade, and her competitors abridged of the large share they bear in it.

There are four considerable settlements on the south side of the Bay of Fundy, Annapolis Royal, Manis, Chignecto, and Cobequid which shall be treated on separately. Several families are scattered along the Eastern Coast which shall be also mentioned in their turn.

The Inhabitants of these Settlements are still all French and Indians; the former have been tolerated in the possession of the lands they possessed, under the French Government, and have had still from time to time longer time allowed them either to take the Oaths to the Crown of Great Britain, or to withdraw, which they have always found some pretence or other to delay, and to ask for longer time for consideration. They being in general of the Romish persuasion, cannot be easily drawn from the French Interest, to which they seem to be entirely wedded, tho’ they find a great deal more sweetness under the English Government. They use all the means they can to keep the Indians from dealing with the British subjects, and by their mediation spreading among the Savages several false Notions tending to make them diffident, and frighten them from a free intercourse with them, and prompting them now and then to some mischief which may increase that diffidence, and oblige them to keep more at a distance.

There are but two reasons which may plead for the keeping those French Inhabitants in this Country. 1st The depriving the French of the addition of such a strength, which might render them too powerful neighbours, especially if these people on their withdrawing hence are received and settled at Cape Breton; and secondly, the use that may be made of them in providing necessaries for erecting fortifications, and for English Settlements and keeping on the stock of cattle, and the lands tilled, till the English are powerful enough of themselves to go on, which two last will sensibly decay if they withdraw before any considerable number of British subjects be settled in their stead, and it is also certain that they having the conveniency of saw mills (which it will not be in our power to hinder being destroyed by them, at their going away) may furnish sooner and cheaper the plank boards &c. requisite for building.

The reasons for not admitting these Inhabitants are many and strong, and naturally deriving from the little dependance on their allegiance. The free exercise of their religion as promised to them, implies their having missionaries of the Romish persuasion amongst them, who have that ascendance over that ignorant people, as to render themselves masters of all their actions, and to guide and direct them as they please in temporal as well as in spiritual affairs. These missionaries have their superiors at Canada or Cape Breton, from whom it is natural to think, they will receive such commands as will never square with the English interest being such as these viz., Their forever inciting the Salvages to some mischief or other, to hinder their corresponding with the English; their laying all manner of difficulties in the way when any English Settlement is proposed or going on by inciting underhand the Salvages to disturb them, and making these last such a bugbear, as if they (the French) themselves durst not give any help to the English for fear of being massacred by them, when it is well known the Indians are but a handful in this country. And were the French Inhabitants (who are able to appear a thousand men under arms) hearty for the British Government, they could drive away, or utterly destroy the Salvages in a very little time. The French Inhabitants besides are for the generality very little industrious, their lands not improved as might be expected, they living in a manner from hand to mouth, and provided they have a good field of Cabbages and Bread enough for their families with what fodder is sufficient for their cattle they seldom look for much further improvement.

It is certain that British Colonists would be far more advantageous to the settling this Province, and would besides the better improvement of it, for which their Industry is far superior to the French who inhabit it at present, lessen considerably the expence in defending of it, not only in regard to fortifications, but also in regard to Garrisons, because the English Inhabitants would be a strength of themselves, whereas the French require a strict watch over them. This would also reconcile the native Indians to the English, which the other as mentioned before, endeavour to keep at a distance.

The neighbouring Government of the French at Cape Breton is not very desirous of drawing the Inhabitants out of this Country so long as they remain in it under a kind of Allegiance to France, especially if they are not allowed to carry their cattle, effects, grain, &c., which last would be more welcome in the barren country than bare Inhabitants, but is opposing with all its might and by the influence of the Priests residing here, their taking the oaths of Allegiance to Great Britain, and if even that oath was taken by them, the same influence would make it of little or no effect. That Government is also improving by the same means the diffidence of the Indians, and will make them instruments to disturb the British Settlements on the Eastern Coast of this Government, or any other place, which might check the supplies they have from hence for their support on their barren territories besides the jealousy in trade, and fear of this Government being too powerful in case of a War.

It would be therefore necessary for the interest of Great Britain, and in order to reap the benefit, which will accrue from the acquisition of this country, not to delay any longer the settling of it, but to go about it in good earnest to which it is humbly proposed, viz:

That the French Inhabitants may not be tolerated any longer in their non-allegiance, but may have the test put to them without granting them any further delay, for which it is requisite a sufficient force be allowed to make them comply with the terms prescribed them, which force ought to be at least six hundred men to be divided to the several parts already inhabited by the French and Indians, and might be at the same time a cover to the British Inhabitants who would come to settle in the room of the French. For an encouragement to those new Inhabitants, should be given free transportation, free grants of land, and some stock of Cattle out of what such of the French who would rather choose to withdraw, than take the oaths, might be hindered to destroy or carry away.

The expence this project would cost the Government, would be made up by the benefit, which would accrue to trade, when the country should be settled with Inhabitants, who would promote it, and would be a security to it and in a little time a small force of regular troops would be able to defend it, with the help of loyal Inhabitants.

The great expence the Government has been at already on account of this country, and the little benefit that has accrued from it is owing for the most part, to its being peopled with Inhabitants that have been always enemies to the English Government, for its evident from what has been said of the temper of the Inhabitants, and the underhand dealings of the Government of Cape Breton, that what orders are or may be given out by the Governor of this Province, without they are backed by a sufficient force, will be always slighted and rendered of non-effect.

It will be easy to judge how the number of Troops here proposed, ought to be disposed of by the description of every particular settlement and first …

Annapolis Royal is seated on the Southern side of the Bay of Fundy, about thirty leagues from Cape Sables. The entry from the Bay into the British River is of a mile long, and in the widest place about half a mile broad, this entry leads into a larger Basin where a vast number of ships may sagely anchor. Three leagues from the entry, and up the British river lies Goat Island; the ship channel between that and the main lies on the larboard side going up, it is narrow, but has water enough for the biggest ships, the other side of the Isle is full of shoals, and has a very narrow and difficult channel. Two leagues above Goat Island is the Fort, seated on a rising sandy ground on the South side of the River on a point formed by the British River and another small one called Jenny river. The lower Town lies along the first and is commanded by the Fort, the upper Town stretches in scattering houses a mile and half South East from the Fort on the rising ground twixt the two rivers. From this rising ground to the banks of each river, and on the other side of the less one, lies large plats of meadow which formerly were damn’d in, and produced good grain and sweet grass, but the dykes being broke down, are over flowed at every spring tide from Goat Island to five leagues above the Fort. On both sides of the British River are a great many fine farms Inhabited by about two hundred families. The tide flows that extent, but the river is not navigable above two leagues above the Fort, by any other than small boats. The Bank of this River is very pleasant and fruitful and produces wheat, rye and other grain, pulse, garden roots, herbs and the best cabbages of any place here abounds also cattle and fowls of all kinds and if the several good tracts of land along this river were well improved they would suffice for a much greater number of habitants than there is already.

The chief employment of the French Inhabitants now is farming and the time they have to spare they employ in hunting, and catching of Sable Martins. Their young men who have not much work at farming beget themselves to Fishing in the summer. The Fort is almost a regular square, has four Bastions, and on the side fronting the Point, which is formed by the junction of the two Rivers, it has a ravelin and a battery of large guns on the counterscarpe of the ravelin, which last with the battery, have been entirely neglected since the English had possession of this place and are entirely ruined. The works are raised with a sandy earth and were faced with sods, which being cut out of a sandy soil (the whole neck betwixt the two rivers being nothing else) soon mouldered away, and some part of the works needed repairing almost every spring. The French constantly repaired it after the same manner except part of the courtin, covered with the Ravelin, which they were obliged to face with pieces of timber some time before they quitted possession of this place. The English followed that last method in repairing of this Fort, reverting of it all round with pieces of round timber, of six or seven inches diameter, to the height of the Cordon, and raising a parapet of sod work, but whether by neglect of the workman, or those who had the overseeing of them, or their little thrift in carrying on these repairs, or some other reason, they put the Government to a prodigious deal of charge, and gave an entire disgust for any manner of repairs. Thus the fort laid for a great while tumbling down, till at the arrival of Governor Philipps, the orders from his Majesty signified by him to the French Inhabitants not pleasing them they shewed some forwardness to disturb the peace and to incite the Indians to some mischief, which made it necessary to put the fort into a posture of defence against the insults which might be offered to the Garrison which is too small of itself to encounter so great a number, as even the Inhabitants of this River, might make against it, they being able to arm and assemble four hundred men, in twenty four hours time. It is therefore humbly proposed in relation to this place, that till the Inhabitants are more loyal, two hundred men of regular Troops may remain garrisoned here, and that whilst a new projection for the fortifying of this place shall be agreed and carried, this fort may be next summer, thoroughly repaired, the sum demanded for these repairs, not exceeding eight hundred pounds sterling, by which this place will be put in a condition to last the time requisite for providing of materials, and building a stone redoubt &c., and may serve to secure the materials, and workmen, which otherwise will be much in danger. This project will be more particularly transmitted this fall to the Honorable Board of Ordnance.

Manis called by the French Les Mines has its name from the Copper Mines which are said to be about it especially at one of the Capes, which divides the Bay of Fundy, and is called Cap Des Mines or Cape Doré. This Town lies thirty leagues by sea and about twenty two by land, East North East from Annapolis Royal, of the same side of the Bay of Fundy. The harbor there, or rather the road, is very wild and unsecure. The vessels trading there, which seldom exceed forty or fifty tons in burthen, take the opportunity of the tide, which commonly rises nine or ten fathoms, and run up a Crick to the Town, where when the tide leaves them they lie dry on a bank of mud which stretches five or six miles before it meets with low water mark. This place might be made a Granary not only for this Province but also for the neighbouring Governments. There is a plat of Meadow which stretches along for near four leagues, part of which is dam’d in from the tide, and produces very good wheat and peas.

The rest of the Meadow might be with some labour dam’d in also, and if peopled by industrious Inhabitants might be of very great advantage, not only in regard to this Province but also, as mentioned above, for the supply of neighbouring Governments.

The houses which compose a kind of scattered Town lies on a rising ground along two Cricks which run betwixt it and the Meadow, and make of this last a kind of peninsula. This place has great Store of Cattle, and other conveniencies of life, and in the road they catch white porpoises, a kind of fish, the bladder of which turned into oil, yields a good profit.

The Inhabitants of this place and round about it are more numerous than those of the British river, besides the number if Indians which often resort here, and as they never had any force near them to bridle them, are less tractable and subject to command. All the orders sent to them if not suited to their humors, are scoffed and laughed at, and they put themselves on a footing of obeying no Government. It will not be an easy matter to oblige these Inhabitants to submit to any terms that do not suit to their humours unless a good force be landed there, and a Fort or redoubt of earth be thrown up and well ditched and friezed and palisaded till a more durable may be built; this redoubt must have four pieces of cannon (sakers) and command the meadow, which is their treasure. The force sent for that purpose must be three or four hundred men, the reason of which will appear, when it is considered, when the wildness of the harbour will not make it safe for any Ship of force to remain there to give countenance to such an undertaking, and then even if she could anchor safely, it must be at a distance of near twelve miles from the place where the said redoubt is to be built and that any other vessels, which must be employed to carry the troops, and workmen must lie ashore dry, sixteen hours at least of the twenty four, and may be liable to be burned, and thereby cut off the retreat of those employed in this work unless they are able to defend themselves and make head against the Inhabitants and the Indians; who will never suffer it to go on, if not kept in awe by a sufficient force. The redoubt ought to be capable of receiving a hundred and fifty men, which will be enough to curb the Inhabitants till they grow more loyal, or better be put in their stead.

Cobequid lies about twelve leagues North East of Manis, at the upper end of the Easternmost branch of the Bay of Fundy.

There are about fifty French Families settled in this place. The soil of which produces good grain, and abounds in cattle and other conveniencies of life. By a River the Inhabitants have communication with Chibucto a harbor on the Eastern Coast and by a road across the woods at a distance of about twenty leagues they fall into the Bay of Vert, in the Gulph of St. Lawrence, by which they drive a trade to Cape Breton. The Indians resort much to this place.

Chignecto is seated upon the Westermost branch of the Bay of Fundy almost at the upper end of it. The inhabitants are numerous having much increased of late years, and are about seventy or eighty families. This place is about twelve leagues distant from Manis having a communication by a river which discharges itself into Manis Rhoad.

This place produces good store of grain and abounds in Cattle more than any other. Within seven leagues of Cape Chignecto (which with Cape Doré divides the Bay of Fundy two branches) there are very good Coal Mines, but the want of shelter makes it dangerous for the vessels which come to receive it; they being forced to anchor in the open Bay. Near the town itself which lies four leagues beyond the coal mines, there is a small Island which has a good quarry of Soft Stone, it cuts in layers of four or six inches thick, and hardens soon after it is cut. The Inhabitants are more given to hunting and trading than those of the other settlements, which is partly occasioned by their being so conveniently seated for it. There being but a small neck of land of two leagues wide which parts the Bay of Fundy from the Gulph of St. Lawrence, by this last they have a continual intercourse with Cape Breton, carrying most of their Furs that way, and supplying it with provisions, of grain, cattle &c. and bringing for returns linens and other goods, to the prejudice of the British trade and manufactories. To put a stop to this, and to bring the Inhabitants of this place under obedience, who are the least subject to the English Government of any other here, it will be necessary that a small fort be built in some convenient place on this neck capable of containing one hundred and fifty men. This is the more so by reason the French having sent four Ships this Summer, with two hundred families, with provisions stores and materials for the erecting a fort and making a settlement on the Island St. Johns, which lies in the Bay of Verte, part of the Gulph of St. Lawrence, part of which Island (which is near fifty leagues long) is but at three or four leagues distance from the main, and six in all from Chignecto. When this settlement is made by the French, they will from thence command all the Trade and carry a greater sway, over all the Bay of Fundy, than the English, who are the undoubted owners but have only the name of possessors of it, till such measures are taken as are here humbly proposed. For it is to be remembered, that each of these places have a French Popish Missionary, who is the real chief Commander of his flock, and receives and takes his commands from his superiors at Cape Breton.

The lesser settlements on this Bay, and other parts of this Government shall be referred to another opportunity and at this time, the most material of all shall only be touched upon viz.,

Cansoe is an Island with several other leas ones adjoining, lying at a small distance from the Main, and at South East and North West from the Passage which boars the same name and separates the Island of Cape Breton from the main Continent. This place has been found so convenient and advantageous for catching and cureing Cod Fish that of late it has been the resort of numbers of English, as it was of French before the seizure made by Captain Smart in His Majesty’s Ship Squirell. This stroke was so grevious to the French, who were concerned in this loss, amongst which were some of the principal Officers of Cape Breton, that seeing they could not obtain the satisfaction they demanded, they have been all at work all this Spring, and incited the Indians to assemble at Canso and to surprise the English who were securely fishing there, (and did not expect such treatment) and having killed and wounded some and drove off the rest to Sea.

By means of this hurry and confusion whilst the Indians were plundering the dry good the French were robbing the fish and transporting of it away, till the English having recovered themselves sent after them, and seized several of their shallops and shareways, laden with English fish and other plunder, and made the robbers prisoners, and pursued the retreating Indians and took two of them also prisoners. Had it not been for this eruption twenty thousand Quintals of dry cod fish this season would have been exported out of this place, and the returns arising thereby, very considerable to Great Britain.

This is sufficient to show the necessity of supporting the British subjects, whom the advantage of the Fishery will draw every year, and induce to settle in this place, if they can be secured from the like insults by a Ship or armed Sloop countenancing them in summer, and a Port and Garrison protecting them in winter. This if encouraged is very likely to be the chief place for Trade tho’ not so conveniently situated for the chief seat of Government as Port Roseway, LaHave, Marligash, Chiboucto, or any other Harbor situate on the Eastern Coast of this Government; which by being near the centre, may best hold communication with the whole. But as neither of these harbors, have been as yet narrowly surveyed, and no sufficient information can be had about them, further mention thereof will be deferred to another opportunity, by

Mascarene, Engineer

Written by johnwood1946

October 25, 2017 at 8:11 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

Nova Scotia’s Sham Government in 1720

leave a comment »

From the blog at

Nova Scotia’s Sham Government in 1720

It was 1720, and Nova Scotia had been ceded to Britain by France. Britain was not sure that the territory was worth the trouble and expense of being settled, but they dispatched a Governor to oversee the area anyway. Governor Phillips was stationed with a small detachment of men at the decrepit old fort at Annapolis Royal and had instructions to befriend the Mi’kmaq and to have the Acadians sign loyalty oaths or leave the place within a year.

This assignment did not proceed smoothly, and Phillips characterized his administration as a mock government and a government in name only.

Following are two letters expressing Governor Phillips’ frustration. They are taken from Selections from the public documents of the province of Nova Scotia. I have edited the letters slightly to correct the spelling and to improve readability.

Richard Phillips presided over a so-called ‘Government’

From Wikipedia


Governor Philipps to Secretary Craggs,

Annapolis Royal, 26 Sept. 1720

Sir,— In my former letters I have had the Honour to lay before you the State of the King’s affaires in this part of his Majesty’s Dominions, with as much exactness as was possible. What hath happened since at Canso and the damage done there to the fishery, by way of reprisal (as the Savages put it) for what was taken from the French by Capt. Smart, is an unhappy confirmation that I have not been mistaken, for nothing is so evident as that our French Inhabitants and the neighbouring French Governments are both secret Enemies to the British interest in this Province & consult together how they may disturb and obstruct it being settled; especially at this juncture when they are busier than ordinary, seeing their hopes of this Country falling into their hands again as anticipated. And the Savages are the tools in their hands which they incite to mischiefs which they themselves dare not risk.

[The Mi’kmaq had seized a store of fish from the English, and the British had later recovered it.]

I need not trouble you here with the particulars of that misfortune, they being contained in the enclosed papers, and I shall only acquaint you that the fishermen being drove off from their Stages into their boats by the Savages who surprised them in the dead of the night, and their fish and merchandize left to the pillage of the French who lay ready for that purpose. The fishermen held a consultation the next morning and concluded to send a Sloop to Cape Breton to seek redress; but, not finding any, they sent to me by one Mr. Henshaw for relief. I dispatched him with arms, ammunition and provisions, & would have given him an Officer with a detachment from the Garrison but he thought there would be no need. This person brought me five French prisoners, taken in several Shallops leaden with the English fish merchandize. From his testimony you will see how far the Counsels of Cape Breton may have been involved in abetting this mischief. I also sent my Major with him to Cape Breton with copies of that testimony to demand restitution of the fish & goods, and Satisfaction for the loss of his Majesty’s subjects, three having been killed upon that occasion.

As to the Indians I have the honour to assure you, everybody here will confirm, that I have taken particular care to treat them in the most civil manner that ever any Governor yet has done. Nearly every week since I am here, some of them have been with me, whom I never failed to assure of his Majesty’s good will & protection, and required them to acquaint all their nation therewith and that I expected considerable Presents for them from the King in token of his affection. At the same time I never dismissed them without presents (which they always expect) for which I am out of pocket above a hundred & fifty pounds. But I am convinced that a hundred thousand will not buy them from the French interest while the Priests are among them; they having got in with them by the way of religion which brought them to regular confessions twice a year. They assemble punctually at those times & receive their absolution conditionally that they be always Enemies to the English.

* * * * * An attached addendum * * * * *

I had almost forgot to acquaint you that some of the Indian robbers who returned from Canso to Minas to the number of Eleven finding a New England trading Sloop there belonging to Mr. John Alden, and being flushed with their former success and applauded by the Priests they plundered her also at the very doors of the Inhabitants who looked on without restraining those wretches under the sham presence of being afraid of provoking them. I have written to them to demand a better reason for this behaviour, which is all I can do in my present circumstances but hope it will not be long thus.

This being the last opportunity this season that I may have the honour of writing to you, I therefore think it my duty (with submission) to tell you plainly that I find this Country in no likelihood of being brought under the King’s obedience upon the footing it is, and therefore it is necessary that the Government at home exert itself a little, and be at some extraordinary expense, for this has been hitherto no more than a mock Government, its authority having never yet extended beyond Cannon reach of this fort. I was in hopes (& signified as much in the last letter I had the honour to write you) that the addition of a hundred men more, with what I could draw from the Garrison of Placentia, might suffice for this work, but am now convinced it will require a greater number, and because I may not be thought to impose my own opinion in a matter of such consequence I have called a Council of the Chief Officers (some of which are of the King’s Council) to consider and propose the most reasonable & least expensive scheme for establishing the King’s authority in such manner and in such parts of this Province as may render it communicative over the whole, which proposal I have the honour to lay before you in an attachment.

The Inhabitants seem determined not to swear allegiance. I observe them going on with their tillage and building as if they had no thoughts of leaving their habitations. It is likely they flatter themselves that the King’s affaires here will always continue in the same feeble State. I am certain nothing but demonstration will convince them to the contrary.

The number of these people and how they are situated, with a description of their particular settlement and Country in general, is attached herewith, being the most exact & perfect account that has yet been given of this Province.

I heartily wish that this Expense was not absolutely necessary but, as things stand, it would be more for the honour and profit of the Crown to give back the Country to the French, than be contented with the name only of Government, whilst they bare the rule & make it subservient to the support of their settlement at Cape Breton; which could ill subsist without the grain & cattle they fetch from Minas &c.

I am with perfect duty and respect Sir, Your most humble and most obedient Servant,

R. Phillips

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Governor Philipps to Secretary Craggs,

Annapolis Royal, 27 Sept 1720

Sir,— Before I could dispatch my letter, the answer from the Inhabitants of Minas to the letter I wrote them by advice of his Majesty’s Council upon the affair of Mr. Alden’s Sloop being plundered, came to my hand. A copy of this, send me in behalf of the Indians, is attached. You will observe that their Deputies’ excuses for their non-appearance is a confirmation of the little regard they pay to any orders of the Government, and how the Indians (whom they have set to work) are made to seem responsible for all their actions. The Jesuit-like phrasing of the letter plainly shows it to be the Priest’s writing, there not being one other Inhabitant in the Country capable of such a letter. What is therein mentioned of Mr. Broadstreet is literally thus viz: this Gentleman was sent from the Collector with deputy (and with my approbation) to reside at Minas as a preventive officer to observe the trade and correspondence those people carry on with Cape Breton, and to give an account thereof from time to time. This Office not suiting them, they told him that he could not be protected there, and therefore it was necessary for his safety to return, upon which he desired them to furnish him with a guide to direct him the safest way back through the woods. This not being obtained he ventured alone, but first wrote the enclosed letter to the Deputy he had applied to for the guide. This is their method of excusing their behaviour by turning it into a grievance on their side. You will observe that they pass over that part of my letter wherein I reminded to them my good will in presuming, contrary to my orders, to prolong the time for their evacuation, which they do not think fit to acknowledge, since they have prevailed with the Indians to set up their native right and title to the Country, as you will see by their answer or rather the Priest for them.

These are the effects the Proclamation hath produced, and their grounds for laying the blame, and making me the cause of this trouble, because the honour of publishing those his Majesty’s orders has fallen to my lot for they will not be persuaded that I have not done it of my own. This is what they should have been told eight years sooner, but it is not yet too late. I hope this will serve as a lucky occasion to hasten the securing the Country under the King’s dominion, which is a work that must be done sooner or later and the longer it is delayed the more difficult it will be.

I have the Honor of once more subscribing Sir, Your most humble and most obedient servant,

R. Phillips

Written by johnwood1946

October 18, 2017 at 8:32 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

Three Short Wabanaki Thunder Stories

leave a comment »

From the blog at

Three Short Wabanaki Thunder Stories

The Wabanaki are the allied people known as Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, Passamaquoddy, Abenaki, and Penobscot Indians.

These are stories of thunder and lightning, and how they came to be. They are taken from Charles Leland’s The Algonquin Legends of New England or, Myths and Folk Lore of the Micmacs, Passamaquoddy and Penobscot Tribes, London, 1884. I find these stories to be even more readable than the ones told by Silas Rand elsewhere in this blog.

The first story explains the origin and nature of thunder and lightning. Leland notes that “It seems to have nothing in common with the very widely spread myth that the thunder is the flapping of the wings of a giant bird, and the lightning the flashes of its eyes. The tradition is probably of Eskimo origin, supernatural beings partially of stone being common to Greenland and Labrador.” For ‘Eskimo’ we should probably read Inuit. The second story is the more traditional explanation for thunder and lightning, and in the final story, a Thunder and an Indian woman have a son who himself becomes one of the thunders.

(Aptly Named) Big Chief Thunder—Maliseet—1907

Abenaki/Wabanaki and Maliseet Culture and People website


The Hunter who Visited the Thunder Spirits on Mount Katahdin (Passamaquoddy)

N’karnayoo – Of old times: Once an Indian went forth to hunt. And he departed from the east branch of the Penobscot, and came to the head of another branch that leads into the east branch, and this he followed even to the foot of Mount Katahdin. And there he hunted many a day alone, and met none, till one morning in midwinter he found the track of snowshoes. So he returned to his camp; but the next day he met with it again in a far-distant place. And thus it was that, wherever he went, this track came to him every day. Then noting this, as a sign to be observed, he followed it, and it went up the mountain Katahdin which, being interpreted, means “the great mountain,” until at last it was lost in a hard snowshoe road made by many travelers. And since it was hard and even, he took off his agahmooh, or snowshoes, and went ever on and up with the road; and it was a strange path and strange was its ending, for it stopped just before a high ledge, like an immense wall, on a platform at its foot. And there were many signs there, as of many people, yet he saw no one. And as he stayed it seemed to grow stranger and stranger. At last he heard a sound as of footsteps coming, yet within the wall, when lo! a girl stepped directly out of the precipice upon the platform. But though she was beautiful beyond belief, he was afraid. And to his every thought she answered in words, and that so sweetly and kindly and cleverly that he was soon without fear, though he saw that she had powerful m’téoulin, or great magic power. And they being soon pleased one with the other, and wanting each other, she bade him accompany her, and that by walking directly through, the rock. “Have no fear,” said she, “but advance boldly!” So he obeyed, and lo! the rock was as the air, and it gave way as he went on. And ever as they went the maiden talked to him, answering his thoughts, so that he spoke not aloud.

And anon they came to a great cavern far within, and there was an old man seated by a fire, and the old man welcomed him. And he was very kindly treated by the strange pair all day: in all his life he had never been so happy. Now as the night drew near, the old man said to his daughter, “Can you hear aught of your brothers?” Then she went out to the terrace, and, returning, said, “No.” Then anon he asked her again, and she, going and returning as before, replied, “Now I hear them coming.” Then they listened, when lo! there came, as at the door without, a crash of thunder with a flash of lightning, and out of the light stepped two young men of great beauty, but like giants, stupendous and of awful mien. And, like their father, their eyebrows were of stone, while their cheeks were as rocks.

And the hunter was told by their sister that when they went forth, which was every few days, their father said to them, “Sons, arise! it is time now for you to go forth over the world and save our friends. Go not too near the trees, but if you see aught that is harmful to those whom we love, strike, and spare not!” Then when they went forth they flew on high, among the clouds: and thus it is that the Thunder and Lightning, whose home is in the mighty Katahdin, are made. And when the thunder strikes, the brothers are shooting at the enemies of their friends.

Now when the day was done the hunter returned to his home, and when there, found he had been gone seven years. All this I have heard from the old people who are dead and gone.

The Thunder and Lightning Men (Passamaquoddy)

This is truly an old Indian story of old time. Once an Indian was whirled up by the roaring wind: he was taken up in a thunderstorm, and set down again in the village of the Thunders. In after-times he described them as very like human beings: they used bows and arrows (tah-bokque), and had wings.

But these wings can be laid aside, and kept for use. And from time to time their chief gives these Thunders orders to put them on, and tells them where to go. He also tells them how long they are to be gone, and warns them not to go too low, for it is sure death for them to be caught in the crotch of a tree. The great chief of the Thunders, hearing of the stranger’s arrival, sent for him, and received him very kindly, and told him that he would do well to become one of them. To which the man being willing, the chief soon after called all his people together to see the ceremony of thunderifying the Indian. Then they bade him go into a square thing, or box, and while in it he lost his senses and became a Thunder. Then they brought him a pair of wings, and he put them on. So he flew about like the rest of the Thunders; he became quite like them, and followed all their ways. And he said that they always flew towards the sou’ n’snook, or, south, and that the roar and crash of the thunder was the sound of their wings. Their great amusement is to play at ball across the sky. When they return they carefully put away their wings for their next flight. There is a big bird in the south, and this they are always trying to kill, but never succeed in doing so.

They made long journeys, and always took him with them. So it went on for a long time, but it came to pass that the Indian began to tire of his strange friends. Then he told the chief that he wished to see his family on earth, and the sagamore listened to him and was very kind. Then he called all his people together, and said that their brother from the other world was very lonesome, and wished to return. They were all very sorry indeed to lose him, but because they loved him they let him have his own way, and decided to carry him back again. So bidding him close his eyes till he should be on earth, they carried him down.

The Indians saw a great thunderstorm drawing near; they heard such thunder as they never knew before, and then something in the shape of a human being coming down with lightning; then they ran to the spot where he sat, and it was their long-lost brother, who had been gone seven years.

He had been in the Thunder world. He told them how he had been playing ball with the Thunder boys: yes, how he had been turned into a real Thunder himself.

This is why the Indians to this very day have a firm belief that the thunder and lightning we hear and see are caused by (beings or spirits) (called) in Indian Bed-dag yek (or thunder), because they see them, and have, moreover, actually picked up the bed-dags k’chisousan, or thunder-bullet [thunderbolt]. It is of many different kinds of stone, but always of the same shape. The last was picked up by Peter Sabattis, one of the Passamaquoddy tribe. He has it yet. He found it in a crotch-root of a spruce-tree at Head Harbor, on the island of Campobello. This stone is a sign of good luck to him who finds it.

The thunder is the sound of the wings of the men who fly above. The lightning we see is the fire and smoke of their pipes.

Of the Woman who Married the Thunder, and of Their Boy (Passamaquoddy)

Once a woman went to the edge of a lake and lay down to sleep. As she awoke, she saw a great serpent, with glittering eyes, crawl from the water, and stealthily approach her. She had no power to resist his embrace. After her return to her people her condition betrayed itself, and she was much persecuted; they pursued her with sticks and stones, howling abuse.

She fled from the village; she went afar into wild places, and, sitting down on the grass, wept, wishing that she were dead. As she sat and wailed, a very beautiful girl, dressed in silver and gold, appeared, and after listening to her sad story said, “Follow me!”

Then they went up on high into a mountain, through three rocks, until they came into a pleasant wigwam with a very smooth floor. An old man, so old that he was all white, came to meet them. Then he, taking a short stick, bade her dance. He began to sing, and as he sang she gave birth, one by one, to twelve serpents. These the old man killed in succession with his stick as they were born. Then she had become thin again and was in her natural form.

The old man had a son, Badawk, the Thunder, and a daughter, Psawk-tankapic, the Lightning, and when Thunder returned he offered to take her back to her own people, but she refused to go. Then the old man said to his son, “Take her for your wife and be good to her.” So they were married.

In time she bore a son. When the boy could stand, the old man, who never leaves the mountain, called him to stand before him, while he fastened wings to the child. He was soon able, with these wings, to make a noise, which greatly pleased the grandfather. When a storm is approaching, the distant rumbling is the muttering thunder made by the child, but it is Badawk, his father, who comes in the dark cloud and makes the roaring crash, while Psawk-tankapic flashes her lightning.

In after days, when the woman visited her people, she told them that they never need fear the thunder or lightning.

Written by johnwood1946

October 11, 2017 at 8:32 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

Stanley, N.B., Carved from the Wilderness — In a Hurry

leave a comment »

From the blog at

Stanley, N.B., Carved from the Wilderness — In a Hurry

The New Brunswick Land Company was formed in 1834, with the objective of turning a wilderness area of New Brunswick into an attractive place for immigrants to settle. To this end, they built roads and mills, with clearings, houses, farms, and all that it would take to attract those immigrants and to lease property to them.

Two of their settlements were at Stanley and at a place called Campbell. Campbell is sometimes shown on maps as Campbell Town or Campbellton, and was located in the Bloomfield Ridge/Boisetown area.

The following description of the Company’s activities beginning in 1834 is from Reports … on the State and Condition of the Province of New Brunswick: with some Observations on the Company’s Tracts, by Edward Nicolas Kendall, who was executing the work. From it we see that Stanley was carved from the wilderness, in a hurry. Kendall’s work has been condensed and edited, and some parts rewritten to include both his words and mine.

Clearing the Forest for Stanley, October, 1834

From the N.B. Museum


I will now describe the property of the New Brunswick Land Company in terms of its suitability to encourage immigration.

The Company’s land was chosen for its fertility and for the many rivers that crisscross it, and consists of about 587,000 acres (fifty-five miles by about twenty), adjacent to properties already settled on the Nashwaak and St. John Rivers. The land is not entirely a wilderness, as there is a community of Welshmen who settled there and lived in poverty until the Royal Road was constructed. They are now connected with Fredericton, however, and are in a much more prosperous state. There are about ninety lots reserved to these Welsh settlers and a few others, containing about twenty thousand acres.

The first order of business for the Company was to open another road to promote settlement. Property had been purchased from the Messrs. Cunard, on the southwest Miramichi, and the course of the road was directed parallel to the Cardigan Settlement, along the ridge of elevated land in the rear of the Nashwaak grants until the Nashwaak River was intersected. This was at a point where the river bends northwest after having run about twenty-five miles due north, and was a perfect spot to build a sawmill and a town. The exploring party was therefore directed towards Porter’s Brook and it was decided to establish a town on the Nashwaak, to be called Stanley, and another at or near Porter’s Brook to bear the name of the Governor, Sir A. Campbell. A road would then be built connecting the two, and also accessing the already formed Royal Road.

Here the difficulties began. The Company’s approval to proceed had arrived late in the year and no Fredericton contractor was willing to take on the work except at the exorbitant rate of £270 per mile or more. The bank of St. John was also not helpful and I was ordered to get money from the Messrs. Cunard at Miramichi, whose Nova Scotia Bank paper was at a discount of seven and a half per cent.

I then sought prices for contractors’ provisions (Ratchford and Lugrin, of St. John being the low bidder) and purchased what was required from them. Messrs. Hansard and Power then agreed to build the first eight miles of road for £60 per mile, while several other contractors then accepted this lower market price and also came on board on the same terms. Work was proceeding when word was received to close for the season, no more than about ten miles having been completed.

The bridges, meanwhile, were proceeding between the Royal Road and Stanley, and a party was clearing about seventy acres close to the mill, for the double purpose of clearing the land, and preventing danger from fire. The dam construction was also proceeding rapidly, and the frame of the sawmill was being hewn and prepared. The most eligible logs were retained, and houses built to accommodate the workmen. Damming of the Nashwaak required every spare hand, lest it be in danger from the freshet, and this proved wise, as the flood came on the very day of its completion. All of the cattle that were not absolutely required on the farm at Campbell had been brought on to Stanley till the dam was finished.

These operations required six parties to be kept supplied with provisions, which had to be conveyed from twenty to thirty miles over a trackless forest, the Nashwaak being too low to navigate with heavy scows. Each of these parties also required advances, in proportion to their work, as otherwise the contractors would stop working. All this required the most guarded watchfulness on my part to superintend the work. Workers were also pilfering pine timber in several directions and I had to apply to the governor for protection. He very kindly agreed to my request and appointed me a deputy commissioner of crown lands with power to seize any timber cut without license. When the men discovered this, they came to me for leave to cut timber in particular places, and I received the tonnage which I carried to the timber account. After all of this effort, the road has been levelled through to the Taxis and the heights above the St. John, at Fredericton.

The house I rented in Fredericton was cold and miserably uncomfortable and inconvenient, I recommended to the court the purchase of a property on the Stanley side of the river, opposite Fredericton. Its situation is advantageous for the Company’s purpose, and when finished, the house will be commodious, with the advantage of offices and storehouses, sufficient for the goods that must be stored.

Meanwhile, buildings were going up at Campbell and, at the close of the season, there were three log-houses, a blacksmith’s shop, and a tavern built at Stanley. The mill frame was up and there were enough sawn boards to cover it and to plank the houses. During the winter, parties procured logs for the sawing, some by contract some by hired men, which worked out to cost about the same. Hay, and supplies, sufficient to last till the summer, were conveyed on the Nashwaak River, and deposited at the store at Stanley.

With the opening spring of 1835, the operations were renewed, and parties formed for the completion of the Stanley Road, the cutting out of the Campbell Road, the completion of the bridges, for clearings in and about Stanley and Campbell, and for burning off and cropping such portions as were cut down last summer. Others were employed in cutting down about 120 acres on the town plot of Stanley, and in blasting and removing the rocks that impeded navigation on the Nashwaak, taking advantage of these improvements to run rafts of deals to the mouth on the river where they were shipped off to Mr. Thurgar for sale at St. John. The frames of six houses were put up on the clear portions of the Stanley town plot, the tavern finished, a flour mill built in anticipation of the arrival of some stones from England, and machinery erected for driving circular saws. Besides this, a house was built for the mill man, one for the blacksmith, a sort of barrack for the workmen, and two others, so as to use the refuse and unmarketable boards from the mill. A large barn, was also erected near the tavern to receive the crop and to stable the cattle. Persons were also engaged in completing the log-houses along the finished road, and in quarrying and preparing stone for chimneys.

In the meantime the Messrs. Palmer and Fulcher arrived, and arrangements were required to accommodate them. Fifty acres were cleared for the former, and ten for the latter, all chopped and prepared for burning. A log-house for the latter built, and a frame for the former were built. Provisions for men, and provender for cattle were purchased, and horses and oxen, sufficient to complete the logging parties, were bought and secured.

The mill contractor agreed to build a double saw-mill at Stanley for £200, plus £600 worth of sawn timber from the first production.

Farming operations were ongoing at Campbell, and we may now consider ourselves in a fair way to accommodate almost any number of emigrants who choose to purchase lands in the Company’s tract. We have a road connecting the principal stations, with clearings and log houses at convenient distances, and about 500 acres of cleared land including at Campbell; sixteen houses, a double and single sawmill, and a flour mill, of appropriate construction, at Stanley; a single saw and grist mill, blacksmith’s shop, and equivalent to ten houses at Campbell; a farm, with a large quantity of stock, tools, and implements, and an establishment at Fredericton, convenient as a place of deposit for the baggage of emigrants.

The next season’s operations will of course much depend on the prospect of obtaining emigrants. Advertisements should be placed and personal communication used as necessary to assure this.

Written by johnwood1946

October 4, 2017 at 8:42 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

Drunkenness Yearly More Common Amongst all Classes

leave a comment »

From the blog at

An anonymous author wrote a book entitled Letters from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick Illustrative of Their Moral, Religious, and Physical Circumstances During the Years 1826, 1827, and 1828, (Edinburgh, 1829). These ‘letters’ were actually short stories or essays which caricatured an odd selection of people, demonstrating social attitudes of that time.

Other letters were more commentary than caricature, but we cannot tell whether these were his opinions or not. He stated that any suggestion that “the characters and conversations … are imaginary, is altogether superfluous” which, of course, proves just the opposite.

In today’s letter, dated August 9, 1828, he discusses the clearing of land and the new settler’s struggle to overcome the wilderness.

Creating Cleared Land from the Forest

(From the McCord Museum, showing a tavern at Stanley, N.B.)


Drunkenness Yearly More Common Amongst all Classes

August 9, 1828

My Dear Sir,

In your last letter you complain of my omission with respect to the weather. I thought that in several of my epistles I had given all the information upon that subject which you could have wished; but as I have been mistaken, I will add a few facts.

In the summer months the smoke of the woods on fire is frequently so dense that we cannot determine whether the days be cloudy or clear. These fires emitting volumes of smoke and vomiting flames, in a dark night especially, present one of the finest of spectacles. They are sometimes, though not frequently, productive of mischief, as they are always kindled when the wind blows from the houses towards the woods.

The fires do not burn the trees, but only the brushwood. Therefore they travel with wonderful celerity, and woe to the poor wanderer who meets them in their progress. After the passage of fire through them, the trees present a bleak and burnt aspect, and rot away gradually, if not cut down.

They fire, as they call it, as many acres of trees in the summer or autumn as they think that they will be able to cut down in the winter. If upon the land there be any good wood, they remove it before the application of fire. The trees are cut down about three feet from the ground. By the stroke of the axe the experienced woodman can determine its fall, but those raw in the business are apt to get many bruises. After the trees are felled they apply fire a second time to the branches, and after these have been consumed, cut the large logs into pieces with an axe, and burn them also upon the ground. The ashes are an excellent manure. The stumps cannot be removed for six or seven years, and if the trees have been pines, a longer period of decay is necessary. The settlers determine the quality of the soil by the largeness of the trees, which fatten, as they express it, only on good lands. Till the stumps have been removed, the plough cannot be employed, and the generality of soils are so full of stones as to prevent its use till they be also uplifted.

The new soils produce the best potatoes. The average produce of these lands may be said to be, oats from 20 to 25 bushels an acre; wheat, 15 bushels an acre; barley, 22 bushels an acre; potatoes, 150 to 200 bushels an acre, and hay, 20 cwt. an acre. After the soil has been completely cleared, the produce may be doubled with right management.

During the summer months the settlers’ cows, &c. are allowed, with bells around their necks, to feed in the forest, but all of them must be supplied with provisions in the house for six or seven months of the year. The quantity of land which may be cleared in a season depends upon a variety of circumstances. The man who is perfectly master of his axe may clear half a dozen acres without interfering with his other farm work, but the beginner will find much difficulty in clearing the third of the quantity.

The dry and salt marshes, which abound on the coast of the sea, and at the mouths of the large rivers, are of important benefit to the farmer, as they supply him with abundant provision for his stock. Marsh lands, which are embanked against the influx of the sea, sell from £20 to £30 and £40 an acre. Good forest land fetches from 2s. to a pound an acre, and good cleared land from 10s. to £5 and £10 an acre.

Emigrants, therefore, who go out from this country with a small capital, wholly strangers to the labour of chopping and burning, would find the purchase of a small cleared farm to be the cheapest method of locating themselves. Such a property may be bought in almost all parts of the North American provinces from £80 to £200. Emigrants of this description ought also to carry out with them a stock of clothes, as well as of domestic and farming utensils.

The farmer who goes out into the forest, and commences operations upon those principles which he has acquired in his native land, will ruin himself immediately. In Great Britain farming is one of the sciences, and so it is in North America; but the one is as different from the other as their climates, soil, and circumstances. No person ought to buy farmland for the purpose of clearing and farming it, unless he have served an apprenticeship to the business.

Franklin, my dear Sir, has observed, that America is the land of labour, and his observation is correct. Industry is the only passport to wealth and honours. The resources are boundless, and furnish a sufficient market for any quantity of exertion. Sobriety is consequently necessary. This climate, so cold in winter, and so warm in summer, is remarkably hurtful to the constitutions of drunkards. Plain, though this fact be, I am sorry to say that drunkenness is becoming yearly more common amongst all classes of persons. The temptations to it are strong. The length of the winters and the cheapness of all sorts of spirituous liquors are certainly powerful inducements; but the emigrant must resist them all, if he do not wish to repent of his abandonment of the shores of his native land.

But not only must he emigrant be sober, but he must also be firm in his resolves and purposes. The welcomes of sociality and friendship which greet a stranger in North America, will, in other circumstances, insensibly undermine his determinations, till he become the gayest of the gay, and find himself the victim of habits which he cannot resist. His circumstances get into embarrassment. Work is plenty, but spirituous liquor are also plenty, and he cannot work. His creditors perceive his state and immediately he becomes the occupant of a jail. He ends his days a poor degraded outcast in the United States, on the sea, or mines and canals.

But not only must the emigrant be sober and firm, but he must also be industrious. He, who abandons his country with the design of escaping from the fatigues and toils of life, will find himself miserably mistaken. The curse of the Almighty is in all its efficiency in the forests of America as is Europe. By the sweat of his brow the emigrant must earn his daily bread.

To persons like those whom I have mentioned, emigration to America promises many, advantages. The climate is healthy, the soil is prolific, the air and water wholesome, the provisions cheap and abundant, and labour is plenty and productive.

I had almost forgot to answer your queries with respect to the Bay of Fundy. I am told that it ebbs and flows 80 feet in some places. I have heard of no satisfactory explanation of this phenomenon, which is still more curious from the fact that it varies considerably in a series of years. The oldest inhabitants of the province of Nova Scotia have never seen the tides so high as this year, and they have been increasing gradually season after season for some time.

I am sorry that I cannot satisfy your curiosity with respect to the agricultural conditions in New Brunswick; but I fancy, that the remarks which I have made upon it in my previous letters, you will have small difficulty in forming a tolerably correct estimate of it. The timber trade appears to have commanded the most of the labour of its inhabitants from the time of its settlement, and, therefore, it can scarcely at present be called an agricultural country. On the banks of the St. John’s there are many beautiful farms, but there are hundreds of thousands of acres which have yet been utterly useless except as productive of timber. Let us trust that the folly of this state of matters is now apparent, and that before the flux of many summers and winters, the hills and the valleys will manifest all the evidences of a happy and industrious population.

Written by johnwood1946

September 27, 2017 at 8:44 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

John Cabot, London Superstar and Discoverer of Cape Breton

leave a comment »

From the blog at

John Cabot, London Superstar and Discoverer of Cape Breton

Painting of John Cabot in Palazzo Ducale in Venice

From Wikipedia

Columbus discovered the West Indies in 1492, which created some excitement in Europe and prompted other voyages of discovery. Progress was slow, however, and it was another forty-two years before Jacques Cartier’s first sailing in 1534. Seventy more years passed before Champlain’s, who is credited with founding Quebec City, which was in that same year (1604) that the first permanent English settlement was established at Jamestown, Virginia. The Pilgrims did not arrive at Plymouth until 1620, which was a full 128 years after Columbus’ first discovery.

In summary, discovery and mapping took a long time, and settlement took even longer. That is why an early voyage such as that of John Cabot and his son Sebastien in 1497 is so important and interesting. It is especially interesting for a Maritimer such as myself because the island of Cape Breton features in Cabot’s story.

The following is condensed and edited from Richard Brown’s A History of the Island of Cape Breton: With some account of … Canada, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, London, 1869.

And, yes, Cabot was a star in London following the first voyage, with an entertainment allowance from Henry VII.


The discovery of the West Indies by Columbus brought other adventurous spirits into the field, anxious to embark in similar enterprises. John Cabot, or his son Sebastian, beyond all doubt, coasted along the shores of Cape Breton, and I therefore give you a short account of their celebrated voyages.

John Cabot, a Venetian merchant, residing at Bristol, applied to King Henry VII, in 1494, for permission to make a voyage to the northwest, for the purpose of discovering a shorter route to India or China; and, in the year 1496, the King granted to him and his three sons, Lewis, Sebastian, and Santius, “full and free authority, leave, and power to sail to all parts, countries, and seas, of the east, of the west, and of the north, under our banners and ensigns, with five ships of what burden or quantity so ever they be, … upon their own proper costs and charges, to seek out, discover, and find whatsoever isles, countries, regions or provinces, of the heathen and infidels … which before this time have been unknown to Christians… And that the aforesaid John and his sons … may subdue, occupy, and possess, all such towns, cities, castles, and isles, of them found, which they can subdue, occupy, and possess, as our vassals and lieutenants, ….”

Armed with these ample powers, John Cabot, accompanied by his son Sebastian, sailed in the beginning of May, 1497, in the Mathew of Bristol, and discovered the continent of North America; but strange to say, only one or two authentic notices of this voyage can now be found. One of these simply says that “In the year 1497, the 24 June, St. John’s day, was Newfoundland found by a Bristol men, in a ship called the Mathew.” The second is an inscription from an old map dated 1549, drawn by Sebastian Cabot, which states “In the year of our Lord 1497, John Cabot, a Venetian, and his son Sebastian, discovered that country, which no one before his time had ventured to approach, on the 24th June, about 5 o’clock in the morning. He called the land Terra Primum Visa …The island which lies opposite the land he called the island of St. John—as I suppose because it was discovered on the festival of St. John the Baptist. The inhabitants wear beasts’ skins … In war their weapons are the bow and arrow, spears, darts, slings, and wooden clubs. The country is sterile and uncultivated, producing no fruit; from which circumstance it is crowded with white bears and stags of an unusual height and size. It yields plenty of fish and these very large ….”

This account was written more than fifty years after this voyage, and may contain information from Sebastian Cabot’s second voyage. We are therefore indebted to Lorenzo Pasqualigo for writing a letter in 1497, where we read:— “This Venetian of ours … says, that 700 leagues hence he discovered Terra Firma, which is the territory of the Grand Cham: he coasted for 300 leagues, and landed; he saw no human being whatever, but he has brought thither to the King certain snares, which had been set to catch game, and a needle for making nets; he also found some felled trees: Wherefore he supposed there were inhabitants, and returned to his ship in alarm. He was three months on the voyage; and coming back, he saw two islands to starboard, but would not land, time being precious, as he was short of provisions. The King is much pleased with this intelligence … The king has promised that in the spring he shall have ten ships, armed according to his own fancy; and at his request he has conceded him all the prisoners, except such as are confined for high treason, to man them with. He has also given him money with which to amuse himself until then, and he is now at Bristol with his wife, who is a Venetian woman, and with his sons: his name is [John] Cabot, and they call him the great admiral. Vast honour is paid him, and he dresses in silk; and these English run after him like mad people, so that he can enlist as many of them as he pleases ….”

According to this and the previous account, the land seen by John Cabot must have been the coast of Labrador, and the island just opposite, that part of Newfoundland near the northern end of the Straits of Belle Isle. In his coasting voyage, Cabot must have sailed all along the southern shore of Cape Breton and Nova Scotia to Cape Sable, which is just 300 leagues from Belle Isle. The two islands seen on his return were most probably some of the higher hummocky sand-hills of Sable Island, which, viewed from a distance, may easily he mistaken for separate islands. We therefore have every reason to believe that it Cape Breton was seen by John Cabot in 1497, more than a year before Columbus reached the mainland of South America.

On the 3rd of February, 1498, the King granted a new patent to John Cabot, which was merely supplementary, and did not revoke or modify any of the privileges conferred by the first patent. For unknown reasons, John Cabot did not go out with this expedition which was entrusted to his son Sebastian, a youth of not more than twenty-three years. There are various brief accounts of this voyage, but they all seem to have been based upon information given by Sebastian Cabot to his friend, Peter Martyr of Angleria, who published a narrative of the principal incidents in l516. A translation of Martyr’s book was published in England in 1555, from which I make the following extracts:— “The west of the land of Baccalaos is a great tract; and the greatest altitude thereof is 68 degrees and a half … King Henry the Seventh furnished two ships at his own charges or, as some say, at the King’s, whom he persuaded that a passage might be found to Cathay by the north seas, and that spices might be brought from thence sooner … He went also to know what manner of lands these Indies were to inhabited. He had with him three hundred men, and directed his course by the tract of Island [Iceland] upon the Cape of Labrador at 58 degrees, affirming that in the month of July there was such cold and heaps of ice that he durst pass no further; also that the days were very long and in manner with night, and the nights very clear … But considering the cold and the strangeness of the unknown land, he turned his course from thence to the West, following the coast of the land of Baccalaos unto the 38 degrees, from whence he returned to England.” Gomara, a Spanish author of the same period says:— “Cabot, yielding to the cold and the strangeness of the land, turned towards the west, and refitting at Baccalaos, he ran along the coast as far as 38 degrees, &c.” As Sebastian Cabot must have observed, in his former voyage with his father, that Cape Breton was the nearest country that produced timber of any value, it may fairly he inferred that he refitted his vessels at some port in Cape Breton before completing that memorable voyage.

It is said, in some accounts, that Sebastian Cabot first gave the name of Baccalaos to the countries adjacent to the fishing grounds. Peter Martyr, generally allowed to be the best authority said “Sebastian Cabot himself named these lands Baccalaos, because in the seas thereabouts he found such an immense multitude of large fish like tunnies, called baccalaos by the natives, that they actually impeded the navigation of his ships.” This, if correctly copied, must be a mistake, for the natives do not call codfish baccalaos, nor is it likely that Cabot, who was born in England of Venetian parents, would apply a Basque name to the countries he discovered. Fournier, in his remarks on this subject, says “It cannot be doubted this name was given by the Basques, who alone in Europe call that fish bacalaos, or bacallaos; the aborigines term them apagé.”

Although the fishing grounds and the adjacent countries were first discovered by English navigators, English merchants and fishermen were the last to profit by them, because at that time they carried on a lucrative fishery on the coasts of Iceland, so much nearer home. There was, however, another reason for this apparent indifference of the English merchants. They received little encouragement from their government, because the King of Spain was so active in the area that it was assumed that he had jurisdiction over the whole territory. A letter has recently been discovered in the Spanish archives at Simancas, which shows with what jealously and suspicion the discoveries of the Cabots were regarded by the Spanish Court. It is dated at London, July 25, 1498, and is addressed to Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, by Don Pedro de Ayala, their ambassador at St. James. Ayala tells their Majesties that the King of England had equipped and sent out five ships, under a Genoese, to discover certain continents and islands which some people from Bristol had seen the year before; that the King of England had often spoken to him on the subject; and that he had told His Majesty the land was already possessed by the King of Spain, and had given him reasons with which he did not seem well pleased.

Immediately after the discovery of the Baccalaos, which embraced Nova Scotia, Cape Breton, and Newfoundland, the fishermen of Normandy, Brittany, and the Basque Provinces, began to frequent the coasts to take cod. It is generally supposed that the Basque fishermen first gave the name of Cape Breton to the eastern promontory of this island, after Cap Breton, near Bayonne. It has been stated on the authority of the Flemish geographers that the Basques crossed the Atlantic in pursuit of whales, discovered and named the island of Cape Breton, and even penetrated the Gulf of St. Lawrence, even before Columbus, but as no authority is given for this statement, it is not entitled to credit. I think, however, we may safely conclude that John Cabot and his son Sebastian, after touching the mainland of Labrador, both coasted along, if they did not actually land upon, the shores of Cape Breton in 1497 and 1498, and that, consequently, Cape Breton was one of the first countries discovered on the Atlantic coast of America.

Written by johnwood1946

September 20, 2017 at 8:03 AM

Posted in Uncategorized