The White Fence, issue #5

February, 1998


As I mentioned in our last newsletter, I read with great interest the two volumes of For Love of Stone (Vol. I: The Story of New Brunswick’s Stone Industry and Vol. II: An Overview of Stone Buildings in New Brunswick) by Gwen Martin. And in this newsletter, I will summarize some of the more interesting facts which relate to Tantramar. But before I do, I must inform you of some great news.

Your editor and board of directors are thrilled to report that Renaissance Sackville has agreed to help fund the Tantramar Heritage Trust towards i) the development of a business plan and ii) the preparation of a brochure which would outline the Trust’s objectives and requirements for a museum. The executive of the Trust had earlier discussed the urgent need for such documents in order to chart a firm and unwavering direction for the Tantramar Heritage Trust and provide it a permanent home. And now we can begin to proceed, with Renaissance Sackville’s encouragement, to ensure the Trust with a long and productive future! From all of us (members and board of directors):

Thank you Renaissance Sackville!!

And for more great news but of a very different nature, I am pleased to inform you that last Wednesday (21 January), Ralph Estabrooks who was featured in our last newsletter, entered into his 89th year! Happy Birthday from all of us Ralph!

I must inform you as well that this newsletter is in for some very fundamental changes in the near future. I had much to tell you last time but when it came time to mailing, I had included one extra page (with print on both sides) which would have increased our mailing cost from 45¢ to 72¢ per issue! And all because of an extra 2 grams!! In fact, my summary of the quarrying industry (below) was supposed to be in that last newsletter! Because of this, you will notice that a few sections are “dated”.

So, your publications committee is working hard to come up with a design which can be mailed out without need for an envelope (but a few extra pages). Once this is done, your “white fence” will have an extra two pages and should get to you with a 45¢ stamp (+ HST!)! Yes, our fingers are crossed…

You will have noticed that tickets for the Heritage Day ’98 have been included in with this newsletter. Please sell as many as you can and join us at the Tantramar High School for a great breakfast on Heritage Day February 14. You know, we still have lots of stories to exchange by the ole’ fence…

—Peter Hicklin

The Love of Stone

The following is a quick summary of the two volumes about the stone quarrying industry in New Brunswick produced by the New Brunswick Mineral Resources Division of the New Brunswick Department of Natural Resources and Energy. I focused on some of the more interesting facts related to quarries which were active in the Tantramar region.

Three sandstone quarries in this area and their most active periods were:

  1. The Pickard Quarry: 1883–1940.
  2. The Wood Point Quarry: 1870–1911.
  3. The Rockport Quarry: 1815–1862 and 1870s–1912.

The Pickard Quarry (at the end of Quarry Lane off Salem and Pickard off York St.) was opened in 1883 to obtain stone for the construction of Centennial Hall at Mount Allison. The original proprietor, Charles Pickard, was a stone merchant and later mayor of Sackville. The quarry had 25 employees and produced 5,000 to 8,000 tons of stone annually. Buildings constructed out of stone from the Pickard quarry in Sackville are:

  1. The original Royal Bank (some of the original pink stone remains at the left of the entrance).
  2. The Bank of Montreal, Moncton.
  3. The Royal Observatory, Ottawa.
  4. The Bank of Nova Scotia, Truro.
  5. Carnegie Library, Saint John.
  6. Legislative Building, Toronto.
  7. Customs House, Waterloo.
  8. Customs House, Halifax.

Stone from the Pickard quarry was used in over one dozen buildings at Mount Allison. The quarry was finally closed in October, 1979, after stone was extracted to become part of the Roy Crabtree building.

Stone for the Canadian National Railway Station in Sackville was obtained from both the Rockport quarry and the Wood Point quarry. The building was made with pale olive sandstone from Rockport while the pale red stone used for quoins and trim was from Wood Point.

And furthermore, although most of the Rockport quarry’s output became grindstones, some became dimension stone used to build the Owen’s Art Gallery at Mount Allison.

Did you know?

Since I am writing this in the middle of the duck hunting season (November, 1997), did you know that lives were lost in the Sackville River (now theTantramar River) when men used to hunt in spring. In 1907, the Tribune Post reported the following remarkable (abbreviated) story (read carefully; the italics are mine):

April 15, 1907 “Frank Fillmore, son of Colpitts Fillmore, drowned on Thursday. Messrs. Murray Siddall, son of Geo. Siddall, and Frank Fillmore went on a gunning expedition. At five o’clock on Thursday at the mouth of the Sackville river their boat was hit by iceflows and upset and Fillmore sank at once while Siddall was able to get hold of the boat. The boat was partly filled with water and he was subsequently obliged to leave the boat and take refuge on an ice cake which drifted out with the tide. His shouts for help attracted attention but how to rescue him was the problem. The night was terribly dark on the river, which was filled with large cakes of floating ice, so that it was like taking one’s life in hand to attempt a resue, but scores of willing men, regardless of personal safety, put forth every effort. About 8:30 Siddall was heard passing Minudie. At once George Symes, Norman McLennan, Walter Allen and Danny Melanson followed. After fighting ice and tide until 10:30 they succeeded in rescuing him, and, being unable to bring their boat back, they carried the almost helpless man along the shore to the home of Benjamin Carter at Lower Maccan, where every attention was shown him. The scene is the same as where Richard Carter and Rev. Mr. Williams, the pastor of the Point de Bute Methodist Church, lost their lives in a similar manner a number of years ago.”

To think of undertaking such a rescue without vehicles and things as simple to us today as flashlights, is, in my opinion, a remarkable feat by the folks of Tantramar.

And in the same paper, did you know that to rent a house on Charlotte Street in 1907 cost the exhorbitant price of $3.50/month!

Did you know that in 1919 M.E. Goodwin founded Mel’s Tea Room? And did you know that it was relocated to the Cahill Block in 1927 and moved to its present location in 1944? And did you know that Sackville once had a Custom’s Office? The Port of Sackville Custom’s and Excise Office opened prior to 1868 and an office was maintained in Sackville until 1971.

And as I write this section (now late January ’98), the tragedy of Québec’s ice storm is still fresh in our minds and Al Smith provided interesting historical facts about electric power in this region:

Did you know, that electricity was first introduced to New Brunswick when Campbellton was connected in 1898? And did you know that electric power first came to Sackville in 1900 — two years before the cities of Moncton and Fredericton and five years before Saint John? Sackville’s first power company was the Sackville Electric Light and Telephone Company which was incorporated in 1889 for the dual purpose of providing telephone and electric service to the town. The company initially focused its attention at providing telephone service and Sackville was one of the first communities in New Brunswick to have this service. Electric power distribution began in 1900 with power supplied by gas generator. In 1907, a new company was formed to operate the town’s telephone sytem and in 1910 the old Sackville Electric Light and Telephone Company disposed of its assets to the newly-incorporated Eastern Electric and Development Company. That company continued to operate the town’s electrical distribution system until February 1, 1959, when the New Brunswick Electric Power Commission took over.

When the Eastern Electric and Development Company acquired the power system in 1910, power was being supplied by two generators: a 125kv generator powered by a 225 hp engine and a smaller 40kw unit powered by a 50 hp diesel engine. These generators were located in the building behind the present United Church Conference office on York Street. Service at that time was at 220 volts and 220 service continued for some time until it was gradually switched over to the more universal 110 volt service now used throughout North America. In 1927, a new transmission line was built between Amherst and Sackville and the local utility (then owned by Canada Electric Company) began buying power from the Maccan N.S. coal-fired power plant. With this new transmission line, the local generating equipment was retired.

When the NBEPC took over the town’s electrical supply system in 1959, they had to practically rebuild the entire distribution system over the next 10-15 years. The old transformer substation located on Wellington Street was relocated to the present site on King Street. The old Wellington Street site was on the marsh next to the present ball field and was almost completely underwater during the height of the April flood of 1962. A new transmission line now feeds the town’s King Street substation from the huge interprovincial grid station in Memramcook.

National Heritage Week


The day kicks off with a Community Breakfast served from 7:30 to 11:00 am in the school cafeteria with a menu of juice, eggs, bacon, sausage, beans, toast, tea and coffee. Cost is $5 for adults and $3 for children to 10 years. Tickets are available from members or at the door.

Tantramar Antiques Road Show — open to the public; free admission

The popular concept seen on CBC Newsworld and PBS returns to Sackville for a second year! From 10:00 am to noon at Tantramar High, Steve Ridlington will emcee a forum on appraising antiques brought by members of the audience. Peter Seitl of Seitl’s Antiques (Wentworth, N.S.) will help owners and the audience appreciate the heritage values of the “treasures and trinkets” that are presented. This is a chance for the public to check out those heirlooms in the attic they’ve always wondered about.

NOTE: As a small fundraiser for the Trust, a token $2.00 appraisal fee will be charged on each item. Up to 70 items will be appraised at the event. One item per individual will initially be registered for appraisal. Once the initial rotation is completed, additional pieces can then be presented to the above-noted limit.

The Heritage Landscape of Tantramar — Open to the Public; Free Admission

At 2:00 pm, in the Tantramar High School Auditorium, the Tantramar Heritage Trust will present displays and talks on the Heritage Landscape of Tantramar. The region has always held a fascination for its residents and visitors alike. The event will explore how Tantramar’s human history has been shaped by its natural surroundings.

For more information, contact: Steve Ridlington at 506-364-5040 (days) 506-536-3345 (evenings)

Important notice

1998 dues are now payable! More than 2/3 of the membership has forwarded dues and address updates. If your name on this newsletter’s mailing label is not in italics, your dues ($10.00) are payable. Your membership dues are very important to maintain services for you like this newsletter. Please forward your dues as soon as possible to the Trust (P.O. Box 6301, Sackville, N.B. E4L 1G6)

Now please note that we have lots of free space available but have run out of information.

We are quite certain that many of you are knowledgeable about aspects of the history of this area. For example, we’ve not received any information that could be used for our section on Heritage Properties.

So for all our readers who live in a heritage home, or would like to conduct some research on a heritage property, please do…. and let us know what you found out!

PS. Tickets for the Heritage Day Community Breakfast (to buy and sell) are enclosed with this newsletter.

Attention — Old Photos Wanted

The Tantramar Access Project (TAP) are requesting Sackville residents to bring in old pictures to the Sackville Public Library. The pictures should be of events or people of importance to Sackville’s history. TAP will scan the photo (free of charge!) and the images will be improved by eliminating blemishes and restoring faded sections. The pictures will be put together in a collage to be shown during Heritage Week (week of February 14th).