The White Fence, issue #12

November 2000


Dear friends,

As we salute the end of summer 2000 and welcome the fall colors, it’s time once more to stop at the white fence and exchange a few stories. If you recall, at our last stop, Ernest Estabrooks told us of the history of Cookville which he had not finished telling us about. Ernest’s history had stopped at his description of the schools in the area. It’s now time for him to finish his history of this interesting area, starting with the churches, even if it is nearly 50 years since he started telling it to the people of Tantramar back in 1951!

As many of you probably realize, I am a bit late getting this latest newsletter to you, so, this time, I will have to skip the “did you knows” and go quickly to the completion of Ernest’s story and various announcements because I am running out of time! In fact, those of you getting this newsletter after 1 November, will just find out that you have just missed Mr. Borden McLellan’s most interesting talk (I hope not and that you saw the ad in the Tribune-Post!) on “Settlement of the Isthmus of Chignecto”, at the Anglican Church (see announcement below)! Anyway, to get this draft in the mail to Leslie and you as soon as possible, I must launch ahead and allow Ernest to finish his story and present Al’s report of the Yorkshire meeting last August. History never stops!

—Peter Hicklin

An Historical Account of Cookville in the Parish of Sackville, N.B.

by R. Ernest Estabrooks — delivered to the Cookville Baptist Church, November 4th 1951 (continued)


There were two churches built here about 1875: a Methodist Church on the west side of the road above the Fred Cook Corner, and a Baptist Church on the Lennox Kinnear Corner.

The Baptist Church: The Baptist Church was organized here in 1866 by members who took their Letters of Dismission from the Sackville Baptist Church. The Rev. W.G. Parker whose pastorate with the Sackville Baptist Church terminated in 1851, had awakened a deep interest in spiritual matters in the surrounding districts of Salem, Wood Point, Point de Bute, Midgic and Cookville. He was followed by Revs. John Ring, Patrick Duffy, John Francis, David Harris, Levi Marshall, W.A. Coleman, G.F. Miles and D.C. Lawson, all of whom gave a great attention to this field. In 1866, during the pastorate of Rev. Thomas Wood the organization of this church was accomplished. For a time the services were held in the schoolhouse, but ,in 1874, the need of a church building was keenly felt. On Dec. 14th 1874, a meeting was held in the schoolhouse to consider the building of a Meeting House. Edward O’Brien was Chairman, and Charles Cook, Secretary. Edward, Lennox Kinnear, Mr. Lund, James Distant, William Cook, and James McFee all spoke in favor of the project.

At an adjourned meeting a week later it was moved by William H. Cook, seconded by Lennox Kinnear; “That we build a Baptist Meeting House free to all denominations such as the Methodist and Presbyterian.” The motion was carried and William Cook, Allan Estabrooks, Lennox Kinnear and Edward O’Brien were appointed a Committee to solicit subscriptions.

At a further adjourned meeting on January 4th 1875, it was decided to erect a building 80 ft. by 40 ft. on the Lennox Kinnear Corner. The Committee appointed consisted of Robert Towse, Edward O’Brien, Lennox Kinnear, William H. Cook, LeBaron Read and Allan Estabrooks. Lennox Kinnear was appointed Treasurer, Charles Cook, Secretary, and LeBaron Read, Edward O’Brien, Lennox Kinnear, William Cook and Allen Estabrooks, Collectors.

I have not found how long it took to complete this building, but a Deed for the land was given on March 27th, 1883. It was signed by Lennox Kinnear and Judith Kinnear, his wife, witnessed by Boyd Kinnear, and certified by William Kinnear, J P. The deed was made to Robert Towse, Wm. H. Cook and Allan Estabrooks as Trustees for the people denominated “PARTICULAR CLOSE COMMUNION BAPTISTS”, and living in Cookville. Among the Deacons of this Church have been Wm. H. Cook, Lennox Kinnear and Clarence Chapman.

In the early days, Cookville was a center of much activity in educational and religious affairs and was considered a particularly strong Baptist community. My mother has often told me how she and her brothers and sisters often walked from the Robert Main place on the Aboushagan Road to attend Sunday-School and preaching service at Cookville, and with true Scotch Thrift they often carried their shoes and stockings in their hands until near the place of service, and also removed them on the way home.

Many mighty sermons were preached here. Among the old-time preachers I remember Rev. D. C. Lawson who could split hairs on doctrinal points with the best of them; and Rev. G. F. Miles who could not only make sinners tremble, but could make the very rafters shake with his mighty voice.

I should like to call attention to the great number of children who have been named after their pastors. Among names thus acquired are Parker, Ainsley, Harris, John Francis, Marshall, Miles, Coleman, and Lawson. This testifies to the deep appreciation on which these preachers were held.

The Methodist Church: Methodism was introduced into this part of the country by the Yorkshire immigrants about 1774. At first they had no church buildings, but held services in private houses. Neither did they have ordained ministers at that time, and I understand that the Sacrament was administered by the Anglican clergy. Their first place of worship was of stone, roofed with thatch, situated back from the road in Point du Bute, in 1788. In that year their first ordained minister, Rev. John Wry arrived from England. The first building of this denomination in Sackville, near the residence of the late Frank Beal, and near the old Cemetery. It was opened in 1790 by Rev. James Mann. Previous to this services were held in a schoolhouse near the store of the late Joseph F. Black. In 1818, a new chapel was opened in Sackville. It was a brick building and stood where the Bank of Nova Scotia now stands (53 Main St; “Birchwood Holdings” today- editor). A new building was erected in 1838 on land deeded by Wm. Crane. This proved too small, and in 1874–5 a new building was erected on the same spot during the pastorate of Rev. Joseph Hart. The Middle Sackville building was taken down and erected in Upper Sackville on land deeded by William Fawcett.

I mentioned earlier that a Methodist Church had been built in Cookville about 1875. This appears to have been a Mission Church served by Sackville, and known as the Tantramar Mission. And to have included Upper Sackville, Midgic, Anderson, Cookville and Aboushagan Road. The first appearance on the minutes was in 1875 with Rev. Ralph Steel as Pastor under Rev. Joseph Hart of Sackville. From then until 1899 it was served by Rev. H.J. Clarke, J.A. Ives, and Rev. W.R. Pepper, Jr. The Rev. D.W. Chowan found a wife here in the person of Miss Drusilla, daughter of Deacon James Distance. From the beginning of this century I understand that this mission has been served direct from the Sackville Church.

In 1894, there were on the Board of Directors of this mission: William Estabrooks and James Distant. At the second quarterly meeting of this board of the Tantramar Mission held at Upper Sackville with Rev. Ralph Brecon in the chair a new Board of Directors was appointed. This Board consisted of James Distance and John Lund for Cookville, Howard Wells and Otho Crossman for Anderson, and Daniel Lund for Aboushagan Road. At this meeting Mr. John Lund was given an exhorter’s license.

Old relics At more than 70 years of age, Mrs John Cook told me that old relics and evidence of a military camp had been found on their property. She mentioned bridle bits, stirrups, and other accouterments. Recently Mr. Fletcher McFee, a native of Cookville, told me that he too, had heard of this and was inclined to think it had been Indian camping ground as tomahawks and other Indian relics had been found there. He said that this was a point of upland that projected into the interval, that the land had never been broken to the plow, although it had been cleared of trees for this purpose on different occasions.

At the close of the American War of Independence, Jonathon Eddy, “Rebel” John Allen and others proposed to assault Fort Beausejour with the intention of winning this country for the Americans. This is locally known as the “Eddy Rebellion”. Eddy had raised a small force at Machias, Me. and set out for Fort Beausejour, landed at Petitcodiac and left a small force at the mouth of the river for observation purposes and pushed on with his troops. They crossed the Memramcook near the head of that river and took a course through the woods for Point Midgic. Then going through the woods above the Jolicure Lakes they came to the home of Col. Allen at Upper Point du Bute, recently the home of the late Frank Trueman. Eddy attacked the Fort on Nov. 10th 1776 but was repulsed. But, finding that he was not followed turned again to Point Midgic. How he found his way is not known, but it seems to me he may have rested his troops at Cookville. As he had Indians with him, that may account for the Indian relics in Cookville.

The good old days Not many of us can appreciate what early settlers had to endure, nor the amount of work required to wrest a living from their new farms. After the great trees had been cut, the stumps had to be removed and burned, and the ground either dug by hand or plowed with an ox-team. The cutting of the grain was done by hand, either with a scythe or sickle. The grain was then bound by hand and then threshed with a flail. Then it had to be conveyed to Upper Sackville in a canoe, and carried to Morice’s mill on their backs. When ground, the flour had to be carried to Upper Sackville, again, and transported from there by a canoe to their homes. This made a carry of about two miles each way. I think the bread must have tasted sweet by the time they got it to the table. Many of the old men are known to have walked to Sackville and home again, carrying their groceries on their backs.

Wild animals were plentiful, and while they often helped eke out the family rations they also, often played havoc with flocks and herds. Mrs. Leonard Estabrooks told me of her Grandfather, Steward McFee, shooting a bear that was gazing at him through the kitchen window.

THE WOMEN, especially, must have had an easy time in those good old days; no worry about the latest hairdo, or the latest brand of lipstick or nail polish. They did not even have to decide between Ivory Snow or Camay for their complexions. They leached ashes out of their fireplaces, and, with the help of animal fats from the farm they made barrels of soft-soap which cleansed as effectively as “Duz” or “Spick and Span”. As Satan finds some mischief still for the idle hands to do, the girls were seldom allowed to have their hands unemployed. When the wild berries, the potatoes and the remainder of the garden truck had been gathered in they were allowed to pick the wool. Then they took music lessons on the spinning wheel, and later learned to weave, the very latest “modern fad”. All the clothes were made at home, and there was that eternal knitting to take up whenever there was a moments leisure. Sometimes when they wanted a little cash to help stock their hope chest the girls would go out to spin for their more opulent neighbors. They got as high as five cents a skein, and an expert could sometimes spin as much as five skeins a day.

From this small community who have achieved success and have proved of great value to their country. And while it is meant that we should keep their memories green we should not forget the sterling qualities of those who have remained behind, and by their sterling qualities of heart and brain and brawn of those who have remained behind, and who, by their integrity and industry have helped to feed the hungry, relieve the distressed, and build a greater and better country. The influence of this community has been great on the surrounding country and will not cease with the present generation, but will continue to operate when the present generation has long since passed away.

In closing may I say that one of the saddest sights I see in going through the country is the abandoned farms with their fences tumbling down, their plowed fields growing up to bushes, and the old houses that have witnessed the whole gambit of human emotions, sinking into the cellars. I well know that social conditions are changing, and that we are living in a fuller, and, I hope, a better life than was possible for the men and women of the past. But when I think of all the work and sacrifice that has gone into the making of these homes I fear that there is a national loss of which we are not fully conscious but which may prove serious and which it soon may be too late to retrieve.

Yorkshire 2000: August 3–10, 2000 — Celebrating 225 Years of Yorkshire Heritage! A Summary of the Event

by Al Smith

Yorkshire 2000 — a huge success

Approximately 3,000 people participated in the wide ranging events of Yorkshire 2000 held August 3-10, 2000. The Tantramar Heritage Trust and the greater Tantramar region, hosted the event that celebrated 225 Years of Yorkshire Heritage in our Region. The Yorkshire Immigration (1772–1775) was one of the five founding groups (Aboriginals, Acadians, Planters, Yorkshires, Loyalists) of this region and it has had a major impact on the development of the Town of Sackville and the surrounding areas. Responding to a 1771 plea from Nova Scotia’s Lieutenant Governor, Michael Franklyn, over 1000 Yorkshire folks boarded vessels that departed from northern England during the four year period (1772-75) — most bound for Fort Cumberland (Fort Beausejour).

The celebration of this historic event has been more than three years in planning. In the fall of 1998, the Local Arrangements Committee first put out a call for Yorkshire descendants to gather on the Tantramar in the year 2000. Since then word of the gathering spread far and wide and was greatly facilitated by the internet. The Tantramar Heritage Trust can be justifiably proud of the resounding success of the event and of the commitment given by so many individuals, sponsors and agencies. We are especially grateful for the support received from the Town of Sackville and the spirit and friendliness that the community displayed to our Yorkshire 2000 guests.

The week long Yorkshire 2000 event had a homecoming focus with family gatherings, evening concerts, a two day Yorkshire Conference (Immigration and Impact), displays, exhibits, re-enactments, theatrical presentations including dramatic readings, genealogy research centre, tours, workshops, book and craft fairs, church services, historical lectures, parade of families, ships gatherings and much, much more.

The event was centered on the campus of Mount Allison University, with events and activities throughout the NB-NS Border area. Seven hundred and five (705) families actually registered at the Yorkshire 2000 office accounting for over 1500 people. However, in looking at the myriad of events organized under the Yorkshire 2000 banner a conservative estimate of 3000 people participated in all aspects of the gathering. Approximate numbers for the major elements of the event were as follows:

  • Family Reunions (30 families): 2685+
  • Academic (Yorkshire) Conference: 150
  • Book Fair: 500+
  • Bus Tours (daily — 3 tours): 402
  • Children’s Activities: ?
  • Concerts in the Park: 400
  • Closing Concert: 150
  • Craft Display & Sale: 200
  • Cumberland County Museum exhibits: 247
  • Curling Club Dance: 25–50
  • Displays (Windsor Hall): 1500
  • Fog Forest Gallery — Yorkshire exhibit: 320
  • Fort Beausejour National Historic Site — Yorkshire Exhibit: 2233
  • Genealogy Research Centre: 300–400
  • Keillor House Museum: 400
  • Lectures (late PM historical Lectures): 315
  • Leaving a Legacy:
    • Plenary Session: 40
    • William Chapman Memorial: 160
  • Marshfire Theatre — Yorkshire play: 1375
  • Methodist (United) Church Services
    • Sackville United: 325
    • Amherst Trinity–St. Stevens: 400+
    • River Philip Camp Service: 225
    • Dorchester United: 50+
    • Others: ?
  • Opening Ceremonies: 600
  • Owens Art Gallery — Yorkshire Exhibit: 110+
  • Parade of Families: 700
  • Re-enactment at Fort Beausejour National Historic Site: 500
  • Ships Gatherings: 100+
  • Voices from the Beginning: 48
  • Workshops: 218
  • Wreath Laying — Oxford: 70

Participants were from every Province in Canada (30 families from British Columbia alone), throughout the United States, several from Yorkshire, England and long distance travelers- the Bulmer family from Christchurch, New Zealand. To honour our New Zealand “cousins” the New Zealand flag was proudly placed between the NB and NS flags on the stage at Opening Ceremonies.

The week was filled with many memorable experiences and it is difficult to single out individual events for special mention. Certainly the Genealogy Research Centre, so capably organized by Bing Geldart and the SE Branch of the NB Genealogy Society, was an amazing resource centre and the highlight of many participants.

Opening Ceremonies — in the beautiful treed courtyard of Mount Allison’s campus- was magical with beautiful weather, the participation of Lt. Gov Marilyn Trenholme-Counsell and many dignitaries culminating with the Yorkshire 2000 song sung by Ron Trenholm and Rachael McLean. Who will ever forget the Tantramar’s MLA Peter Mesheau and his portrayal of Lt. Gov. Michael Francklyn at the re-enactment at Fort Beausejour or the spirit and size of the crowd (despite miserable weather) at the Parade of Families. Many participants of the Yorkshire Conference said it was the best conference that they had ever attended and full credit goes to Paul Bogaard and his committee for organizing and attracting such an excellent lineup of presenters. Exhibits organized by Fort Beausejour NHS, Cumberland Co Museum, Owens Art Gallery and Keillor House were professionally presented and well received. Unfortunately some very excellent events such as Voices From The Beginning (dramatic readings of Letters Home) had lower than expected attendance possibly due to scheduling. On the other hand Marshfire Theatre’s Great Big Mosquito Show sold out every night and had a waiting list. Workshops, Bus Tours, special publications and Book Fair, art exhibits and displays all contributed immensely to the wide range of activities enjoyed by participants.

Yorkshire 2000 more than met the expectations of the planning committee and has already left a huge legacy with an increased interest in early settlement history. The Board of the Tantramar Heritage Trust has established a Yorkshire 2000 Legacy Committee and will be working towards; publishing the proceedings of the Yorkshire Conference, establishment of a Yorkshire Studies Group at Mount Allison University, placement of plaques and monuments, and other aspects of legacy.

The Trust’s motto “preserving our past for the future” was very aptly realized with the hosting of the Yorkshire 2000 gathering. The event was a huge success with words of praise from many participants and from the community at large. The Trust alone could not have undertaken such a monumental project such as this and we are deeply indebted to dozens of volunteers, corporate sponsors, the federal Millennium Bureau and especially our partner agencies. We are also deeply indebted to our office staff : Phyllis Stopps (part- time) and our two summer students: Kelly Donaher and Scott Drover.

Thank you all.


  • On 1 November, 2000 at 8:00 pm at St. Paul’s Anglican Church Hall in Sackville, Mr. Borden McLellan will make a presentation to the Tantramar Heritage Trust entitled: SETTLEMENT ON THE ISTHMUS OF CHIGNECTO: PEOPLE, PROBLEMS AND PROSPERITY.
  • On 21 November, 2000, at 7:00 pm at the United Church parlours there will be a Volunteer Appreciation Session to express the organizers’ Many Thanks to All!!
  • On 6 December, 2000, at 8:00 pm (same location) Dr. Charles Scobie will present: THE HISTORIC SITES IDENTIFICATION PROJECT: IDENTIFYING OUR HISTORY AND HERITAGE.
  • Also on 6 December, Pat Finney will officially launch the book STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND: THE NATHANIEL SMITH LETTERS.

There is much history to enjoy between now and the New Year!!

Contributions solicited

This newsletter can only succeed with your help. I will need your assistance for information, stories, interesting “did you knows” and historical events that you may wish to present and/or debate. I would like to put together a newsletter committee to help make this newsletter as interesting and widely read as possible. So please call me during the day at 506-364-5042 or at home at 506-536-0703 or write to me (or visit) at the following address:

Peter Hicklin, c/o Canadian Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 6227, Sackville, N.B. E4L 1G6

I can tell you now dear friends that I have nothing for the next newsletter!! So, all you history buffs, dig into your personal historical treasures and share them with me! The White Fence needs some maintenance; otherwise, it will fall into disrepair and I will not have any stories for you before Christmas! So I look forward to hearing from you!