The White Fence, issue #24

January 2004


Dear friends,

It takes time and tools to dig a well. But the clear waters that you find at the bottom is what maintains life and keeps us all going. Keep reading and you will discover how and why the past eight years of digging into Tantramar’s history have gone by so quickly! The waters we found were sparkling, pure and absolutely delicious! Over 200 Tantramarians (and beyond!) have helped us dig this well and enjoyed its waters.

But to dig a well you need the desire to work and good tools to make it all happen. As you will see below, Al Smith has kindly prepared a “calendar of events” of the Tantramar Heritage Trust. He shows how wisely we used our time digging a mine for gems and a well for water. He reminds us how deep we’ve dug into our history and how much has been accomplished… but also how much soil remains to come to the surface.

And over that time, we all needed tools to work with. This newsletter is one of our tools. Libraries, archives and attics are promising lands which need to be explored with these tools.

Also, the men and women who created the Tantramar landscape we live in, needed tools to create it. The dykelands we use and see every day, were not made by nature, like marsh hay. It took strong hands and backs… and tools. Tantramar-ians made the tools they needed to create dykelands. Dyke shovels were the knives needed to cut the sod and place each one in its special place on the dykes along the Tantramar and Aulac Rivers, for example. And Colin MacKinnon has long appreciated these tools and the men who used them.

In preparing for this issue, Colin introduced me to Charles Siddall. I feel I know him well as I’ve admired his work since 1969, when I first came to Sackville, never knowing who had put in the time and sweat to create this beautiful landscape.


So, join Al and Colin to see how time has been spent in this remarkable part of the world. Leslie and I are just showing off the gems and pure waters those two prospectors and well-diggers have brought to the surface for us to see and drink. And like us, once you finish, your eyes will sparkle and your thirst will vanish.


—Peter Hicklin

Did you know…

Did you know that the Town of Sackville purchased its first fire engine in 1921, but they could not use it in winter, although they did try to fit it with “runners”? Back then the local Fire Brigade used a Winter Hose Sled drawn by the Town Horse “Duke”, but in 1922 Duke was getting old and had a hard time to handle the heavy sled.

Did you know that in 1861 a total of 33 men from Sackville Parish were involved in the Shad Fishery in Cumberland Basin? At that time boats were known to take 1000 shad on one drift. Most of the catch was exported to the USA.

Did you know that shipwright Christopher Boultenhouse built a 192-ton steamship in Sackville in 1856? The steamer Westmorland was fitted with a 100 HP engine and was initially to ply between Saint John and Sackville. In the winter of 1860 Boultenhouse refitted the steamer at Pictou, N.S. to be transferred to the Shediac N.B. to Summerside P.E.I service where the vessel became a mail-boat and was sold to the Crane estate. The Westmorland remained in that service until about 1862 when she was sold to the United States government for use as a transport in the American Civil War.

Did you know that in 1894 Sackville’s two foundries (Enterprise & Fawcett) employed a total of 65 men, while the tanning/leather goods factories in the Parish employed 189 workers?

The Trust Turns Eight — A Short History of the Tantramar Heritage Trust

by Al Smith

Established back in 1996, the Tantramar Heritage Trust is now entering its 8th year. Members of the Board of Directors are often asked about the early roots of this organization that has become the largest community organization in the Town of Sackville, and thus the reason for this brief article.

The need for a heritage organization in Town was born in the fact that Sackville as a community has nearly 300 years of settlement history; yet we did not have a Museum nor any organization dedicated to preserving the Town’s heritage. Early suggestions of the need for a Heritage Trust date back to discussions within a small and informal Historical Working Group formed in 1992. However, it was the umbrella organization “Renaissance Sackville” that served as the catalyst to make this idea a reality. One of 10 Sector groups struck by Renaissance Sackville in April 1995 was the Environment Sector which was chaired by Al Smith. In the sector report to a Renaissance Sackville public meeting in June, 1995, Smith identified “Preserving Our Human Heritage” as one of the sector’s objectives with the action item of establishing a Heritage Trust. Following an Environment Sector meeting and workshop on February 21, 1996, five working groups were struck for the Sector in order to advance its objectives. The 12-member Human Heritage Working Group immediately initiated steps towards the incorporation of a Heritage Trust. Name selection, drafting of objects, bylaws, anticipated projects listing and first year budget were completed by May 1996. With the advice and assistance of lawyer Nick Rodger, the documents were forwarded to Revenue Canada on 21 May 1996 for an initial screening of our acceptability for non-profit charitable status. Revenue Canada advised in late July that all appeared to be in order and the next steps were to file for formal incorporation.

The road to incorporation was speedy, with outstanding legal service from Nick Rodger. A Provisional Board of Directors (Al Smith, Colin MacKinnon, Steve Ridlington) was struck and the required legal documents and fee forwarded to the NB Companies Act on 19 August, 1996. Letters Patent issued 9 September 1996 established the Tantramar Heritage Trust Inc. and the Trust’s founding meeting, chaired by Al Smith, was held on October 9, 1996. At that meeting the first Board was elected (10 Directors – expanding to 11 in 1998 and to 12 in 2003) and a motion accepting the Company’s by-laws was approved.

The first Board meeting was held immediately following the Founders Meeting to elect the year’s executive, establish banking procedures, create a Tantramar Historical Society Committee and set up a date for its first meeting. Smith was elected the Trust’s first President. The Board set a first-year membership target of 50 at its founding and within 6 months the number had exceeded 120. Today the Trust membership is annually maintained at over 200 individuals making it the largest community organization in Town. Much has been accomplished over the past eight years – here are some of the highlights:

Logo and Look of the Trust — Graphic design for everything connected with the Trust has been done by Leslie Van Patter. Artwork for the logo was contributed by Robert Lyon and the design adopted in December 1996.

Historical Society — The education/outreach arm of the Trust is the Tantramar Historical Society with the Trust organizing five public meetings per year with guest speakers on Tantramar’s rich heritage. The first meeting of the Society was held on November 27, 1996, and attracted 50 attendees. Since then, there have been 37 meetings held, mostly at the Anglican Church Hall, and have attracted between 45–125 people.

Newsletter — The first issue of the Trust’s newsletter (The White Fence) was produced in January 1997 and since then 3-4 issues appeared annually. There have been 23 issues to date (January 2004) of this very popular, newsy, member driven news- letter that highlights Tantramar’s historic past. The one and only editor since inception had been Trust Director Peter Hicklin, whose infectious enthusiasm for the region’s rich history has been largely responsible for the newsletter’s success.

Website — The Trust established an internet website in the summer of 1997, initially under the old community “tapnet” project. The Trust acquired the old tapnet domain in 2001 and maintains a very comprehensive website currently under the supervision of Trust member Charlie Scobie.

Campbell Carriage Factory Museum — The Campbell Carriage Factory Museum became the community’s first museum on June 21, 2003. The 150 year old factory (built circa 1838) was acquired via donation from the Campbell family in February, 1998. A major phased restoration project began in 1999 and was largely completed by 2003. With its collection of over 6000 artifacts, it is a designated Provincial and Municipal Heritage building and is one of the finest sites of 19th century manufacturing anywhere in North America.

Heritage Centre — The Trust is in the process of establishing a Heritage Centre in the historic Boultenhouse property, circa 1840. A Business Plan was developed in 1998 and in July 2001 the Trust purchased the Boultenhouse property and it is scheduled to become the Boultenhouse Heritage Centre (Museum) in 2005/06. The Trust offices relocated to the back ell of Boultenhouse in September 2002 following extensive renovation of the old country kitchen and garage area of the home.

Yorkshire 2000 — On August 3–10, 2000, the Trust was the host for Yorkshire 2000, a major gathering of descendants of the Yorkshire settlers in celebration of the 225th anniversary of this historically significant immigration into Canada in 1772-75. With nearly three years in planning, the event attracted more than 3000 participants to a week-long series of activities and events. A Yorkshire 2000 Legacy Committee continued aspects of the gathering including: developing a Yorkshire Studies centre at Mt. Allison, installing plaques and monuments and publishing.

Trust Office — The Trust operated for the first two years without a formal office facility. With the planning for the major Yorkshire 2000 event, the need for an office and meeting facility was obvious and in June 1999, the Trust moved into facilities donated by Atlantic Wholesalers Ltd on Lorne Street. Those modest offices became the Trust’s home until the building was sold in summer of 2002 and the Trust moved into its own space at the Boultenhouse Heritage Centre on Queen’s Road.

Publications — The Trust has developed an energetic publications series on local topics. The first publication was Tales of The Horse by local farmer Dick MacLeod in November, 1997.The initial printing (500 copies) instantly sold out and had to be reprinted. The Trust sponsored a number of publications in support of Yorkshire 2000: Footprints in the Marsh Mud, Nathaniel Smith Letters, Bibliography of Early Settlement History, reprinting of Short Stories by W.R. Bird – Here Stays Good Yorkshire, and Tastes of the Tantramar. The latest (fall 2003) publication is Dale Alward’s Down Sackville Ways, a very exhaustively researched document on Sackville’s ship-building heritage.

New publications to help celebrate Sackville’s centennial (2003) are: a new History of Sackville (fall 2004), and a research project delving into the origin of Sackville Street Names (spring 2004). The Trust is also currently facilitating the research and publication of an atlas of Acadian settlement sites in Tantramar.

Community events

Heritage Day — For the past seven years the Trust has organized a full one day program to celebrate Heritage Week in mid February. Commencing in February 1997, an annual Heritage Day breakfast (usually serving approx. 300) has been held along with an Antiques Road Show and lectures on historical topics.

Fall dinner — “A Taste Of History”, The fall fund-raising dinner was first organized in 2002 by Trust Director Vanessa Bass and committee. The dinner usually held in late October, has been very successful and has become an annual fall event for the Trust.

Research — The Trust is sponsoring historical research, assisting with the installation of plaques and cairns, assisting with conducting an inventory of historical buildings, working with the Planning Commission on heritage landscape protection, and hosting workshops and gatherings. Additionally the Trust has a committee working on the development of a proposal for a Family History Research Centre in Sackville. For a fledgling organization, the Tantramar Heritage Trust has an extensive list of accomplishments over the past 8 years. That would not have been possible without the support of many volunteers and donors of both funds and artifacts. For that we are truly thankful.

The Trust is now embarking on the development of a new Strategic Plan to guide our future directions. We would encourage our membership to participate in that process as it unfolds over the next few months.

Trust Presidents

  • 1996/97 — Al Smith
  • 1997/98 — Al Smith
  • 1998/99 — Paul Bogaard
  • 1999/00 — Paul Bogaard
  • 2000/01 — Rhianna Edwards
  • 2001/02 — Barb Jardine/Peter Hicklin
  • 2002/03 — Barb Jardine
  • 2003/04 — Barb Jardine
dyking spade

Figure 1. (Above) Dyking spade made by Charles A.D. Siddall (length 104 cm, 41 in.). C. MacKinnon photo

Charles A.D. Siddall (“C.A.D.S.”) — Dyking Spade Maker

by Colin MacKinnon

Most of our readers in the Tantramar region need no introduction to the dyking spade (Figure 1). This unique digging tool has roots in a design that goes back hundreds of years. Spades used for centuries along the coast of France and the moors of England are the ancestors of the Tantramar dyking spade. Our Bay of Fundy dykelands are unique in that the silt deposits that make up the marshes come from the sea, not the land. This results in marshlands free of stones within a uniform sediment known locally as “marsh mud”.

To move this heavy mud around requires a special tool that functions not just as a shovel, but as a knife as well. For a long day’s work, the tool must be light, well balanced and sharp enough to easily slice through sod and mud. The tool that meets all these requirements is the dyking spade. There is no set pattern for a dyking spade; each maker probably had his own ideas on how the spade should look and function. No doubt the farmer ordering a spade from the blacksmith could also impart some of his wisdom into the design as well. The following is a short, and admittedly incomplete, history of one of these craftsmen.

Charles A. D. Siddall (CADS) was the fifth child of Charles Siddall (b: 1809 – d: 1905) and Louisa Chappell (b: 1814 – d: 1899) of Baie Verte, New Brunswick. The Siddall name traces back to Yorkshire England. The great grandfather of CADS was Ralph Siddall (b: 1737 – d: 27 Nov., 1824) who immigrated to the Chignecto Isthmus during the Yorkshire migrations of the 1770’s.

Charles A. D. Siddall was born in 1848 and we believe he worked as a blacksmith for most of his life. William Trueman (in “Round A Chignecto Hearth”, pp. 22-23) tells us that “There was a blacksmith shop built by Charles Siddall just south west of the Pointe de Bute Temperance Hall in which Mr. Siddall carried on the blacksmith trade for a few years. In the early eighties (1880’s) he sold the shop to Arthur Snowdon and he moved to Great Shemogue where he carried on the blacksmith trade”.

Charles A. D. Siddall was married twice, first to M. Rebecca (b: 1855 – d: 1899) and second to Etta Stevens (b: 1872 – d: 1940). One of Charles’s children, Thomas A. Siddall (b: 1883 – d: 1961) lived in Sackville, on Lorne Street, and at least in later years worked as an iron moulder at Enterprise Foundry and sold insurance for Metropolitan Life.

Thomas Siddall married Alice P. Wry (b: 1886 – d: 1967). Thomas and Alice had at least two children; Helen S. (Siddall) Sawyer (b: 1912 – d: 1998) and Margaret (Siddall) McMath (b: 1907). These grand daughters of Charles A. D. Siddall donated his tools, used in the making of dyking spades, to the museum at Fort Beausejour. I have seen a couple of spades marked “T.A.S.” (One in the Albert County Museum) and have no doubt that these were made by Tom Siddall.

Figure 2. Examples of the "C.A.D.S." (Charles A.D. Siddall) stamp found on the back of his dyking spades (letters about 5 mm high). C. MacKinnon photo

Figure 2. Examples of the “C.A.D.S.” (Charles A.D. Siddall) stamp found on the back of his dyking spades (letters about 5 mm high). C. MacKinnon photo

Figure 2. Examples of the "C.A.D.S." (Charles A.D. Siddall) stamp found on the back of his dyking spades (letters about 5 mm high). C. MacKinnon photo

Figure 2. Examples of the “C.A.D.S.” (Charles A.D. Siddall) stamp found on the back of his dyking spades (letters about 5 mm high). C. MacKinnon photo

Charles A.D. Siddall was a well known and well respected maker of dyking spades and his work was highly regarded by those who worked the marshes and appreciated quality. Examples of his work are clearly marked on the upper back of the blade with his initials “C.A.D.S.” (Figure 2). In most cases, each letter, followed by a period, was stamped into the metal.

Figure 3. Reg Acton, of Cookeville, with his old, and much used Charles A. D. Siddall spade. C. MacKinnon photo

Figure 3. Reg Acton, of Cookeville, with his old, and much used Charles A. D. Siddall spade. C. MacKinnon photo

However, on at least one example, the letters appear to have been “pecked” with a fine punch rather than stamped. Marsh managers, such as Reg Acton of Cookville, told me that the quality of the steel in Siddall blades was better than that of other makers and thus kept an edge longer when sharpened. Reg still has his “C.A.D.S” spade; the blade is well oiled, wrapped in burlap and given a place of honour over his work bench (Figure 3). The makers of dyking spades were always on the look out for good steel for their blades and apparently CADS (and probably others) would cut down old cross-cut saws for this purpose. This might partially explain why the CADS spades would stay sharp longer than others.

One example of a Charles Siddall spade blade I have remains unused. The “as new” blade had been painted gold and mounted on a walnut display plaque. My guess is that this display may have been offered as some type of award; maybe for a farming competition? This example recently came out of Aulac so maybe one of our readers might be able to shed some light on this mystery!

If CADS started his blacksmith career as a young man, and worked at his trade for most of his life, this could potentially span upwards of fifty years. This translates into probably hundreds of spades carrying his initials. Many of these spades have survived, some with their original handles, and stand as the mark of a man who clearly took pride in his craft and was willing to put his name on his work. From a sample of 40 spades I have examined, 17.5% were marked “C.A.D.S.” while 5% were marked “T.A.S.”. Nearly one of every four spades encountered was a “Siddall” spade; a remarkable achievement from this father and son team. Charles A. D. Siddall, the maker of quality dyking spades, died in 1921; age 73 years. He is buried in the Sackville Public Cemetery on York Street.

This short note has been gleaned from census and cemetery records as well as talking to those few who remember working long hours, under a hot sun, building dykes or cleaning drainage ditches on the dykelands. I would be interested in obtaining more information on Siddall, other spade makers, related photographs and examples of their work. Feel free to contact me by phone 506 536 4283 or by mail at 176 King Street, Sackville, N.B., E4L 3C2.





Members of Tantramar Heritage Trust may have received a notice and breakfast tickets for Heritage Day in the mail over the last several days. Please see the updated agenda below and note the afternoon session will take place at the Wu Centre on Mount Allison University campus.

The day starts early at the Tantramar Regional High School with a hearty Heritage Day Breakfast and an exciting antiques road show. In the afternoon, join everyone at the Wu Centre for lively and interesting presentations on local history. Come join friends and neighbours for a fun day!

Celebrating Heritage Week 2004

Schedule of events — Saturday, February 14, 2004

Morning Session — Tantramar Regional High School

  • 7:30 am: Heritage Breakfast — Cafeteria at Tantramar Regional High School; Breakfast ends at approximately 10:30 am. $5 adults, $3 children
  • 10:00 am: Antiques Roadshow — Foyer of Tantramar Regional High School. Bring a treasured antique or family possession for an appraisal by our road show experts. $2 per item.

Afternoon Session — Wu Centre at Mount Allison University (the Wu Centre is at the corner of Salem and York Streets in the Dunn Building)

  • 1:30 pm: Early Mapping of Chignecto — Presentation by Paul Bogaard, Mount Allison University. Hear about early European mapping of the Chignecto area including early explorers, Acadian settlements and the township of Sackville… with stories about the role of the Mi’kmaq.
  • 2:30 pm: A Glimpse into Our Past! — Friendships and Relations with the Acadian Settlers. Presentation by Sandra Belliveau, Culture and Heritage Coordinator, Fort Folly First Nation. Learn about the culture, heritage and history of The Fort Folly First Nation and a project currently underway entitled “Establishing an Artifact Display and Heritage Interpretation Project”.

Presented by the Tantramar Heritage Trust.