Tantramar Historical Society Meeting
- Wed Apr 25, 7:30 pm — Sackville United Church Parlours
- Guest speaker: Dean Jobb
Josiah Wood: Sackville’s Reluctant Leading Man
The most prominent citizen of the Victorian era, Josiah Wood spent 35 years in public life, built a railway and operated large shipping and wholesaling firms. Yet he never planned to be a businessman. How did a small-town lawyer become Sackville’s man in Ottawa? Dean Jobb, author and journalism professor, will explain during the launch of the Trust’s latest publication.
The best way to summarize this newsletter is simply to inform you that, in large part, it has to do with transportation. Transportation throughout the region’s history: from the old French road Colin MacKinnon has “re-discovered” to the builders of Campbell carriages and sleighs which might even have traveled on this old road to cross the Tantramar Marsh two centuries ago. And read of travel in “the old days”, beyond the Tanramar to longer distances (now fairly routine to us today!) by carriage, stage coach and steamer(s), as undertaken by Mr. Churchill in 1843.
Also, I hope that my summary of the comments from our visitors at the Campbell Carriage Factory will give you all a “pat on the back” for continuing with your membership in the Tantramar Heritage Trust! You will hopefully find it very encouraging (as I did!) to read what people from Sackville, other parts of the Maritimes and more distant lands, think of our Campbell Carriage Museum and the Tantramar region in general. I certainly found it to be an eye-opener!
And please pay careful attention to the ad (above) about the coming book launch of the Trust’s most recent publication about Josiah Wood during the next Tantramar Historical Society meeting this month. We hope to see you there!
Furthermore, one of our main contributors to this newsletter, Colin MacKinnon, recently put together a fascinating compendium entitled “Tall Ships and Master Mariners Sailing from the Port of Sackville, New Brunswick.” It lists all the Master Mariners, ships, sailors and ship builders from the Sackville region over the period 1860–1890. It has all the names and dates associated with the important age of tall sails in this region. As Colin wrote in the introduction: “This list gives an indication of the topic and significance of the contributions made by the mariners of this area”. And what contributions they were! Colin has made a copy available to the Tantramar Heritage Trust at the Boultenhouse Heritage Center, 29B Queen’s Road, in Sackville.
So, until we speak again, enjoy all the goodies in this newsletter and don’t worry about the letter from Sir Albert Smith about confederation. I think it’s here to stay!
Read on and enjoy,
Visitors to the Campbell Carriage Factory Museum…
Who are they? Where are they from? What did they think of it?
In summer 2005 and 2006, the Tantramar Heritage Trust placed a guest book outside of the Campbell Carriage Factory and asked visitors to write their names, home addresses and comments and opinions associated with their visit to our museum, if they chose to do so. This article is a summary of the information gathered from this guest book over the years 2005 and 2006.
In 2005, 446 visitors came to the museum and signed the guest book. Altogether, they represented 12 countries in North and South America, Europe, Scandinavia, Africa and Asia (table 1); 337 Canadians (75.6% of visitors) came from 10 provinces and 60 (13.5%) of our neighbors from 18 U.S. states also visited with the highest numbers from the states of California, Massachusetts and Arizona (5 from each state). Twenty visitors (4.4%) left their impressions but not their places of origin.
In 2006, 420 visitors signed the guest book, including folks from 10 Canadian provinces, 16 American states, 1 European country (Germany) and three came from Japan. Altogether, in that year, 86.2% of the Carriage Factory visitors came to us from Canada, 10.7% U.S., 0.5% Europe and 0.7% were from Asia. Eight (1.9%) did not indicate their place of origin (see table 1). And the complimentary comments written throughout the guest book were very sincere and encouraging. Here is a summary:
The very first comment in the guest book was from an Ontario visitor who wrote: “A wonderful example of a lost trade caught in time”. That probably exemplifies exactly what Al Smith, Colin MacKinnon and I felt when we first visited the site in the mid-1980s and contemplated this magnificent building’s uncertain future at the time. Shane from Vancouver felt much the same way when he wrote: “Wonderful way to preserve and celebrate local history”. Vic from Moncton found the place “Very well done and very authentic!”. Another exclaimed “I love the smell!” while on the following page was the comment “Full of surprises!” Bob and Alice from Moncton simply wrote “Great history!!” and Sharon from Alberta told us to “keep up the great work!” and someone from Sackville simply found it “First rate!”. Shane from Belfast, Northern Ireland, very politely wrote that it was a “commendable restoration” while Ruth and Bill from Moncton simply found it to be “extraordinary” and S. and C. from Ste. Agathe des Mts., Quebec, obviously enjoyed the tour guides and wrote “Good french!!!” Tracy and Mike from Brampton, Ontario, found the place “Great! Neat! Awesome!” Darlene from Ontario obviously liked the surroundings as much as the Carriage factory when she wrote “Wonderful town!” Jean-Pierre and Francine from Granby, Quebec, went out of their way to write:
c’est un trésor a conserver — absolument manifique ! while Jay and Rita from Burgessville, Ontario thought it was “Absolutely Amazing”. Jim from Moncton just found it to be “Exceptional!”. But Lirette and Ivan from Colpitts Settlement, Jean from Melville, Saskatchewan, and Anne from St. Margagaret’s Bay, could only come up with “Wow!” while two U.S. visitors simply found it “Intriguing!”. Marc and Clo from Chateauguai stated
Très apprécié ! and Wilbur and Ardelia from Indiana, U.S.A. called it “one of a kind”. Pat and Eugene from the Miramichi found their experience there to have been “a wonderful look into past times” and Ken and Carolyn from England wrote that the Campbell Carriage Factory is “an amazing piece of history preserved”.
I wrote this just to show our membership that we’re not the only ones who find this part of the world so darn interesting! I welcome any readers who have yet to visit the Campbell Carriage factory to drop in and visit and let us know what they think of it by dropping a note in the guest book by the door.
|Prince Edward Island||6||1.3%||6||1.4%|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||3||0.7%||3||0.7%|
The Old French Road across the Tantramar Marsh
by Colin MacKinnon
Old maps have always intrigued me! Some are so general that it is nearly impossible to visualize what the cartographer was trying to depict. Some, however, are amazingly accurate considering these old maps were drawn without the aid of aerial photographs or Global Positioning Satellites (GPS). One such document is the “Jeffrey’s map” of 1755 that depicts a road across the Tantramar Marsh (south of Coles Island) near the mouth of the Tantramar River (Figure 1) with the word “Ferry” on it. I have often wondered about the location of this road.
The Jeffrey map places the Westcock and Aulac Marshes adjacent to each other, separated by the mouth of the Tantramar River. This is correct. But, the problem with Jeffrey’s interpretation of wetlands south of Coles Island (the present site of the Radio Canada International) is the complete absence of the Coles Island and the Ram Pasture marshes. Jeffrey’s map is notoriously inaccurate the farther one gets from Fort Beausejour; this may explain his lack of knowledge of the sinuous shape of the lower portion of the Tantramar River. The uplands to the west of the ‘ferry’ represents Westcock (near the present home of Maurice “Jake” Fisher) and Jeffrey places the marsh road south of Coles Island. The road crossing the Aulac River appears to be just north of the bulge of the Aulac Marsh and this would closely approximate the location of the CNR Railroad Bridge today.
It must be remembered that before 1900, the Ram Pasture Marsh was connected to Coles Island by a narrow neck of land and the Tantramar River followed a much longer course past the old town wharf and Dixon’s Landing. Thus, for a road to reach a point adjacent to Westcock, it would have had to cross the Ram Pasture/Coles Island Marshes.
The excellent Philip Palmer map of 1842 identifies a formation with a dashed line and the intriguing caption “this is supposed to be old French Dyke” (Figure 2) as well as details of other dykes and features on the marsh (Figure 3).
To my knowledge, there were never any earlier English dykes on this portion of marsh and I am sure the marsh surveyors would have been well aware of marsh traditions. The problem is, to my knowledge, that there are no French maps to suggest that the Acadians had built dykes this far out on the Coles Island Marsh. But they could have! So what is this “French Dyke” on Palmer’s map? I suspect that what we are really looking at, and what Philip Palmer recorded, are more likely the remains of the Old French Road although the formation could also have served as a dyke as well as a road.
To build a road, or dyke, across a saltmarsh, one would naturally follow the highest ground. This higher ground tends to be along the edges of rivers and creeks where the silt has been deposited and forms a natural levee. I have plotted the possible route of the pre-1755 Old French Road, which is in general agreement with the Jeffrey and Palmer maps, on the 21H/16 (1:50,000 scale) topographic map (Figure 4).
As you can see, I have used an earlier version of this map series shown on Figure 4 with the plethora of marsh barns and the location of the ‘Old Wharf’ identified on the Tantramar River adjacent to the Sackville Train Station. The 2000 version of the topographic map series was not referenced as it inexplicably depicts the Coles Island Saltmarsh as being under water!
On 24 July, 2006, Don Colpitts and I trekked out across the Coles Island Marsh to see what remained of the ‘Old French Dyke’. It turned out to be a three hour round trip of hot weather, marsh slogging, ditch-jumping and swatting rather nasty saltmarsh mosquitoes. But it was worth it! On the southernmost corner of the marsh, forming a gradual crescent of thick vegetation, bordered by a series of ponds, was the remains of the supposed “Old French Dyke” recorded by Palmer (Figure 5).
Over 250 years of sea level rise, coastal submergence and subsequent sedimentation has essentially buried the old dyke/road. It would appear that over the years the old dyke has acted as a partial dam thus the silt load is higher nearest the river, resulting in the series of small ponds on the landward side of the dyke (as shown in Figure 5). All that remains to mark the location of the old dyke is a green border of salmarsh vegetation.
The early European settlement history of the Chignecto Isthmus is comparatively well documented. However, I am often surprised at how little we know about the specific location of places and events. But when you search for answers, make sure you always use the right tools (and maps)! This short note sheds maybe a little light on one such place: the ‘Old French Road across the Tantramar’.
George Rogers (1867–1952) — carriage maker
by Al Smith
Scratched in a window pane above a work bench at the Campbell Carriage Factory are the initials GR — the only reminder today of the remarkable career of wheelwright George Rogers. The 1891 census lists George Rogers, male age 23 years, occupation Carriage Maker. This occupation started seven years earlier when he joined the firm of George Campbell & Sons as an apprentice. It was the beginning of a career that would span some 66 years until the doors were finally closed at the Campbell Carriage Factory in 1949.
George Leban Rogers was born December 16, 1867 in Westcock, the first child of John Rogers and Emily Lawrence. John Rogers had emigrated from Scotland and settled in this area. The 1871 census lists John as a ship-wright (he was possibly employed at the Purdy Shipyard). Young George grew up in Westcock and was christened at St. Ann’s Anglican Church. By 1881 he was living in Middle Sackville at the home of tanner William Beal.
He was possibly employed as a laborer in the tanning business but he also worked in construction in building the NB & PEI railway line. From his early teens through adulthood he lived on the shores of Morice’s Mill Pond (Silver Lake), Sackville. In September 1884, two Mount Allison professors (Hunton and Laird) narrowly escaped drowning thanks to the heroics of young George Rogers. The Chignecto Post recorded that the two professors overturned their canoe in windy conditions and initial rescue efforts “proved fruitless. Finally a boy named George Rogers launched a skiff which fortunately had been left at the other end of the pond and succeeded with much difficulty in rescuing the two men who were in nearly exhausted condition”. Fifteen years later, George nearly lost his 4 ½ year old son Charlie who fell into the pond and narrowly escaped death by drowning and was rescued by workmen at the Mill.
George Rogers signed on the payroll of the Campbell Carriage Factory on December 1, 1884 — just two weeks shy of his 17th birthday. As an apprentice carriage maker he was paid $25 per year for labor and board. Business was brisk at the factory in the 1880s as they would typically manufacture up to 70 sleighs and 100 wagons and carriages yearly. Young George quickly learned all the skills needed to become a master wheelwright, coffin, carriage and sleigh manufacturer — a profession that he would pursue into his 81st year.
With a full time job, his apprentice years behind him, and now making the princely sum of $60 yearly, George married Priscella Estabrooks on Feb. 26, 1890, the daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Wesley Estabrooks of Midgic. Their son J. Norman was born that same year followed by siblings George, Reeta, Hazel, John (Jack), Clinton, Pick and Charlie. In 1902 the young family moved into the old Beal homestead on the edge of Silver Lake and purchased the property two years later. That old house was to serve as his residence for the remainder of his life and that of his youngest son Abner (Bub). When Bub died in September 1999 the old home was sold and later dismantled piece by piece in 2001.
Priscella died in 1905 leaving George with the responsibility of raising seven children. He married Flossie Estabrooks (Priscella’s younger sister) on April 24, 1907. In total, George fathered 16 children, three died at childbirth, and 11 sons and five daughters were raised to adulthood.
George’s only break in employment at the Carriage Factory was in 1916 when he enlisted in the 145th regiment in Moncton and served overseas in the latter part of WWI. Three sons also enlisted, Jack and Clinton served with their father in the 145th while Norman was with the 27th Battallion. Miraculously, all four returned home safely following the War. George had a close brush with death when a German air raid dropped a bomb on his training camp in southern England killing a man and woman standing 10 yards from him. With the formation of the Royal Canadian Legion in 1926, Rogers became an active member of the local branch. In August, 1949, at age 81, George Leban Rogers became the first individual to receive a Life Membership in the local Legion. Rogers was very well known in the community. He was a member of the Middle Sackville Band where he played several instruments over a period of 38 years and also played in the 145th Westmorland and Kent Battalion band. Possibly he was most notorious for his excessive use of alcohol. I recall my grandfather (Harvey Hicks) telling a story of hearing a ruckus on the front porch of his home on Squire Street Extension late one evening in the 1920s. Upon investigation, he found George very drunk and unable to walk, so grandfather drove him home to Middle Sackville. In a 1997 interview with Meddy Stanton, George’s son Bub noted that his father never worked on Friday afternoons. Since Sackville did not have a liquor store he would make his weekly trip across the marsh to the Amherst store in his Model T with young Bub at the wheel. The noon hour liquor re-supply trip had to be quick for Bub to be back at school by 1:30. George apparently never did get the hang of driving a “horse-less carriage”.
There was a strong bond between the long term employees and the Campbell family owners of the factory so a half day absence from work was never questioned. George Campbell would routinely come into the factory for a morning chat with “old George”. Similarly the employees were loyal workers. Bub Rogers recalled (in a 1999 interview with Meddy Stanton) that his Dad was paid 55 cents an hour even during the Great Depression, a wage level that continued through much of the 1940s. According to Bub, in the mid 1940s when someone asked George why he never asked for a raise, his father’s response was “they gave me 55 cents an hour during the Depression; I wouldn’t charge them any more than that. Besides, if I got a raise, I’d just spend it”.
George Rogers worked at the factory in its heydays of the late 1800s to early 1900s. At that time the factory employed nine tradesmen ranging from blacksmiths, carpenters, upholsterers and painters. From cutting the wood in the Campbell family woodlots, to manufacturing the component parts, assembling and painting, Rogers and his co- workers did it all. For the last 20–30 years of employment, George worked his tools without the use of two fingers on one hand and the tips of two on the other. That disability was the result of a serious accident with the planer in the Factory’s machine room during the late 1920s or early 1930s.
His second wife, Flossie, was tragically killed in 1944 when struck by a truck while crossing the road in Middle Sackville. Nonetheless, George continued on at the Factory.
Towards the end, only the two long-term employees remained — carriage maker Rogers and blacksmith James O’Neil. Little was manufactured after 1945, but repair work kept the two veteran employees busy. The last entries in the Factory’s account books show a payment to Rogers of $13.00 for the week of January 9–15, 1948, while James O’Neil’s final payment was $16.00 on Mar. 22, 1951.
George Rogers passed away April 30, 1952, at the Lancaster Military Hospital in Saint John where he had intermittently been a patient since 1949. Most of his family had moved to the States or out west. Today only his granddaughter Jean still resides in the area — just around the corner from his beloved old factory.
Sixty six years of employment with the same firm is a record unlikely to ever be matched. Clearly that milestone employment record caught the attention of the editor or the local Tribune as over the years four articles appeared in the paper. The hands of George Rogers likely made or touched all the various patterns, wheel hubs and 6000+ other artifacts in the Museum. Old George may be long gone but his legend lives on. If only the walls of the old Factory could talk!
With thanks to historian Phyllis Stopps for her assistance with this research.
- Census Records: 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911
- Chignecto Post — Sept. 25, 1884
- Sackville Tribune — Dec. 3 1909; June 1, 1916; June 21, 1917; July 8, 1940; Jan 10, 1944
- Sackville Tribune-Post — Dec. 1, 1947; Dec. 21, 1948; Sept. 20, 1949; May 2, 1952.
- Donna Beal: The Rogers (Beal) House — The White Fence #14, February 2001
- Meddy Stanton: History on Wheels — The New Brunswick Reader October 25, 1997
- Meddy Stanton: Sackville’s above-ground archaeological site, unpublished manuscript
Memories of Sackville Christmases Past
An exhibit idea that snowballed!
Back in October, Al Smith suggested how nice it would be if we could mount a small members’ Christmas display for the month of December. Then, we received an invitation from Diane Murray Barker, Principal at Marshview Middle School, to participate in their annual Christmas House Tour fundraiser. An idea for an exhibit was passed by the membership in a quick e-mail, in the hopes that this would generate a little feedback. In retrospect, how could I ever have thought otherwise? In no time at all, members were either writing back or, quite simply, beginning to bring items in. The more people saw what was materializing, the more they began to recall items in their attics that would compliment what we had, and would return with arms full the following day!
I would like to take this opportunity to thank those individuals who entrusted their family heirlooms to our special exhibit, as well as the many volunteers who decorated the museum and turned the day of the tour into such a memorable first for the Boultenhouse Heritage Centre and Trust. This would not have been the success it was without all of your thoughtful efforts. So the happy moral of this story is, good ideas do “snowball”, even with a lack of snow — thank you, everyone, for your teamwork and support!
—Adèle Hempel, administrator
A Letter from the
Lion of Westmorland
Contributed by Al Smith
My neighbour recently loaned me an old scrap book. In it was an original letter with an envelope clearly marked House of Commons, Ottawa, and dated December, 1867. The letter was from Albert J. Smith (later to become Sir Albert), a resident of Dorchester and MP for Westmorland. It was addressed to Amos Ogden Esq., Sackville, New Brunswick, a friend and political acquaintance of his.
The following transcription of that letter will be of great interest to readers as it conveys his frustrations with the early months of confederation. Albert Smith had been a very vocal opponent of the union of the Provinces and some say that his stubborn objections delayed confederation by as much as two years — thus earning him the title of “Lion of Westmorland”. Smith had argued that New Brunswick was a prosperous and growing colony and would lose its clout in the larger framework of Canada. He predicted that the larger “Upper Canada” would dominate the union. As you will see from his letter his predictions proved to be correct.
Having fought Confederation and lost he decided to run for the first federal election and easily won his Westmorland seat in 1867. He kept that seat until 1882 and proved to be a strong and effective voice for the Maritimes. So enjoy this flash back to December 1867 when our young country was struggling to define itself.
House of Commons
Dec. 7, 1867
Amos Ogden Esq.
The correspondents of the News-papers from our Province keep you posted as to our doings here. It is lamentable to see how time and money is wasted. The daily expenses must be upwards of four thousand dollars and yet the government go on day after day doing little or nothing. I am sorry to say that my convictions in relation to confederation are confirmed from what I have seen and heard here. We are entirely overshadowed, everything is Canadian. You have seen the resolutions moved by the Govt. to bring the whole Northwest Territory and to buy up the Hudson Bay Co. This will involve the expenditures of millions of dollars. What will the Confederates think now when this is the first measure of the Govt. producing heavy taxation upon them without any benefit. We warned our Country of this and other things, and it is surprising to see how rapidly our predictions are being verified.
The Govt. told us and Tilley (unreadable) in the (unreadable) that we had the railway expenditure they should have something in the West. I replied that the Railway was as much for their benefit as ours, and besides the Railway was the price paid for Confederation and should form no charge against us and that we begin with a clean sheet. But all this is of no avail. The whole of Upper Canada unite together whatever their differences in politics may be, to obtain grants of money. I knew this would be the case and told the people so.
Kind regards to all friends. Yours truly,
Travelling to Sackville in 1843
(Excerpt from Travelling In Nova Scotia in 1845 in Dents Canadian History Readers — How Canada Grew Up by D.J. Dickie, 1926)
In July 1843 Mr. Churchill, a Methodist clergyman at Yarmouth, was invited to attend the opening of term at the new Wesleyan Academy at Sackville, N.B. He left Yarmouth on a Saturday afternoon, hoping to preach in Saint John the next day. Being detained by a heavy fog, they arrived only just as church was being dismissed. A party was made up to charter a steamer to go up the bay to Sackville. They left on Tuesday evening and arrived the next morning at eleven o’clock.
The commencement exercises were held on Thursday and Mr. Churchill left that evening, a friend engaging to drive him thirty-five miles to the Bend of the Petitcodiac (now Moncton), where he could take the stage for Saint John. They drove all night and reached the Bend just in time to catch the stage, which left at 4:30 am. Fifteen hours of coaching returned him to Saint John on Friday evening. As the Yarmouth boat did not leave Saint John till Monday, Mr. Churchill took the steamer New Brunswick and by nine o’clock on Saturday evening, he had traveled ninety miles up the beautiful Saint John River. He preached twice on Sunday, and returned to Saint John on Monday. He arrived at six o’clock, just in time to step aboard the boat which landed him in Yarmouth the following morning. He had been absent from home almost nine days and had traveled 630 miles.