The White Fence, issue #40

November 2008

Stagecoach Days on the Westmorland Road

November 19 · United Church Parlors · 7 pm

Eugene Goodrich, President
Westmorland Historical Society


Executive Directors 2007–2008

  • President: Paul Bogaard
  • Vice-President: Michael Weldon
  • Secretary: rotating
  • Treasurer: Geoff Martin


  • Administrator: vacant
  • Exhibits Assistant/Researcher: Jana Parks, Kellan Barrett (part-time)
  • Curatorial Assistant/Researcher: Marianne Lagacé (contract)
  • Bookkeeper: Joy Banks


Dear friends,

With the approach of winter, a new historic year is at our doorstep. Consider this, the 40th issue of The White Fence, as the dependable key to once again open a new door towards a better appreciation and understanding of Tantramar history.

We begin this new season by introducing Trust members to a new addition to the family (literally!). Back in the early 1990s, when a number of us dreamt of turning the Campbell Carriage Factory (CCF) into a museum, we were aware that a part of it was missing. But this past June, the Trust held a “Barn-Raising”, the first step to re-creating the post-and-beam structure which had been added to the original factory in 1905 but demolished by the Campbells in 1962 when it was no longer in use and in serious decay. With the help of Dan and Kimberley Reagan of Timberhart Woodworks of Nova Scotia, we were able to fit together a post-and-beam timber puzzle and rebuild an important part of the region’s carriage history. See the article which follows with photos showing how this puzzle was put together.

And, on your behalf, I commend Heritage Trust president, Paul Bogaard, for taking on this important project and for doing so in such a way as to protect the historical integrity of the site. Believe me, much work needed to be done for this new addition to become reality and Paul jumped in head-first! And the finished product is one for all of us to be very proud of!! Watch for an official grand opening sometime next June. The article on the re-construction of the old “Addition” contains just some of the many photos taken by Paul in the course of this exciting project. See also the accompanying article that presents the Tantramar Heritage Trust’s board of directors’ vision for the future of the Campbell Carriage Factory Compound, as we introduce you to our Capital Campaign to make it all happen!

And in another article in this issue, we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Walter Dutton’s travels aboard the vessel Sarah Dixon as described in copies of his journal written aboard this great ship. And very appropriately, we also include a piece written by Al Smith on the construction of the Sarah Dixon in Sackville. To make this anniversary extra special, we transcribed the first page of Mr. Dutton’s daily journal written aboard the Sarah Dixon which travelled from Liverpool, England, to Melbourne, Australia. Al received copies of this journal from Mr. Stephen Simpson, Mr. Dutton’s great-great-grandson, who had read about a reference to the Sarah Dixon on the web from a 2006 copy of The White Fence while travelling off the coast of France (as far as we can understand!). He kindly emailed Al about his great-great-grand-father’s voyage aboard the Sarah Dixon and attached a copy from his journal. We include our first excerpt from this journal in this issue. My, my, we do get around…

On behalf of all Trust members, we thank you Mr. Simpson (wherever you are!) for making your great-great-grandfather’s informative journal available to us. We hope that you will keep reading about us, including the excerpts of your ancestor’s journal in many issues to follow. And if you ever visit our area some day, we would love to introduce you, your friends and family, to the Campbell Carriage Factory as well as the Boultenhouse Heritage Centre. Until then, once more, please accept our thanks and our very best wishes.

With so much focus on the ship Sarah Dixon in this issue, it is very fitting that, with permission, we add a copy of Cole Morrison’s recent review of a Tantramar Heritage Trust publication Shipbuilding in Westmorland County, New Brunswick, 1784–1910, originally written for the Westmorland Historical Society Newsletter.

And may all members enjoy reading what follows as much as I have enjoyed putting this very special issue together.

—Peter Hicklin

Re-birth of an old addition to the Campbell Carriage Factory

by Peter Hicklin and Paul Bogaard

This past June, we and many members of the Tantramar Heritage Trust got together on the Campbell Carriage Factory property to put a puzzle together. And this was no ordinary puzzle! The parts of the puzzle (i.e. timbers) originated from a barn that was built in Sussex, N.B., in 1795, dismantled in situ in spring 2008 by the Timberhart Woodworks staff and all parts numbered and labeled for a later re-fit in Sackville. And this re-fit was held on June 10-12 on the carriage factory grounds with 66-year Campbell Carriage Factory employee George Rogers (alias Dan Lund) to make sure that this very special barn-raising was done correctly!

The timbers were re-assembled at the Middle Sackville carriage factory museum and, over a couple of sunny June days, THT members, along with Timberhart staff (and George Rogers!), raised the fitted structures against the original (upgraded) tannery/carriage factory building.

Once the old timber frame was up, Energreen was hired by the Trust to put up walls, doorways, windows, staircase and a roof in the two- storey building.

Upon completion, a part of the region’s carriage history was finally recaptured and brought back to life! Prepare for an official opening next spring/summer which a later news-letter will announce to you. By this time next year, many of you will have visited and learned about a part of our history after having stood at the second-floor window of the new addition and gazing at the grand fields of the reclaimed Tantramar Marshes, the source of iron-rich hay for which Campbell hay-wagons were constructed.

For members who might disagree with a new building representing a historical one, there is an important (very practical) reason for the board of directors to have accepted this significant undertaking. A museum open to the general public cannot function effectively (nor can it be publicly advertized!) without a reception area nor washrooms. Many visitors over previous years had commented on the lack of such facilities. So, as we wished the public to visit our museum, new accommodations to fulfill these needs, had to be constructed.

Over the next few weeks, selected THT members will be canvassing the membership asking for your assistance to help us finance this significant undertaking (see the note about our Capital Campaign which follows). We hope that those who might have wavered in the past about making financial contributions to the Trust, will view this recent project as a positive development for our town and support our efforts with a contribution. And stay with us; there’s lots more to learn and do along the shores of the Tantramar!

George Rogers (alias Dan Lund)

George Rogers (alias Dan Lund) overseeing the barn-raising at the Campbell Carriage Factory

Two visitors at the re-constructed "addition" to the Campbell Carriage Factory

Two visitors at the re-constructed “addition” to the Campbell Carriage Factory

Dan Reagan fits a corner frame onto the larger building frame

Dan Reagan fits a corner frame onto the larger building frame

New re-constructed "addition" to the Campbell Carriage Factory as seen from the road

New re-constructed “addition” to the Campbell Carriage Factory as seen from the road

Thaddeus Hollownia takes a photo as volunteers add the last beams to the roof of the re-constructed 1905 addition to the Campbell Carriage Factory

Thaddeus Hollownia takes a photo as volunteers add the last beams to the roof of the re-constructed 1905 addition to the Campbell Carriage Factory

Roof re-construction begins once all four walls have been re-assembled and stabilized

Roof re-construction begins once all four walls have been re-assembled and stabilized

George Campbell & Sons as it probably appeared following the completion of the new addition in 1905

George Campbell & Sons as it probably appeared following the completion of the new addition in 1905

Regaining the Campbell Carriage Factory Compound

A Unique Property

Ronald Campbell, with his son George, established their carriage factory sometime around 1850, in a converted tannery, originally built in 1841. As his late great-great grandson Will Campbell said in an interview: “It was Ronald who started up the business, but it was George who really made her go!”

George Campbell and Sons, makers of Carriages Waggons & Sleighs grew this business into the largest in the region. They soon added a blacksmith shop in a separate building, built a warehouse in the 1880s, and finally added a building at the back of the original factory which featured a freight elevator. In other words, the Campbell Factory developed over the decades into an entire compound… a business which lasted for 100 years! We do not know of another carriage factory that lasted for so long, and, throughout the course of its long and prosperous life, in the hands of the same family. And, more importantly, there is not a single factory of this kind remaining in all of Canada and New England! The Campbell Carriage Factory is the last still standing, in its original location, and with much of its original equipment… a living memorial to the crafts tradition of manufacture before its transformation into the industrial age.

The Vision

Ten years ago, the Campbell family generously donated what remained of this 100-year legacy to the Tantramar Heritage Trust. The warehouse was still standing but the blacksmith shop and rear building were already gone. Only the main carriage factory building and its contents were made available to us, creating an inventory of over 7,000 items, many of them completely unique to the work of special craftsmen.

Since June 21, 2003, the main carriage factory building has been open to the public as Sackville’s first museum. During these years, the story lines and interior arrangements of the old factory have been discovered and refined. Volunteers, local historians and summer students have invested countless hours in bringing it back to life. We were also able to bring in a local blacksmith shop to replace the long-lost original building on the site. But it had also become increasingly clear that fully realizing the potential of this wonderful resource would require much additional work. We needed to retrieve the full compound!

And restoring the full compound has required (and will still require) several steps:

  • re-roofing and structural support for the main (original) building (done!).
  • re-building the rear building housing the freight elevator with required space for washrooms, new reception/sales area, office/storage space with room for educational activities (done but without the elevator (yet!), nor completed washrooms nor reception area (yet!)).
  • re-arranging the grounds with gravel paths and decks (not completed).
  • re-furbishing both the blacksmith shop (now on site but as yet incomplete) and the warehouse (not completed but the foundation has been repaired and new windows, much like the originals, have been constructed and put in place).
  • tying it all together with original style fence and gates (not yet done).

We certainly need the washrooms and other practical facilities this will provide, but our vision of all this restoration really focuses on re-capturing the sense of a full compound of functioning buildings. The full story of the products that this unique factory once provided to the people of Tantramar needs to be taught to coming generations and its physical setting fully restored for all to appreciate the very different world our ancestors once lived in, a world where horses ruled the landscape. Your Board of Directors decided over the winter of 2007-08 to tackle this task. We have begun with the main building, now complete, and, following this past summer’s once-in-a-lifetime “timber-frame raising” (see photos) have completed the envelope of the rear building, and should soon have its interior fitted out. It will take the remainder of this winter and spring (’08-’09) to bring in the new exhibits and information panels.

With the cooperation of the Campbell family, we have also made considerable progress towards restoring the warehouse which will allow us to turn our attention to the blacksmith shop and surrounding fence.

Soon, you will emerge from your tour of this historic carriage factory building to the ringing of the anvil, the display of horse-pulled hearses, and other similar vehicles, donated back to the museum as well as many other projects underway in the courtyard.

Our Capital Campaign

As you can well imagine, we require funding to meet these many obligations and it is our hope that you will all respond to our Capital Campaign to help us make it all possible. We have already raised $60,000 in donations plus $35,000 through provincial “Built Heritage” grants and a bank loan sufficient to get this great restoration underway. We now need the remaining funds to pay back the loan and complete our vision. So, please welcome our canvassers who will visit in search of contributions, no matter how large or small. Without your support, we would be unable to tell of Tantramar’s history to you, our members, and to the wider world, who show an interest in learning more of the great past of this very special place in this grand country of ours.

artist’s rendering of The Campbell Carriage Factory Compound

The Campbell Carriage Factory Compound

The Pride of the Dixon Ship Yard — The Sarah Dixon

Author’s note: This slightly reworked article on the ship Sarah Dixon first appeared in the Sackville Tribune Post on Wednesday, September 21, 2006. On October 19, 2008, an email was received at the Trust office from Stephen Simpson in England requesting information on the ship Sarah Dixon as he had seen a reference to the vessel in the December, 2006, online issue of The White Fence. Mr. Simpson’s great- great-grandfather Walter Dutton had traveled to Australia in 1858 on the Sarah Dixon. I emailed Mr. Simpson a copy of this article and other information on the ship and asked if perhaps his great-great- grandfather had kept a journal of the voyage. To my great delight, on October 25th, I received a scanned copy of Walter Dutton’s fascinating journal, chronicling, near daily, the events of the 99-day passage from Liverpool to Melbourne. Written exactly 150 years ago it is an incredible account of life aboard this Sackville-built ship engaged in transporting people and supplies to the Australian gold fields. It is our intention to introduce you to the vessel and include introductory excerpts from Walter Dutton’s journal in this issue of The White Fence, with further excerpts in later issues throughout this 150th anniversary of the journal.

by Al Smith

One hundred and fifty-two years ago, the ship Sarah Dixon slid down the launch ways of the Dixon shipyard and into the muddy waters of the Tantramar River. The launching, on September 18, 1856, was so momentous an occasion that a half day’s holiday was given by the Mount Allison colleges so students could witness the event. At 1465 tons, the ship was the largest vessel ever constructed in Sackville.

Shipbuilding in Sackville Parish commenced in the 1790s and over the course of the next hundred years, nearly 200 vessels constructed of local timber, were launched. The largest Shipyard, operated by shipwright Christopher Boultenhouse, was established on the banks of the Tantramar River in 1840 when he moved to Sackville from Wood Point. Charles Dixon, a grandson of the original Yorkshire immigrant family of Charles and Susannah Coates Dixon, constructed a second large shipyard in Sackville in 1850, at the end of Landing Road. Dixon had been persuaded to go into partnership with Sackville merchant Mariner Wood and over the next six years he built eight vessels. Under the supervision of yard foreman Oliver Boultenhouse, a nephew of Christopher Boultenhouse, the partners were very successful. The sale of the second last ship (brigantine William Hyde) brought in exceptionally large revenues and encouraged the partners to build even a grander ship. Thus, construction on the full-rigged ship Sarah Dixon began with great interest from the public in such a large vessel. Measuring 206 feet in length, 39.8 feet in width and 22.7 feet from keel to gunwale, she was indeed an impressive sight.

As launching day approached (September 18, 1856), the community was a buzz of excitement. Charlotte Dixon, daughter of shipwright Charles Dixon provides an eyewitness account of the launch: “The day of victory came at last and was a perfect one. The tide was at its highest, the steam tug was at the wharf ready for action, the college gave a half-day holiday, people came from all directions. The ship was complete in every particular, cabin and forecastle finished, furnished and stored for the voyage, masts were fully rigged, sails furled and flags flying from bow to stern. The wedging up is done, and the command is given to knock away the blocks. While the people held their breath she settled calmly on her ways and gently glides away from her nest on the shore and dips gracefully into the deep. As she rises upon the water, the huzzas that break from the vast multitude on the shore are wonderful to hear. Then the tug hastened to her side, attached herself to the ship and they sailed away amid the rejoicing and congratulations of all the people. It had been a marked and beautiful event and was the talk of the folk for some time”.

The ship had been christened Sarah Dixon after the wife of Charles Dixon, Sarah (Boultenhouse) Dixon. Sarah was the daughter of Bedford and Charlotte (Harper) Boultenhouse, and sister to shipwright Christopher Boultenhouse. When the ship was still under construction the partners had been offered $40/ton for the ship, but partner Mariner Wood, who owned 48 of the 64 shares in the vessel, refused to sell. Instead they loaded her with 750,000 ft. of lumber and sailed her to Liverpool, England. Unfortunately by the time the ship reached England, the market for wooden ships was temporarily glutted. The partners were forced to sell for $15/ton, thus suffering a heavy financial loss. That event bankrupted Charles Dixon and his business partner (M. Wood) foreclosed on him thus ending his shipbuilding days. The yard did, however, continue to operate for some time under the direction of several shipwrights.

The purchaser of the Sarah Dixon was a Liverpool firm headed by John Chesshyre Blythe. Registered in Liverpool on May 30, 1857, the vessel was immediately re-fitted for the passenger trade between Great Britain and Australia. Once remodeled, the ship was capable of carrying up to 600 passengers plus cargo. Commanded by Captain William Salt, the ship operated the route between Liverpool, England, to Melbourne, Australia, carrying mostly outbound passengers eager to seek their fortune in the Australian gold rush. Nearly 400 passengers made the trip out in the fall of 1857 and, the following year, 188 souls braved the hardships of the 99-day ocean passage to Melbourne, Australia, arriving December 5th, 1858. Unfortunately, on March 17, 1859 (possibly on her return trip to Liverpool) the ship struck the Baroguy shoal in the Gulf of Marinban, near Rangoon, Burma, and was lost.

While the pride of the Dixon shipyard sailed for less than three years, her life will fortunately live on in a book currently being researched and written by Ray Dixon of Sackville. Walter Dutton’s journal entries encapsulate the essence of one of her last major ocean voyages. We begin with the first page of Mr. Dutton’s journal; watch for future issues of The White Fence and relive this arduous journey of 150 years ago.

References cited

  • Armour, Charles A. and Smith, Allan D. 2008. Shipbuilding in Westmorland County NB, Tantramar Heritage Trust Publication, Sackville, N.B.
  • Alward, Dale E. 2003. Down Sackville Ways, Tantramar Heritage Trust Publication, Sackville, N.B.
  • Dixon Papers. Mount Allison University Archives, Mount Allison University, Sackville, N.B.
  • Dutton, Walter — Journal of his voyage on the ship Sarah Dixon August 29 to Dec. 5, 1858, received from Stephen Simpson, Tantramar Heritage Trust, Sackville, N.B.

The Journal of Walter Dutton

August 29–December 5, 1858

Part I — On board the Sarah Dixon

My dear wife and children,

I now take up my pen to write a few lines to amuse myself and interest you. We have had a very rough day of it; the steamer has left us off Tusker and many of the passengers are sick. I have just been up to the doctor about Joe, for he is very bad and I feel a little queer myself. About 3 o’clock this afternoon a stowaway turned up. He could not stay below any longer; he looked very ill and the passengers made a collection for his fare, which amounted to about £8.

Sept. 2. I cannot say what has taken place during the last few days, as I have been confined to my bed through sickness. The weather today is beautiful, though we have had a bad beginning with contrary winds. Four more stowaways turned up and one of them is the young man from Nottingham that your brother William saw in Liverpool. My mate, Joe, is very bad in health and the doctor is of no use. Indeed, he is worse than any old woman.

Sept. 3. A very wet and dirty day and much colder than with you. We are not far from Liverpool as the wind has been against us ever since we started. Our passengers consist of nearly all nations, English, Scotch, Irish, Welsh, Germans, Italians, Dutch, French, and one or two spaniards; in all, 188. Our provisions are not so good, especially the beef, but I don’t eat a deal myself, as I think it be better for my health. I am very sorry to say that Joe is still in bed very ill and I don’t know what he is going to make of it. Your brother William would not know him for he cannot eat anything and his spirits are down.

Sept. 4. Fair wind today for the first time since leaving Liverpool and Joe is a great deal better. We killed a sheep today of which we have 14 on board, 18 pigs and 100 poultry. Nearly all the passengers are well again and I am first-rate, for which I feel very glad and thankful.

Sept. 5. Sunday morning. Light winds today, but we have had prayers twice and we ought to get along faster, for they prayed for a fair wind.

Sept. 6. Fair wind at about 7 knots, and fine weather. Sept. 7. Light breeze; killed another sheep; passed the “John and Lucy” that left the Mersey three days before us.

Sept. 8. Fair wind. We had a row on board last night amongst the crew and they broke into the ship’s stores and stole four dozen of wine and two barrels of ale and all refused to work.

(to be continued)

Book Review by Cole Morrison: Shipbuilding in Westmorland County New Brunswick, 1784–1910

Shipbuilding in Westmorland County, New Brunswick, 1784–1910 [cover]

Compiled by Charles A. Armour with additions by Allan D. Smith
ISBN 978-o-9784100-5-6, 2008
Tantramar Heritage Trust, Sackville, New Brunswick

This outstanding publication by Tantramar Heritage Trust, May 2008, is the authoritative guide for information on the 580 vessels built in Westmorland County during the period 1784 to 1910 and on the great shipbuilders of Westmorland County (Boultenhouse, Chapman, Hickman, Ogden, Palmer, Purdy and Salter). Its great merit is the ‘friendly’ organization of material, which allows the reader to safely navigate the oceans of data, and the intriguing sketches of the seven leading builders. The 45 illustrations include 25 stunning images of ship portraits — one of the special highlights of the book. After a short survey of the period (1784–1910) and a description of the nature and limitation of registry — and other, information sources, the core material appears in two chapters:

The Pre-Eminent Shipbuilders of Westmorland County (Ch. 3) Only seven builders (out of 220) in Westmorland were responsible for 30% of ship construction in the county — their biographies (2-3 pages) make fascinating reading.

Chronological Listing by Port of Vessel Registration Data (Ch.5) Here you search for a vessel by the port (or area) of construction, then by name. If you are looking for a specific vessel, you can refer to the alpha listing in Appendix II to determine the port, then scan down the Chronological Listing for the specific vessel.

For a copy of Shipbuilding in Westmorland County, contact Tantramar Heritage Trust (Boultenhouse Heritage Centre is open Monday to Friday) or the Gift Shop at Keillor House. The cost of the publication is $28.00 and would make a wonderful gift for Christmas.

painting of 3-masted sailing vessel