The White Fence, issue #51

May 2011


Dear friends,

People are our greatest resource. For example, Rupert Delesdernier knew Rockport like few others. Following his recent passing, Rupert’s sister Sharon Bainbridge wrote a eulogy for Rupert which she kindly allowed us to print here. And when Jeffrey Ward published Head of the Bay — A History of the Maringoin Peninsula, Bay of Fundy, Canada (Tantramar Heritage Trust, November 2009) he wrote the following note about Rupert in the Introduction and Acknowledgements (page vi) of this volume: “I have had the great pleasure of knowing and talking extensively with Mr. Rupert Delesdernier in the course of this project. Rupert is among the last residents of Lower Rockport who was also born there. Rupert’s great love of the place will affect anyone who takes the time to call upon him. He is a treasure.” Indeed.

Rupert would have enjoyed reading of Eugene Goodrich’s discovery of another special treasure: Fisheries Commissioner Moses Henry Perley and his fascinating activities with various fisheries in Atlantic Canada but especially his detailed report about the Shad fishery written in 1851, a fishery in the upper Bay of Fundy that Rupert would have known well. Eugene tells us about Mr. Perley’s many activities and presents us with a slice of (unedited) history with the story of George Buck and John Barnes and the part they played in this special fishery which distinguished this portion of the Bay of Fundy for many years, right to the present.

And then Al Smith introduces us to Point de Bute’s Stephen Tingley who pioneered the west and left his mark in British Columbia in the mid- to late-1800s. We have been known to stray occasionally…

Then there are those seafaring captains of Atlantic Canada. Clare Christie of Amherst submitted her grandmother’s short 1890 “Memories” of a farewell dinner to Captain Amos Atkinson of Sackville. The text may be short but pay particular attention to Al Smith’s footnotes; they are especially informative.

So, with us, do honour the memories of the folks upon which our history is built. I hope to hear from many of you with similar stories, letters and diaries which document our past and provide us with the reasons why our present here in Tantramar is so interesting. Do write us, and, in the meantime, sit back and enjoy!

—Peter Hicklin

Eulogy for Rupert Walter Leslie Delesdernier

February 6, 2011

By Sharon Bainbridge

Each of us gathered here, hold different memories of this special man, and of the Delesdernier family. Rupert often quoted his mother’s maxim “self praise is a poor recommendation”, but maybe we can pause for a few minutes and praise him.

Rupert Delesdernier

Rupert Delesdernier photographed by Jeffrey Ward at his house in 2007

Rupert was my mother’s baby brother, six years younger than her, and I’m not sure how “happy” she was to relinquish her place as the youngest child. In fact, Rupert claimed she threatened some dire consequences for him. Two years later Aunt Beulah was born and my Mum had two younger siblings to spoil and tease.

Rockport and Uncle Rupert have been a part of my life, “all my life”. Some of my favorite childhood memories are our trips to see Grammie, Uncle Jack and Uncle Rupert. We loved the smells in the barn, the hay mow, and watching the “boys” take the huge horses past the house and down to the spring. On a hot summer day, the cooler temperature of Rockport was so refreshing. Memories of Grammie’s dinners still can make my mouth water, hot homemade biscuits, with homemade butter, salt pork, and baked beans and, for dessert, Bog cranberries, with lots of sugar, a pinch of cinnamon and rich, thick cream.

The way to Rockport was always a dirt road, sometimes dusty, other times slick and slippery, but always beautiful. Leaving Dorchester, we could hardly wait to see the salt water and the mud flats, Grindstone Island, Hopewell Rocks, Mary’s Point and a glimpse of Cape Maringouin off in the distance. A tree hanging precariously on a cliff had a special meaning to my mother. In later years when her vision was so poor, and unable to see for herself, but sensing we were near it, she asked “Is the tree still there?” If we were lucky we’d get to see the sandpipers doing their graceful dance over the chocolate water.

Getting up Squires Hill was often a challenge, even more so on a wet Mother’s Day, and we were a bedraggled group that finally made it on foot. The drive back to the car with Jack and Rupert, in a wagon, went much faster.

The lane to the farm now proudly boasts the Delesdernier name, the history of which was a source of pride to Uncle, and has been documented in various books and manuscripts, over the years, by authors who have patiently interviewed him. I believe he had a photographic memory and his ability to remember names, dates, and families was phenomenal.

The old Rockport School, of which he was a student until Grade 8, and also the janitor, held so many memories, even the initials carved into the faded shingles, and the scar on the wall where the slate landed when a teacher, in a fit of temper, threw it at a student. Not Uncle Rupert.

Rupert also was an author. In February, 1974, the Atlantic Advocate published one of his submissions, about Rockport and a piece of poetry by Bedford Seamans, “Old Field Woods” (another name for the Rockport Cemetery). Rupert has requested the poem be read at his burial. Behind the school is the worn path to the beach and the old chimney, the site of the rock quarry that was so vital to the economy during the 1800s. On a tour through those woods, we would see the ruins of the company store, the old road, the well, and all the wild flowers. He had his own name and supporting story for the various places, coves, and cliffs along the way.

Being the youngest son of a family of seven, he well remembered, and spoke often, of their care toward him over the years. Helping him study by lamplight, making valentines out of scraps of lace and paper, and rescuing him after a wild ride on the crusty snow in Jack’s box sled that instead of landing him in the creek took a sharp turn and upset in a big drift. In later years Aunt Hester would send him letters and Valentines and Phyllis remembered every birthday.

Rockport was home to Rupert except for a short time in the early 1960s that he spent learning the ins and outs of the Dairy Queen business in Saint John and Fredericton. Man, did he love crème de menthe milkshakes. But a choice had to be made, leave the farm for good, or go back and help Jack. He chose Rockport.

Grammie (Rupert’s mother) passed away in 1967, and after that it was two bachelors, cooking, cleaning, farming, and I suspect a lot help from Maria and Beulah in the cooking department.

Now we will fast forward a few years. Lots of changes are taking place. Jack is now living with Aunt Maria, in Sackville and Rupert is alone at the farm, but is he really alone? Jim, Edna and family are next door, the Tea Room opens, Bert moves into the Vogel house, Marie Cadieux is living in the house across the field working on a documentary for the National Film Board. Rupert is the centre of attention. An invitation for a day in the woods with Jim, is one of his highlights. Rod Mattatal has been preparing his sketches of Rockport, using Rupert’s knowledge of the area. Clarence Nowlan is preparing his Images of Rockport, quoting Rupert extensively. James Snowdon drops by for his research on the grindstone industry. Jeff Ward will soon be gathering information for his book The Head of The Bay and visits Rupert often.

Many others travelled down the Rockport road to visit Slacks Cove, the chimney, the cemetery, hike to Cape Maringouin and a chance encounter with Rupert was a bonus. With Uncle, I begin to realize, that things were not just names and places, names had character and places had situations.

So many things could be told about Rupert: Like his great love for the Rockport Cemetery: he had stories for almost every plot. Like the time we took him to see some of his old friends in Port Elgin, where he bought some new Rubber Boots, and we all know how much he liked rubber boots.

And other times we were off to Amherst Shore, Tidnish, Minudie, Joggins, Parrsboro, and so on. He found it so easy to talk to strangers, who often became friends. Like the time we asked directions to the Seaman Museum and Rupert talked for a half-an-hour; when asked if he farmed, Rupert, who was now in eighties, put his hand in his pocket, stuck out his chest and said “Yep, I’ve got four head.”

Like the time he was interviewed by the TV newsman, after the whale got beached and died at Slack’s Cove. For days, Rockport was in the news and the road was busy with people coming to see where it was buried. Rupert loved it.

Like some of you gathered here, many of our informal, personal, refreshing visits were in the dooryard of the Delesdernier home. I can still see the big wave goodbye, as we started down the driveway and he headed into the house with a dozen College Bridge Rolls and tears in his eyes. In closing, I’d like to paraphrase a verse or two of a poem by Joyce Kilmer (below). It seemed so fitting when I thought about 41 Delesdernier Road.

Uncle Rupert, we love you and we are going to miss you so!

The Rupert Delesdernier house in Lower Rockport

The Rupert Delesdernier house in Lower Rockport (photo by Colin MacKinnon)

But a house that has done what a house should do
A house that has sheltered life
That has put its loving wooden arms around a man and his wife
A house that has echoed a baby’s laugh and held up his stumbling feet
Is the saddest sight, when it’s left alone, that ever your eyes could meet.

So, whenever, I go to Rockport along the dusty track
I never go by the empty house without stopping and looking back
Yet it hurts me to look at the crumbling roof and the shutters fallen apart
For I can’t help thinking the poor old house is a house with a broken heart.

The Shad Fishery around Dorchester and Sackville in 1851

By Eugene Goodrich

Since the earliest European settlement of eastern North America, shad fishing has been a feature of Maritime coastal life and the first meal of shad and fiddlehead greens a sure sign of spring. Beginning anytime from the end of April to the end of June, depending on water temperature, great numbers of Alosa sapidissima, ‘most delicious shad’, came in great numbers out of the sea to spawn in river estuaries from Florida to Labrador.(1) They were particularly abundant in the upper Bay of Fundy during the summer. At this time, a large portion of the entire species migrated here, not to spawn, but to feed in the nutrient rich and extremely turbid chocolate brown waters where they found their preferred light intensity at shallow depths of thirty feet or less, making them both obvious and accessible to fishermen. Fundy’s famous high tides and long mud flats were ideal for weirs, which native peoples had been using since time out of mind, as well as for stake nets, essentially very long ‘badminton’ nets set up at low tide and emptied of their catch on the following ebbs. Offshore fishermen used (and still use) drift nets with floats attached to a rope running along the top and weights hanging from another rope running along the bottom.

The abundance of shad, and indeed of many other species, in and along the upper Bay of Fundy was once legendary — even primitive capturing methods could take 100,000 fish or more on a single tide, thus supporting a large export trade to the eastern United States. Of course, like so much else that once defined this region, that is all gone now, thanks largely to pollution and habitat loss in the major American spawning rivers like the Delaware and Susquehana. However, we are afforded a glimpse into the Maritime shad fishery during its heyday in the mid 19th century by a series of reports laid before the New Brunswick legislature by Moses Henry Perley (1804-62), who may be one of the province’s minor unsung heroes.

Although a lawyer by profession, Perley developed a life-long interest in the fisheries and other natural resources as a result of his boyhood summers spent hunting, fishing and trading with the Indians living along the Saint John River and its tributaries. It was these formative contacts with natives, together with a tragic accidental shooting of one of them, that led to another of his abiding passions: the welfare of these unfortunate peoples. By the time he was established as a successful lawyer in the 1830s, his reputation as an expert on aboriginal affairs was such that he was appointed Commissioner of Indian Affairs, an office without salary. In this capacity he visited all the Indian settlements in the province and prepared a series of reports filled with many enlightened recommendations, most of which, perhaps unsurprisingly, were more admired than followed, despite his major role in drafting New Brunswick’s Indian Act of 1844.(2)

As a result of his travels and familiarity with native ways, Perley became New Brunswick’s leading (white) expert on rivers, natural resources and fisheries. Far from wishing to leave them in their pristine state, however, like most people of his time, he was a strong believer in development and immigration (he even served for a time as agent for British emigrants, and was also involved with railways). It was in this context that he began his own private studies of the fisheries, a resource he believed the government had not done enough to develop. Both the New Brunswick and British governments were sufficiently impressed with his preliminary reports to instruct him to make further inquiries whenever he could find time away from his other unpaid duties as emigration agent. The New Brunswick government even rewarded him further by appointing him a fishery commissoner, without salary, of course. Travelling hundreds of miles, many of them by canoe, he visited just about every coastal and river fishery in the province, compiling statistics, filing reports and making recommendations which eventually found their way into legislation, which he helped to draft. Perley’s devotion to his duties as fishery commissioner was complete, and led to his premature death as something of an administrative hero. Taken ill aboard ship while inspecting the Labrador coastal fisheries, he rejected the captain’s offer to sail to Shediac for medical attention until he could complete his surveys and died while still at sea.

What follows is an excerpt from one of his reports, describing the shad fisheries in the Sackville-Dorchester area. The punctuation is that of the original.

Report upon the Fisheries of the Bay of Fundy, by M.H. Perley, Esquire,Her Majesty’s Emigration Officer at Saint John, New Brunswick.

Government Emigration Office, Saint John, New Brunswick, 11th March, 1851.

M.H. Perley, Esquire

Between the mouth of the Memramcook River and Cape Maranguin, the Shad fishery is carried on by weirs, and stake-nets. The settlers do not drift for Shad; it takes too much time from farming, and they have no shelter for boats. Last year there were only three weirs; but nearly every settler had a string of stake-nets. From Red Head, below Dorchester, to Grande Anse ledge, there were 15 strings of nets; and at least 25 strings more from that ledge down to Cape Maranguin. The strings average about 100 fathoms each in length; the mesh, 4 inches; and the net, 30 meshes deep. The stakes are placed 15 feet apart, on the mud-flats, and the nets are entirely dry at low water. Some fish mesh on the flood, but the greatest numbers are taken on the ebb tide. The fair average catch of each string of nets, in Grande Anse, was stated to be 20 barrels during the season.

Mr. George Buck, an intelligent fisherman, who resides 4 miles below the Village of Dorchester, has fished there for Shad during the last 30 years. He stated, that Shad strike in at this place, from the 1st to the 15th June; they are then large, and pretty fair fish; the next run comes in the heat of summer, these are not so good. As the autumn advances, the fish grow better and fatter; those caught latest being the best. The Shad come to these flats to feed, not to spawn; and Mr. Buck is of opinion, that the Shad which ascend the Saint John in the spring, after spawning, go up the Bay to fatten. Whenever there is a large run of Shad up the Saint John in the spring, there is always good fishing at Petitcodiac in the autumn. It is unusual to find any roe in Shad, caught at this locality; it sometimes occurs, but that is very seldom; he has often found slug-worms in the stomach of the Shad, some of them nearly as large as a man’s finger — these are now called ‘Shad-worms.” Mr. Buck usually catches 30 barrels of Shad each season, in his string of nets; he exceeded that quantity last season, as on the 26th September his nets were still down. His nets are tarred, and they last nearly a whole season; he thinks it is the mud which does the mischief, and causes them to rot so quickly. Cotton thread takes the tar well, and therefore stands longest; herring twine fishes well, but only lasts a few weeks.

The mode of curing here, Mr. Buck described as follows: he cleans the fish as quickly as possible; washes twice — drains quickly — and salts down, once for all. He uses generally about 11 bushels of salt to each barrel of Shad; the past season he used 50 bushels of salt to 30 barrels of Shad, and these fish will keep any length of time, anywhere. The necessity of strict inspection was strongly urged by Mr. Buck, who expressed his anxious desire to employ, at that moment, an Inspector and cooper to pack his fish for exportation.

Fishing boat in Highland Village, Nova Scotia

Fishing boat in Highland Village, Nova Scotia 1960 (Colchester Historical Museum and Archives)

Hanging and repairing nets at Spencer's Point, Nova Scotia, 1958

Hanging and repairing nets at Spencer’s Point, Nova Scotia, 1958 (Colchester Historical Museum and Archives)

From Cape Maranguin to the head of Sackville Bay, on the New Brunswick side, the Shad fishing is followed both by drift-nets and stake-nets. Each boat has usually 100 fathoms of drift-net; the mesh 4 to 5 inches, and the net 60 meshes deep. The average catch during the last five years has been about 20 barrels to each boat, during the season.

Mr. John Barnes, of Sackville, who understands the Shad fishing of Sackville Bay exceedingly well, stated that he fishes both with drift and stake-nets; the latter are 30 to 40 meshes deep, and set on stakes, 15 feet apart, between high and low water mark. He takes Shad in his stake-nets on the ebb tide; the nets are therefore on the lower side of the stake, fastened at top and bottom. If the tide runs strong the nets must be allowed to bag a little; but if it is not strong, they are better stretched tight.

One set of stake-nets will not last during the season, as they rot out very soon — a new net of herring twine has been known to rot out in eleven days. No net will last more than a month, unless oiled with new linseed oil, or tanned; tanning the net, to be effective, must be repeated every week.

Mr. Barnes concurred in the opinion, that there are three distinct runs of Shad, the first and last being by far the best fish. It is very rare, he said, to find any roe in a Shad, and when it was found, the fish was poor and thin, like the Spring Shad caught at Saint John.

The usual mode of curing Shad at Sackville was thus described: the fish are cleaned as soon as possible after being taken from the net; they are split, scraped, and washed, after which they are soaked a short time. A second scraping and soaking next takes place, when the fish are hung up to drain for half an hour, and then salted down once for all. Mr. Barnes does not approve of too much soaking; he thinks the fish should be washed sufficiently to take the blood out, as it is the blood that does the mischief. A bushel of salt is not enough for a barrel of Shad, unless they are for immediate use; a larger quantity is necessary if the fish are intended for shipment, or to be kept for any length of time. The necessity of a rigid inspection was much insisted’ upon by Mr. Barnes, especially as regarded Shad intended for exportation.

Sharks appear in Sackville Bay, at the end of August;(3) one was taken there in September last, nine feet in length, by Mr. Boultenhouse. The greatest obstacle to Shad fishing in Sackville Bay arises from the southwest gales, which rush through this narrow part of the Bay of Fundy, as through a funnel, and occasionally blow with much violence; when these meet the ebb tide, they cause a very heavy sea, which puts fishing wholly out of the question.


  1. Although a member of the herring family, shad follow the example of salmon in that they are born in freshwater, mature at sea, and return to freshwater to spawn.
  2. Besides protesting the encroachments of white squatters, he advocated village settlements where schools could be built and doctors make regular visits; he even insisted that this should be done without interfering with the Indians’ way of life, although he didn’t explain how that could be accomplished. They, at least, appreciated his efforts. The Malecite and Mi’kmaq both made him a chief.
  3. To dine on shad. Apparently, they are not put off by the bones!

Pioneering the Wild West — Point de Bute’s Stephen Tingley

By Al Smith

Stephen Tingley

Stephen Tingley (BC Archives photo B-14915)

Stories of out-migration from the Tantramar Region have long been a part of our history. During the mid-1800s, the lure of gold and adventure saw local lads leave for places like New Zealand, Australia, California and Canada’s west. Through email correspondence with Glenna Metchette of 100 Mile House in British Columbia, I learned of a fascinating story of a young lad from Point de Bute who made his mark (and fortune) on the Cariboo Gold Rush Trail in central BC. It is a story of ingenuity and hardship (also a love story) that Glenna has researched. She has also written a book manuscript Driving Wild Horses — California to BC 1868 that she hopes to publish soon. She has kindly given the Trust permission to print a brief version of the story in The White Fence ; the following is mostly gleaned from her recent emails.

100 Mile House is an important historical area in BC. It was so named because the original roadhouse on the Cariboo Gold Rush trail was 100 miles from the beginning of the trail. Stephen Tingley (1839–1915), was one of the most important stagecoach drivers on the Cariboo Road during the two Gold Rushes (1858 and 1862), driving for Barnard’s Express — known as ‘the BX.”

He eventually became owner of the company as well as a property baron, owning much property along the Cariboo Road, including many sites now officially named historic sites. Stephen married a Sackville, NB girl, Elizabeth Harper (1839–1873), daughter of Christopher Harper and Ann “Nancy” Ward. Christopher was a son of William Harper and Phoebe Halliday. William was a son of Christopher Harper and Elizabeth Leppington, the original family that emigrated from Yorkshire to Nova Scotia in 1775. This is the same genealogical lineage as our Prime Minister the Hon. Stephen Harper (see The White Fence Issue #45).

Tingley family genealogy: Josiah Tingley, Jemima Crabtree, William Tingley, Elizabeth Horton, Caleb Tingley, Deborah ?, Stephen Tingley, Elizabeth Harper, Clarence Harper Tingley, Frederick Chipman Harper Tingely

Stephen Tingley was born in Point de Bute, Westmorland County, New Brunswick, on September 13, 1839. He was a great grandson of Josiah & Jemima Tingley, a Planter family from Attleborough, Massachusetts, who settled in Sackville, NB, in 1763. Their son William and his wife Elizabeth Horton settled in Point de Butte in 1794 and descendants of that family still live in the area (see attached brief genealogical chart). Stephen left Point de Bute, either in 1858 or 1859, when the first BC gold rush on the Fraser River began, presumably to make his fortune. He traveled via the Isthmus of Panama, then up to San Francisco, and from there to Fort Victoria, BC. He didn’t have much luck searching for gold, so he started a harness shop in Yale, BC. He had apprenticed in the saddlery trade in NB. After the Cariboo Road was completed in 1861, he was hired on by Francis Barnard of Barnard’s Express Co. (stagecoaches) where he became the top driver in British Columbia and later owner of the company.

Barnards Express at Yale, BC

Barnards Express at Yale (BC Archives photo A-01559)

In 1868, Stephen was sent south by Barnard to go as far as Mexico to find 500 wild horses for the BX stagecoach line as well as for a breeding programme. They apparently never used broken horses to drive the stagecoaches. In her research, Glenna discovered a small, unpublished notebook Stephen carried with him on the trip where he recorded names, places, dates and the odd comment about his trip. Stephen found the horses at Nicholas Den’s Los Dos Pueblos Rancho and Thomas Bloodgood Dibblee’s Rancho San Julian, the former kitchen rancho for the Santa Barbara Presidio. He managed to purchase the horses and hire local vaqueros (cowboys) from there as well as men along his route to help drive the horses to Barnard’s “BX” ranch in Vernon, BC. The eight month trip to California and back with the 500 wild horses was a harrowing experience as they were attacked by Indians, survived climbing rugged mountain peaks and swimming raging rivers. Nonetheless he managed to drive the horses all the way back to the BX Ranch.

BX Express stage at Ashcroft (BC Archives photo A-60929)

BX Express stage at Ashcroft (BC Archives photo A-60929)

His success with securing the wild horses earned him enough money to convince Elizabeth Harper’s father to let Elizabeth marry him. He returned home to New Brunswick, married Elizabeth on Feb. 24, 1869, and brought her out to BC. She died tragically in a horse and buggy accident near Yale, BC in the Fraser Canyon on Sept. 22, 1873. Stephen was driving his two-horse carriage, taking Elizabeth to view the newly-constructed bridge over the Fraser River. On the way home to Yale, one of the horses shied at a group of Natives on the narrow road who were pushing a wheelbarrow. Stephen, Elizabeth, and five month old son, Fred, plus horses and carriages went over the cliff, landing in the Fraser River. They all survived, but Elizabeth was severely injured and died two days later. Stephen returned to NB with her body for burial. She was interred in the Upper Sackville Cemetery on Oct 27, 1873. His two young sons, Clarence Harper and Frederick Chipman Harper, were left in the care of their grandparents until old enough to return to BC. He is quoted as saying it was his only driving accident and it wouldn’t have happened if he had remembered to bring his whip.

Stephen returned to BC where he remarried Frank Laumeister’s daughter, Pauline, in 1877. Frank was the man who brought camels to the Cariboo to carry gold, unsuccessfully. In 1894, Tingley bought the Hat Creek Ranch where he built the BX Barn and large stables for the stagecoach horses. It’s now a BC Government operated tourist site. Stephen’s youngest brother Alex Tingley (1860–1883) also went out to work with him on the stagecoach line, but died in Yale on September 5, 1883, and is buried there. Stephen’s two sons also went west to work with their father. One worked as a stagecoach driver and one managed the horse ranch at 108 Mile House, which Stephen owned.

In 1896, Stephen partnered with Captain John Irving of Victoria and Senator James Reid of Quesnel and formed the North British Columbia Navigation Company. They built a sternwheeler to work on the upper Fraser Fiver, the Charlotte. It ran from Soda Creek to Quesnel and was the only sternwheeler on the upper Fraser until 1909.

Stephen Tingley died on Oct. 9, 1915, and was buried at Mountain View Cemetery in Vancouver.


  • Emails from Glenna Metchette to Al Smith: Feb 19 and March 3, 2011
  • Wright, Ester Clark: Planters and Pioneers, Lancelot Press Ltd. 1978
  • Trueman, Howard: The Chignecto Isthmus and Its First Settlers, 1902
  • Sackville Parish Cemetery and Marriage records Website:
  • Wikipedia — Stephen Tingley


The Sea Captains

By Edith Avis (Willis) Atherton (1880–1951), transcribed by Judy Atherton 2010, footnotes by Clare Christie 2011

Editor’s note: Clare Christie of Amherst contacted me in late January with a transcription of a note in the back of “Memories” written by her grandmother in the 1940s. It was an interesting little story about meeting seven sea captains and Clare wondered if her grandmother could be writing about her time in Sackville. It turns out that it was indeed Sackville and the corner that she refers to as “Boulton’s” Corner was actually Boultenhouse Corner or better known to older Sackville residents as Captain’s Corner — the corner where Main Street intersects Queens Road. The author of the story, Edith Willis, was just 10 years old when her father Charles J. Willis moved his family from Bridgetown, NS to Sackville NB to take up a new position as book keeper for George E. Ford. The date of the move to Sackville was November 5, 1890 (ref. article in The Daily Times, Moncton Nov. 10, 1890). That dates the story below to likely November 6 or 7, 1890 and describes a farewell dinner for Captain Amos Atkinson who was leaving to relocate to British Columbia. —Al Smith

Captain Frith Atkinson house, Captain's Corner

Captain Frith Atkinson house, Captain’s Corner (photo by Donna Sullivan spring 1988 just prior to the demolition of the building)

The first time I met the Seven Captains (1) was the night after we moved into our new home (2) at Bolton’s Corners (3). A lovely large white house set well back from the street, equal distances from the back gate and the front gate which faced streets at right angles. We were a large family and happy to have got such a nice home at so a cheap a rent. The owner, Captain Frith (4), rented us the N&W. half of the place, heated, for $8.00 a month, halls were nicely furnished but we were to do our share of keeping them in order. Minnie Frith (4), his wife, knew I was excited over seeing so many Sea Captains together and hearing their talk of far countries so asked Mother (5) to let me help her serve the dinner. We waited on them but stood around in the dining room and enjoyed the talk and laughed at their jokes.

This was a farewell dinner for Captain Amos and all his likes of food had been remembered so the table groaned under the good cheer provided by his brother and wife. Soup, vegetable of course, but a meal in itself. Salmon from the net at the river’s mouth, Roast chicken and fixin’s. Lemon Pie, Jellied Shape with cream and Strawberry Shortcake, Tea, Coffee. Six decanters placed at intervals provided all needed refreshment but cheese, crackers, nuts, raisins and candied ginger were added to the board. That is when the talk was at its most animated.

Captain Amos was a handsome man but not as tall as he should be in my mind. He never returned from that trip. I got to know his wife real well and often thought he stayed away between voyages on account of her high handedness and joy in other’s company.

One evening I went to see her with my mother, there wasn’t any response to our knocking so we walked in and found the rooms downstairs partly empty of furniture. On a rush trip about Mother saw the cellar stair door open and went down in time to put a newly started fire out among chairs, small tables, easels and other small furnishings.


  1. “Three of the ‘Seven’ captains who lived on the corner were brothers: Captain Frith Atkinson, Captain Amos Atkinson whose house was on the corner of Queens Rd and Bulmer Lane — so diagonally across the street from Captain Frith Atkinson and the third brother Captain Stephen Atkinson who owned the Christopher Boultenhouse property (now the Heritage Centre). Next door to Capt. Frith was Capt. Thomas Reese Anderson and next to him (I think) was Capt Ernest L. Anderson. The other two captains (to make the seven) were likely the Egan brothers Captains Thomas and William Egan.”, or possibly Captain Wilson Estabrooks who lived just up the street —Email from Al Smith, Sackville, NB 4 Feb. 2011.
  2. “In 1903 Captain Amos Atkinson was at Steeveston, near Vancouver…His wife was with him and he was a prominent farmer. It said in the article that he left Sackville 12 years ago so that dates Clare’s story to (no later than) 1891.” —Email to Al Smith from Phyllis (Atkinson) Stopps, incorporated into email from Al Smith, Sackville, NB 4 Feb. 2011
  3. “the corner was Boultenhouse Corner (Captain’s Corner), but Phyllis (Stopps) correctly locates the house that she moved into being across the street from the current Joyce and Laing Ferguson house (that was originally the Capt Thomas Egan house built in 1892). The house that your grandmother’s family rented was directly in front of the current Sackville Memorial Hospital on the corner of Main Street and Queens Road. It was built in 1842 by Jonathan Black and torn down around 1990 to make way for the new Medical Centre that currently occupies that site.” —Email from Al Smith, Sackville, NB 4 Feb. 2011
  4. “Captain Frith B. Atkinson and Minnie Dixon were married at Saint Paul’s Anglican Church on June 22, 1881” —Email to Al Smith from Phyllis (Atkinson) Stopps, an Atkinson family descendant, incorporated into email from Al Smith, Sackville, NB 4 Feb. 2011
  5. Louisa Goldsmith (Beard) Willis (1858 or 9 — 1918)