As recently as two days ago, I had nothing to present to you for this newsletter! Yes, for those of you who follow events in the town of Sackville, you are well aware (as I am) that much has happened in recent months in connection with this town’s 250th anniversary, of which one event is (partly) reported below. But before the year is out, we will be reporting on these many glorious heritage events which occurred in Sackville over 2012, many of which are still ongoing at the time of writing. But, just a few days ago, with nothing to report for this newsletter, I was panicking! Then I spoke with Colin MacKinnon. Within minutes, he told me of articles he was hoping to present to me for The White Fence at a later time; I informed him immediately that this “later time” was “now”. Consequently, I am able to write an editorial introducing you to Colin’s historical diggings and explorations! On behalf of this newsletter’s readership, THANK YOU, COLIN! And so, dear friends, based on the kindness and dedicated interest of this great colleague and historian, I am now able to write an editorial introducing you to some fascinating discoveries (quite literally) associated with the Tantramar region as well as from some of the town’s near-neighbors along the Bay of Fundy. In researching the history of any region, many artifacts discovered by interested parties tell us much about an area’s particular history. Many museums have been built to preserve such artifacts and relate to us the stories they tell. Some of these artifacts, of centuries ago, were probably what was considered then as “garbage”. Check out below what digging in the Tantramar soils of historic properties, such as the Boultenhouse Heritage Centre in Sackville, can uncover. There are surely many such artifacts across this township and at many historic properties (whether officially recognized as such or not) across the region.
Furthermore, I am quite certain that, in the course of your lives, many of you have been informed of some issue and told that it was “carved in stone”. In other words, it will always remain. Whatever it may be will never go away; it is to be with us forever. In other words, it is “carved in stone”. Read below of the historic messages, carved in stone, that Colin has discovered. If you find it as interesting as I did, you will be looking more carefully at your surroundings from now on! And if you make discoveries similar to Colin’s, please report to us as soon as you can, especially if it’s “carved in stone”.
Whenever reporting about historical events or facts, we are often simply expressing an interest in what was “then”. But what is often missing is a visual representation of “what was” and letting our imagination illustrating what “might have been”. But since French inventor Joseph Nicéphore produced the first permanent photograph in 1826, we are now able to compare photographs of places “then” and “now”. In a remarkable convergence of ideas, initially inspired by Kip Jackson and Rhianna Edwards working at the Mount Allison archives in 2008 and followed by an article by Colin MacKinnon in The White Fence, October 2011 (no. 52: Dorchester Cape: Then and Now), I introduce you to a new column further developed by Charlie Scobie, and which, from now on, will be (of course!) entitled “Then and Now” and which will, hopefully, appear in every issue of The White Fence from now on. There is little more that I can add except to encourage you to read on and,
Tableware in the 19th century Boultenhouse kitchen
By Colin M. MacKinnon
In early July of this year I received an interesting phone call from Peter Hicklin. He asked if I was free to look at some old pottery. With a positive response, Pete quickly showed up at my door with a shoe-box cradled in his arms. Apparently, one of the sharp-eyed assistants involved in the recent move of the “octagonal house” (Anderson House) from the end of King Street to the Boultenhouse Heritage Centre on Queen’s Road, Sackville, had uncovered some ceramic fragments at the bottom of the excavation, near the Boultenhouse museum, for the building’s new basement. The context of the find suggests that the artifacts had been buried for some time although it is unclear if the deposit was a rubbish heap, an old well or even a privy pit; all typical destinations for broken dishes in a 19th century home. Although few pieces were uncovered, they offer an interesting insight into the typical table-ware of the period as well as the very likely possibility that they graced the table of Christopher Boultenhouse in the mid-1800s. The pottery samples consisted of bottom portions of a large Mocha Ware water jug and a transfer print bowl or platter, a fragment of a so called “ABC” or “Alphabet” dish, the cover for a ceramic tea pot (brown glaze), a small decorated rim sherd (also with a transfer print) and a dark-coloured glass bottle and a clear glass storage jar.
On handling the pottery fragments, especially the ABC dish, one can imagine a series of Boultenhouse children learning their alphabets from this bowl and maybe wanting a pet pheasant of their own as depicted in the image. The following photographs of the more interesting artifacts include short descriptive captions.
The Boultenhouse Heritage Centre is located in a house built in the early 1840s by Christopher Boultenhouse, shipbuilder and ship-owner. Christopher Boultenhouse was born about 1803, probably in Sackville, NB; he was the son of Bedford and Charlotte (Harper) Boultenhouse. A brief summary of the family follows:
Christopher Boultenhouse was married on 2 March, 1824, to Rebecca Harris (b. about 1804). They had ten children:
- John, born about 1825, died 9 January 1849
- Jane, born about 1827, died 12 May 1849
- James W., born 21 January 1827, died January 1855
- William, born about 1829, died 1860 (at sea)
- Mary M., born about 1831
- Amos, born about 1833, died 13 June 1859
- Charles, born about 1835
- Sarah, born about 1837
- Bedford, born about 1839
- Elizabeth, born 1845, died 1871
Rebecca died on 15 January 1849. Christopher then re-married on 29 October, 1850, with Arabella Morice (born about 1823), with issue:
- Ellen, born about 1854, died November 1886
- William, born about 1860, died October 1884
Christopher died on 2 December, 1876, and Arabella died on 4 September, 1880. They are both buried in the Westcock Cemetery, Sackville, NB.
- Collard, Elizabeth. 1967. Nineteenth-Century Pottery and Porcelain in Canada. McGill University Press, Montreal, 441 pages.
- Curtis, Anthony. 1997. Lyle, Price Guide to China. The Berkley Publishing group, 200 Madison Avenue, New York, 511 pages.
- Vienneau, Azar. 1969. The Bottle Collector. Petheric Press, 42 pages.
Mysteries Carved in Stone
on Mary’s Point and Grindstone Island
By Colin M. MacKinnon
Due to the connection with building stones and grindstones, Mary’s Point and Grindstone Island along the shores of the Bay of Fundy are a part of Tantramar’s history. These two sites, situated in nearby Shepody Bay, have been the source of high grade sandstone for well over 300 years. Grindstone Island is shown as I aux Meulles on the wonderful Franquelin and de Meulles map of 1686 and this area features prominently on 18th century charts and maps (Figure 1). The peak of stone quarrying at both Grindstone Island and Mary’s Point was likely throughout the third quarter of the 19th century. By circa 1880 there were upwards of 75 people (workers and families) living on Mary’s Point and conducting stone extraction visits to Grindstone Island. My own great-grandfather, Hector MacKinnon, married into the stone-cutting Goff family and was one of the quarry men who lived on the point. Grandfather Charles, as well as his sister Christine and brother Malcolm were also born on Mary’s Point. It is one of those fates of history, once common knowledge, that is often lost to later generations.
At one time, the mysteries related below were likely no mysteries at all. The first “what if” regards a name carved deeply into a sandstone block near the old wharf at Mary’s Point (Figure 2). The letters are approximately 8” high and the text has a horizontal length of 27”. The name engraved is that of “R. HALE” in neatly cut block letters. How long this name has been there is the mystery. I recall a date of 1877 carved on a cliff on Grindstone Island. Similarly, sandstone grave memorials in the Upper Sackville Cemetery have very legible writing on stones from the late 1700s. I raise the question of age because there was a noted “R Hale” who visited this region and left a written record 281 years ago! This was Robert Hale (1702–1767) of Beverly, Massachusetts. Hale was a colonel as well as a medical doctor and, in the summer of 1731, he visited Beaubassin and the environs around Chignecto and Shepody bays. He reported about the country, complained about the mosquitoes and mentioned the extraction of coal along the coast. It is quite plausible that he might have landed at Mary’s Point although, as far as I know, this is not mentioned in his journal. It is a miracle that the writing on this stone could have survived for so many years.
The next mystery may equally be a hoax; ideas please! On a rock at the north-easterly tip of Mary’s Point is carved the following 1822 Mai 3 AU NORD 1505 $ (Figure 3). This translates to “1822, May 3. To the North, 1505 $”. In the 1974 World Book Encyclopaedia listing for New Brunswick, this remote carving was listed as one of the “17 Places to Visit”. The article included the following description:
Mysterious inscription in French appears on a rock near Albert. Translated, the inscription reads: “1822, May 3. To the North, 1505 $”. Some persons believe that the rock indicates the way to some buried treasure.
World Book Encyclopaedia, 1974, p. 166
I have no idea what the true intent was for this carving and will leave the final interpretation up to the reader’s imagination.
The next carving is really no mystery at all. It records the names of past lighthouse keepers on Grindstone Island (Figure 4). These are carved into the sandstone ledge that leads to the remains of the old government wharf on the island (Figure 5). The monument reads:
JOHN STiLES. W.W.WESTON
GEORGE. E. RUSSEL 50 - 70
JOHN. M. ’ ’
EGBERT. C. PECK.
JOHN. M. CANNON.
HUGH. C. WRiGHT.
As can be seen on the carving, the last keeper was W.W. (Pappy) Weston. Mr. Weston recalled to me a story of how a past keeper was answering a call of nature during a particularly nasty storm. The outhouse was perched precariously over the edge of the cliff and, on departing the rickety old building, he slammed the door shut. The last thing he saw was the privy disappearing over the bank in a swirl of fog and spray! Mr. Weston recorded other memories in his book Stories About Me and People I Have Known.
The Thibodeau Stone
The final carving I will mention is a powerful link to the early days of the Acadian Seigneuries. Although not on Mary’s Point or Grindstone Island, the material was likely sourced from one of these sites. This tangible piece of Acadian history from old Chipoudy is a sandstone millstone in the possession of Mr. James West (Figure 6). Jim has carefully preserved this artifact along with the provenance of how it came into his possession. The label on the Thibodeau stone follows:
THIS STONE AT THE FALL ON THIBODEAU BROOK DURING THE 19TH CENTURY. MR. HENRY TINGLEY REMEMBERED IT AS A BOY. IN 1922 HE MOVED IT DOWNSTREAM TO HIS SHINGLE MILL. HE DRILLED 2 HOLES AS YOU CAN SEE. THIS WAS TO HOLD A NEW GASOLINE ENGINE. HE RELATED THIS STORY TO ME IN 198–.
J.W. West 1996
This millstone was actually witnessed and measured by W.F. Ganong while conducting his research for Historic Sites published in 1906. An extract of this work follows:
The most interesting is at Tingley Brook (next east of Church Brook), on which, some one-fourth to one-third of a mile north of the highway, there is a fine little fall of some 7 or 8 feet in a deep ravine. Some 20 yards below it there still lie in the brook-bed the two millstones, one of freestone (3 feet 2 inches in diameter and 5 inches thick, with the marks of the iron attachments) and the other, of which only one-half remains, of coarse granite” (Ganong, 1906, p. 119)
Apparently some people have questioned the authenticity of the piece, stating a millstone should be of granite. It is true most imported millstones would likely be of granite but Ganong’s description of the Thibodeau Stone (one of freestone) should erase any doubt.
The above inscriptions and artifacts are but a few of the many lesser known sites of historical interest within the greater Tantramar. Some tell a story we understand while all are linked through a common geological history and leave us with a lasting story carved in stone.
- Ganong, W. F. 1906. Additions to Monographs. Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada, Sec. II, pp. Vol. 6.
- Martin, Gwen L. 1990. For Love of Stone, Volumes I (Story of the New Brunswick’s Building Stone Industry) and II, Report No. 8, Mineral Resources Division, Department of Natural Resources, Fredericton, NB.
- The World Book Encyclopaedia, N–O, Vol. 14, Field Enterprises Educational Corporation, Chicago, London, Paris, 1974, USA.
- Wagner, Robert L. 2012. “Hale, Robert.” Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online. Accessed 11 September 2012.
- Weston, Wainwright (Pappy). 2000. Stories About Me and People I Have Known. Privately Published, 186 pp.
Then & Now Comparison and Contrast
Readers of The White Fence may not immediately recognize this photograph of downtown Sackville taken some time between 1910 and 1919.
If you are puzzled about the location, the NOW photo, taken from the same spot today, should give you the necessary clue. In both photos, the location of the United Church is clearly shown at centre-right with a side profile of Mount Allison’s Convocation Hall at the centre of the NOW photo (behind the new apartment building at centre-left).
My, my, how things have changed … (ed.).
This pairing of an historical “Then” photo with a contemporary “Now” was one of the main features of a major exhibition organized by the Town of Sackville Heritage Board this past summer as a contribution to this year’s celebration of the 250th anniversary of Sackville Township. Photographs and descriptions of Sackville buildings and spaces (residences, businesses, schools, parks, streetscapes, rural life, infrastructure, etc.) were featured.
A “Then and Now” committee chaired by Rhianna Edwards, assisted by Donna Sullivan, Phyllis Stopps, Kip Jackson and Charlie Scobie, searched archives and private collections for the most interesting and valuable historical photos. The display was presented on 19-22 July 2012, at the former Fire Hall on Main Street in Sackville and was very successful.
Any readers of this newsletter, or members of the public, with similar photos which could be presented in this new section of The White Fence are encouraged to submit them to Charlie Scobie at
email@example.com. The photos for the first issue of this new column were submitted to The White Fence by Charlie Scobie.
On Sunday, October 28, 2012, at 7 pm, there will be a very special presentation by Rosalee Peppard: Living Titanic & More!. It will be held in Brunton Auditorium at 134 Main Street, Sackville, NB.
Living Titanic is a one-woman musical show, based on the true account of one woman’s dramatic survival of the Titanic disaster. The show has been met with rave reviews in Nova Scotia. Sackville is the first stop on a tour to points west. Rosalee is an alumna of Mount Allison University music program: she is pleased to be bringing her latest work here. This maritime musical oral historian has created the work to commemorate Titanic’s centennial. She says: “Living Titanic is the remarkable musical story of a survivor from Halifax, Hilda Mary Slayter, in her own words and song edited from her journal; the story of an unsinkable Canadian Maritimer who lived a life of character and integrity.” The second half of the concert will be Maritime HERitage in Story & Song.
Rosalee will kindly be donating a portion of the proceeds towards the effort to restore and revitalize the historic Sackville United Church building.
Tickets are $15; Seniors 60+ & Students 12+ are $10; and Children under 12 are $2. Available at Tidewater Books or Blooms or call 536-4906.
Rosalee Peppard is a maritime musical oral Herstorian who, through her art, collects and transcribes an authentic living echo of the voices of maritime-Canadian women she interviews and researches. She crafts their stories into song, and shares them powerfully, often in couturier costumes by Lark, in her “Hauntingly beautiful live performances”. Rosalee has published 3 CDs, has internationally toured her “Maritime Heritage In Song”, and has received 2 Dr Helen Creighton Folklore Research Awards and a Colchester Heritage Award for her ongoing contribution to maritime oral heritage. Rosalee graduated in Music from Mt. Allison University.