The process of preparing this newsletter is one of constant discovery. One of our major goals has always been to discover and learn about people and places in Tantramar’s history. And this is one of those times. Read the most interesting article by Phyllis Stopps about Sackville citizen and businessman Edward Read (1840–1914). In my 35 years in this town and with a lingering interest in its history, I had never heard of this man’s name. Yet, he, his name and family business were clearly an integral part of Sackville life through the mid- to late-1800s. And throughout the better part of Mr. Read’s life, the Brunswick House would have held a central place in the business community of Sackville and in welcoming visitors to our fair town. And much like my ignorance about Mr. Read, I had only nebulous conceptions of the “house” and/or “hotel” which stood on the site of Sackville’s former fire station, next to the Bill Johnson Park (presently under extensive construction/renovation). I now not only know about this most interesting building but I can actually see that it truly stood on the site and what it looked like! It clearly was an important part of the fabric of Sackville throughout the latter part of the 19th century and of Mount Allison University in its later years. It is an absolute joy to read the results of Paul Bogaard’s and Donna Sullivan’s research on this long-standing town building about which, I have no doubt, we have much more yet to learn. But then, we are not the only ones to discover of our past — others discover us! When Mr. Kent Young from Vermont visited the Boultenhouse Heritage Centre in June 2013, he informed us that his wife’s ancestors were once owners and masters of a vessel built by Christopher Boultenhouse — the Speck. So Al Smith researched the vessel and we close this issue with an article by Al along with a photo of this beautiful ship from Wood Point! There is always something new to discover! May you also continue to enjoy this process of discovery within, and around, our Tantramar region. And, as you do so, always remember to,
Edward Read — Butcher and Dealer in Provisions and Groceries
by Phyllis Stopps
William Edward Read, or Edward Read, as he was more commonly known, was the son of Harris Read and his wife Amelia of Middle Sackville. Born in 1840, his life in early childhood revolved around the 2nd Baptist Church in Middle Sackville as his father and mother were both baptized by Father Crandall on 11th of December 1844. His father was a farmer but also served as a Constable, listed in the Sackville Parish Officers list of 1865.
The Chignecto Post of 1881 notes that he started his business of supplying beef to the public a year earlier. “Last year Mr. Edward Read, of this place, filled up an ice house to preserve beef for the local trade. He has recently added a fine large refrigerator, of Clark’s make, and will be able to supply his patrons constantly throughout the season with fresh meats.” By 1884 he had opened his first storefront shop, opposite the new Music Hall. In addition to fresh beef he also dealt in pork, lamb, turkeys, geese and ducks. In season, table vegetables were also for sale. Easter was a big celebration for families and Read purchased that year a celebrated steer from J.L. Black weighing in at 1,625 pounds. The local press noted that “the animal is inlaid with a marble mosaic of fat.”
A move was felt necessary in 1886 to access as many customers as possible. In the 1880s, Sackville merchants seemed to move their stores to access the traffic. The Argosy, the Mount Allison University student newspaper, in an ad, reported that Edward Read’s store was now located opposite the Chignecto Hall. This hall was formerly the Methodist Church and had been moved from Crane’s Corner in 1875 to the current site of the Miller Block. Edward Read, Dealer in Provisions and Groceries, appears to have been located in the present R.B. Estabrooks’ Insurance building at 48 Main Street, Sackville. The ad reports that he dealt in meat, fish, vegetables and fruit of all kinds in season. Other newspaper accounts of the day note that Read dealt in local products to meet the requirements of his increasing trade.
In the fall of 1891 Edward Read moved again, but still on Main Street. He took over the storefront in the Sackville Harness Shop which, by that time, had recently been occupied by Harry Dickson, a 24-year old entrepreneur from Nova Scotia who sold General Dry Goods, Hardware and Ready Made Clothing. Dickson had over $5000 in stock when he went bankrupt and after his sale Dickson left for the Pacific Coast. It is interesting to note that Dickson, while clerking at this site, lived at the Brunswick House as a boarder. The Chignecto Post noted that, in his move, Read had added crockery to his new store, freshly painted for the occasion (see photo, ed.). It is possible that the photograph reflects this site since the store originally housed two businesses, thus two doors.
By 1894, in addition to groceries and crockery, glassware and lamp goods, Read also dealt in boots, shoes and rubbers. The diversification of stock did not work; later that year Read declared bankruptcy and assigned his assets to Thomas Murray and Walter Cahill, trustees. A great bankruptcy sale occurred and, in addition to the groceries, a set of Scales, a nearly new safe, an 8-year old horse and buggy, pung, sleigh and even a wolf robe were advertised. By late 1894, the stock of Edward Read grocer, was purchased by his son James who would conduct the business in the future. In August, 1895 the Trustees’ Sale included all the book debts, accounts, judgments and notes of hands belonging to the estate of Edward Read. The Read family consisted of wife Barbara Murray, formerly of Botsford Parish, and five children who lived at the home in Middle Sackville near the Walker Road. Son James, who tried to save the grocery business, went on to be in charge of the banking end of the Amherst Boot and Shoe Co. which had a business of over a million dollars by 1916. The two Read daughters lived at this site until the 1960s.
Edward died May 30, 1914, and his wife Barbara on August 30, 1935. They are buried in the Four Corners Cemetery in Upper Sackville.
by Donna Sullivan
The Brunswick House was built in 1855-56 on the main road through Sackville, on the hill where the former fire station is located. It was built during Prohibition days by William McDonald and conducted by him as a Temperance Hotel. It was to be a boarding house for College Professors and their families, but in November 1857 William McDonald died suddenly leaving a wife and 5 children. The following year George Butler Estabrooks purchased the Brunswick House from the William McDonald estate and operated the hotel until his death in July, 1881. His son Thomas, although only 26 years of age, continued to operate the hotel with the help of his younger brother Arthur. In August 1883 the hotel was struck by lightning. Although the building was destroyed, no one was injured even though there were 52 residents in the hotel at the time.
Thomas had the hotel rebuilt by John F. Teed of Dorchester, and was opened by February of the following year. Designed by engineer Richard C. Boxall, the building was 90 feet in length, a 2½ storey wooden structure with a mansard roof, and a 1½ storey 45 ft. extension at the rear for a dining hall. It also contained 30 guest rooms, parlours, smoking and sample rooms. It was outfitted with bathrooms, electric lights, and hot air heating. Beyond the rear of the hotel were out-buildings where horses, carriages and sleighs were housed. At that time the hotel boasted having an average of 12 guests per day, many of whom were commercial travelers, also groups performing on campus or in town. The hotel also provided meals and overnight accommodations for out of town bands playing at the local rinks and sport teams competing at Mount Allison. It was also the location for many special occasion banquets. The hotel also provided rooms and meals for single men who held jobs in the community.
The Brunswick House remained in the Estabrooks family until 1907, except for a 3-year period when it was occupied by George Wallace of Pictou. In 1907, it was bought by Alfred Lesperance of Montreal. Between 1905 and 1914 a 1-storey addition was made to the south and west sides of the building containing a combination of enclosed entrances, glassed-in sitting areas, and veranda. It changed hands again in 1922 when it was purchased by Patrick J. and Louisa Murphy.
In 1919, Mount Allison had rented the old Ford Hotel (where Jean Coutu is today, ed.) to house 45 female university students, but by 1925 they had outgrown the building. The university then rented the Brunswick House, which was able to accommodate 68 students, transferring the name Allison Hall from the Ford Hotel to the Brunswick House.
Following the fire that burned the 3rd Academy to the ground in March 1933, the university women volunteered to leave the Brunswick House and move back to the Ladies’ College so the academy students could have the old hotel for a residence until a new academy building could be built. Then, in December 1941, the university men’s residence burned down. Knowing that it would be a while before a new residence could be built, the university purchased the Brunswick House from Mrs. Patrick Murphy for the sum of $17,000. to serve as a men’s residence. The building was upgraded with a new sprinkler system, electrical wiring, heat pipes and bathrooms. Although the old hotel was capable of accommodating 65–70 students during the first weeks of 1942, it was reputed as holding closer to 100. Over the years the old hotel was affectionately called “The Barn” by the students.
During the 1958–59 academic year, the university built 3 new men’s residences, Bigelow, Bennett and Hunton. As a result the Brunswick House was closed down in 1960 and in October that year, Levi Lerette of Sackville signed a contract to tear down the building for what material he could salvage from it. Although the town had offered to purchase the property from the university, the university leased the property to the Town for the building of a new fire station 1963–64.
- History of Sackville New Brunswick, W.C. Milner (1934)
- The Tribune, Dec. 18, 1902
- Mount Allison University Buildings file, Mt. Allison Archives
- R.C. Archibald fonds, 5501/6/1/5 & 6/1/10, Mt. Allison Archives
- Mount Allison University: A History to 1963, John G. Reid, 1984
- Province of NB Census records
Register of the Brunswick House, BHC
The Brunswick House Register and a plea for your help!
by Paul Bogaard
In late March, an auction in Amherst featured some interesting items including two 100-year old registers from the Windsor Hotel in Dorchester and a register from the Brunswick House here in Sackville. From our ever-vigilant members I received e-mail alerts and quick offers of help covering the costs, so I rearranged my schedule and made my way to the auction. The Tantramar Heritage Trust was able to acquire the Brunswick House register, which begins in 1880 and lists guests continuously till early 1885. It is a real gem, opening a small window onto Sackville life and commerce from 130 years ago (members of the Westmoreland Historical Society were able to acquire their registers, too!)
What was the “Brunswick House”? you ask. Donna Sullivan has been collecting information about Sackville businesses (not just ice-skating rinks!) for many years, and particularly this downtown hotel. So, she quickly agreed to write up a short account of its history. It is just an introductory sketch of one of Sackville’s several hotels, but it should set the stage for many more stories which will emerge from this detailed register: did Lydia Pinkham really stay in this Sackville hotel? Who were these many musical and entertainment troupes listed there? From how far and wide did the visitors come? How many had to stable their horse? When someone wrote in the register: “The House was struck by lightening this morning at 5 a.m. …” were they still in the hotel when they jotted this down?
There is much more to learn about this fascinating building beyond what we have been able to describe in this issue of The White Fence. We’d like your help in resurrecting and fleshing out such stories from Sackville’s early hotels. Do you have old photos? Does your family have relatives who worked there? What stories have your heard? Anything you can share with us about the old Brunswick House will help enrich our shared memories of Sackville’s past. If you can, contact me at
firstname.lastname@example.org or the newsletter editor at
The Brig(antine) Speck
by Al Smith
Sackville Shipbuilder Christopher Boultenhouse constructed 60 vessels over his lifetime making him the most prolific shipbuilder in New Brunswick. Yet, despite extensive searching, we were not able to find a single painting of one of those ships — until last June. Kent Young from Stratton, Vermont, visited the Boultenhouse Heritage Centre on June 20, 2013, searching for information on the brig Speck and was delighted to learn that Christopher Boultenhouse had built the vessel in 1837. Kent’s interest in the vessel was due to his wife’s ancestor James Dyer (Gosport, England) who once owned the vessel and was its master. Kent advised that he was assembling a history of the vessel and that he was in possession of a photograph of at painting of the brig. Kent was very willing to share his information on the vessel and to provide the Trust with a photograph of the painting.
The Speck was built in 1837 by Christopher Boultenhouse and launched October 22 from his Wood Point shipyard. It was his 13th vessel and the 10th built at his home yard in Wood Point. Speck was registered in Saint John, N.B., as vessel #140 on November 29, 1837 — a 125-ton brigantine. The vessel was 73.3 feet long, 20.3 feet wide and 10.7 feet high. She was a smallish vessel typical of the early ships built by the young shipwright and curiously only the second with a brigantine rigging, although he was later to build 10 additional brigantines. Brigantine Speck was purchased by Saint John brothers John and Harrison Kinnear. She was sailed to Ireland in December, 1837, and registered in Belfast in 1838. The ship was purchased by Hugh Stewart of Holywood, County Down, Ireland, who also served as its master. Captain Stewart used Speck as a trading vessel between Belfast and Malta and in September 1839 she was in St. Petersburgh, Russia.
For the first few years the vessel was referred to as a brigantine, however, Lloyd’s register soon started referring to her as a brig. That implies a change in her rigging as a brig has at least one square sail on its after mast. In 1840, owner Stewart hired Capt. Hamilton to master the vessel and later Capt. Dennis Sullivan. The vessel made numerous trips between Liverpool or Newcastle and Alexandra, Egypt with cargos of coal or hemp, a passage each way of approximately 33 days.
Lloyd’s registry recorded that Speck was registered in Portsmouth, England in November, 1843, and had been purchased by a trading firm, Camper & Co. The brig continued trading between Liverpool and Malta under command of Captains Smithson and Black. In 1851 Speck was fitted with a special self-reefing top-sail — a unique new design that greatly impressed Capt. Black.
Speck was purchased in the early 1860s by George K. Smith, a wine and spirits merchant, who commissioned a local shipyard in Gosport to substantially upgrade the brig. The vessel was lengthened and rebuilt by Mr. Daniel Robinson and launched May 7, 1864. The new configuration of the ship added to her capacity, now rated at 156 tons.
The Dyer family, who own the ship’s portrait shown shown here, became associated with the vessel in 1863 when Edmund Dyer became its master, later giving charge to his brother Capt. James Dyer. Speck was used as a coastal trader and as such became known as “a lucky vessel” as she managed to survive numerous groundings and severe storms causing damage. Encountering an early December storm in 1881 the vessel was again substantially damaged and was put up for auction the following May. Capt. James Dyer was the successful bidder and between him and his brother Edmund, they were masters of the vessel until 1890 and owners until 1893. A coal merchant J.T. Crampton operated the vessel from 1893 to 1917 with Speck serving mainly as a hulk for coal storage and transport.
The vessel’s registry was closed in 1917 giving her a service record of nearly 80 years a most remarkable longevity for a wooden vessel. Christopher Boultenhouse had a reputation of building solid, durable vessels and the brig Speck is certainly a testament to that.
The Tantramar Heritage Trust is most fortunate that Mr. Kent Young paid a visit to the Boultenhouse Heritage Centre last summer and we are most appreciative of him allowing us to print a very much encapsulated version of his research on the vessel’s history.
In a later issue of The White Fence I will be telling you the story of ship Brother’s Pride built here in Sackville by Christopher Boultenhouse in 1858. Brother’s Pride became an emigrant ship carrying settlers from London, England to New Zealand in 1863. That voyage is now recorded in a new book published in 2013 by Belinda Lansley of Christchurch, New Zealand.
Tantramar Heritage Trust Annual General Meeting 2014
Wednesday, May 28, 2014 — Boultenhouse Heritage Centre, 29 Queens Rd., Sackville
- 7 pm — Business Meeting
- 8 pm — Guest Speaker: Mr. Harold Wright, “Wings On The Marshes — the story of some Tantramar pilots.”
The illustrated talk will look at the story of some of the 300+ area boys and girls from the Tantramar area who wore the Air Force blue from 1917 to the present. Over 70 made the ultimate sacrifice and did not return home.
Summer 2014 Calendar of Events
- June 7–8: Museums Across the Marsh & Plant Sale — both museums open Saturday and Sunday 10 am to 5 pm, unveiling of new RCAF exhibit at BHC
- June 15: Campbell Carriage Factory Museum opens for the season
- July 1: Strawberry Social, 3–5 pm, at Boultenhouse Heritage Centre, as part of the Town’s Canada Day Celebrations
- July 9, 16, 23, 30: Under the Sky Festival — a series of heritage-themed arts events, taking place outdoors, evenings at the Campbell Carriage Factory Museum
- July 9, 16, 23, 30: Children’s MAKE IT! Workshops at the Campbell Carriage Factory and Boultenhouse Heritage Centre, fun and educational heritage-themed workshop for children aged 7–15.
- August 10: Antique Tool Collectors Show and Family Fun Day — 10 am to 4 pm at the CCFM
- July and August: THT at the Market — every Saturday morning over the summer we will be at the Sackville Farmer’s Market on Bridge Street. Drop by for heritage demonstrations, hands-on activities and information about our upcoming activities.
For more information like our Tantramar Heritage Trust Facebook page or call our office at (506) 536-2541.