The White Fence, issue #90

 April 2020

Closed for Now

These are certainly unprecedented and difficult times we’re living in. As you may know, our museums have been closed to the public since March 16, 2020, in accordance with the government’s directive. We don’t know what this means for summer programs and events, but at this time it looks like if we open at all, it will be in late summer. For now, everything, including our AGM that had been scheduled for May 31, is postponed. Our priority is the safety of our visitors and staff and we have been working on procedures to keep everyone safe when the day comes that we re-open to the public.

In the meantime, we’re looking for ways to stay in touch with you, including through this newsletter. Karen is still working and will respond to phone messages and emails. Our website ( has a wealth of information on local history, including all 90 issues of The White Fence! Also, we’ve recently reprinted several of our publications and these can be purchased by contacting the office or mailing an order form.

Stay safe, stay positive, and take good care. We look forward to the day we can welcome you once again to our museums.

Karen Valanne, Executive Director


Dear Friends,

As you all know, this newsletter is about local history of the Tantramar region. However, in this particular issue, the word “local” should be capitalized and in bold. Once you start, don’t give up as it may all be unfamiliar to some of you. But keep reading, it’s worth it! Today, for those of you who, like me, may never have known him, it is my great pleasure to introduce you to Ern (Robert Ernest) Estabrooks. On May 20, 1970, the Sackville Tribune Post carried an article entitled “Oldest Resident of Home 97 and Still Going Strong,” along with a photo of Ern Estabrooks sitting at a table with a birthday cake covered in candles before him. Based on information from this newspaper article given to me by Al Smith, Ern Estabrooks would have been born in Middle Sackville in 1873. He was a student at Mount Allison for one year, then UNB for another and put in another at Provincial Normal School (as “Teachers College” was then known). He made his living as a teacher, merchant and general labourer. After Normal School he travelled by train to BC where he taught school and worked as a labourer. He and his younger brother Fred (94 years old at the time the Tribune Post article was published) opened a warehouse and store in Middle Sackville and dealt in produce. They travelled a lot in the course of their business dealings, including to the United States and South America and “they bought the produce where they could and sold it when they could” (Tribune Post). He left business when he was in his 80s (he would have been 85 years old in 1958). The two articles in this newsletter were written by Ern but not dated. Paul Bogaard informed me that the Mount Allison archive contains nine manuscripts written by Ernest Eastabrooks dated between 1951 and 1964, which indicates when he was probably most active pursuing work in local history. Please note that any additions/ corrections/substitutions in the text made by myself are presented in square brackets.

When I started working in Sackville in the 1970s, I recall getting my mail at a postal box in the Sackville Post Office and listening to seniors in the lobby discussing what Sackville was like in “the old days” (I always took my time to pick up the mail!). Reading Ern’s articles about Middle Sackville took me back to those times. As I read the articles, I can almost hear him speaking to his friends in the Post Office, although I never met the man. In the following articles, you will learn of Middle Sackville history “from the horse’s mouth,” if I may be allowed to put it in those terms. I left much of the writing as it was typed by Ern. I corrected some spelling errors (typos mainly, I could not help it!) but left most of the text and punctuation as received. I also added obviously missing words in square brackets and question marks by words that were difficult to make out. Those of you born and raised in Middle Sackville may be able to respond to Ern’s stories, especially if any family members are noted therein. I look forward to hearing from you. And, as you peruse Ern’s stories, as always, like me, enjoy!

—Peter Hicklin

Early Residents of Middle Sackville

By R. Ern Estabrooks

Section of Walling Map of 1862 showing Silver Lake and Four Corners New Brunswick

The “Walling” map of 1862 from the corner of Silver Lake (Morice Mill Pond) to the Four Corners (junction of Church Street and the High Marsh Road). Many of the homesteads and businesses discussed by Ernest Estabrooks can be found on this map.

When I was a boy, the Baptist Meeting House, Beulah, stood where Albert Wheaton’s barn now stands. There was a small house where Albert Wheaton’s house now stands and a harness-maker lived there and made and repaired harnesses for the farmers around. Baird & George had a store where Gerald now lives and Fletcher George lived in that house although I believe it had been built a short time before by Mr. Charles Ward.

Edward Thompson lived where John Read now lives and they had a small store on the corner. Across the road on the corner lived William Kinnear, J.P., a Blacksmith by trade. I do not recall his shop. He and his son Boyd were living there at my earliest remembrance. W. Albert Smith afterwards lived there and left the place to Austin Smith’s father. Various tenants have inhabited the small house where Laird Anderson now lives.

I do not recall who lived next on the opposite [side] of the road, but I believe it was the old Tolar Thompson house. Next [to] it was the house of Charles Ward, formerly the Lennox Kinnear house. Where Herman Ayer now lives was the home of George A. Read who ran a small grocery store.
Coming down the road was the old Briggs place. Luther Briggs who was born there went to the U.S.A. and finally became the mayor [of] Meriden, Connecticut.

On the Anderson Lane was a Cheese Factory. Farther along was the home of J.J. Anderson. This was the location of Valentine Estabrooks, one of the leaders of the first contingents of English Settlers. On the corner of that road was what I had always heard called “The Jim Main House”. For a long time it was a tenament house. Nearly opposite was the home of Alex. Johnson, a Blacksmith who migrated to Manitoba. Next to Johnson’s was the home and store of Reuben Chase. The house now belongs to Miss Ruth Brooks. The store was burned down and some years after a central School was built there. This annoyed both ends of the school district and later was sold to Mr. Gaius Richardson who cut it in two and made part of it into the house now occupied by Mr. Frank Brooks. Across the road from that is the home of Gerard Estabrooks. The house was built by Dr. Flemming before he went to the West. Adjoining this was the home and Blacksmith shop of Calvin Kinnear, and opposite that is the home of the late Freeland Estabrooks. This was formerly the home of Thomas Hicks. His son later built the residence on the hill now owned by Earl Trenholm.

This brings down to my own home which was bought by my father from his grandfather “Corner Jim”. Adjoining it was the house of a Mr. Sharp. It was used as a tenament house as long ago as I can remember until I tore it down; with the stones from the cellar I built a stone wall across the front of my lot. Opposite the Sharp house was the home of Barnhill Cahill. He had a blacksmith shop near the house of (blank; this space was actually kept blank probably with the intention of filling in the name later but Ern never got around to it—ed.).

Occupying the old Parsonage is the house of Elmer Oneal. My first recollection it was occupied by Mr. Edward Read and next to it is the home of John P. Sharpe and next to that the Parson’s. In 1939 a Parsonage was acquired by the church and a division in the church soon developed. This Parsonage was, I believe, the house where Mr. Elmer Oneal now lives. As nearly as I have been able to ascertain the split arose from a demand by the pastor Rev. Robert Davis, that the deed to the new parsonage be registered in his name. A large number left the church and built Beulah at the four corners. They claimed the name of the first Baptist Church on March 9th 1839. Rev. Father Crandall organized the Second Baptist Church with seven male and seven female members. They proceeded to erect a new church building and bethel was opened for Service on April 3rd 1842. This building had doors to the pews and the pews were sold and realized more than enough to pay off the indebtness of the Church. In 1880 this building was remodled and the doors removed from the pews and all pews were free to anyone. This caused another insurrection and some of the older (folks?) never attended church again.

In 1848, the Second Church organized Salem Mission and built a chapel at the end of Salem near the residence of the late J.M. Oulton. Owing to various reasons this branch grew more rapidly than the parent church and later became the Main Street Baptist Church in Sackville.

In 1903 the Church purchased the site of the present building from the estate of the late Edward Estabrooks and began the erection of the present edifice in 1905. It was completed at a cost of $8195.31. Brother Isaac Cook was the builder.

In 1882 Rev. D.G. MacDonald of Prince Edward Island assumed the Pastoral Care of both these churches without any stated salary. His avowed intention was to unite the two branches and it took several years to accomplish this. At last the branches voted away the names of First and Second and the membership was fused into one body. As soon as the union was accomplished the resident pastor resigned and Rev. W.E. Hall was called to supply for the United body. May I remark here that the builder lived at Mount View where our present pastor has recently built his new residence.

In 1902 another split occurred but this time it was carried out without animosity. The field had become too heavy for one man and each branch became an independent body but they were to be considered as twin sisters, each tracing its origin to the original church that had moved here from Swansea. This explains only each branch now claims to be the oldest Baptist Church in Canada (this sentence in bold was handwritten in the text—editor). The old Bethel building was torn down 1904 (1854? almost illegible and the 1854 date agreed to by Paul Bogaard—ed.) and re-erected into a barn on the property of G. Campbell and Sons Ltd.

Now, a few words about the early history of the plot of ground where the church now stands. The first proprietor I can find record of was “Corner Jim” Estabrooks, a son of William. A ten year old boy who came here in 1763 with his mother and step-father, Jonathon Cole who settled out on the marsh where the Voice of Canada is located (where the old CBC Towers once stood along the trans-Canada between Sackville and Amherst—ed.), and which ever since has been known as Cole’s Island. When this boy grew up and married Marion Thomlane (?) and settled at Lattimore Point where Bro. Lorne Brooks now resides. His son James married a Miss Wry and had a considerable family. One day in the autumn while the men were threshing grain by hand in the barn, a tramp entered the house and demanded liquor. When Mrs. Estabrooks did not comply with his request, he snatched the baby out of the cradle and started off. The men in the barn heard the scream and without dropping their flails started on the run for the house. Upon learning the cause of the outcry they started after the kidnapper and soon overtook him. They recovered the child and then threshed the tramp instead of the grain. On April 5th Brother Edward Read reported that the Committee appointed for that purpose had purchased an organ for the church. It was bought in St. John for $175.00 and was played at Church for the first time on Sunday April 6th 1873 by Miss Nancy Fitch a newly received member from Horton, N.S. A new organ was purchased for the church in 1888 or 1889. The old organ was then sold and is now in my possession. I believe the child that was snatched was the late Amos, father of the late Freeland Estabrooks.

Later James sold the lot to the Beales. John Beale lived there and built Campbell’s carpenter shop for a tannery. I believe the old tan-pits are still intact under that building. George Beal lived where Lloyd Estabrooks now lives and had a tannery a short distance back of Leonard Estabrooks’ blacksmith shop (note: Leonard Estabrooks’ anvil – donated to us by Mona Estabrooks – is now in the Campbell Carriage Factory Museum—ed.). William Beale lived where the Rogers house now stands and had a tannery there. One of my first mercantile ventures was to sell a sheepskin to Mr. Beal for Ten Cents.

When James Estabrooks sold this place he moved a short distance to the piece I now occupy, which place he later sold to his grandson, my father.

There is one other event I should like to chronicle connect (letters missing at end of page – i.e. “connection”?—ed.) with this place. Mr. Gideon Snowdon had a house and tailorshop where Mr. Timothy Richardson and Fran. now live. He had a number of boys and one of them, Alexander, when a boy, became a very expert skater on the nearby pond. As a young man he went to the U.S.A. where he became fascinated with roller skating which was much the raid (rage?—ed.) there at that time. Soon he became expert at this sport and entered a Six Day Race for a diamond belt and the World Championship which he won. Shortly after, he came home on a visit to his parents and, although only boy, I had the pleasure of meeting him and handling the Diamond Belt. Although he had to skate for six consecutive days, he gained a few pounds in weight during the race. I believe this is the only world championship ever won by a native of Sackville. Sad to relate, upon his return to the States, he started for Brazil to enter another such match and was never heard from by his family after. No one appears to know what happened to him. Mrs. Gas, Town Clerk in Sackville, is a niece of this champion.

Now I think I have talked long enough. Probably some of you will feel like asking “Why all this talk about the past.” I’ll ask such an enquiter (inquirer?—ed.), in the words of a great poet:

“How can man die better, Than facing fearful odds, For the ashes of his fathers, And the altars of his Gods?”

Recently I noticed in Lord Macaulay’s famous History of England:

“A people which takes no pride in the nobel achievements of remote ancestors will never achieve anything worthy to be remembered with pride.”

Some of the Buildings in Middle Sackville NB

By R. Ern Estabrooks

William Kinnear house at Four Corners New Brunswick

The William Kinnear (later W. Albert Smith) place at “Four Corners.” Colin MacKinnon photo.

Beginning at the Four Corners, the large colonial house on the south side of the road now owned by Austin Smith, was built by Mr. William Kinnear. He was a Blacksmith by trade but never followed his trade in my recollection. I remember him as a very old man living with his son Boyd who was a large farmer. I believe that the Paper on the Parlor is the first paper that was ever put on it and that it has been there for more than a hundred years. Some time before her death, my mother told me that that paper had been on that room for over 75 years and she passed away over 29 years ago. Boyd Kinnear sold the place to W. Albert Smith, a bachelor who operated a large farm. During his later years, Mr. Smith’s nephew, Arthur Smith operated the farm for him. At his death, Albert Smith left the place to Arthur in trust for Arthur’s children.

On the East Corner stands the new house built and occupied by Mr. James Wheaton. He, with his brother Albert, operated a large farm, keeping a very considerable herd of Dairy Cows. I believe this was the site of the church built by the early French Acadians and which was destroyed at the time of the Expulsion of the Acadians in 1755. The bell of the chapel and various articles belonging to the church are said to have been buried at that time and afterwards being recovered by the French. My first recollection of the place was that a Mr. Anderson lived there and made harnesses.

On the North Corner Gerald M. Ayer lives. I believe this house was built about 1875 by Mr. Charles Ward. I think Mr. Ward was living there at that time. Much earlier than that, a Mr. Thornton fath (father?—ed.) built a house there that was occupied by “Long” John Thompson, father of William Thompson of Mt. View. There still stands there a large building that was at one time occupied as a store. When I was a boy Merrssrs John Baird and Fletcher George operated a general store there under the name of Baird and George. They did not operate very long. I think Mr. F.L. Dobson then attempted to carry on but only for a short time. Upstairs in this building was a Hall which was sometimes used for public gatherings. I remember some Basket Socials being held there and the independent Order of Good Templars had it as their meeting place for a time.

On the West corner where John Read now lives there was once a store kept by Ed Thompson. Later, Elisha Tingley lived there and ran a small store. They also had the Upper Sackville Post Office for a short time just before it was transferred to James Wheaton’s. About 1890 the Tingleys went to Manitoba and various families occupied the house after that until it was bought by John Hargraves. After his death it was sold to the present occupant.

The next house down the road is now occupied by Mr. Laird Anderson. My earliest recollection of this piece, it was occupied by Ben. Boyce and family. I think he was a shoemaker. He had a son drown in the little brook that runs past the Cemetery. He had made a small dam at the roadside and was sailing little boats on his miniature pond when an older boy came along. No one knows just what passed between them, but the older boy threw the child in the water and his head caught under a stick and the child drowned. Among its occupants have been Horatio H. Kinnear, a bachelor who had spent many years in California, Johnson Mountain, a housepainter and others.

The next place down the road is the Thomas Anderson place, belonging to Roy Brooks except the house and garden which he sold. The first resident there that I can place was Joseph Thompson, a cousin of Tolar Thompson. Next door to him was where Tolar Thompson lived. It was later known as the Lennox Kinnear place. My first recollection of it is that it was the residence of Charles Ward whom I previously mentioned as the builder of the Gerald Ayer house. When I first knew him he was mail carrier from Sackville to Upper Sackville. The place is now owned by Mrs. Warren Smith.

George A Read, then Herman Ayer farm in Middle Sackville New Brunswick

The farm of George A. Read (1850-1912) then Herman Ayer (1921-2006), now Robert and Gladys Estabrooks. Colin MacKinnon photo

Next door to this is the house of Mr. Herman Ayer. This place has quite a record. It was first a part of the Read property. Later it belonged to Nath. Ward. Then it became the home of Samuel Hicks, the progenitor of all the Hicks in the country. When I knew it first it belonged to George A. Read who ran a small store and kept the Post Office of Upper Sackville. Then Bliss B. Ayer made it the home of his last years. From his it passed to his nephews and is now owned by Herman Ayer.

Adjoining Herman’s place and now owned by him is the Briggs place. This is where my Grandmother spent her first night in Sackville when she came out from Scotland in 1818. I remember the old buildings ready to fall down when I was a small boy. It eventually passed into the hands of Geo. Campbell & Sons Ltd. and was recently sold by them to Herman Ayer. The Briggs family went to Connecticut and one son, Luther Briggs, later became mayor of Meriden. During his term of office he made a visit to his old home. I remember seeing him and his wife driving about in an open barouche and span of fancy horses. He wore a Prince Albert coat and a silk hat and his wife was richly dressed. They had a coachman who also wore a Silk Hat but with a cockade in his.

Almost opposite the house of Herman Ayer there is a lane formerly known as the “Billsmith Lane” leading across the railway track. On the hill there stood until last year a large house until it was burned down. This was a part of Lot 23 of letter C division and at the FIRST SETTLEMENT was drawn by John Olney Jr. He soon thereafter returned to New England in 1762 and put Eliphet Reed in possession. This is one of the very first original lots that we can now locate definitely. In 1776 the land was granted to the said Eliphet Reed who had already built a house there. His son Joshua succeeded to the place and it was there that the FIRST Conference Meeting of the Sackville Baptist Church of which we have a written record was held. The place was later sold to Nathan Lowerison who in turn sold to William Smith. It was then inherited by his son W. Albert Smith and was sold by his heirs to Earl Trenholm who sold the house and a lot on the lane to Mrs. Damien Brian. She and her sons have two small houses there. The lane continued up the hill to the farm of James and Edward Estabrooks who lived in a small house on the Pond (?) Shore on the site now occupied by the modern dwelling of Mr. ____ Smith (note: the name of the person was left blank on the original document for some unknown reason—ed.).

Keystone from Squire Jim Estabrooks brick house in Middle Sackville New Brunswick

Keystone from “Squire Jim” Estabrooks’ brick house that once stood on the Anderson Marsh Road. The sandstone block at right is now nearly illegible and the inscription has been highlighted at left. Colin MacKinnon photo

Anderson Farm in Middle Sackville New Brunswick

Anderson Farm on the Anderson Marsh Road. Colin MacKinnon photo

Next we come to the Road to the West Marsh which passes the large home of Mr. James F. Anderson. This is also a historic spot. When the first New England Settler came here Mr. Valentine Estabrooks was appointed by the government one of a committee to locate the immigrants on their respective lots. He settled where James Anderson now lives. His son James, generally known as “Squire Jim” succeeded him and was for two terms a Member of the Legislature. He built a Brick house here. Mr. Anderson still has the Kewstone front over the door, marked “J.E.” Squire Jim was succeeded by his son James Jr. The property then passed on to the grandfather of the present owner.

When I was a boy, there was a Cheese Factory in operation on the west side of the lane about a third of the way to Mr. Anderson’s house. Mr. Zan. (?) Thompson was the man in charge of the work.

James Main built a large house at the corner of the Anderson lane where Alonzo Beal now lives. The property finally came into possession of Mr. Herbert Beal (father of the late Herbert Beal, ex-mayor of Sackville). The old house was burned and Mr. Beal built a new one on the same site.

Across the road from this, where Mr. Ernest Brooks now lives, Alexander (Sandy Johnson) ran a Blacksmith shop. The old house was burned about 1885 and the new one built. Almost before it was completed Mr. Johnson went to Manitoba and settled at Elkhorn. The place was bought by Albert Raworth, a Wheelwright who worked for Mrssrs Campbell. Soon after, he moved to the States and various families lived there until it was purchased by Mr. John T. Brooks, father of the present occupant.

Adjoining the property of Mr. Alonzo Beal is the home of Mr. Gerard Estabrooks. I believe this house was built by Dr. Flemming who with Dr. Paul R. Moore attended to the ills of the vicinity in early days. Mr. Zan Thompson lived there when he ran the cheese factory.

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