Ronald Campbell (1799–1863)

Biographical sketch

Compiled by Al Smith for Tantramar Heritage Trust, January, 2003.

Campbell Family records suggest that Ronald Campbell was born in Nova Scotia. Apparently his family emigrated from the Island of Islay, Scotland and settled in Cornwallis Township (now Kings County), Nova Scotia, possibly near the present day village of Centreville.

In 1823 young Ronald, a carpenter by trade, decided to take the stagecoach from Halifax to Miramichi, NB but ended up in Sackville, New Brunswick. During the trip from Halifax, Campbell chose to walk behind the stagecoach since it was full and as a result reportedly had his legs frozen up to his knees. The story, told in Milner’s History of Sackville was that he followed the stage all the way from Halifax to Purdy’s Stagecoach Stop at Westchester Mountain (south of Oxford, NS) where, with the passengers, he entered the inn’s common room to a roaring fire and evening meal. Campbell sat down but did not move which aroused the curiosity of the landlady who checked and found that both his legs were frozen. That discovery raised quite a commotion, but the innkeeper kept her cool and thawed him out. He remained at the inn for several days until fully recovered.

Upon reaching Sackville he found employment with the firm of Humphrey and Morice who owned and operated the Mills and woodworking shop at Morice’s Mill Pond (now Silver Lake). Campbell was employed chiefly in the manufacture of carding machines. However, carriage building was apparently more to his liking and in 1830 he purchased land in the Baie Verte area and moved with his new bride, a young Irish girl, Margaret Irving Keenan. They had been married in Sackville earlier that same year. In Baie Verte he likely began the business of constructing carriages and he and Margaret had three children: George born in 1830, daughter Eleanor was born in 1831, but died in 1833, and a second daughter (also Eleanor) was born in 1835. Shortly after the birth of the third child, his wife Margaret died and Campbell and his family returned to Middle Sackville and was once again employed by Humphrey and Morice.

painting of Ronald Campbell (1799–1863)

painting of Ronald Campbell (1799–1863)

In 1850 Ronald Campbell purchased the land where the present Campbell Home now stands on Church Street in Middle Sackville. The 1851 Census lists Ronald as a Carriage Maker but it is uncertain if he had his own company or was still in the employ of Humphrey and Morice. It could be that he was already using the Carriage Factory — possibly via a rental agreement.

Campbell purchased the Carriage Factory property from John Beal in 1855. Beal was a prominent tanner who had arrived from England in 1817. The 30 × 70′ 2 storey factory building was originally built in c. 1838 as a tannery and converted in 1855 (or before) to a Carriage Factory by Ronald Campbell and his son George. A few years later they added a blacksmith shop on the site. Thus was the start of a highly successful and respected business that was to last for nearly 100 years, finally closing its doors in 1950–51.

Ronald Campbell died in 1863, but the business was already established as one of the leading factories in the area. The Company was continued by son George and successive generations of Campbells. Through the latter half of the 1800s and early 1900s the factory annually produced 30–40 carriages and wagons, 15–20 sleighs and pungs, and a variety of household items.


  1. The Campbell Carriage Factory, by Bruce McMillan, Mount Allison University Geography 300 Essay, April 1973
  2. History of Sackville by W.C. Milner, Tribune Press Ltd., 1934
  3. Campbell’s Carriage Factory, article in The Borderer, June 16, 1870, page 2
  4. George Campbell Sr., article in The Sackville Tribune Post, January 22, 1903
  5. The Campbells And Their Carriage Factory, research paper by Phyllis Stopps, January, 1997