The author of this letter is unknown. He appears to have travelled previously up the River St. John and was a keen observer of his surroundings. His estimates of distance appear to be accurate, but he confuses East and West. His spelling, by times somewhat archaic, has been preserved. Mr. Chubb chose to publish the letter in six instalments, often in long columns unbroken by paragraphs. This transcription has been edited only to the extent of creating breaks in those columns.
22 September 1832
Scenery of the St. John — Reflections
(A Letter from Fredericton.)1
The sun was just emerging from its eastern slumbers as our horse trotted over the hill which discloses the first country parish above Fredericton. The prospect of a fine day, pleasing even to a sluggard, is particularly delightful to a traveller; our journeyings were to the north-westward; our road was the great thoroughfare of the upper country. Every one may have heard of the "Canada Line," so termed by the House of Assembly, (good authority in all cases,) few, very few, comparatively, know any thing more about it than the reality of the route.
In the infancy of our country we cannot expect the massive stone cottages, richly cultivated gardens, or beautiful parks and lawns which adorn the interior of old settled countries, exhibiting at one view the riches and taste of the inhabitants. But every country has its charms for those who take delight in natural scenery; out own has many inherent beauties, many peculiar attractions for a traveller, nature has done much, art very little to adorn and beautify it. On our immediate road side some neatness and taste are displayed, in ornamenting the cottages, (if cottages they may be called) lately built. I fear we must postpone the realizing our expectations in this respect if not to another generation to another race of settlers. The sites for building country seats (in this part particularly) are good, the land is high, a majestic river rolls beneath, enriched with numerous islands, opposite to which the whole country rises gently from the low lands with which it is skirted till it falls back to its native forest, the scenery is diversified with neat farm houses, barns, orchards and small groups of trees, with numerous small streams.
I will omit any particular description of Spring Hill — its fame is abroad; the stumble of my companion's horse down the hill filled him with ire. "Look yonder," said he, pointing to a bye-path on the flat below, "just as level a road as that is might be made from Phillis's Creek to Coombes's Ridge, at half the sum expended upon this hill, and at one quarter the amount the Saint John Marsh Road has cost the Province. Is not the exchange of four miles of hill for a shorter distance of level, of sufficient importance to the travelling of the whole County, for the Supervisor, even with his limited means, to make the alteration?" "Yes, yes," he replied, (for he had all the conversation to himself,) and if the lands here were all owned by one as poor as I am, it would long since have been made." I leave the reader to examine the situation, and judge of the propriety of my fellow traveller's remarks.
My attention was for some time entirely occupied in noticing the various alterations which I was informed could be made in the road. I cannot omit noticing that three of the worst Bridges between Fredericton and the Restook, are within seven miles of Fredericton — two are even dangerous for night travelling. I confess that ever since there was an apparent certainty of the division of the County, I have been very jealous of the upper parts. I will not attempt to insinuate that the representation of Carleton can have any direct influence upon the mode of laying out the Great Road appropriations; but, judging from the frailty of human nature, I have my own opinion on the subject. Even should we receive in those lower parts more than one bite of the cherry, it would be no violation of the principles of road making, for the whole County would derive an equal benefit, while a contrary mode of expenditure would advantage only the few to the exclusion of the many.
As soon as we had fairly passed the Baptist Chapel, we halted for a few minutes to gaze upon the delightful prospect then before us. The beauties of this landscape, viewed from any point are superlatively grand and enchanting. The ground we stood upon was high, the road very good, the farms in the neighbourhood generally well cultivated, the farm houses and other buildings numerous, and many of them neat. The fine, substantial, free-stone cottages, built by Col. Shore, on his Island, is a novelty in this part of the Province, and does the owner much credit.
Further up, the intervale of the lower village, ("the village" usually called,) clothed in deep green, formed a pretty and pleasing contrast to the red hills which form its rear. Over the high bluff in our front, which in parts appears to enclose the river, we could clearly distinguish the ancient settlement of the Kiswick Ridge. Here the Madamkiswick disembogues, the long valley of which, forming the back line of the Ridge farms, exposed to our view a vast tract of wilderness — a natural barrier between the cultivation of the high land and the spontaneous vegetation of the low. The country below appears like a grand ravine, having the upper extremity of its sides covered with the original wilderness, and its base studded with fine farms; through the centre flows the placed(sic) stream, the bosom of which is nearly covered with extensive islands, dotted with luxuriant elms and butternuts, irrigated with many a rivulet, and variegated with every variety of tint.
The cattle were feeding in the pastures — the corn was waving in the fields — an odoriferous fragrance rose from the blooming verdure — the clover and timothy were already drooping under their heavy blossoms — the mower was whetting his scythe — the waters were gently ruffled by the refreshing breeze now coming over the hills — all nature seemed smiling; but the rising sun, indicating approaching heat, warned us to proceed on our journey. We took a parting glance at the large islands below, an entire view of which is obscured by the turning of the river. Sugar Island alone is said to contain one hundred lots of ten acres each, valued, in consequence of some supposed defect in the title, at £10 an acre, about half the usual price of such land in this County. At the latter estimation, the alluvial lands alone observable from this spot are worth a sum exceeding sixty thousand pounds.
To gain the time that had been lost, we trotted briskly over the hills winding around the village, occupying our time, as usual, in theoretically making many necessary and practicable alterations in the road. Surely our forefathers, the first settlers, must have been men of elevated notions and exalted ideas; for they have invariably selected the highest hills and ridges for the course of the roads. Hardly an instance can be found above Fredericton where they submitted to the humiliation of running a road through a valley, when a hill could be found, though a good and level road would be one of the advantages of such degradation.
The Indian Village, consisting of a chapel, a wooden house, and about twenty bark huts and wigwams, is situate upon a lot of land formerly purchased for the Indians, about twelve miles from town. The appearance and composition of the hills about the village are worthy of notice; the soil and stone are red and the utility of either or both for the purposes of paint or coloring, is yet untried. Large quantities of excellent lime stone are found, and some has been burnt; a man with whom I conversed, and who was partially acquainted with mineralogy, informed me that the hills contained large quantities of iron ore; but I am too ignorant in these matters, and too little acquainted with the peculiarities of the place, to form any opinion on the subject; certainly the formation of the soil is favorable to the statement.
From this to the upper village, (a considerable tract of intervale formed in a large bay by the curvature of the river,) the appearance of the country is varied; a horrible gully through which the road passes calls for immediate attention, and the number of bushes growing in the fields convince us that there are some lazy farmers to be found along here. A few minutes more hard trotting brought us to what is commonly called a tavern, a particular explication of which is inconsistent with my story. After rattling at the door a while, with the usual interchange of "Who's there?" — "I want my horse put up" — a fine looking lady comes running from a back room with a half made sock in her hand. Were it not for the modest blush of apparent confusion starting in her cheek, I do believe that a fellow in a hurry to pursue his journey would get angry. One word passes, and she leaves you. To be brief instead of a groom, if you wish your horse fed, you have only to run over the field till you find a rope, and tie him till he fills himself. We did so — paid the fare three pence each, and started.
The distance to the ferry is less than a mile, the road approaching it has this season been much improved in consequence of a recent amendment of the great road law, but the expenditure of this part of the grant is very injudicious. As the road now runs you must travel two sides of a triangle, ascending and descending a hill, while the base offers a level site, and every one knows the distance would be much diminished. Here about 16 miles from Fredericton the great thoroughfare crosses the river, I don't mean that it is bridged, or that at the approach of every traveller the water forms a wall on the right hand and on the left, as did the Red Sea for the Israelites of old; I speak now in the common language of the country, the ordinary conveyance of a ferry scow being required, for a stand in which for myself and horse one shilling is paid. Why it was thought necessary to cross the river I know not. I have travelled both sides too often to believe the site was the real cause, all things considered it originally was not preferable. On this side of the river too, near the ferry, and in various places for some miles above, the road has been much improved this season. The cause of this, I have already hinted at; but further and greater alterations require yet to be made, before it will be entitled to the dignified (and, in this country, rarely properly applied) term, a good road.
For thirteen miles above the ferry, the country on both sides of the river is generally high, and in some parts broken with creeks and ravines. Upon the whole, it may be somewhat stony, but nothing to prevent the application of every beneficial mode of cultivation. The building of fences with stone, a practice not yet adopted, would not only be useful, but would completely clear the farms for the free operation of the plough. The lands generally, in this section, would be considered good in any country. An old farmer, (not an amphibious lumbering farmer,) and a man of truth, told me he was then cutting two tons of hay per acre from his high land meadow. — There are some fine intervales and an occasional island to be found along here. The lands are in general well cultivated, and the whole is improving more rapidly than could possibly be expected, when it is considered that nearly the whole population are engaged in lumbering.
The Queensbury Church, the first we noticed, is situate in a hollow or flat two miles above the ferry, distinguishable only by its spire, and from the apparent mode of ingress and egress, we most uncharitably concluded that the Gospel trump was not sounded therein from Sabbath to Sabbath. Of the truth of our conclusion, but not of the cause of the desertion, we were shortly after assured.
We soon had a faint view of the small collection of buildings in the vicinity of Joslin's Mills, on the opposite side of the river. Some knowledge of the present back settlement, and the extent and capabilities of the ungranted lands in the immediate neighbourhood for future population, led us to conclude that some six or eight houses and shops, exclusive of barns and mills, were the germ of a rising village. Two miles more riding brought us to the only brick house we remember noticing in this county, out of town. Being intended to front the river, its appearance, to a land traveller, would attract no attention apart form its novelty. Of the remaining five miles, much might be said; the landscape is worthy of the pencil of the limner; the high lands on one side roll grandly to a deep, rich intervale — and seven fine islands amply compensate for the deficiency of nature in a similar provision for the other side of the river. If these alluvial lands had originally been duly apportioned to the whole of this part of the adjacent parishes, with a condition in the patent similar to a covenant in the leases of a cunning old landlord, "that no hay should be taken off the farms," the effect would have been utterly inconceivable. The well cultivated islands yield three tons of hay to the acre.
In addition to the extent of the prosecution of lumbering by the inhabitants throughout a succession of years, the proximity of the great Magagaudavic, and other lakes and head waters of rivers falling into the Bay of Passamaquoddy, has latterly induced the Charlotte County lumberers to buy their provender here; for the conveyance of which, a road has been opened in the woods, that, while it discloses the "natural gifts" of the country, and offers, by the stopping places required, several situations for public houses, may be (and I believe really is) the means of sooner settling the intermediate wilderness. Here, in addition to an unusual neatness and display of taste in the arrangement of the ground of some of the farm houses, a few objects attracted my particular attention. The new Freewill Baptist Chapel is little different, except in size, and at a little distance could not be distinguished from a school house. If the inhabitants of this Province would to their houses of worship add a steeple and a spire, they would not only be a great ornament to the particular building, but to the neighbourhood and settlement — the expense would be trifling, and the natural and not very remote consequence of which, the occasional ringing of 'the church-going bell,' would tend greatly to the enlivening of the dull parts of the country; a stranger would conclude, from the scarcity of "steeple houses," that the people were all Quakers; but the real cause is in some measure attributable to the vulgar notion that no society, dissenting from the Established Church, except Kirk-men and Catholics, can make such ornamental and useful additions to their Meeting-houses without violating the laws.
Passing along, we could clearly perceive the new residence of the Rector of Prince William, which, with a little more improvement, will become one of the prettiest seats on the river. The house stand behind the road, upon high and rising ground, distant nearly half a mile from the water; the whole front has been lately cleared, reserving a natural grove of umbrageous trees around which the avenue winds. I do not mean to give the worthy Rector credit as an original in constructing the exterior of his house, for I imagined I could discern, at the distance of nearly two miles, the great outlines of a building erected on a barren hill in Nova-Scotia. Should he ever see this he will know I mean "Mount Uniacke." If I am a Judge, the copy surpasses the original; the situation of the latter cannot compare with that of the former; the prospect from the one is a small lake, extensive barrens exposing hillocks (as grey as a soldier's wrapper) partially hidden with a stunted growth of forest trees; from the other you may watch the windings of the Saint John till it is lost in the rich allusions, or from contemplating the diversity of hue with which the neighbouring fields are covered, you may be convinced of the insignificance of the works of man, by a mere glance at the foliage of the forest.
The nearest houses to the one are huts occupied by some of "the sable descendants of Ham," I suppose as tenants; the other is in the immediate neighbourhood of many a rich farmer, and of the well painted houses of others who (I really don't know how to describe them,) have handled many a shilling drawn from the royal coffers for services said to have been performed by their forefathers. To be sure, at the gate of the Rectory, though apparently alike in other respects, I did not notice the horns of any wild beast "pushing eastward or westward;" but this might arise from the different professions of the owners; the one was built for the occasional retreat of a Lawyer — the other, the permanent residence of a Priest. — When I observed the distinction, and thought of the situation of the two neighbouring churches, the sublime revelations of the ancient Prophet rushed upon my mind. Five years ago I certainly should not have believed that so great an alteration would have been made here in this short space of time. If the worthy Parson has been as successful in cultivating the hearts and minds of his flock as in improving his farm, he has done the work of an Evangelist most effectually. The whole offers so good an analogy, I cannot omit it. The soil, naturally, of the Rectory is as unbroken, wild, and unproductive as the heart and disposition of the greatest Gentile recreant about Bear Island. From the pulpits of a church built a few miles below, in the form of a cross, and another as many above, of Gothic appearance, he may thunder out the terrors of the law, or hold forth the mild invitations of the gospel: so circumstanced, and knowing it to be a principal in physical philosophy, that like causes produce like effects, Christian charity forces upon us an obvious and natural conclusion.
29 September 1832
After leaving the upper Church, the country assumes a wild and dreary appearance, which adds a relative beauty (in addition to what it has absolutely) to the scenery last described. Three or four small farms only preceding the extensive domains of the Chief Justice, extending seven miles on the east(sic) side of the river, the whole of which is unoccupied, except by four or five tenants, and may be literally termed a waste howling wilderness. The Barony, and one not particularly acquainted with the soil, would call the whole of it a "barren, eh!" would attract attention any where; and in an especial manner in its present situation amidst the forests. The buildings appear to be well painted and clean. From the opposite side of the river where I rode, I could discover nothing remarkable in the arrangement of the grounds, so small was the proportion of cleared land when compared with the natural wilds. The soil of the flat on which the buildings stand, is a novel phenomenon in the geological structure of York. It has the appearance of intervale, but instead of a fat loam, or rich pulverised sand, there is a large pebble varying from a half pound downwards; the main body of the land in this track I was informed was good; indeed the fine growth of hardwood indicates it, and there are some strips of rich intervale which are often overflowed by the spring freshets.
Perhaps the thoughts of our dinner disrobed the country of its charms: one thing is certain, all the rest we gave our horses till we came to the Nackackwickack was one minute, to look at a pretty little cascade formed by the road-side upon one of the Coacts(sic). In the intermediate space there are several good farms. After alighting from our horses and giving the necessary directions for dinner, we entered into conversation with the landlord. There had been what they called court that day, and some of the suitors remained at the tavern. The whole proceedings and the result of the case, so much resembled the Dutch trial related by Knickerbocker in his History of New-York, that I cannot forbear mentioning the decision, or more properly award, for the matter was decided by referees— "that the plaintiff do pay to the defendant the sum of one penny, and each party settle his own costs, to be agreed upon amongst ourselves," was the solemn decision of this puissant tribunal. The remainder of my time passed listening to a grave debate relative to the payment of the Quit Rents, the great topic of discussion at present; the substance of the argument I may hereafter repeat.
As soon as we paid the fare and mounted our horses, my companion pointed out to me the turn in the river so celebrated for picking up timber; the country on the south east side retains its wild appearance to the Pokiok, where there are two or three good farms. On our immediate road the land was mostly flat, but with the exception of a few cultivated spots it is owned by non-residents. The Pokiok, a stream falling into the St. John on the south side of the river, presents one of the most romantic and wonderful pieces of natural scenery in America. Our time did not admit of our examining any more than the cataract visible from the bridge across it, and I readily acknowledge my inability to describe what I there saw. An awful chasm is formed in the rocks, the greatest perpendicular height of which is not less than seventy feet, the breadth at the top twenty-five, and in parts of the sides and bottom, from six to ten feet; the walls in some places overhang, and are hidden with a scraggy cedar; at the distance of fifty yards from the bridge and many feet above its level, the water appears to enter a cavity not much greater than a large hogshead, and rushes or rather foams (for it appears more like suds than any thing else) down a continuation of ledges at least one hundred yards till it unites with the river; the roaring is tremendous — the appearance appalling. The formation of this astonishing cataract is truly worthy of the grandeur of the subject with which an old lady, with whom I conversed connected it; because the rending of the rocks was one of the immediate apparent consequences of the crucifixion — she was of opinion that this wonderful convulsion of nature was the effect of the last exclamation of the expiring Saviour.
A want of time compelled me to abandon the scene and recross the river. — Much of the country for three or four miles is unimproved and looks quite gloomy, after which it grows gradually better in appearance. The lands along the Meductic Falls brought to my mind what I had known industry and persevering application to a good system of agriculture to effect. This is decidedly the most stony part of the river, although the land is naturally stony. The inhabitants have pretty good farms considering their engagement in lumbering, but the situation is not very alluring at present. Some of them have already made proficiency in the more modern method of ornamenting a farm and keeping a clean door yard. Candour compels me to award to a resident near the Falls, the best cow yard I found in the whole line of road, it was quite impossible to pass without wading through a fine body of wholesome manure.
I once travelled a few miles in the country in the neighbourhood of of one of the greatest towns in Maine, and in order to form some estimate of the quality of the land and country in general, I inquired what description I would find, "good," "very good," was the invariable reply; "you will pass through a fine country." I found the land exceedingly hilly, but well cultivated with fine farm houses and good orchards; the valleys, where they were uncultivated, were mostly spruce, and swampy; the hills, judging from the large stone heaps and fences, were as stony as it is about the Falls, with this difference, ours is valuable for building and mill stones, whilst theirs was mostly of a poor quality; the little they could find they were quarrying and splitting into slabs to be carried twenty miles to market, part of which was by hand. Good granite was so scarce, that they were hewing the occasional rock found in the highway. Who knows but the beautiful variegated granite, in such abundance here, may not be a profitable source of revenue to the future occupiers of the soil; and there is nothing improbable in supposing that the two great rocks which appear to, and do in reality, almost block up the road, may yet fill a conspicuous place in the mansion of some great man at the Seat of Government. The good water carriage to the very quarry, is no weak argument in support of this opinion. I examined some of the stones broken in altering the road (which by the by has been greatly improved here of late,) and so far as I could judge, they are decidedly prettier than what I saw in any of the greatest buildings in Maine or Massachusetts, not excepting the new Market House in Boston, and every one knows the quarries are inexhaustible. The country is somewhat rough, and in parts stony to the ferry at Wolverton's, sixteen miles above the Falls, although there are numerous fine farms, and some large strips of intervale with an island or two.
As our horses slowly descended the hill immediately back of the first large body of intervale, we had a good view of the late residence of our departed Representative; the valley beneath into which I was descending, and which I always so much admired, for the moment appeared deprived of its charms. I lingered behind my companion lost in soliloquy. I could not but call to mind how often, how kindly, and how hospitably I had been entertained by one whom I now believed to be numbered with "the general assembly of the Saints and Church of the first-born." I well remember the manner he always greeted me both at home and abroad. His last (I may say dying) words to me, washed upon my mind. Now Providence requires us to entwine the cypress with the laurel. In my meditations I had paid so little attention to the guidance of my horse, that he stumbled and nearly threw me over the precipice, the consequence of which, so far as ourselves were concerned, was to alter the line of road.
I have already mentioned the preference our ancestors gave to a hill, and this is the most glaring instance I have seen; three of the worst peaks on the river flank a large flat, already mentioned; and the only reason assigned for not altering the road for some miles, giving the weary traveller plain riding upon the banks of the river, and avoiding in a measure a deep gully with a creek at present barely passable for carriages, is that a half dozen landholders would be obliged to move their fences, and lose all the hay cut upon four rods of their whole front; in fact that the horrible and rarely heard of crime of sacrificing private advantage to public good, would be committed.
I am inclined to think that had not the mantle of our old road-makers fallen upon the present Supervisor, many such necessary alterations would be made, for it requires little knowledge of the country to point out many parts of this line where he has pertinaciously adhered to this doctrine. The road near the Presqu'ile, of his own laying out, is in the mouth of every body, as if there was really any difference in distance which side of a globe you passed over, to say nothing of the great advantage derived from a level thoroughfare. I am no prophet, but I venture to predict if he retains the oversight of the Canada line many years longer, he will be obliged to undo many things he has done; indeed he will find the force of public opinion irresistible.
I know it is an established principle in road-making to construct them as strait as possible, diverging only from the great hills, cutting down the lesser, and filling up the hollows; the construction of a thoroughfare along the banks of a river, and particularly a great one, is an exception to this rule. The circuity of the channel, to say nothing of the creeks running into it, and the great ravines always found on the immediate banks of all large streams, must ever render abortive every attempt at the adoption of general principles; fortunately for me this whole theory has long since been put to the test of successful experiment in the adjoining states.
6 October 1832
The coolness of the declining day enabled us to hurry our pace a little and we soon came in sight of the Indian village. Passing the neat farms of Mr. Phillips and Mr. Jones, we noticed a great and recent improvement in the appearance of the dwelling of the latter. If many who build large houses and allow them to rot down from the inability to buy paint, would just imitate Mr. J., by the application of a little lime and a few hours labour, I venture to affirm, and for proof I refer them to his house, they would gain by it in the end — and surely their farms would look better.
Naduct Point, a fine tract of about one hundred acres of intervale, has no doubt been the scite(sic) of an Indian encampment, long before the discovery of America, as has also Fredericton, and most other flat points on the river. At present a part of it with a sufficient quantity of adjoining high land, is occupied by the Indians where they have built about fifteen huts, all of bark, with one exception the most permanent residence their families have. This part of the remnant of a once powerful tribe is fast decaying. The apparent annihilation of the Poles has excited the finest feelings of the philantrophist and the christian, while the aborigines of New Brunswick seem to claim no commiseration, no exertions of humanity. The utter destruction of any people carries with it a horrifying influence, but no such event could happen in the civilized world, without the memorials of their name, their sufferings, and their exploits being written in indelible characters. To me the thought that the red man of our forest who so long had an undisputed sway in this western world, should one day have no name in the earth, is heart-rending indeed; it involves the possibility that we, the sons of the first bushmen, are destined to become the ancestors of a mighty race of people, in turn to be driven from the earth by a new horde of invaders. The waste of a few hundred pounds annually, or the farce played off at Government-House in the presence of a few favorites is worse than mockery. I have always thought that some of our great ones have much to answer for their treatment of the benevolent designs of the Society established in England for their amelioration. The climate of the Saint John is well adapted for the civilization and settlement of the Indians as the Credit river, and the large tracts of land of the best quality in the midst of settlements, offer inducement to the prosecution of such an undertaking, to which the Canadian locations bear no comparison.
My observations of these and all other things, have been for reasons uncontrollable by me, limited. Yet I have seen amongst the red men of the woods natural eloquence capable of the highest refinement and genius transcendant. All who have turned their attention to the antient(sic) history of America, must have read with enthusiasm the speech of the celebrated Indian Logan, supposed by judges to throw into the shade even the energetic appeals of Demosthenes. Who can without feelings of the liveliest emotion observe a once powerful people fading away insensibly. As I pass along the streets and see them vending the fruits of their ingenuity and industry, I cannot help silently exclaiming, can any thing be done for the Indians. The subject and the peculiar locality of the place under my immediate vision caused many reflections, but want of time prevents the recital.
The American Provinces having been discovered and settled since the inventing of printing, the future historian of New Brunswick will not be obliged to carry back his researches to the period of fable. The first settlement of any Colony, particularly when very remote from the Parent State, is attended with difficulties and privations on the part of the original adventurers which excite in their youthful descendants feelings to which the offspring of the modern emigrant must ever remain insensible. Fortunately for our forefathers, before the arrival of any number of settlers, the Indian wars, so long the fireside conversation of the old people, known only to us by vague tradition, had subsided. But in addition to their Indian information, they occasionally conversed with an old Frenchman who survived the horrible tragedy acted in Nova-Scotia. From these and other sources of information at present unknown even to the Antiquarian, they learnt and treasured in their minds, and committed to the keeping of their children many things worthy of remembrance and relation. I have often wished some one would yet arise amongst us who could collect and methodise in familiar and circumstantial narrative, the legends of our country.
Their indigenous quality to the wilds of New Brunswick, would invest them with a peculiar interest to the native, to the antiquarian, and to the lover of literature. I dare say many whose knowledge of these things never extended beyond their own firesides, will suppose no such traditions are to be found in New-Brunswick. Many indeed think our people are even devoid of fine feeling. In behalf of the thousands of my brethren who cover the face of our country, I indignantly repel such an insinuation. Never did I feel the strong ties of country fitting me to the wilderness of America so powerfully as at this present moment. Too many suppose European countries the peculiar regions of story. Without any further reference, the whole history of our Aborigines is as dark and little understood by the most intelligent American, as the Celtish original of the antient inhabitants of our Mother Country to the enlightened Englishman.
In my roamings through the Province I have often conversed, been much amused, nay greatly instructed, in those things by the "old inhabitants," some of whom passed their younger days anterior to the great Fire in the last century, which desolated so much excellent land between this and St. Andrews, destroyed such quantities of timber, and formed the only extensive barrens in the country; and I only regret I have not made some more durable and certain memorial of them than memory, for I have too good reasons to believe many things connected with the first settlement of this Province, are lost with these men who have been long gathered to their fathers. "The Valley of the [Shonshee]," a sort of novel, written by an eminent American, descriptive of the natural scenery and traditional history of Illinois, is of the character; and surely no young aspirant after literary fame, who has time, and feels for the present moral, political, and physical degradation of his native land, would require a more fruitful subject than the natural scenery of the St. John and its multifarious branches, together with the many traditions yet remembered.
Opposite to the Meductic on the west(sic) side of the river, the eye of the observant traveller is directed to two pits of bones, known from the sculls(sic) to be human. At the distance of a few yards from the road an aged hemlock overshadows this only memorial of some direful catastrophe. I have often listened with attention to the many tales told of the cause of this. I have closely examined the remains of the three-sided entrenchment thrown upon the point (distinguishable from the opposite side of the river by the thorns with which it is partly overgrown,) and I am convinced from the fusee bullets and other marks of civilization, that whatever may be related of the bloody wars between the Mohawk and other tribes, upon which the present intelligent Indians dwell, that the whites have contributed their moiety to the general carnage. Tho' the best relation I have yet heard of these pits, has little more than names, which may give some clue to the whole affair, I will give it a place. One Colonel Rodgers came through the back woods from Canada, (the open side of the fort being towards the river forms the opinion that he did not come down by water) attacked, routed, and drove the Indians then encamped to the other side, and then barbarously massacred the whole or nearly the whole, and buried them in these pits.
Before this the reader may think I have either been lost in the woods or killed by the Indians only let him exercise that Christian grace so eminently displayed in the character of the venerable Job, and as I have already given him an example of industry in another country, I will furnish him with one of enterprise in our own. I was raising my head from a contemplative position as the Caledonia mills burst upon my view. The reason and origin of the name is very obvious. Not many years since I passed along here, and all that marked the depth of the stream was the apparent strength of the bridge, a slovenly house and barn having no attractions for the traveller. Now the whole mill establishment, consisting of a saw, grist, and oat mill and kiln, a carding and fanning machine, a turning lathe and grindstone, turned by water, under one continuation of connected roofs, together with about a dozen buildings of various descriptions, including the proprietor's neat dwelling house, would, with the appendage of a Church come within the description of a Yankee village.
The situation of the mills is romantic — the creek runs thro' a large body of intervale and an island in front appears to shut out its entrance to the river; the whole valley is fertile, and at present well cultivated; the noise of the water and the occasional sound of the crowbar gives to the whole a business-like appearance. All this is the work of a few years. Mr. Gibson, the enterprising proprietor, has at his own expence made a good landing and road from the river, rendering the access by land or water easy. The mechanical genius displayed by the youngest urchin about the mills, together with the long residence of Mr. Gibson in this country, connected with our prejudice, would lead us to think some share of invention and originality, or rather enterprise, is due to the rising generation. At any rate it may support the doctrine of Johnston, that "something may be made of a Scotchman if he be only caught young;" be this as it may, the whole reflects great credit upon the owner, and if it were in the other Province, Mr. Howe would devote to it a whole page of laudation. Doubtless he would see it, for he is not like our gentleman Editors, confined in his operations to the town he dwells in.
Rising from the intervale, the land is flat, the banks high, the soil light and sandy, and well adapted I should think to the application of gypsum for manure. A great improvement has recently been made in the appearance of the neat farm, the buildings, the fences, and the large dwelling house has been thoroughly repaired — the present occupier preferring the woeful ornaments of paint, oil, and gloss, to the whole parade of old hats and trowsers with which the windows in 1829 were bedecked. Turning to my companion I enquired the cause of this very great change; did you not know, quoth he, that in the overturn of 1826, this property was taken by the Sheriff, sold, and purchased by a merchant in St. John for his brother then in Scotland, who now lives on it. Well, said I, if they should be the means of so settling and improving all the farms sold at their instance, it would in some degree be an equivalent for the lamentation, mourning, and woe brought upon many a houseless family.
It was twilight when we arrived at the ferry, for here the road recrosses the river to Mr. Fraser's beautiful farm. The whole country on the opposite side seemed to offer an entirely new scene. Our delay in waiting for the scow led us to think one on each side, kept by separate ferrymen would be no disadvantage to expeditious travelling. The night had fallen heavily before we rode up the bank. Any description of the remaining five miles must be comparatively feeble. The roads were excellent along the road (Perhaps "river intended?) side of nearly the whole of this part of Woodstock, (for it should be known the parish extends down on the east(sic) side of the river about thirteen miles below the ferry) a close row of trees of various descriptions had either been planted or originally left, an ornament to the settlement, a shelter from the storm for man and beast, a protector from the rays of a mid-day sun, a fine evening shade, a delightful walk; the branchy butternut, close leaved birch, or evergreen spruce, could conceal the lover and his fair mistress from the immediate vision of the unconscious traveller; a breath of air would so rattle the leaves that their low faultering(sic) voices might not be overheard.
We passed several groups of lads and lasses joking, talking, and laughing about their sweethearts, and now and then we saw the solitary couple slowly loitering along as if fearful of injuring the road. Being near the end of our day's journey, and the evening fine, our horses walked. We occasionally caught a distant sound floating upon the air; I heard the sweets of love and the blessings of matrimony discussed; I paused, I had never in my former years, the years of my childhood, sufficient leisure from my other pursuits to acquire a knowledge of these abstruce and generally comprehended sciences. My companion would not let me make trial of two methods of acquiring information laid down by Watts, observation and meditation; although I urged my ignorance in such matters, he being a married man, would not delay. I believe our previous procrastination was to no purpose, for my fellow traveller denounced their dogmas as unsound, and having throughout the day found his judgment so correct in other matters, I was compelled to coincide with him in this instance.
Our lodgings were at hand, we halted, we supped, we slept, and we arose in the morning; I passed the day conversing with the merchants, the lawyers, the farmers, the mechanics and the labourers — in observing the place, and in meditating upon these things. The result of this triple mode of acquiring a knowledge of men and things I will with brevity detail. The 'Creek,' and the 'Corner,' adhering to the Woodstock idiom, are the names of two villages, the principal situations for business in this part of the country, distant about half a mile from each other; they will at no very remote period form one large town. The former derives its name from its situation at the ground rising from the upper bank of the Madusnikik, a river navigable in many places for canoes, and at certain seasons small boats, which rises near the Metamamkeag in Maine, and after traversing the American plantations for many miles, waters a fine body of excellent land, turning a number of mills in both territories, till it finally empties itself into the St. John sixty miles above Fredericton. Like all our rivers it abounds with excellent trout, and is skirted by fine masses of alluvial deposit. The grand mill privilege is only a few hundred yards from the mouth; the stream is broad, and even in seasons of drought, the supply of water is adequate to any purpose; the rocky bed of the falls offer peculiar advantages for damming. There are at present three or four mills of various descriptions, but nothing to what even the present infant state of the settlements would warrant for the advantage of the neighbourhood and profit to the owner of the mill.
It does appear to me the whole establishment must fall into more enterprising hands before it can yield that profit to the proprietor, or be of that general utility to the adjacent country, it is caculated(sic) by nature to become. A broad street nearly parallel to and in parts on the immediate bank of the stream connects the highway with the public landing. About twenty five buildings of various descriptions, exclusive of barns, have been, with three exceptions, erected in the space of four years.
In 1827, the year after Messrs. English & Perley established the first regular store in this place, I remember to have noticed the following inscription, "Woodstock Corner," upon a board nailed to a post standing where the road leading to the settlements of Richmond and Holton(sic) turned off. At that time there was only a dwelling house and shop — now from sixteen to twenty buildings form what is usually called "The Corner." This whole clump of houses is the effect of the enterprise of the first merchants, who were induced to adopt this location from the vicinity of the thriving back settlements. The place has no natural advantages, situate nearly half a mile from the river its canoe trade must arise from causes unconnected with its locality. There is no public boat landing, and I fear from the operation of the Island there never will be; all of the goods sold upon this spot must be carted from the different landing places above or below, the nearest of which I am informed exceeds half a mile. It seems to me at present at least altogether an exotic.
With such an example before him and knowing that the present value and future growth and improvement of any new place depends greatly upon the enterprise of the first settler and proper management of the owner of the soil, I am truly astonished at the want of foresight manifested by Mr. Smith2 in various respects. Had he given the Gibsons any thing like a fair offer, their whole establishment of the Caledonian mills might have been built here. Had he known his own interest (I understand his eyes are fast opening now) he certainly never would have compelled Mr. Harvey to build his fine tavern and stables a mile and a half above. The covenant I am told that he inserted in the lease of his part of the mill privilege is worthy of mention, "that the lessee build nothing but a new mill."
In spite of all these disadvantages the settlement is thriving rapidly, new houses are daily raising up. Its situation and manifold advantages for mills, together with a public landing, lead me to conclude it must be the great scene of the business transacted in that part of the country. In fact the whole district of the Corner, with Richmond and Holton may be diverted by a cross road coming out at the bridge, which will really render the Richmond road straighter and shorter, and the Jackson settlers would, I think, find it more convenient to travel a road leading directly from the mill across Cunliffe's flat to their own present route.
If instead of restricting its use, had he erected machinery of every description, applicable to the present state of the country, I venture to affirm that the buildings would have been threefold what they are now; the cutting of nails, and carrying on cooperage in all its branches, by water, in addition to many descriptions of machinery not yet known amongst us might be prosecuted here with success. With all these advantages capable of being called into action, I cannot but think something (by no means a principal) of the present growth of Woodstock is attributable to causes daily ceasing to operate. Nearly the whole trade of the American townships for some time centred here. The military and other public roads turnpiked, and the gov't. buildings erected, must and I well know did create a great temporary demand; nearly all the lime and a variety of heavy articles in their buildings, came up the river in boats. The recent concentration of merchants and traders in Holton cuts off the most of this altho' the separate advantages of different Governments must always create an interchange of trade in all border towns; even now the cost of bringing goods from the seaports of the United States through their own country little (if at all) exceeds the freight and expences of articles from St. John, if fairly introduced; but the most extensive merchant in Holton has a store for the warehousing of goods, a little this side of the line, the present benefit of which need not be mentioned; and should Holton ever become a situation of great importance, which it is not improbable, for its present previous growth indicates it; all the benefits of our water carriage even improved by the clearing out of the river may be counteracted by the laying down of a rail road from Bangor to Holton.
Before I proceed I will add something by way of inference. I trust I take a deep and profound interest in every thing conducive to the welfare of this my native country, and the prosperity of its inhabitants. Many I know would wish to see four fifths of the people 'hewers of wood and drawers of water' to the remaining fifth. I don't envy such persons their principle; I am thankful to a beneficent providence that I do not belong to that little petty concern who try to keep down every one else but themselves and their friends; and too many ignorant of their true interests knuckle to them, actuated oftentimes by motives of envy, hatred, malice, or jealousy. I have no part nor lot in the matter, nay I am determined to neither touch, taste, or handle the unclean thing. Some (for this is my application of the foregoing remarks) of the young traders in our largest towns, not those who are doing comparatively well, for it can be no small matter for a man to go from home, but such, as notwithstanding their cleverness in business, are obliged from the smallness of their capital, the competition of trade, and a thousand other incidents, daily to walk in and out of their stores doing little or nothing, and at the returning period of ninety days, have "troublesome days and wearisome nights appointed unto them," might eventually find a removal to Woodstock somewhat profitable. The society, the least of all considerations for a man of business, but of some consequence to his wife, and I do believe if he served his probationship in St. John, he would be married, is pretty good. The adjoining country is rising in wealth, population, and importance, with a degree of rapidity unequalled by any other part of the Province. The whole rear of the upper part of Woodstock and lower part of Wakefield to the American line, distant here nine miles from the river, and increasing or diminishing as you approach to the long disputed highlands is settled to the extent of sixteen miles parallel with the river. The extensive settlements of Richmond and Jackson Town are not only amalgamatory, but stretching their extremities upwards and downwards.
13 October 1832
For fifteen years the oppressed sons of Erin, the money-making Scotchman, and the speculating Englishman, together with a host of more recent adventurers from Nova-Scotia, and the rising generation of New-Brunswick, have contributed to the population of the borders of the Medusnikik. The sixteenth harvest is approaching. Since the first three crops were taken of the back land, one farmer had been located alone for near five years before; but the circumstances of his settlement, and his studious vicinity to the lines requires no comment. Now upwards of three hundred freeholders are preparing to exercise the rights of Englishmen in the approaching contest. The land (naturally excellent) which sold a few years since for two shillings per acre is, when situate on the great thoroughfares, with a little improvement, worth 20 shillings.
I have been in Woodstock all seasons of the year, and I did not see a more continued throng of people in the stores on the market wharves in St. John, when I was there last in 1827, that I have always noticed at that of Messrs. Connell's store at the Creek. The prices of goods are high. I have occasionally travelled in the steam-boat where I heard the merchants talking of matters of trade, and I once or twice saw an English invoice, all which informed me a little in these affairs, and I conclude the farmer of Brighton and the lumberer of Kent, who pays timber and deals at the rate of lumber prices, gives upon an average little less than treble the sterling cost for his goods. No doubt he would stare if he read this, as I have often heard the up country people say, I will not go all the way to town, and pole 60 additional miles back again, when I can buy my supplies as cheap at Woodstock. The cause of this is explicable — the prices of tea, sugar, and tobacco are notorious; and consequently sold little higher than at Fredericton, by which means the prices of selling and cheapness of the stores are established in the estimation of persons not acquainted with the comparative value of goods. Notwithstanding all these advantages, a young trader in a country place particularly, should, to adopt a vulgar expression, 'be wide awake.' There are so many buyers and so many of them are very much like the old story of the hog whose weight was not known till it was killed, that unless he keeps a bright look out (as they term it) he will find at the end of the year his shelves are empty, and the means of replenishment gone.
There are now four stores in this part of Woodstock, and from the situation of the country I think there is trade for as many more, There are three attornies in different parts of the settlement, who, upon the whole, as the people say, get a good deal of custom; and though I did not like the Editor of the Novascotian in his travels, see any of them ploughing, yet a fine field of potatoes was pointed out to me as the fruits of the unaided industry of a limb of the law. If he should break his leg or put his toe out of joint, he will find three of the profession looking out for his cash; they, no doubt, knowing the lawyers were not likely to be outwitted when money was in question, have imitated them in their residence — one at the Creek, one at the Corner, and one below.
Being in the neighbourhood when one of the medical gentlemen arrived, for one only is an old standard, the other two had moved there this season, I had an opportunity of ascertaining his immediate probable prospects for obtaining the necessary eatables and drinkables. Accidently his first patients were the same as the selection for Noah's Ark, a pair not actual mated, the former a resident of Kent, the latter dwelt a few rods over the street. I am not sufficiently acquainted with the ars medicina to explain the nature of their several ailiments, and if I were modesty requires silence — suffice it to say, the Doctor was roused from his midnight slumbers by the loud raps of a husband, who, together with an aged matron, escorted him to the place of immediate requisition, and in the morning it was rumoured a man had been born into the world. I was near forgetting my other patient from the joy consequent upon such events as I have alluded to — he was a pitiable (he doesn't deserve pity) fellow, an apparent cripple, suffering in body, in mind, in purse, and in reputation, for he was a husband and a father.
I have left the Parsons to the last, but the Scriptures with which they are conversant, says the last shall be first. The spiritual provision made for Woodstock is twofold. A minister or rather a succession of ministers of the establishment has long distributed to the people their portion of meat in due season. The Church stands in the lower part of the settlement and is not distinguishable by any cloud-capt spire or lofty steeple — indeed it resembles very much a building near the burying ground in Fredericton, more than any thing else I have seen. It cannot be denied that it is a disgrace to the whole settlement; to any one not acquainted with the country it would argue a great want of religious feeling to see so many fine private houses, and so contemptible a looking place for the worship of him whose dwelling is not in temples made with hands; more especially when it is known a Minister has been long furnished this place by the benevolent of England. It is but just to say they contemplate erecting a more commodious building three miles further up, upon a very scitely(sic) situation, with the dignified title of a Chapel of ease.
A Wesleyan Missionary, at the repeated solicitations of many of the inhabitants of these parishes, has been stationed here this season, for whose accommodation a large neat Chapel is in progress, and when completed, which will be early in the winter, will be a great ornament to the place. Its situation between the two rising villages commands a view of the whole settlement. I believe this when finished will be the first chapel with a steeple and spire built by the Methodists in the Province. There is a small Catholic Chapel in progress upon the hill opposite the one last mentioned. Some estimate may be formed of the present price of land from the following statement. In March last the sum of £50 was paid for an acre at the turn of the road below the Creek, for the Chapel scite; and an old speculator with whom I conversed assured me he would pay at the same rate for the next ten acres, if they could be obtained.
The sum of £100 was paid last month for an acre near the public landing, and a gentleman who has laid out his land in lots of the depth of sixty feet from the street, rents them readily at two shillings for every foot of front with that depth. This same lot of two acres was purchased in 1828 from the original proprietor for 45l. half cash and half trade; and the whole farm of two hundred acres, water rights and all, was bought within the memory of man for a cow. I must indulge myself in the reflections the present situation and future prospects of these settlers seems to excite. The original owners of the soil were the half-pay Captains and Colonels of the eighteenth century; by some magic or other not very incomprehensible in this County, all the offices, civil and military, were conferred upon these ancient worthies and their descendants. A few years since not one magistrate resided in the whole of Northampton, a Parish of equal extent on the opposite side of the river or below the ferry in Woodstock, while some four or five were congregated together within the space of five miles upon this flat, and almost every house furnished its quota of militia officers. They have truly been a peculiar people.
While these dignitaries adhere pertinaciously to the soil, the persevering merchant and industrious mechanic notwithstanding their portion of land may be small, is rising speedily to an importance even greater than that of the lordly landholders. The whole reminded me much of the progress of the Hanseatic towns and the Corporation of Burghers in the Netherlands. The younger Dupin(sic) , in his excellent treatise upon the commercial power of England, has a similar remark upon that great country. "I saw," said he, (I quote from a very treacherous memory) "the mansion of a Plebian worthy of patrician grandeur, and amidst domains fettered by the statutes of entails, I examined the large manufactorries(sic) of the wealthy merchant." — I hope this is not putting a large subject on to a little one. This part of the country must shortly come into note, a new impulse is about to be given to this district and it will soon assume a degree of political importance its former standing bears no comparison.
As the evening drew nigh I loitered over the hills to view the whole country below. The scene before me was Woodstock; the landscape was varied and beautiful. A noble river, fruitful fields, neat cottages, abrupt highlands, level and undulating plains, gentle flowing rivulets, noisy cataracts, the native forest, and apparent mingling of the bustle of a town, with the silent monotony of the country, were among the most prominent features. The waters of the St. John glided gently along, the rich alluvions rose from its bed covered with green herbage; the crystal current of the Madusnekik after silently washing the intervales came thundering over the rocks to its confluence. The sun was burying his refulgent rays in the western waters, the labourer was leaving the field, the milk-maid was returning home laden, the evening was serene and peaceful; all would have been silent but for the roaring of the water-falls and the tinkling cow-bell. I was sitting upon a large rock admiring the beauties of the landscape — I could not help thinking if Joseph Howe could only travel the river Saint John, he would never talk about the beauties of Truro or Windsor — Woodstock and Sheffield are truly worthy of his pen. Fredericton long since exercised the taste and talent of his predecessor in office.
In my meditations I fell asleep — a hundred years passed away. It was 1935; the form of Government I will not mention, lest the conversation I had with the farmers about the quit rents might influence it. To the best of my recollection the many predictions and opinions of Huskisson and all the first statesmen in England and America were fully realized. I was sitting under a mulberry tree when I first looked up; the smoke of the furnaces obscured my sight; a light blast of wind soon opened the whole country. The town was well built of granite and free-stone — the whole vale of Woodstock appeared to me one entire vineyard; an interminable succession of cottages marked the divisibility of the ownership. The season of vintage was at hand, I could clearly recognize the rich produce of the vine; a beautiful row of stone stores stood on either side of the Creek; the bridge rose proudly on seven substantial arches; the continual throng of people, of waggons, and of carriages, marked the centre of business. I saw the rich affreightment, it consisted of every description of iron ware carrying from the foundries. I was informed ore was procured in abundance in different parts of the adjoining country amongst the water craft. I particularly noticed the different descriptions of steam boats, the most curious were the luggage and the passage boats; some of the former had brought from the Tobique free-stone, lime, gypsum, and slate, and were loading with a variety of domestic and other manufactures; one was laden entirely with stoves and another with nails. I noticed one from the Shoregumock(sic) with ore of some kind. A passage boat had just came down the river; the countenances were downcast. I enquired the cause — the boat had been detained four hours by the steamers plying above the falls, and the cause of the delay was an accident which had happened upon the Portage (leading from the head of Tamasquata Lake to the St. Lawrence) railway. The leviathan steam coach had broken through and seriously injured some of the passengers — the engineer coming to make arrangements for constructing a new one was dangerously hurt, his life was despaired of. I awoke from my dream, a loaded cart passing to Wakefield had disturbed me.
Having already drawn out this narration far beyond my original design, my remarks upon the upper part of the country shall be concise. A commodious tavern built by Harvey, the finest looking house in this part of the county, a mercantile establishment owned by Colonel Ketchum, and a shop or two, situate near two miles above the Madusnekik, and within a mile from the upper extremity of the Parish, form what is called "The Upper," or "Jackson Town Corner," from the road that turns off to that settlement. Before I leave Woodstock, I cannot omit recording the unanimous testimony of all the respectable travellers with whom I conversed, that Mr. Harvey's attendance and accommodations for gentlemen who occasionally visit that part of the County, from motives of curiosity or business, are beyond all comparison superior to any thing of the kind in the Parish, and I am bound to recommend Mrs. H. as a woman well adapted by nature and habit to the varied accomplishments and duties of a landlady. It is unfortunate for travellers, for the settlement, and for themselves, that they could not have obtained a suitable situation at the Creek.
The civil division of the remaining part of this great County is into three Parishes, Wakefield on the East, Brighton on the West and Kent above, on both sides of the river. The universal testimony of the inhabitants, the produce of an acre, the great influx of settlers from Nova-Scotia, and the continual removal of persons from all parts of the province, particularly the young men from the intervales of Sunbury and Queens, establish the superior quality of the soil of this whole district, as well as the disputed territory adjoining, beyond the remotest possibility of a doubt. The growth is mixed hardwood of the descriptions generally sought after by all persons looking for good land. The trees retain an ample distance from each other, and with little difficulty a cart and oxen might pass through thousand of acres. The whole County, particularly upon the east side of the St. John, is so flat and fertile that it might be denominated Champagne.
I once saw the many millions of acres that extend from either bank of the river from Mars Hill, and the whole seemed one entire plain of hard wood, ruffled but little by swamps or hill — but I never was so completely convinced of the real flatness of the country in and bordering upon the disputed territory, as during the last week. I walked to the top of a rising ground lying on the road to Holton, not certainly one hundred feet above the level of the lowland and I could clearly look over the whole County north to the disputed highlands. The appearance was that of a level plain, and the extent did not seem one third what in reality it is. It must one day become the finest country in this section of our Continent. The growth of wood was a deep green, rich and rank. It is intersected with a sufficiency of cedar swamps to furnish fencing stuff for times to come; and the richness of the bottom will afford labour for the overgrown population of future years, and fully compensate by the abundance of their yield, the enterprising capitalist who may be induced to undertake their clearance and cultivation.
The banks of the river are skirted with large intervales, rising occasionally to high flats, little, if at all, inferior in quality, with a few scattering islands. The lands fronting upon the river are settled to the mouth of the Restook on one side, and Tobique upon the other, and from the Restook to the Grand Falls, a distance by water of about twenty miles — one third of the middle is inhabited by a number of the Royal West India Rangers and their descendants; more of this section was once located by the same description of persons, but many of them being single men, or dissolute and roving in their habits, either have died or gone to some other part of the world. The abandoned and unlocated lands to the Falls is good, including some fine intervale; but the distance from market, the difficulty of the navigation, and the want of neighbours, have led persons to prefer back settlements, either in the immediate neighbourhood of their native place, or of their friends, to the difficulties of a distant river front.
From four miles above the Falls to the distance of fifty, both banks of the river are densely populated, mostly by French, and the settlement which I suppose at present contains near three thousand souls, is daily increasing, not only by a great natural growth, but by continual removals of the French from the Bay of Chaleur and the lower parts of Canada, as well as an occasional emigrant and a few speculators from the U. States. For the first twelve miles the land is similar to the highlands aforementioned; then for the distance of thirty, the whole is lined by extensive and deep intervales. The appearance of this part of the country, when I first visited it, I could not realize. It seemed as if I were transported to Sheffield, so great is the similarity. The parent river from the Falls to the distance of forty miles upwards is not ruffled by one rapid or rock; the whole bank seems loamy; it might be navigated I was told during the whole summer by steam-boats. The Islands are innumerable; and when I was there so still was the water that a sloop might sail it without difficulty.
Above the French settlement at the mouth of the Merriumpticook, a distance of fifty miles from the Falls, the far-famed General Baker resides, in the midst of a small settlement of what they call Yankees, drawn there by the advantages of the mills. Above him there is an occasional inhabitant.
20 October 1832
The only Rivers I will mention have something worthy of notice besides ordinary advantages — Grand River, twelve miles above the Falls, is the usual route for emigration from the County of Gloucester; the emigrant by means of his canoe navigates from the Restigouch(sic) to the Portage, over which he has to carry his canoe and paddles, till he meets the Saint John; so great is the travelling of late that a very commodious shelter has been erected on this portage. Green River, thirteen miles further up, is so named from the colour of its waters; many who have never seen it suppose this to be only a childish notion, and I confess until I examined for myself I was of that opinion. One might be deceived into the idea that the nearer you approached the confluence of a stream it became more green from the growth of the bushes on its banks, but there can be no mistake when you pass the lower part of its mouth and clearly observe the point of unity by the difference of the colour of the waters, the amalgamating of the green of the stream with the Saint John is as evident to every one as the difference between black and red, though it is attributable to the quantities of grass and meadow land it flows over.
The Madawaska River, from which the whole settlement derives its name, flows into the Saint John, some four or five miles above; it is supplied by the Tamasquata Lake, and is the ordinary mode of travelling to Canada; the only obstruction to good steam navigation to the head of the Lake I am assured is the little falls near the mouth of this river. The Allegash flows into the Saint John upon the opposite side forty miles further up, fourteen miles from the mouth of which I am told there is a cataract equal in magniture and grandeur to the "Grand Falls."
The ecclesiastical division of Madawaska, (made I suppose by the Catholic Bishop) is threefold, St. Emily, St. Brien, and Chataqua, in each of which there is a Chapel, two on the West and the mother Church on the East side of the river. There is a resident clergyman who gets a tithe of every thing, a pretty good salary. It was raining and I had not time to examine the interior of the Chapel. The vestments which the Priest, (eminent for his kindness and hospitality) generally shows strangers, are rich. A thousand people oftentimes attend the celebration of Mass upon the Sabbath, their devotional appearance during the hours of service, is truly commendable and astonishing. The whole ceremonial is conducted with great show and splendour, four and twenty attendants, of all ages, dressed in pure white wait upon the Minister at and during the performance of worship. I am not sufficiently acquainted with the ritual to explain the whole minutiæ of their worship, but it was calculated to impress one with solemn and reverential awe. The worshippers on their first entrance approach the nave and most devoutly prostrate themselves, and from the rapid movements of their lips, I concluded, engaged in earnest prayer; their conduct upon leaving the Church is vastly different; soon as the last benediction was given the countenances of the people seemed to change, a gleam of joy covered their cheeks, and before they had fairly passed from the vestibule, all their domestic concerns were in requisition
The remainder of the day is spent in running horses, wrestling, boxing, dancing and diversions of every kind. The manners and customs of these people are singular; in all the houses which I stopped I never saw a man and his wife eat together. At evening a large pan of soup is put upon a table, into which every man dips his spoon jabbering what to me was an unknown tongue, and the women sit or stand about the corners with their separate bowls. This whole settlement has been long celebrated for the growing of wheat — its rivers abound with excellent pine timber, quantities of which in the upper parts of the Saint John may be felled so near to the water as to require no hauling. There are a number of merchants and small traders in Madawaska, what effect the last, and I suppose, largest establishment located there may have had I know not, formerly, I understand, numbers of the inhabitants, during the winter, obtained their supplies from the stores (on Sir John Coldwell's manor I suppose) at the river De Loupe, where they transported their grain for payment in "carryalls."
So soon as the Boundary Line is settled this whole country must become of great importance in many respects. Its resources for timber and agriculture are unbounded. The extent of its internal navigation and its forming the point of union between the Canadas, New Brunswick and the United States, give to it a relative value, and it is quite impossible to form any estimate of what will be the future extent of its population, its wealth or its trade.
I would not have dwelt so long upon a part of the Province which may by the ignorance and short sighted policy of the mother country, eventually form a part of the neighbouring confederation, were it not necessary to our forming a faint idea of the small part lately awarded to us, and also of the benefits the whole country must derive from it, and I have, to favor conciseness, thrown in here what I thought it necessary to add, relative to its present situation, though it be somewhat irregular.
In addition to the large settlements of Jackson and Richmond, others are forming on the Little and Big Presq'uisle, and in various parts of Kent below the Restook, and the time cannot be far distant when this whole tract undisputed, will be covered with an industrious population; two small settlements in Kent, the location of the Pekaguimick(sic) and some twenty families of Novascotians, from Parrsboro', back of the lower part of Brighton, constitute the only settlements upon the east side of the river. There are eight or nine merchants and traders in these Parishes below the Falls, and I think several young men might get gain by buying and selling in addition to the present number. The population of the county and their increasing trade in produce is considerable, and notwithstanding lumber daily becoming scarce, still large quantities are annually made, and by the future clearance of difficult and rocky streams, hauling from a distance not previously practical, the ordinary supply must continue for some time, without taking into account the excellent timber now growing on the disputed territory.
Nothing particular could be said of the present location of Stores as they depend upon various circumstances; the merchants sometimes finding it profitable to change their residence. The mouths of a number of large streams and creeks which from their capability of supporting settlements and working mills must not only be scites of mercantile and other establishments of villages, and in some instances large towns. A very brief enumeration may be necessary. The Restook, called by the Americans Aroostic, is the noblest of all the tributaries of the Saint John, so great at its mouth that a stranger would with difficulty distinguish it from the parent river; it rises in the disputed territory and flows upwards of one hundred and sixty miles through a tract of most fertile land to its discharge. Canoes may be poled nearly the whole distance, the extent of its boat navigation is at present unknown. In part from observation and the most correct information; I am certain, with the clearing out of the shoals it would float a steam boat for fifty miles above its falls without any difficulty. Throughout that whole extent there is not a rapid — it is the most serpentine river I have ever seen, and it is said the distance of sixteen miles may be shortened by a canal of three — one thing I know that in going up it we had the wind, blowing from the same point, directly on our bow and our stern in the lapse of four hours. From the mouth to the falls, a distance of about four miles, the waters are broken by rapids the most dangerous I ever passed over.
The Falls have a beautiful appearance — after dashing over series of cataracts, forming numerous eddies for the space of half a mile, the waters being contracted between two large ledges of rocks rolls over a perpendicular height of three or four yards in one perfectly smooth sheet. From the falls up, the river generally retains a width of almost twenty five rods, the waters appear still, but my guide assured me the polling was very heavy below. The upper half of the river is said to be much broken with rapids and rocks. For the first fifteen miles the lands are similar to the highland above the Grand Falls, then you meet the rich deep intervale which extends with little interruption to its source, and the back lands at the distance of from one quarter to a mile from the river rise to their ordinary level. Never having before seen such extensive alluvials in their natural state, though I have their appearance upon my minds' eye, I cannot convey any idea of them adequate or satisfactory. In some places you could see the fat blue sandy mould six feet from the stream, in others the long grass was washed by the water; the description of trees was various, but mostly of hardwood, consisting chiefly of butternut, elm, and ash, with the solitary spruce and the pine rising one hundred feet. The growth of the wood was beyond comparison the most luxuriant I ever saw, the under wood was rank, these and the Islands with which the river abounds, resembled as many Parks more than any thing else I could assimilate them to. Large herds of cattle might graze upon these lands, which the spring freshets must overflow from six to twelve feet. I cannot omit mentioning that after leaving the falls, I saw in the distance of near thirty miles only three ledges of rocks on the shore.
There are at present two settlements, besides a few straggling inhabitants; the first commences about five miles above the falls and continues for six or seven, the next or upper commences nearly ten miles above the lower, and continues eight or ten. The inhabitants, with few exceptions, are refugees or runaways from the interior of New-Brunswick or Maine, who think themselves subject neither to the requirements of the law or milder duties of the gospel. There are some good clearances and the respectable portion of them have fine farms. Numerous large streams flow into this river and it is some what singular that in the distance I navigated a small brook or rivulet was seldom to be seen. Mr. Fairbank, a very intelligent American, and a sort of general Agent for Maine, has erected an excellent saw mill on the Presquish, a large stream falling into the Restook, twenty eight miles from its confluence with the parent river. As he was a native of Kennebec (so much talked of by our neighbours) among a variety of questions I propounded to him, his answer to that relative to the climate is worthy of remembrance, having too general an application, "the difficulties of the climate," (said he) "is a mere bug bear, I can raise fruit, grain, or vegetables of any description, and of as good a quality here, as easily I could upon the Kennebec, and I have lived here long enough to form a correct opinion; but there is a disorder, in some members epidemical — the only disorder we are subject to, which is the cause of all the objections to the climate — I mean laziness; it is impossible for a man who sleeps till the sun drives him from bed, either to put in his crop or harvest it in season, and I have always noticed that man's cattle would suffer before spring, who, during the haying season was not only continually running to the house to light his pipe, but remained for hours to smoke."
The fact of the authorities of Maine having explored a strait and level road from Houlton to Fish River, a stream falling into the Saint John, five miles above Baker's, is only confirmatory of what I have said relative to the quality of the soil in dispute. Little or no pine timber has ever been floated down the Restook, which leads us to suppose that the chances for lumbering are great, no question of this, but I am informed the quantities, though exceedingly great, have been greatly exaggerated, the country being mostly hard wood. I have considered it necessary to say thus much relative to the extent and resources of this great river, in order to form some estimate, not only of the value of the land in dispute, but of this little portion at its mouth, acknowledged to belong to the Province. The advantages of settlements upon the Restook are so great that as soon as the Boundary question is disposed of, the whole of its vast valley will be instantaneously filled with inhabitants, that being the case all the timber, and for some time every other description of produce must pass through to the Saint John, the evident and immediate consequence of which will be a town at the mouth and another at the Falls, a mile or so below where the line will cross, provided brother Jonathan gets the country. I think this must be the situation of the largest town above Fredericton, the means of its support have been hinted at; if we get the country the natural flow of every thing produced in the vicinity of the river and tributaries, must be here.
The adaptation of the falls for all kinds of machinery must draw a great trade; and should the line be decided in favor of the Americans, they will be compelled to get the most of their goods this way, and to sell their produce let them do their best in making turnpikes or railways, they will find it more advantageous to clear out the river, and in spite of them the trade is forced down to this part. There is little doubt but a goodly portion of the timber will be bought and brought to market by our own people; under all these circumstances I am not at all surprised Mr. Fraser should be so choice of his land at the mouth and about the Falls; in addition to the Restook trade a town on this site must command a great trade from the borders of the Saint John. The Woodstock people forgetting what their settlements were seven years ago, doubtless would jeer at my supposing the spot of ground where two huts stand, capable of exceeding all their sanguine expectations of future imaginary grandeur; but much of the trade of Woodstock can be diverted from it by means which time and the natural growth of the country will call into action, whilst the art of man, exercised to its utmost, may then be something far beyond the result of my most diligent enquiries, cannot draw off the trade which will centre at and near the mouth of the Restook — nature will force it there.
The Tobique, the next river worthy of mention, rolls its tribute into the Saint John, three miles below the mouth of the Restook. It is navigable upwards of sixty miles for flat bottom Boats, which derive their name from this stream. It has its source among unexplored swamps and lakes some sixty miles farther in the interior.
The quality of the soil it waters is varied. Some large quantity of Intervale are observable, together with many tracts of excellent upland; but hitherto from the excellence of its Pines and the facilities for driving, afforded by its numerous tributaries, it has been chiefly the resort of the lumber man. The first Red Pine Timber brought from the Tobique was floated down by the Indians in round logs, and from its similarity to that brought from the Baltic, was called Norway Pine. Since then immense quantities of Red and White Pine have been annually taken to market from it and its branches, and yet, I am told, you may see from the lofty mountains which lie near the stream, millions of acres of tall, straight Pine, varying in size from a common bean pole to the diameter of twelve inches. But one person has as yet settled upon the River. The resources of the Tobique in addition to the abundance of its Pines, are great. Lime, freestone, gypsum, and slate, have been found in its course, in some places in great abundance.
The land lying on both sides of its mouth is reserved for the Indians, upon the upper bank of which they have erected a small number of bark huts and a wooden Chapel. For five or six miles below, a large, flat tract has been occupied and improved by white settlers, who must either loose their improvements or become tenants to the Indians, the sure consequence of which is that numbers of large families raised there, must be driven houseless and poor from the country. Their first settlement on this land cannot be defended upon any principles; and if the Indians would only improve it themselves, then these men might with reason be forced to commence the world anew, but to compel a number of settlers to abandon their country, (I conclude from other assimilated cases Restook would bring them up,) and allow many thousand acres of excellent land bordering on the river to grow up into bushes, when the present location of the Indians on the other side of the stream would answer their purposes for a transient habitation, and large tracts of wilderness lands more adapted to hunting might be given them in exchange at the head or on the branches of the stream, to say the least, it is a hardship, and this must be the eventual election between two evils.
The great distance of the market, and the scarcity of money will render the collection of even a moderate rental impossible, and I am deceived even if the law expences incurred in the prosecuting the exchequer suits brought against them for the recovery of their rents, will not in part have to be paid from the public funds, they have large stocks of cattle it is certain, but the Sheriff could very quickly inform the officers of the crown of the impossibility of seizing them, and if he be deceived himself into the idea that they could be levied upon, he would find all either driven beyond the lines or so secreted as to render their detection impossible. The proceeds of the sales of this land to the occupants at a fair price might be well applied to the improvement of the condition of the Indians, and the present unsettled situation and future prospects of this whole River are well adapted to the carrying into effect any general system for their amelioration. Their present encampment, together with the advantages it offers for hunting, fishing and farming, might, under proper management, be the means of leading them by successful gradations to perfect civilization in the immediate vicinity of a respectable Town, which the capabilities of the Tobique lead us to suppose must eventually grow up upon its lower bank.
27 October 1832
Presq'isle over which the great road to Canada crosses by an excellent bridge, falls into the Saint John almost eighty miles above Fredericton on the west side of the river; it rises in Maine and runs through a tract of the first quality of upland, only eight miles depth of which belongs to the Province. The central situation of this stream, its advantages for mills and settlements must attract to it a large population, and the future consequence of which must be the building of a town at its mouth — so sensible was the government of the importance of this place, that during the war a military post was established there.
The Salmon River falling into the Saint John seven miles below the falls, and just forcing itself into the notice of the lumber man, is a rapid and rocky stream, though it has been poled eighteen miles — the country through which it runs is mountainous, comprising some very good land.
The little Presqu'isle, the Mainquat, the two Chicktahawks, both Goozigurts, the Moonack, the Little River and a number of other inconsiderable streams falling into the Main River in different parts of three Parishes will work machinery to any extent, and must eventually draw to them population and wealth. Many of them turn a few common grist and saw mills at present, and the machine upon the Little Presqu'isle for sawing shingles is something new in this country. I forgot to notice that the Pickaguimick, a river emptying itself near forty miles below the Tobique, on the same side, is partially settled for many miles and skirted with some good intervale. Every one knows that the most of these streams contribute their proportion of white and yellow pine timber.
Nature seems to have formed the Portage of the Grand Falls as the future scene of much business, its advantages as a stopping place need no comment; the point of land at the turn of the river is sufficiently large for the building of a town, the landing on either side is good there being a large bay both above and below. The stillness of the water flowing so nearly to and from the cataracts is somewhat surprising; the strip of flat land lining both sides form excellent slips for the landing of boats, and at present, the sight of some half dozen boats and canoes with flour and goods, together with a noisy lumberer and a few Frenchman cooking their dinners, is cheering in the woods. The ascent to the hill may, by proper management, be made gentle for a little expence. The trade of the upper country must principally flow there and if the river be navigated by steam it being on the immediate road to Quebec will be of great importance — the hindrance of the falls to navigation I am inclined to think has been greatly overrated; the formation of a canal, however practicable, is not required, here the boats coming up or down the river may stop, load, unload and return.
The propriety of bridging the river a little below the grand pitch is worthy of consideration, it will be free from disturbance by ice, water, or timber; the aperture is narrow in appearance, not exceeding forty feet, the foundation of a solid rock is sure and steadfast; the great benefit to the whole country is evident, more particularly if the Americans get any part of the disputed territory. The practicability of erecting mills at the cataracts seems now to be admitted. This situation at present, I think, would pay an industrious man well; he might do something in trade, a proper conveyance for good canoes and boats (though they generally have boats on each side) at a reasonable price for carriage, would yield him something handsome, and a good and respectable public house would induce travellers to visit the country and the falls from motives of curiosity. The present House of Entertainment is kept in one of the old buildings formerly used when a garrison, a French family are occupants.
Being compelled to stay there one night I will mention the accommodations and treatment as a warning to future travellers (for you will find several comfortable stopping places four or five miles further up) they were kind, but that alone is poor eating for a hungry man, they were so much in want of provisions that without doing violence to their own feeling and wants, they would not permit you to join the children in diving among the peas in the soup for the small bone they substituted for meat, fortunately for me there was milk in the house, which, together with some Biscuit I had in my pocket, satisfied the craving of nature. When the old wife pointed me to a bed in the garret, she with some degree of earnestness exclaimed, "there's no fodder dare." I soon found there was nothing else but slats, and I passed the night anxious only for the return of morning, the whole violence of a northwester bearing upon the peak of my nose, depend upon it having once passed through this purgatory, I took good care never to try it again.
The scenery upon this part of the Saint John and its branches is varied. In some places the stupendous works of nature are exhibited, in others the eye is enraptured with a modest but truly picturesque and beautiful landscape; the long strips of intervale and continuous skirtings of flat upland which the turns of the river disclose, are finely flanked with a rich growth of umbrageous trees. At one time Moose Mountain seems expectedly to stop up the whole channel of the river. From the Restook to the Grand Falls the scenery is very different, the shores are bold, the wildness of the lands and the noisy rapids give it a truly wicked and imposing appearance, the coming down the rapid Defarm at sunset or the Little River rapids at night, is no joke — a fellow thinks more about drowning or at least ducking himself than contemplating the wonderful works of nature.
The Grand Falls, the only magnificent scenery known to travellers, have been so often described that I am happily relieved from any diminution of their grandeur by a faint allusion to the prominent cataracts. A large basin above receives the whole waters of the Saint John before they are contracted to the narrow and rocky chasm from which they are dashed down a precipice of near fifty feet with tremendous impetuosity — they continue to rush over several other small ledges forming numerous eddies till their final emptying into the lower basin a fine sheet of apparently still water. The River appears at some time or other to have forced itself through the solid rock, its course from the grand pitch to the still water is somewhat circuituous; the rocks on either side are high and the aperture narrow. Within a few years the falls have changed, a stone which now shoots the water up finely has been thrown down by the violence of the stream — the roaring is deafening. Nothing is seen coming down the river but a smoky mist continually rising up, but its appearance indicates the occurrence of something wonderful.
A sight of the Restook Falls, and of the Tobique narrows, one of the most extraordinary phenomena of our country is worth the ride of a few miles. — The Pyramids of Egypt have engaged the pen of the Historian and enlivened the song of the Poet. The Plaster Rock of Tobique is known only to the Indian and the lumberman — the former is a proof of the ingenuity, industry and wealth of the ancients, the latter a manifestation of the mighty power of Jehovah; rising from a quadrangular base to the distance of 250 feet from the water which washes its foundation, its sides are curiously worked with regular courses of red stone, interlaced with white plaster; it is in form an obelisk; a few daring fellows have, at the risk of their lives, clambered up the back side of it but one gaze to the earth from its top defies repetition; the red stone taken from its sides is equal in all respects to good red chalk. — Mars Hill has become notorious from its connection with the North Eastern Boundary. In a fair day, a peep from the log hog pen (commonly called the Monument) upon its summit amply repays the travel of a few miles through the level woods, and the ascent of its side by a proper approach from the upper hill only prepares one for the rest he will assuredly take on its top; to me the view was most magnificent. It was autumn, the whole country beneath appeared one sheet of rich velvet sprinkled with gold. To the south east side the lofty Kathardines(sic) covered with snow, to the east and north, the cloud capt mountains of Canada, the windings of the Saint John, with the clearances and buildings were visible for many miles — the Houlton Plantation was clearly discernible — the intermediate country waved beautifully under our feet; looking upon this wide wilderness through the long vista of future years, what scenes does it disclose, when the valley of the Saint John, and the many noble rivers flowing into it shall be covered with an independent, an enterprising, a wealthy population — when the perpetual haunt of the fox and the bear shall be inhabited by civilized man.
The improvement of this part of this district though great of late must become still greater. The difficulties of making a lodgment in the woods have been surmounted and the disadvantages under which the first settlers laboured are unknown to this generation. The original inhabitants who were mostly soldiers, some of dissolute habits, all ignorant of the best mode of subduing the forest, were able to do little more than provide present subsistence for their families. Many have died or removed, and their clearances have been bought and improved by a new race of settlers, mostly natives of the lower counties, those who survive are generally at this time habituated to the soil and the climate, the children of others have from their infancy handled the axe; those are the main causes of the rapid improvement made here within the last few years, and they contain the germ of further and greater improvement within themselves; the old log houses are daily giving place to more commodious habitations; the soil is excellent and the roads being in general better than in the back parts of what in the division will form the County of York, induce the young adventurer to prefer an allotment, under such circumstances, than one further down the river.
It may seem singular that the roads (I mean the bye and cross roads) should be better here than below; it is a fact, and the cause is two-fold, the land is more level. I walked some twenty miles in the Parishes of Brighton and Kent, and I found the road along the margin of the river one continuation of flats, in many parts as good as Fredericton, and others a fair waggon-road — the other cause is from the extent of our county, and its limited share of the Provincial money, the inhabitants have generally supposed they were not as liberally dealt with by the members who lived below, as their more immediate neighbours; the consequence of which was, to satisfy their grumbling in some measure, they have had more than their share. This inconvenience will shortly be remedied by the division of the County, (an act for this purpose having been passed in the winter of 1831, and only waits the Royal assent to go into operation) in every respect except a direct representation, for which they must wait till another general election. By this bill the county of York is divided into two parts by a line drawn from Eel River through the Parishes of Woodstock and Northampton to the Counties lying upon the Gulph shore.
This whole extent of country possessed of such statistical qualifactions by the liberality, knowledge, justice, righteousness, equity, patriotism and generosity of the Representatives of the people is to send one whole Member to represent them. The population can fall little short of Sunbury and Queen's united, and it possesses the means of supporting a greater population than four such counties; the increase is unparallelled in the history of the Province of New Brunswick: one tavern keeper alone (the most usual place of resort) counted at his own shop near one hundred sleds with families moving to these extensive Parishes during the last winter, and almost every boat that goes up contributes its proportion. As the county becomes known the ratio of increase will be greater by emigration particularly from the older settled parts of the river; young men rising up find it more to their advantage to go there and obtain a lot of land sufficient for themselves and their future families, than to remain either tenants about home or to satisfy themselves with their share in the general division of their father's estate. The persons under the latter circumstances, by sale of their patrimony to their brothers or neighbours, are furnished with the means of buying new farms of far greater extent and equal in quality, though their own might have been intervale. The establishment of a few such little societies induces others to join, who under any other circumstances would never have left home, and in a short time they find themselves among their own people; these are only some of the means of the improvement of the upper country.
If the Legislature in apportioning the representation of the new County, considered the old census any guide, they manifested great ignorance (I will say inexcusable) of the real state of the County. It is no argument to say that Carleton shall have but one Member because Kent and Gloucester have but one each — if wrong is done to one county, don't as a corollary injure another. It does so happen that there is no analogy; any man in his senses acquainted with their situation, would not give the Parish of Woodstock (least of all in extent) for the whole County of Kent; and the County of Gloucester, with its great resources, is a mere slough to Carleton. A friend of mine lately informed me that he waded for miles in the mud going up to the Bathurst Court; and I certainly was amused when in the lobby of the Assembly I heard the worthy delegate of the last mentioned County reading a petition from the inhabitants praying (what should be granted) an increase of representation; stating among other things equally amusing the number of its villages. Had I imitated him I should have called the collection of buildings near Bowyer's(sic) Meeting House in Wakefield (which I did not notice at all) a town at once.
The very bisection of York was of itself a grievance. Its extent, its population, and its resources required something like fair dealing from the united wisdom of the Province. The River De Chute (or a line drawn from Mars Hill through the river De Chute) should have formed the lower boundary of a third county; and then the river front of Carleton would have been fifty miles, and of the new County to be made by this arrangement thirty; and from the course of the boundary line the number of square miles would be about equal, with the whole of the great River Tobique in the latter to compensate the want of front on the St. John exclusive of any estimation of the territory in dispute, and its value to the upper part under any decision is incalculable.
I will only mention in this hurried statement one of the objections made to a further division of old York; the want of material for civil officers in the upper County; that is the kind of timber I alluded to in a former part of this letter in Woodstock; — enough could be found to fill all the offices somewhere; I never yet knew an office in York worth a groat a day that went begging. So numerous are the government paupers that they generally take good care to apply. But the objection of awful weight, unfortunately for those who make it, is entirely futile. A Justice can be found in the part of Kent in question better (yes, I say better) qualified for Chief Justice of the Common Pleas than is to be found in any of the others. Better would it be for the Members from the lower parts of the Province who oppose this to speak out plainly, "we have the majority and we will keep it; we preponderate in the representation and we intend to as long as possible;" unfortunately for us the event of every election only contributes to the furtherance of their ends. The present meagre division may do something in this way to break the spell. In the mean time we only live in hope.
I had forgotten to make one observation upon this Bill of Rights in relation to the Shire Town. Certainly this is worthy of serious consideration — time fails me to enter into the question of the erection of the County Building in Woodstock, the present population appears to me a very weak argument in its favor. The lands in the neighbourhood of the Presqu'isle being equally good to support population; and its centrality is obvious, however the certainty of a further division of the County at no very remote period being evident, it is worthy of consideration whether the part of the County which will likely form the new County, being set off into a certain number of Parishes, and the inhabitants only compelled to pay a sum equal to annual rent for the building, rather than a general heavy taxation, to support the grandeur of Woodstock, would not be more just; and should their location remain in the latter place, it is to be hoped no undue, no private influence will be allowed to remove them for(sic) the immediate banks of the Madusnikik, a mile further up to the Jackson corner; this would be loosing the argument of present population and business to bring them to that part of the county and then in future to remove them.
1. Published serially in the New Brunswick Courier, Saint John, New Brunswick, issues of 22 Sept., 29 Sept., 6 Oct., 13 Oct., 20 Oct. and 27 Oct. 1832.
2. Capt. Jacob Smith.