Provincial Archives of New Brunswick

Pioneers, Ploughs, and Politics: New Brunswick Planned Settlements

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St. John Emigrants' Aid Society Bishop Sweeny's Visits

The First Settlers
Hugh McCann and his wife, Jane, are considered Johnville's first residents. They arrived at the settlement site, probably in the fall of 1860, having made the tiresome, three-day journey by riverboat from Saint John. After disembarking, the McCanns dragged their provisions and belongings six miles through the woods behind a team of oxen. Once on their lot, they quickly set to work, building a small log camp or shanty and clearing land for planting crops of potatoes, oats, and buckwheat. Undoubtedly, they felt lonely and isolated during the first few months, their closest neighbours being about two miles away through the forest.
The McCanns, however, were soon surrounded by dozens of pioneer families. Between September and December 1861, approximately 51 members of the Emigrants' Aid Society had their applications for lots approved. More than 125 petitions for lots were received between 1862 and 1869. Many of these applicants were poor. They arrived with few belongings, no pioneer skills, and little or no cash. However, like the McCanns, many of them persevered. After completing all government requirements, which often took a number of years, they received official grants to their land.