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Provincial Archives of New Brunswick

Pioneers, Ploughs, and Politics: New Brunswick Planned Settlements

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The First Settlers Early Progress

Bishop Sweeny's Visits
Bishop Sweeny made his first visit to Johnville in September 1862, accompanied by the Rev. James Quinn, of St. Stephen, and the Rev. Thomas Connolly, of Woodstock. After celebrating Mass, the Bishop addressed the people, telling them he hoped that a tavern would never be opened in the settlement. This was perhaps wise, as Carleton County had a strong teetotalling tradition, and such a move would have annoyed many Protestant residents. The Bishop's wish was respected. No tavern was built in Johnville.
When Bishop Sweeny visited his flock in 1866, he brought with him a refined Irish gentleman, John F. Maguire, a journalist and member of the British Parliament. Sweeny and his guest left Saint John by steamer for Fredericton on 25 October, where they caught the stage to Woodstock, continuing on to Johnville by carriage. The total distance travelled was more than 200 miles. Land travel was a bumpy undertaking in the mid-19th century, and the route from Fredericton to Johnville was no exception. For the Bishop, one of the trip's highlights was travelling on the newly-constructed "corduroy" or log road leading into the settlement. Maguire, however, did not share his travelling companion's enthusiasm. In his book The Irish in America, published in 1868, Maguire recalled this experience:

The Bishop was, as I thought, unnecessarily enthusiastic in his praise of the new road, which, I must confess, I thought altogether fatal to personal comfort, and in the last degree trying to the safety of the springs of our vehicle, though the carriage had been specially adapted to meet such trifling contingencies as deep ruts, profound hollows, occasional chasms, with an abundant variety of watercourses roughly covered over logs, not always matched with the nicest care.**

Only slightly worse for wear, Sweeny and Maguire arrived at the settlement, which in 1866 boasted nearly 160 houses, a number of improved lots, and no fewer than 600 residents. Both men were pleased with the progress being made, and they left with the impression that the Johnville settlement would be a success.
** Quotation taken from The Irish in America by J. F. Maguire, New York : D. & J. Sadlier, 1868, p. 52.


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