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Dictionary of Miramichi Biography

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MERSEREAU, GEORGE WILLIAM (1852-1922)

MERSEREAU, GEORGE WILLIAM, school inspector and military officer; b. Blackville, 9 Jul 1852, s/o George Mersereau and Elizabeth Bamford; brother of Jacob Young Mersereau; m. 1873, Mary Elizabeth Cowperthwaite, a native of Upper Gagetown, N.B.; d. Doaktown, 19 Aug 1922.

Like other bearers of his surname in New Brunswick, George W. Mersereau was of Huguenot, Loyalist, and St John River ancestry, his grandfather having migrated from Maugerville to the Southwest Miramichi early in the 19th century.

Mersereau attended local schools and began to teach in 1869, at age seventeen. Later he studied for a term at the Baptist Seminary in Fredericton, and in 1873 he won the Northumberland County scholarship to the University of New Brunswick. He took the BA in 1876, wrote the required examinations for a grammar school teacher's license, and was appointed principal of the grammar school at Bathurst. He was most successful in the position and held it for seven years.

In 1883 Mersereau was appointed school inspector for York County, but when Philip Cox resigned as inspector for Northumberland, Gloucester, and Restigouche counties in the fall of 1884, he was transferred to that inspectorate, "mainly because of his knowledge of the French language." He announced at the beginning that he would be living in Newcastle, but he soon established a home for himself and his family at Doaktown. When he was appointed an inspector he was also made a provincial educational examiner. He continued his own studies and in 1891 was granted an MA degree by UNB. At this time he was occupying a seat on the university senate.

For thirty-one years Mersereau travelled constantly throughout his large inspectorate visiting schools, assisting teachers, and compiling reports. In 1896, when he was forty-four years old, he was still making his summer visitations to remote districts on a bicycle and his winter calls on snowshoes when the roads were blocked by storms. He always took a lively interest in the teachers' institutes and participated eagerly in the annual meetings.

Mersereau had a noteworthy military career, working his way up through the militia until he was appointed lieutenant colonel and commanding officer of the 73rd Battalion in 1909. He relinquished command to Maj. Howard Irving in 1914, and in 1915 was assigned the task of raising the 132nd North Shore Battalion for overseas duty. For two years he was in command of the 132nd, which was broken up in England and its soldiers assigned to fill vacancies in different fighting units. He returned to Canada in 1917 but later that year went overseas again as commandant of the 2nd Division Infantry Base Depot at Etaples, France. His health failed before war's end, and this was cited as the reason for his retirement in 1919 as school inspector. In the meantime, he was discharged from the military as a colonel.

"A kindly, genial, handsome gentleman," Mersereau played an active part in the Masonic order, the Independent Order of Foresters (of which he was high chief ranger for New Brunswick), and the Baptist church. He and his wife, Mary E. Cowperthwaite, had eight children, including C. Jack Mersereau; Harris C. Mersereau, MC, MD; and Ina Mersereau, the wife of Harry F. McLeod, auditor general of New Brunswick and MP for York County.

Sources

[b] Educ Review, Sep 1896 [m] Bamford Genealogy [d] Advocate 22 Aug 1922 / Advocate 19 Nov 1884, 17 Dec 1884, 17 Nov 1915, 6 Sep 1917; Barry; Bird; Educ. report 1918-19; Leader 16 Jan 1914, 8 Aug 1919, 25 Aug 1922; Whelan (MWM); World 24 Nov 1883, 1 Dec 1883, 17 Mar 1909, 23 Aug 1922, 13 Sep 1922


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