Archives provinciales du Nouveau-Brunswick

Fort Havoc (Wallace Hale)

Info Le langage employé dans les textes est celui utilisé par Wallace Hale. Les documents dont les Archives provinciales font l’acquisition ne sont pas traduits de la langue dans laquelle ils ont été produits.

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Early Legislation




After the close of the war of 1812 the House of Assembly, possibly in a spirit of thankfulness, made a considerable number of grants in aid of the erection of churches in various parts of the province. The old parish church of Woodstock was remembered to the extent of a grant of £150 towards its completion and improvement. The sum of £300 was also voted the St. John river Indians to assist them in making settlements and improving the land. February 15, 1814 — the House of Assembly passed the following important resolution.

"Resolved that the Executive Council be requested to appoint a committee to meet a committee of this House for the purpose of preparing an humble petition to His Royal Highness the Prince Regent praying that when a negotiation of peace shall take place between Great Britain and the United States of America, His Royal Highness will be graciously pleased to direct such measures to be adopted as he may think proper to alter the boundaries between those States and this Province so that the important line of communication between this and the neighbouring province of Lower Canada by the River St. John may not be interrupted."

The legislature again directed its attention to the roads and bridges of the province, voting £850 for the general line of highway on the west side of the river from French Village to Presque Isle.

Gen. Sir Geo. Stracey Smyth's term as Lieut. Governor was marked by frequent conflicts with the House of Assembly on the question of prerogative. He is however to be gratefully remembered for his earnest efforts to advance the education of the people of New Brunswick, and it was largely through his exertions that the Madras system was generally introduced — a system which has in turn been replaced by more modern methods but which nevertheless in its day filled a great want in the community.

In 1816 sums of money were appropriated for improving the navigation of the Upper St. John at Chapel Bar, Bear Island Bar, Meductic Falls, Feroe's Rocks, Bett's rocks and the White rapids. The sum of £1,000 was voted at the same session for the purpose of encouraging emigrants from Great Britain and Ireland by paying their passages or as expedient. It was in consequence of this that John Mann and his brother Scotch emigrants came to New Brunswick as already detailed in these articles. The great failure of the harvests in 1816 and 1817 has already been mentioned as also the efforts of the legislature to relieve the consequent distress. The sum of £6,000 was voted for the province at large of which 1,200 was reserved for York (then including the Upper St. John region). The journals of the House of Assembly show that in 1816 steps were taken to lay out a road from Woodstock to a new settlement called Richmond. Thomas G. Cunliffe had much to do with the laying out of this road which was for many more years but little better than a bridle path in summer time. There are many references in the journals from 1816 and onward to the newly established "military settlements" on the Upper St. John to which we have already referred in a former article.

February 5, 1819:-- Governor Smyth in his speech at the opening of the legislature said: "The abundant crops of the last harvest have revived the drooping spirits of the farmer. Our roads are greatly improved and the communications between several principal sections of the province have been much facilitated and rendered more commodious by the establishment of military and other settlers on parts before in a wilderness state."

The Assembly continued to promote legislation to encourage the setlements of emigrants in the province and not without seeing gratifying results. At the session of 1819 Mr. Fraser presented a petition of the Trustees of schools in the parish of Woodstock praying aid towards defraying the expenses of building a school house. At the same session a vote of £40 was made towards a road to the Jackson Settlement. The progress of different sections of the present up river counties can be traced in the journals of the House of Assembly by the grants made in aid of schools, churches, roads and bridges, but it would be tedious to enter into these things in detail.

A measure promoted by Lieut. Gov. Smyth and the Executive Council in 1819 brought the governor and his advisers into ill odour with the House of Assembly and with the people at large. This measure was the imposition of a tax of a shilling per ton on pine timber and the issuing of positive orders forbidding the cutting of timber save under sanction of the Lieut. Governor. The reason advanced for this proceeding was "The great and unwarranted destruction committed in His Majesty's woods in New Brunswick."

The House of Assembly made a very spirited remonstrance to the measure as highly injurious to the trades of the country and stated that they conceived the instructions alleged to have been received from the British government could never have been intended to lay direct tax upon one of the staple commodities of the province but only intended to prevent the wanton destruction of pine trees fit for naval purposes which object could be carried out without injury to the numerous classes employed in manufacturing and shipping timber to the mother country.

There can be no doubt that the idea of Lieut. Governor Smyth in wishing to conserve the pine forests of New Brunswick was a praiseworthy one but he was too much of a martinet in office to conciliate the Assembly and the quarrel between them became more and more acute. At the close of the session the governor dissolved the house. The settlers on the upper St. John were keenly interested in this controversy as they believed their prosperity depended upon being allowed the fullest liberty to cut as much timber as they were inclined to. The county naturally progressed rapidly as a result of the timber trade but it is impossible to do otherwise than deplore the prodigal fashion in which the pine was wasted in the early days of the province.

The speech of the Lieut. Governor at the opening of the legislature in 1820 shows that each year the trade carried on upon the river St. John had been increasing and there was now required every attention to the improvement of navigation by forming towing paths and removing obstructions. On the lower St. John steamboats were running but people had scarcely come to believe in the possibility of their ever reaching Woodstock and tow boats and towing paths were regarded as the great desideratum. Emigrants continued to arrive from the old country in large numbers and often in so destitute and distressed a condition that emigrant societies were organized for their relief.

Feb. 17, 1820, the House of Assembly voted £3,000 for the encouragement of raising wheat on new lands. Many new settlements were being laid out for emigrants by deputy surveyors George West. Adam Allen, Geo. Morehouse, J. A. McLauchlan and others. The harvests during the years 1818, 1819 and 1820 were very abundant. In 1821 there began the agitation for the division of the County of York which was not accomplished until more than ten years later.

March 1, 1823, Moses Shaw's petition was laid before the House of Assembly in which he asked for assistance to enable him to make a tunnel at Grand Falls for the more easy and safe conveyance of timber from the upper part of said river. Mr. Shaw had formerly a saw mill at Lepreau on the site where Alexander Gibson afterwards began his famous career. After moving up the river St. John he advertised his former property for sale. His advertisement is a singular production and concludes as follows:—

"Wanted a partner to help on with the mills at the Restook and Grand Falls. Having made application to several enterprising characters on this subject the subscriber is determined to accept of any person God sees fit to send with about £500 in goods and cash. As the gear is made and the frame out for one double mill she can be built and ready to cut by 1st September and can square 1000 tons timber and cut 200,000 deals which may be brought to market by the fall rains. All is stopt for want of means. When viewing the situations there is no man of erudition but what will be highly pleased as they are the best stands for mills in all this part of America.
Whatever is done must be done soon."

21 June 1823.
At the following session of the Assembly Messrs. Wm. Peters, Samuel and Wm. Wilmot petitioned for a loan of £2,000 for the purpose of enabling them to cut a canal through the Grand Falls for the purpose of sluicing the timber and other lumber in safety from above the said falls to the river below.

A collector of customs was appointed at Woodstock with the title of deputy-treasurer in the year 1824. The duty collected was chiefly on animals imported from the United States at the following rates, viz., horses £5 each, oxen £1 each, cows ten shillings each. The duty collected on such animals in 1823-24 was £272 showing that there was quite a trade in live stock for those days.

At the suggestion of Hon. Ward Chipman the first census of the province was made in 1824, and we give, below, the figures for the four parishes north of the county of York as it now is, which at that time included the entire upper St. John region:

[It would appear that the "Woodstock" and "Kent" headings were transposed by the typesetter. -RWH]

  Woodstock Northampton Wakefield Kent
Males over 16 267 182 217 645
Males under 16 181 130 276 596
Females over 16 186 133 267 457
Females under 16 179 123 248 597
People of Color 3 0 2 2
Total population 816 568 1010 2297
Inhabited houses 127 89 238 331
Families 139 98 238 331
Houses building 9 5 18 39
Houses uninhabited 3 7 2 21

It will be seen that the total population of what is now the counties of Carleton, Victoria and Madawaska, was in 1824 less than that of the town and parish of Woodstock. Also that the men largely outnumbered the women. Small as were the houses, more than 100 of them were tenanted by two families.


W. O. Raymond


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[Published 11 August 1897]