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Dictionary of Miramichi Biography

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CAIE, JAMES (1805-1864)

CAIE, JAMES, Chatham postmaster, 1825-64; shopkeeper, agricultural and fisheries secretary, and public speaker; bap. Aberdeen, Scotland, 27 Apr 1805, s/o Robert Shand Caie and Isabella Low; m. 1st, 1834, Barbara Ann Hawbolt, d/o Leonard Hawbolt and Sophie Conrad, and 2nd, 1836, Mary Little Johnston, d/o George Johnston, Chatham hotel keeper; d. Chatham, 3 Nov 1864.

In 1820 James Caie's father, Robert S. Caie, a merchant of Aberdeen, Scotland, his wife, and eight children between six and twenty years of age, crossed the Atlantic and settled at Napan. On 7 October 1825, the day of the Miramichi Fire, James Caie, age twenty, was appointed as the first postmaster at Chatham, and indeed at Miramichi, which was the designation of the office until 1842. In the words of The Gleaner, he was "an obliging and excellent public functionary," always "uniform" and "kind" in his behavior towards the public throughout thirty-nine years on the job.

The postmastership and two abortive attempts, in collaboration with his brother-in-law William Johnston, to establish a "British goods shop" in Chatham, constituted Caie's life's labor, but he pursued numerous other interests and may have made as large a contribution to the improvement of life on the Miramichi in the middle years of the 19th century as any other resident. A lifelong interest in agriculture led him, in 1846, to accept the secretaryship of the eight-year-old Northumberland Agricultural Society. This position soon involved him in serious research and publication as well as routine organizational work. The annual reports which he wrote for the society were published in The Gleaner and distributed in booklet form. These were often chronicles, treatises, and manuals wrapped in one, and when little else of the kind was available to farmers, it would be difficult to believe that they were not influential. During his eighteen years with the society he behaved less like a secretary than like a one-man department of agricultural development.

In 1852 Caie was one of the founding members of the Miramichi Fishery Society, and he immediately accepted the secretaryship of that body as well. Until the end of his life, he did for the fishery what he was doing for the agricultural sector, and always it would seem with the acceptance and respect of the workers in the industry.

Caie's talents were displayed to maximum advantage, however, in the many public speeches which he gave during his lifetime, the texts of several of which were published in The Gleaner. One of the earliest to be reported upon was a stirring, yet thoughtful speech which he delivered at the organizational meeting of the Highland Society in 1841. Remarks that he addressed in 1846 to a "Ladies' Tea Party" of St Andrew's Church have also been preserved, as have the texts of a number of more formal speeches from the late 1840s and the 1850s.

In 1847 Caie delivered the address at the first official meeting of the Miramichi Mechanics' Institute at Chatham, his topic being "The Rise, Progress, and Utility of Mechanics' Institutes." He was easily the favorite and most frequent speaker at meetings of the Chatham mechanics, and after the Newcastle institute opened in 1851 he would sometimes deliver an address to both bodies on different dates. Some of his more ambitious presentations, on topics such as "The Moral Accountability of Man for his Bodily and Mental Condition" (1849) and "The Present Intellectual Condition of Man" (1850), were highlights in the intellectual life of the community and would be recalled as such by his listeners many years later.

Caie made a point of addressing some of his remarks directly to women when there were women in his audience. He did this most conspicuously in 1848 when he went to Napan to speak about agriculture. To the more than 100 men, women, and children who crowded into the schoolhouse to hear him, he announced that he had decided to put his prepared address on agriculture aside because he had things to say that would be of more interest to the women who were present. He took "a deep hold on the affections and respect" of all who heard him that night, and on another date he returned and delivered the promised speech on agriculture.

In the 1820s, Caie was one of Chatham's volunteer firemen. He was a lieutenant in the militia and a parish tax assessor. In 1841 he presided over the annual St Andrew's Day celebrations. He was deeply committed to Presbyterianism and served as secretary of the board of trustees of St Andrew's Church. He was also a leader in the temperance movement, occupying at the time of his death the high office of grand worthy associate of the Sons of Temperance of New Brunswick.

Caie's first wife, Barbara A. Hawbolt, died a year and two days after their marriage. His second wife, Mary L. Johnston, was the mother of ten or more children, a majority of whom survived to adulthood. Among these was George Johnston Caie, a talented student, who was educated at Queen's University and trained for the Presbyterian ministry at the University of Edinburgh. After his ordination he served for a number of years in Saint John, but he returned to Scotland in 1874 and was subsequently the minister in Forfar parish in Angus. Several other members of the Caie family moved to Scotland, including James Caie's widow, who died at Oakbank in Forfar parish in 1891, in her seventy-seventh year.

James Caie also had several exceptionally able and accomplished brothers. One of these was Hugh Arthur Caie, who was manager of operations for Joseph Cunard & Co. at Shippegan and successor to the Cunard interests there when that firm failed. Another was William Shand Caie, a Kouchibouguac shipbuilder and member for Kent County in the provincial House of Assembly.


[bap] LDS-IGI [m] official records [d] Gleaner 5 Nov 1864 / Advocate 1 Jul 1891; Barnes's; Betts (FF) (re. the Rev. G. J. Caie); Caie family data; Facey-Crowther; Fraser (C); Gleaner 22 May 1838, 19 Jan 1841, 7 Dec 1841, 26 Apr 1842, 1 Nov 1842, 13 Dec 1842, 14 Feb 1844, 4 Apr 1846, 15 Dec 1846, 13 Apr 1847, 20 Apr 1847, 1 Feb 1848, 8 Feb 1848, 14 Mar 1848, 18 Apr 1848, 25 Apr 1848, 25 Jul 1848, 26 Dec 1848, 23 Jan 1849, 29 Mar 1849, 10 Apr 1849, 15 May 1849, 11 Feb 1850, 20 May 1850, 27 Jan 1851, 2 Jun 1851, 26 Jan 1852, 1 Mar 1852, 10 Jan 1853, 31 Jan 1853, 28 Feb 1853, 16 May 1853, 21 Jan 1854, 19 Jan 1856, 26 Jan 1856, 3 Jan 1857, 24 Jan 1857, 31 Jan 1857, 23 Jan 1858, 25 Dec 1858, 22 Jan 1859, 29 Jan 1859, 21 Jan 1860, 2 Feb 1861, 1 Jun 1861, 6 Sep 1862, 1 Nov 1862; JHA 1851 (re. post offices); MacManus; NB Almanac & Reg.; Royal Gazette 18 Nov 1835; Telegraph 15 Nov 1864