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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course Research: New Brunswick Ancestors by Althea Douglas, MA, CG(C). The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).
Other Regions, Other Settlers
Upper Saint John River and North-West New Brunswick
The Saint John River was an important military route from the Bay of Fundy to Québec, but from Woodstock to Madawaska, it was wilderness, so in 1791 military outposts were built at Presqu’ile and the Grand falls.
During the War of 1812-1814, when troops were desperately needed in Upper Canada, the 104th regiment left Fredericton in February, “marched” (using snowshoes) the 400 miles to Québec (in 24 days), then on to Montréal and Kingston, 52 days in all. In December 1837, the 43rd light infantry made the same march, in far better weather and over better roads well provided with bridges. 1837 was the year of the so-called Aroostook War with Maine over the ownership of a tract of timberland. The border with the United States and Maine was finally settled in 1842 and since then, the river, between Grand Falls and Edmundston has been the border.
To protect the river route the government was encouraged by Great Britain to allot land to various groups of disbanded soldiers at various times.
A major military settlement was in Upper York County (now Victoria and Carleton Counties) along the river. Linda and Winston Fairly assembled details of one land grant: “1825 Military Settlers Granted Land in the Upper Saint John River Valley,” Generations, Vol. 18, No. 1, Issue 67, Spring 1996, pages 19-21.
In the next volume is another list by Linda Fairly of “Royal York Rangers Disbanded at Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1819.”
Large organization, like the British Army, tend to keep records of everything. In particular, of supplies and rations given out to groups of deserving soldier settlers. Because it was not available on microfilm, I was asked to examine a “British Army Commissariat” book which is now at Library and Archives Canada. Kept from November 1818 through most of 1819, this 86-page ledger is now in MG24 F82, one of many “Nineteenth-Century Pre-Confederation Papers.”
It turned out to be an ongoing record of food, fuel, supplies and implements, distributed to “the Troops, Departments and Military Settlers,” with abstract tables with totals of everything from salt beef to candles and iron hoops.
The lists include groups from the 98th, and 104th Regiments, the New Brunswick Regiment and the Royal West Indian Rangers, all of whom had arrived in the settlement by 1819. There are also a few references to individuals of the 74th Regiment.
Because the lists cover monthly or quarterly distributions, most names are repeated a number of times. The lists serve to place people at a specific place within a fairly narrow window of time. Since wives and children got rations, they are numbered (though not by name), studied sequentially, the lists may indicate the size of the family unit and changes in the unit, as well as changes in the ex-soldier’s status. Such military records, particularly if kept in ledger-books, can turn up in many places, local museums as well as national or provincial archives. They might be indexed under the regiments involved. If you are dealing with a settlement of disbanded soldiers such as Waterloo Corner , commissariat records may be well worth searching out.
The settlement of the “Republic of Madawaska” (that name is a local joke) was unusual in many ways, not in the least because until the border with the USA was finally established by the Ashburton Treaty in 1842, jurisdiction over the region was claimed by New Brunswick, Québec (Lower Canada, Canada East) and the State of Maine (which for much of the time was still Massachusetts). The Madawaska river flows into the St. John River; near its mouth are the rapids known as “Little Falls” (Petit-Sault) where the city of Edmundston is now. Dr. Webster’s Historical Guide informs us that:
When in 1784 it was decided to remove all the French people who were settled at the lower end of the Saint John, an amicable arrangement was made by which they were placed in the Madawaska region. (1947 edition, page 80).
Unlikely as that “amicable” sounds, apparently a great many of the Acadians living around Fredericton and in Kings County were quite happy to leave a region that was English-speaking, Protestant, and where they were surrounded by settlers from Loyalist regiments. Through 1786 and 1787 they moved north, settled around Petit-sault and “a few years later 16,000 acres were granted to eighty families.” The interval land along the rivers was good for farming, and the forests in the rest of the disputed territory made the timber trade a major economic factor.
There was also an exodus of French-speaking families from Québec into New Brunswick, “owing to the exactions of the seigniorial system not only to the Upper St. John but to the eastern shore as well.”
In Madawaska the two French elements, Acadian and Canadian, fused into a single community that was uncertain of the fountain of civil authority. Three governments, those of New Brunswick, Québec, and Massachusetts asserted jurisdiction.
The eight volume, typescript record of Madawaska marriages (1792-c.1940), made by Père Henri Langlois, follows some of these families back into Québec, to older settlements along the Saint Lawrence. Also remember the Drouin and Loiselle marriage indexes.
North East New Brunswick and The Gulf
Gloucester County was cut out of the northern portion of Northumberland County in 1826, and Restigouche County out of the northern portion of Gloucester County in 1839, probably indicative of the growing population in northeastern New Brunswick, lured there by timber and salmon. Dalhousie is the Shire town of Restigouche, Bathurst of Gloucester. As late as 1850 settlement in Gloucester and Restigouche was restricted to a narrow fringe along the sea coast, with Acadians concentrated in the far northeast and along the coast of Chaleur Bay.
Gloucester County includes the Shippegan peninsula jutting out into the Gulf of St. Lawrence and there the economy is based more on the fisheries, cod, mackerel, salmon, lobster and these days, as fish stocks decrease, crab. The population is predominantly Acadian. In other areas where the fishery was important, English-speaking settlers from Scotland, the west of England and the Channel Islands formed small pockets of settlement.
- By the winter of 1836-7, the Douglastown, Bathurst and Dalhousie branch houses of the Glasgow timber merchants Pollok, Gilmour and Company dominated the trade of a vast area and their pre-eminence was challenged only by Joseph Cunard’s enterprise in Chatham.
The Glasgow merchants doubtless account for some of the Scottish arrivals, but look at Plate 54 in Volume I of the Historical Atlas of Canada. It details early settlement, seigneuries, townships, population, and origins of settlers.
As for Joseph Cunard (Sam’s brother) and Chatham, if your people settled around Chatham, look for James A. Fraser, By Favourable Winds: A History of Chatham, New Brunswick (Chatham: Town of Chatham, 1975). James Fraser (1946-1986) was an archivist and adept at searching out documents as well as combing the local newspaper for relevant items. About half the book is devoted to short biographies of residents of Chatham. He is also the author of histories of Douglastown, Loggieville, Caton’s Island, the W.S. Loggie Co. Ltd., 1873-1973, and St. Thomas University.
Travel By Boat
The Gulf is a region where the coastal schooner was considered the normal mode of transportation. Roads and railways came later. Looking at a map of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, it should be apparent that it is easy to sail around Gaspé to Québec City or to Newfoundland or even Pictou or Chéticamp in Nova Scotia, but not easy to get to Halifax much less Saint John. This northeast region looks outward to the Gulf and beyond, not to the provincial capital, or Saint John.
Kent County - Between Mirimichi and Westmorland
Another region slow to be settled was south of the Mirimichi; Kent County was separated from Northumberland in 1826. Today it is almost entirely Acadian country, though a few English-speaking families, descendants of the store and wharf owners, still live in big family homes in a few towns.
- Along the Gulf shore, in Westmorland and Kent counties, settlement was generally confined to the coast and the tidal reaches of the rivers. English-speaking New Brunswickers, and Scottish and Irish immigrants dominated in the Richebucto area, an important, old-established shipbuilding, sawmilling and ton-timber shipping centre.
Inland, settlements only developed after the railway was built. Look in Rayburn for the stations along the CNR: Adamsville, established 1879; Coal Branch Station, PO c.1885-1970; Harcourt, established 1869 when the railway was built; Kent Junction, PO c.1885-1970; Rogersville, settled in 1874.
Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online course Research: New Brunswick Ancestors offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about this course or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at email@example.com
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