Everyday Life

This 'clothes mangle' is a mechanical laundry aid consisting of two rollers in a sturdy frame, connected by cogs, powered by a hand crank. An essential part of everyday life in early New Brunswick! From the Mary Lynn Smith collection.
1800's Birth Chair
1800's Birth Chair Example.


Birth Chairs

From The National Post 6 May, 2000 Patricia Pearson.
Misconceived Medicine Birth Chairs, Midwives, and Medicine.  Amanda Carson Banks. University Press of Mississippi. 

“Before the rise of the medical profession, childbirth was considered a straightforward and natural process, calling for the mother to push and the midwife to catch.  The main ‘device’ was a birth chair or stool, with a crescent-shaped seat about one foot off the ground, which enabled labouring women to push downward while bracing their feet against a hard floor.  Most chairs also had upright handles, like gear shifts, for the women to grip as they were rocked by contractions.”


From Royal Gazette and New Brunswick Advertiser Tuesday May 22, 1787.

WANTED as a Wet-Nurse
A woman with  good breast of milch, that can be well recommended.  Enquire of the printer.


From Colonial Dames and Good Wives, Alice Morse Earle, Riverside Press, Cambridge, Boston, New York, 1895

Page 29

A most marked feature of social life in colonial times was the belleship of widows.  They were quite literally the queens of society.  Fair maids had so little chance against them, swains were so plentiful for widows, that I often wonder whence came the willing men who married the girls the first time, thus offering themselves as the sacrifice at the matrimonial . . .

Page 30

. . . altar through which the girls could attain the exalted state of widowhood.  Men sighed sometimes in their callow days for the girl friends of their own age, but as soon as their regards were cast upon a widow, the girls at once disappear from history, and the triumphant widow wins the prize. 

Another marked aspect of this condition of society was the vast number of widows in early days.  In the South this was accounted for by one of their own historians as being through the universally intemperate habits of the husbands and consequently their frequent early death.  In all the colonies life was hard and exposure was great to carry on any active business, and the excessive drinking of intoxicating liquors was not peculiar to the Southern husbands any more than were widows.

Page 32 and 33

. . . Frequent and speedy marriages were not wholly owing to the exigencies of colonial life, but were the custom of the times in Europe as well.  I read in the diary of the Puritan John Rous, in January 1638, of this somewhat hasty wooing: A gentleman carried his wife to London last week and died about 8:00 p.m., leaving her £500 a year in land.  The next day before noon she was married to the journeyman woolen-draper that came to sell mourning to her.

Page 38

There must have been afforded a certain satisfaction to a dying husband – of colonial times – through the confidence that, by unwavering rule, his widow would be cared for and cherished by another.  There was no certainty as to her ultimate settlement in life, and even should she be unfortunate enough to lose her second husband, he still had every reason to believe that a third would speedily present himself . . . provisions were always made by a man in his will in case his wife married again; scarcely ever to remove the property from her, but simply to re-adjust the division or conditions.  And men often signed ‘ante-nuptial’ contracts promising ‘not to meddle’ with their wives’ property.

From PANB Daniel F. Johnson’s Newspapers
Vol. 1 No. 546 Feb. 13, 1804 Saint John, Saint John.  The Saint John Gazette.

d. England, Robert TUCKER, Soldier, Ashford Barracks, died 4 o’clock morn.  Before 10 o’clock same day, his widow was married to another man.

From Gubbins’ New Brunswick Journals 1811 and 1813 Now Published from the Original Manuscript; Edited by Howard Temperley.  A New Brunswick Heritage Publication – King’s Landing Corporation, 1980.

Page 28

Children constitute the riches of parents and a widow with a large family is caught at as a fortune.


From The Northwest Miramichi by Doreen Menzies Arbuckle.  11978.  Westboro Printers Limited.  Ottawa, Ontario.

In 1832 Thomas Baillie wrote . . . old age and drowning . . . chief causes of death.  Heart failure was termed by the coroners juries in the 19th century as “Death by the visitation of God”.

Drownings occurred because the waterways were were the chief or only means of travel, both in summer and winter.  Ice in spring and fall was treacherous.  There was great activity at mouth of Miramichi, loading and unloading sailing vessels, light craft were easily swamped in squalls. 

When a death occcurred, it was the practice to serve alcoholic drinks to friends and relatives who gathered to pay last respects.  Milner writes that in the early 1800’s liquor was a legitimate charge against the estate of a deceased person when used at a funeral; something exhilarating being deemed proper to revive the mourners at such a depressing occasion.     

From North Along The Shore by Edith Mosher.  Lancelot Press.  Windsor, Nova Scotia.  1975

Page 48

. . . After the fashion of the old times, neighbours came to prepare the Captain’s body for burial.  Two village men did the “laying out” in a downstairs bedroom in Grant’s mansion house, “Loyal Hall” on a knoll above Avon River [Nova Scotia].  And they were surprised to discover on rib cage, abdomen and thighs of body, a network of deep scars.  Sword wounds, admitted Sarah Bergen Grant, the Captain’s widow.  It was then, according to the story handed down . . . that quiet, retiring John Grant had been actively engaged in business of war since his 13th year.


From Canadiana Scrapbook Pioneer Settlement in Canada 1763-1895. Graham L. Brown, Douglas H. Fairbairn.  Prentice-Hall Canada Inc.  Scarborough, Ontario, 1981.

Pages 58-59  The Demon Rum

Reference: Bathurst Courier Feb. 5, 1836.
“With a population of 30,000, there are 65 inns, 6 distilleries, and 35 other shops selling liquor in Bathurst.”

From The Bitter with the Sweet New Brunswick 1604-1984. Mary Peck. Copyright 1983, Tantallon, Nova Scotia.

Page 5

After 1860 liquor was forbidden in all camps.  Only too often before then, the “spree” was all the woodsman had to show for his winter’s work.

Page 7

The amount of liquor the loggers consumed appalled Springer, who wrote . . . “liquor flowed as freely as the waters which bore their logs to the mill.”  He claimed that in 1832, some 450 to 550 woodsmen on the St. Croix River consumed 15,900 litres of “ardent spirits.”  The rise of the Temperance Lodges, however, reduced this consumption considerably.  On the Miramichi, the Dutcher Temperance Reform Movement brought liquor imports down from 44,764 litres in 1876 to 26,330 litres the following year.

Note from Mary Lynn Smith: The Dutcher Temperance Reform Movement in New Brunswick was inspired by visits from Mr. George M. Dutcher, the American temperance reformer.


From Fashion Was Changing Year N.B. Was Born The Telegraph Journal and The Evening Times Globe, Wednesday, December 19, 1984

“Fashion-wise, 1784 was a year of revolution: a time of transition from the stiff formality of the courts to a simpler, busier life . . .

It was a naval era when sailing ships competed for the trade of the world.  Fresh materials flooded the markets: silks and gauzes from the Orient, light cottons from India and America, fine linens from Egypt and Ireland, straw and silk hats from Italy and fur from Canada.  Those linens, cottons, and silks were lighter in texture than any made to-day.   . . .  For the first time, women wore brimmed hats.  Paris led the world in women’s fashion and sent out fashion dolls to prove the point . . . skirts were three to four inches from the floor.  Hoops under skirts had gone out, not to return for another forty years; instead, panniers were used to hold the skirt out at the sides, and so accent a slender waist.  In simple summer dressing, even panniers were abandoned, but the dresses were always fully gathered at the waist . . . fashion grew active and young.”

London was taking over the lead in men’s style.  The young Whig gentry flung themselves into sport.  All coats were split in the back, because men rode.  Knee breeches were tight to the leg, because riding with a wrinkle was no joy.  

Coats did not button in front, lest a man need to reach for his (now mostly theoretic) sword.  Vests did button in front and they were long and brilliant.  Shirts were white and collarless; the neck was covered by stock, wrapped around and tied in a soft bow in front, or for formal wear, a fall of ruffles.  Wrists also sported white ruffles.

Light silks and colors for men had not given way to the blacks, browns, and greys from the smoke of industry resulting from the Industrial Revolution.

From The Life and Times of Sir Leonard Tilley by James Hannay.  Saint John, New Brunswick. 1897.

Page 8

With respect to clothing the people of the rural districts supplied the largest part of it for themselves.  Large flocks of sheep were kept by farmers, their wool was made into homespun by the labor of women of family.  The wool was, in 1818, carded by hand, but, in course of time carding mills were introduced, and women were relieved of this laborious task.  Spinning and weaving, however remained a part of their tasks, no house being without a spinning wheel and few without a loom.  The homespun thus produced was worn by both men and women and was thought good enough for any person.

Page 10 

Ready-made shoes were not to be had in N.B. in the year 1818, and the foot-wear for both men and women were a product of the farm.  The hide of the slain beeve or calf was tanned into leather, and the shoemaker, who like the tailor, was a nomadic individual, did the rest.  There was not much style about the shoes made under this system and ladies with small feet had but little opportunity of displaying their neatness in calfskin shoes . . .


From The Life and Times of Sir Leonard Tilley by James Hannay.   St. John, N.B., 1897.

Page 19

Education was in a very unsatisfactory condition in the Province of New Brunswick in 1818, and it continued in that condition for many years afterwards.

Page 20

If we may judge from the statute book the founders of the Province had very little appreciation for the advantages of education, for no law was passed with a view to the establishment of public schools until 1805.  In that year “An Act for encouraging and extending literature in this Province” was passed under the provisions of which a public grammar school was established in the City of Saint John which received a grant of £100 for the purpose of assisting the trustees to procure a suitable building for school purposes , and also an annual grant of £100 for support of the Master.  The same Act provided for the establishment of County Schools, and the sections relating to them being limited in respect to time were continued to the year 1816 when they expired and were replaced . . . The Act of 1833 which was considered to be a great improvement on former acts, provided for the appointment of 3 school trustees in each parish  . . . and these trustees were charged with the duty of dividing the parishes into districts and directing the discipline of the schools.  They . . .

Page 21

. . . were required to certify once a year to the Lieutenant Governor as to the number of schools in their parish, the number of scholars and other particulars , and on their certificate the teacher drew the gov’t money.  This money was granted at the rate of £20 for a male teacher who had taught school a year, or £10 for a female teacher who had taught one year or £5 for six months, provided that the inhabitants of the school district had subscribed an equal amount for the support of the teacher, or supplied board, washing, and lodging to the teacher in lieu of the money. 


From Atlantic Yesterdays by Roland H. Sherwood, Lancelot Press, Hantsport, N.S., 1978.

Page 19

The speed with which justice in the early days was carried out is brought to light by the penalty to one man, Daniel Cunningham, who, in 1826, shot and killed Constable Freeborn of the Saint John Police Force.  Cunningham was captured, tried, condemned, and hanged on the same day.  And that same swift justice was given a brother and a sister at St. Andrews.  On the same day they were convicted of murder, both were hanged for the deed.

In the early 1800’s the principal instruments of justice in most of the pioneer settlements were the rope, the pillory, the whipping post, and the branding iron.

From PANB – Daniel F. Johnson’s Newspapers
Vol. 1 No. 26 Oct. 10, 1786, York, Fredericton.  The New Brunswick Royal Gazette.

“St. John, Saturday, James COAP & George HEANEY were convicted of burglary on the house of George SPROULE, Esq. Surveyor General and were sentenced to suffer death.”

From Silhouettes The Associates of the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, Autumn 2012, Number 35. Loyalists, land, and the Surveyor General’s Office – Things you discover while looking for something else.   

The Supreme Court Minute books reveal that on October 4th Coap and Heaney appeared and pled not guilty.  They were tried by jury the same day and found guilty.  On October 7th they were sentenced “to be hanged by the neck till their bodies be dead” within the week.  The Royal Gazette of October 17 tells the sad tale: they were executed near Saint John (on Friday the 13th) and “At the place of execution they behaved with propriety and left letters . . . addressed to the public containing matters of confession.”

 “. . . a witness’s statement and a description of the items stolen: a “cheek” of pickled pork, and several bottles of porter . . . burglary was a capital crime at the time.”

From PANB – Daniel F. Johnson’s Newspapers
Vol. 59, Number 499, June 7, 1883, Saint John, Saint John, The Daily Telegraph.

The [Portland] burial ground was opened soon after the foundation of the city in 1783

. . .  Occasionally the descendants of those buried there came to visit, but as there were but few tombstones standing, it was difficult to locate any particular grave . . . In removing the soil, preparatory to building the foundation walls [for a new Roman Catholic Church to be built at the Portland Burial Ground site] a number of graves were opened . . .
Several coffin plates were found intact. To one of these is attached considerable historical interest as the name and age corresponds to a lad who was hanged in front of the old jail in 1828 for the paltry crime of stealing 25 cents from his employer.  The coffin plate bore the inscription Patrick BERGEN / Age 18 – around the neck was a black silk handkerchief . . .
Nearby . . . is a sandstone slab which bears the following inscription: I.H.S./Sacred/To the Memory/of/David CAMPBELL/who departed this life/July 25, 1847/Aged 36 years./Ah! Christians, dear, behold/How in my prime/My precious blood was shed/Without a crime,/The vile assassin’s dagger/Pierced my breast,/And left my aged parents/With grief oppressed. – This stone erected by his mother.


From The Life and Times of Sir Leonard Tilley by James Hannay.   St. John, N.B., 1897.

Page 31

Among the customs of the year 1818, which have now utterly disappeared, was the practice of duelling.  In those days when two men had a quarrel they thought the best way in which to vindicate their honor was for them to stand up and avenge the real or supposed insult by pistol practice at each other.  Duels were quite numerous in New Brunswick 70 years ago, and some of them were fatal.


From Out of Old Nova Scotia Kitchens by Marie Nightingale, Pagurian Press Ltd., Toronto, 1971.

Note From Mary Lynn Smith: Thanks to Marie for the Happiness Cake recipe.  Recipes like this make Everyday Life worth living!

Page 142

Recipe for Happiness Cake: 1 heaping portion of true love, 1 heaping cup of perfect trust and confidence, 1 heaping cup of tenderness (the most tender available), 1 heaping cup of good humour (a little extra won’t hurt), and 1 tablespoon of good spirits (the more spirited the better).


Page 1

They shunned agriculture, preferring the challenging life of hunter and fisherman . . . The search for food necessitated moving about from place to place.  When snow covered the ground living was high, for it was easy to follow the tracks of the moose, caribou, porcupine, and other game.  Beavers were highly prized and the Indians were ever watchful for the tell-tale vapours that revealed the dens of hibernating animals.  In spring the Indians moved to the seashore to dig clams, mussels, and oysters, and with long spears they hunted the wealth of the sea – shad, bass, salmon, and gaspereau, but nothing was enjoyed more than a seal hunt . . .

There were no regular meal hours.  When the Micmacs had meat they feasted until it was gone.  Sometimes they would go days without food, until one of the tribe would bring in a fresh supply.  Again, a day of feasting ensued with all the braves sharing in the bounty.  When their appetites were satisfied, they joined in a dance while the women and children sat down to eat what was left.  Women never ate with the men.  As for fish, says Denys, they roasted it on split sticks which served as a grill, or frequently upon coals, but it had to be wholly cooked before it was eaten . . . For vegetables, there were the wild potato and wild carrot, as well as other roots and plants that grew in the forest . . . blueberries, huckleberries, and cranberries were boiled and shaped into little cakes which were dried in the sun.

Page 3

. . . Sap from the maple tree was sometimes used as a beverage, but the Micmacs also boiled down the sap in earthen pots to make maple sugar cakes which they considered a delicacy . . .

Page 4   

The French

. . . The French colonists from whom the thousands of Acadians were descended came out of France between 1633-1638 . . . they chose to settle along the banks of tidal rivers, building dykes to hold back tides.  The fertile soil reclaimed in this way was cultivated and abundant supplies of wheat, rye, and vegetables were raised  . . .  Wild game was plentiful and streams abounded with fish . . . favoured shad.  Wild fruits and berries were gathered , some of which were dried and stored for winter use.  Strawberries and blueberries especially plentiful.  Every farm had its own orchard, the first apple trees having been brought out from Normandy around 1606 . . . apple cider . . . spruce beer was considered a delicacy and aid to health . . . poultry sheep, and pigs were raised.  Mutton and pork salted away for winter . . . most food was prepared by boiling in large kettles over open hearth.  Soups, chowders, stews      . . . bread baked in large communal outdoor brick ovens.

The English

Page 7

The coming of the English was a unique chapter in the colonization of Nova Scotia, for they were to set up their homes in a planned town.

The British government had, in order to attract settlers, offered free passage, free grants of land, a year’s provisions, farming tools, guns, and ammunition to all who would go to Nova Scotia.  And so, on 21  June 1749, Col. Edward Cornwallis arrived at Chignecto Harbour, soon to be followed by 2500 colonists.

There were hardships of course, for in a wilderness the predominating requirement was hard work.  The first winter was very difficult . . .  Their only food consisted of the government rations of salt meat and hard tack, and thus, without fresh meat and vegetables to sustain their health, they developed typhus.  It is tragic to note that almost one third of the population died . . .

The inns and coffee houses of the day advertised ‘hot mutton pies, excellent beef soup and mutton broth’ . . . 

. . . an entire dinner . . .  at the Nine Mile House in Bedford . . . “Hot turkeys, smoking caribou steaks, reindeer tongues, pickled herrings from Digby, bear-hams from Annapolis, cherry brandy, noyau, and Prince Edward Island whisky” might comprise the meal . . . 

But all of this was only for the elite.  For the poor, and they were many, life was not so gay . . .

The New Englanders

Page 13

There was a constant flow of New Englanders in and out of Nova Scotia for nearly a quarter of a century . . . in the early 1760’s they came by thousands to take up farms left vacant after the expulsion of the Acadians. 

Page 14

On the farms they grew the grains that furnished them with flour and meal.  Wheat, maize, barley, and oats all answered well to the soil, although at first only handmills were available to grind them.  Potatoes and turnips were the first vegetable crops, but second harvest yielded all of the common vegetables – carrots, beans, corn, and pumpkins.  It was then that the traditional New England Thanksgiving Day was established in Nova Scotia, for the pious planters never forgot that “all things come from God.”  . . . They made excellent butter and cheese and found many uses for buttermilk.  Their yeast was homemade , as was their starch, candles, and soap.  The women also the brew-masters of the family and many kinds of wines, including blueberry and dandelion, were stored in the cellars along with their apple cider and spruce beer. 

The Scots

Page 19

After cutting the timber and burning it on the land, the planted potatoes among the stumps and were rewarded with a plentiful return.  In winter they would cut a hole through the ice (often a foot thick) in order to obtain a supply of fish.  They learned to hunt the moose and other game, the meat of which they froze in the snow.

Page 20

. . . but they longed for the oatmeal that is so much a part of Scottish fare . . . With the building of grist mills some years after these difficult beginnings, life changed for the Scots, for now they could have their beloved oatmeal, as well as flour, in abundant supply.  Bread was now something that could be enjoyed at every meal, and the women began to create their reputation for delicious oat cakes . . .

Page 21

. . . no celebration can compare with that of St. Andrews Day, when a great fuss is made over the Haggis.


From Pioneer Profiles of New Brunswick Settlers by Charlotte Gourlay Robinson, Mika Publishing Company 1980

Page 122

When Elizabeth Russel sailed away from the green fields of Ireland that autumn am in 1819, it was the beginning of a great adventure.  A pioneering adventure in New Brunswick, where terror lurked in the deep forests, and loneliness shrouded the isolated homes, but adventure beckoned stout hearts . . .

The little sailing vessel bound for the Miramichi lay in mid-stream, canvas flapping in the wind.  Decks were piled with boxes and bundles, and crowded along the rails, passengers stood anxious eyed and tearful as they waved farewell . . .

. . . staunch little vessels had been sailing across the ocean to Newcastle on Miramichi for almost 50 years before Elizabeth’s time.

Page 123

For Elizabeth Russel one long dreary day followed another.  Nothing but the boisterous Atlantic as far as the eye could see as the vessel plunged through the waves.  Then one evening, when the sun blazed a crimson path across the waters, the banks of Newfoundland rose ahead.  Land at last!  Past the headlands of Cape Breton the little craft sailed.  At long last the Miramichi Bay, with isolated homes strung along the shores.  A strange land and dark, with the deep forests edging the shores all the way up the river to Newcastle . . . But here were little white houses and stores and a military barracks with a slim church spire towering over all.  Wharves were stacked with timber and ships lay alongside.  Traders and woodsmen in deerskin jackets, women, and children crowded onshore to meet the newcomers.

Soon they left the little town with its white houses.  Down a dark forest trail they went to a small log cabin in a clearing.  Tears blurred Elizabeth’s eyes.  So bare, so isolated, not a neighbour for miles.  As the days sped by, somehow she was ashamed of her tears.  Other women had managed to live in the wilderness, and so would she; for here was her home, here was her husband, and here she would stay.

Day after day Elizabeth was alone in the cabin, for John Russel worked in the woods.  Acres of timber had to be cut in that 2,000 sq. mi. of forest . . . Wild animals scurried down the trail to the river at dark.  Indians came silently from the forest and suddenly appeared at the cabin door . . .  She was scared to death but didn’t show it.


From The Bitter with the Sweet New Brunswick 1604-1984. Mary Peck. Copyright 1983, Tantallon, Nova Scotia.


Page 36 The Fisherman – James Henderson

The salmon fishing on New Brunswick’s great wilderness rivers, the Restigouche and the Miramichi, is world-famous to-day.  Early travellers in the province found it equally impressive.  In 1791, Patrick Campbell wrote that on the River Cain, 300 salmon could be taken with a net in a day.

Granted that this story comes to us third-hand, so the size of the catch may well be exaggerated.  But it is obvious that the fishing had to be controlled in some way if the salmon were to survive.

In the late 1700’s local affairs in New Brunswick were supervised by parish officers.  A list of such officers for Northumberland County in 1790 consists of overseers for the poor, a town clerk, constables, a fence viewer, a clerk of the market, surveyors of lumber, assessors of rates, and commissioners and surveyors of roads.

Page 38

Now overseers of fisheries had been appointed.  By 1803 court records reveal that the “Bay River” (probably the Miramichi) and its branches had been divided into seven districts for the purpose of fisheries inspection.  Many men were fined for fishing on Sunday.  Whether this was intended to protect the fish, or to keep the Sabbath holy, we will never know.


Page 7  The Woodsmen

Logging played an important part in opening up New Brunswick.  The forests were the province’s most fundamental resource.  But after 1799, when William Davidson of Miramichi won a contract to supply mast timber from the Upper Saint John River Valley to the British naval establishment at Halifax, the great pines were felled recklessly.  Square timber was the main export until 1830, when steam sawmills began producing such products as deals, planks, and laths.  The lumber industry reached a peak during 1870-1900; it has since declined.


From Pioneer Settlers of the Bay of Chaleur in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries by Margaret M. Hunter. 1978.  The Tribune Press, Sackville, N.B.

Page 130

To the first settlers in this area farming was a necessity, everyone farmed in order to survive.  Even those with a trade kept a few animals to provide food for their families.  The land 100 years ago provided food for one’s family plus food for livestock, plus some left over to sell or trade. 

The first crops, usually potatoes and wheat, were planted before the stumps were pulled, a hoe or mattock being used to do a little cultivating.  A hoe plough for use among the stumps was simply a strong bent pole fastened in the middle with a rope leading to the oxen, the sharp pointed end went into the ground, and the other end was the handle.  As more land was cleared and stumps removed other ploughs were made.  Later there was also a one horse single row shovel plough.  Good ploughing required skill, for the farmer not only had to guide the plough he had to guide the oxen or horses too.  The ground was harrowed by pulling a large log over the ground.

Sowing was done by hand like the Biblical sower the farmer carried his grain seed in a bag over his shoulder or around his middle scattering his seed as he walked.  It was learned early that newly cleared land although rich in nutients, contained too much acid and although lime was used on the land as early as 1850 other fertilizer was not.

Page 131

Harvesting was done by reaping hooks or sickles as they are sometimes called.  The farmer grasped the grain just below the heads with one hand while with the reaping hook in his other he slashed the stems through, leaving the grain on the ground to be picked up later.  Grain was gathered and put into sheaves; a handful of stems was tied around the sheaf to hold it together, these sheaves were then gathered and stored in the barn.

Threshing was done with a flail; this instrument was constructed of two pieces of wood, a short piece and a long piece connected at ends with a strip of leather about 6″ long.  The long piece of wood was held in one hand while the other was swung from over the shoulder so that it hit the bundles on the floor knocking the kernels off the stems.  To separate the grain from the straw a windy day was chosen.  A blanket was laid on the ground with two corners fixed to the ground, the other two corners were held up as grain was poured into the blanket.  The wind would blow away the straw, and the grain would fall to the floor or into a box.

Hay was considered one of the most important crops, and at first it was the only feed for the stock over the long winter.  A farm was judged by the number of tons of hay it produced.  Land that had marsh hay growing on it was considered valuable.

Page 133

In Spring most farmers became fishermen.  In winter they became lumbermen, logging their own woodlots for firewood and pulpwood.  Livestock varied – a few cows, some sheep for wool, young cattle for beef, pigs, chicken, geese, turkeys and even mink were raised for pelts.  Raising chickens was traditionally women’s work, with the children gathering the eggs.

From The Life and Times of Sir Leonard Tilley by James Hannay.  Saint John, New Brunswick, 1897.


Page 6

All the cooking of those days was done at the big fire-place.  A swinging crane hung over the fire and it was provided with hooks of various lengths upon which pots could be hung.  Bread was baked and meat cooked in a large flat pot with a cover known as a bake-kettle, with a good fire and plenty of live coals on hearth, where bake-kettle was placed, and on the cover of this imp. utensil, cooking was usually well done.  But with this system cooking of all kinds was laborious (extremely).  The fire-place was frequently 5 ft. in width and the back log which formed the basis of the fire, and without which a good fire could not be built, was generally so huge and heavy that it could not be lifted but had to be rolled into place.  Swinging a heavy pot filled with potatoes onto the crane was slow and laborious work, and req. lifting powers beyond the strength of ordinary women.

Page 7

When the farm was extensive and large quantities of food had to be cooked , not only for the persons who lived and worked upon it but for the cattle and pigs, the work of the woman became so heavy that it was injurious to their health and made them prematurely old.


From Daniel Johnson’s Newspapers Vol 80 No 632
May 4, 1891  Saint John  Saint John  The Daily Sun

New Westminster, B.C. – Margaret STRANG relect of Capt. James STRANG, died at her residence Albert Crescent last night . . . 79 . . . native of St. Andrews (Charlotte County).  Capt. STRANG was master of fast sailing vessels in the trans-Atlantic, India, and Australia passenger service for 41 years, being continuously in the employ of JOHN WISHART of St. John, N.B.  . . .  Mrs. Strang accompanied her husband on most of the voyages, and has a record which probably no other woman in the world can lay claim to, that of crossing the Atlantic no less than seventy times.  She was a great sailor and loved the ocean and sea life much better than living on shore.  She could take the ship’s reckoning and handle the vessel  just as well as her husband and was proud of these accomplishments.  Mrs. Strang has been a resident of the province for eighteen years during which she made many friends who will deeply regret her demise. 


From Encyclopedia Canadiana Volume 9 1958.

Pages 347-348

Snowshoe – A device used to provide support in snow.  Usually made of a wooden hoop, across which are stretched interwoven thongs, the snowshoe differs from the ski in that the user does not glide over the snow but walks on it.

Before methods of modern transportation snowshoes were widely used in Europe, Asia, and North America.  In Canada, snowshoeing was less common among the Eskimo of the Arctic tundra . . . than among the Indians inhabiting the wooded regions farther south.  Among the Indians, and later the early settlers, the snowshoe was the principal means of winter travel . . . For the proper use of snowshoes it is necessary to wear pliable footwear, such as the Indian moccasin.

From Historical Guide to New Brunswick by J. Clarence Webster.  Revised Edition.  Published by the New Brunswick Bureau of Information and Tourist Travel, 1944.

Roads in New Brunswick

When the first legislature met in 1786, there was probably not a mile of good road in the province.  While in the succeeding years progress was made, it was very slow, because distances were great and the population was small.  Bridges were wanting for a long time and the rivers were crossed by ferries or fords.  During the war of 1812, every effort was made to extend the road to Quebec by the Saint John River valley and the Madawaska, but it was many years before it was finished.  Road from Fredericton to Miramichi was opened in 1819; that to S.J. by Oromocto and Nerepis and that from Shediac to Chatham before 1826.  Many roads were projected and not made.  Some were opened and abandoned.  Until recent times they were all “dirt roads”, badly graded and badly drained.

From Davidson Papers, Box 4, Shelf 81, Miramichi Area – Envelope
Notes On Miramichi
Taken From The Mercury
Copies in Saint John Public Library
Notes copied August 22, 1946.

Nov. 27, 1827 
Mr. Young commenced putting through the “New Road” from Bathurst to the 15th July and the first 10 mi. he opened it to the whole intended width (16 ft.) removed all stumps, threw up the earth, at. necessary drains, and made in short what is commonly called in the country a good turnpike road.  For remainder of distance he has cut half the width.  His avg. number of men have not exceeded 40, the length of road is 42 mi.  The rd. to Richibucto was cut through previous to this.  The Halifax mail formerly 10 days or more on its route, now arrived at Miramichi in less than half the time.  Farm products also received from the Cumberland and Westmoreland farmers.  The County of Gloucester was always of difficulty of access except by a circuitous coasting voyage.

Feb. 24 1830
James Foran will run a weekly stage between Miramichi and Bathurst.  Leave the Post Office, Chatham for Bathurst Saturday afternoon; Bathurst for Miramichi Mon. at 3:00 p.m.

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