Tantramar Newsletters Boultenhouse

Issue # 36, October 2007

Tantramar Historical Society Meeting
Wednesday, November 28, 7:30 p.m.
Sackville United Church Parlours

Illustrated Talk by Paul Bogaard: The Campbell Carriage Factory You Cannot See!

A preview of the Trust's newly created Virtual Museums of Canada exhibit, one of only 12 so far. "A Carriage Factory built on Horse Power" is a must-see virtual educational tool which tells our remarkable story.

Sackville Christmas Open House Tour
Sunday, December 9, 1-5 p.m
Boultenhouse Heritage Centre

Seasonal Exhibit - Miscellany and Mistletoe: treasures donated to the Trust in 2007

The Trust is pleased to partner with the Friends of the Owens Art Gallery in their Christmas Open House Tour fund-raiser. Enjoy old- fashioned Christmas spirit, with festive decorations, music, traditional mulled cider, gingerbread, and much more. Check the Trust website for further details or call (506) 536-2541.


Dear friends,
I invite you to read of the Trust's activities at our treasured Boultenhouse Heritage Centre (BHC) over the summer of 2007 and to join Colin MacKinnon on a real treasure hunt in Rockport!

At BHC this summer, 956 people visited with the majority in May (299) and June (232). These included two school groups in June and August, and 9 group tours in May (3), June (3) July (1) and August (1). Of those visitors, 196 came from New Brunswick, 17 from Nova Scotia, 2 PEI, 8 Newfoundland and Labrador, 12 Quebec, 45 Ontario, 1 Alberta, 4 British Columbia, 25 USA (Connecticut (1), Florida (2), Idaho (11), Maine (1), Massachusetts (8), New York (1) and Vermont (1)), one person came from Perth, Australia, and another from Pesana, Italy. Six visitors did not identify their home locations. Not a bad record, even if we consider that 9.8% fewer visitors came to visit compared to the previous year. But many other museums in the South East Museums Zone reported similar decreases. I thank Adèle Hemple for providing me with the BHC visitor statistics for 2007.

So, all readers who have yet to visit this beautiful centre on 29 Queen's Road, Sackville, just remember: it’s open all year!

I first visited Boultenhouse when it was still privately owned. Even then, I saw something very special about that establishment. On that note, I am sure that many of you have known many people "with an eye" for certain things, one associated with an innate curiosity. Colin MacKinnon has that curiosity and that special eye for historical things (or should I say historical "landscapes"). When Colin hears about the find of an old coin, he not only records it but he goes out and finds and photographs it! Read of Colin's search for Rockport Gold and notice, as you read, how portions of the landscape that you and I might have seen the day before are seen in a remarkably different light through this local historian’s eyes. For many of us the "Rockport trenches" that Colin describes would have been simply seen as natural "drainage ditches". But Colin "saw" something else there. He measured and mapped the trenches and found interesting patterns. It is a remarkable exercise in curiosity which was only satisfied by i) detailed investigation, ii) much thought to connect the unexplained, and iii) some mapping on a piece of paper.

I won't say more until you read on but please note that mysteries like this probably litter our maritime shores. We just have to look! But if we only had those special eyes…

Enjoy the mysteries and wonders of the Tantramar!

- Peter Hicklin

Boultenhouse Heritage Centre

Summer of 2007

by Peter Hicklin
In summer, 2007, the Tantramar Heritage Trust obtained funding for a Museum Exhibits assistant and two additional Museum Interpreters/ Assistants at the Boultenhouse Heritage Centre (BHC) in Sackville. Descriptions of their duties and the results of interviews with the three employees about their experiences at the BHC are summarized below.

Jennifer Donovan
Museum Exhibit Assistant

In summer, 2007, Miss Jennifer Donovan, from Mount Herbert, PEI, was hired by the Trust, via a grant from Young Canada Works, to i) supervise two summer students (tour leaders and research) at the BHC), ii) create a self-guided tour brochure of the centre and its exhibits

and iii) catalogue the Read Collection of artifacts on the grindstone industry (also on exhibit at the BHC), a very active industry in the Tantramar region at the time Captain Boultenhouse built his ships and went to sea. So what was accomplished?

Jennifer catalogued and photographed about 50 objects from the Read Collection. Some of the objects could not be identified, and, consequently, she consulted with various Trust directors and numerous books in order to correctly identify and label the objects accordingly. She also did some research on the original scenic wallpaper in the living room of the house. In doing so, she was in touch with staff of the Royal Ontario Museum and made numerous contacts (via the ROM) with experts in the United States. Furthermore, she obtained much information from "on-line catalogues" ( Historic New England , for example) and, by the time of our interview for this article in August, she was still waiting for information from these sources. When asked about her impressions on this line of work, she simply answered "quite insightful".

Jennifer described her work on the self-guided brochure as "quite an all-encompassing project". The main points of this brochure were to focus not only on the house's special history, but also to describe the artifacts on display and the exhibits such as Peter Manchester's model of shipbuilding, the Wry collection and, more importantly, to "put it all in an insightful form". She found it a challenge to manage all the information she gathered and summarize it in a "compact" brochure format (i.e. to put a lot of information in a small space . . . always a demanding task—editor!). At the time of our interview in late August, the brochure was completed and waiting for public review and commentary. Twenty copies were produced for "in-house" use and the brochure is currently being translated into French.

Jennifer was pleased with the diverse nature of the work assigned to her at the Heritage Centre. She was given the opportunity to work on exhibition development as well as conducting research and acting as supervisor of the Centre's two tour guides (see below). Overall, Jennifer was very optimistic about the future of the Boultenhouse Heritage Centre: "it has great potential! It's a great building . . .here's so much here that can be exhibited". She indicated how she was impressed with the Tantramar Heritage Trust's willingness to do things "in a museum-professional way".

Jennifer came to Sackville as a recent graduate of the University of Toronto and this September, she embarked on a new adventure to do collections management at "The Army Museum Waiouru", part of the National Museum of New Zealand, in Waiouru, New Zealand. The Tantramar Heritage Trust was obviously not the only group to have recognized Jennifer's talents!

James Pirie-Hay
Museum Interpreter/Assistant

James conducted numerous tours of the BHC to visitors. He said that many people were not sure what to expect when they first arrived but he found that "they soon became very interested and were eager to learn more." He was especially pleased to see how many citizens of Sackville visited the site and indicated to him how much they learned about local history that they were unaware of.

James was also responsible for developing a walking tour of Sackville’s historic south end, in the vicinity of the Heritage Centre. The proposed walking tour is to begin at Boultenhouse, and, based on a number of historical buildings, follow a route along Queen’s Road, Lorne, Dufferin, and Main Streets. In light of this proposal, the main objective was for James to produce a reference document to assist future summer guides to describe to visitors the historical significance of sites they would encounter (or would have encountered – depending on year) along this route. By the time of our interview in mid-August, James had completed a second draft of this document and he was expecting a third (and final) draft by end of August.

Another of James' duties was to catalogue artifacts at the Heritage Centre and, in particular, artifacts from the Read stone quarry which were on exhibit. He obtained much of the required information about these artifacts from Trust directors as well as from books in the Trust's library sources.

James also spent time at the Mount Allison archives to collect information on prominent Sackville merchants (e.g. Pickards and Blacks) and which he collated in binders to make available to BHC staff and visitors who might want more detailed historical information than what was available in the exhibits.

According to James, much work remains to be done. But with his efforts over the summer months, he completed a "draft binder" which can now be passed on to the next researcher. He was confident that a finalized "binder of information" about these merchants would be available to members of the public in 2008.

Overall, James indicated that he found the work "rewarding and challenging" and that he "enjoyed the work and learned a lot about local history".

Emma Hicklin Museum Interpreter/Assistant

Emma's summer activities at Boultenhouse progressed as follows:

Working alongside James (above), Emma conducted tours of the Boultenhouse Heritage Centre to the visiting public and was assigned research dealing with various aspects of the history of the shipbuilding industry in Sackville between 1820 and 1880. Her duties were to search for information related specifically to ships built in Sackville and collated it in the form of a binder (like James') to be maintained by the Trust.

She sought material in the old newspapers The Borderer and Westmorland and Cumberland Advertiser (more familiarly known as The Borderer ), and The Chignecto Post (which, in 1879, were both merged to become the Chignecto Post and Borderer ) to obtain information on the ships' owners, builders, and their travels. Of 198 vessels built in Sackville in those years, she obtained information from the newspapers on 24 of them. Of these, only four had remained in the local area. All this information served to ensure accuracy of the information in the binder on ships built the Sackville area in mid-19th century. According to Emma, there’s lots of work for future assistants to add information to this binder.

Although she expressed disappointment at finding "so little information" in the course of her work, she became very interested in the many people involved in the shipping industry in Sackville at that time. She indicated that she would like to pursue this work in greater detail someday.

Beyond the guided tours (presented in both French and English) and research activities, she gathered and filed a growing body of literature associated with the Boultenhouse Heritage Centre and set up a "Press Releases" binder dealing with historical properties. She also assisted Jennifer with collections management and did French translations of the brochures on the Heritage Centre. Emma's personal views about her work with the Tantramar Heritage Trust are as follows: Having lived and gone to school in Sackville for most of her life (including university), she was very surprised to learn how much she had "missed" about local industries in Sackville (grindstones, paper box factory, enamel and heating) and especially about shipping and shipbuilding. She said that the work gave her a new pride in her town and in the Tantramar Heritage Trust. She felt that she might have also contributed something to the Trust (and the town) with her tours of the BHC and the research she conducted there about early shipbuilding.

Emma also had an interesting story connected with a particular visitor during one of the tours of the BHC she gave this past summer. In the course of this tour, this visitor told Emma that he had an ancestor who had been involved in the building of the ship the "Two Sisters" in 1896. He was shown the binder that Emma and James had been working on and which included information about the "Two Sisters" and the folks who worked on it. He expressed his pride that his ancestor had been involved in its construction. This ship was the second-last ship built in Sackville and the visitor expressed great satisfaction that the Trust was making this information available to the public and that he was able to read about it at the BHC.

Other favorite moments for Emma were visitors who recognized people photographed in the Enterprise foundry exhibit, including one woman who found a picture of her aunt and was pleased to see that the family connection was recognized by the Trust.

Emma described her experience at the BHC this summer as "very rewarding".

Please note : the board of directors of the Tantramar Heritage Trust (THT) extends its gratitude to the Town of Sackville for creating an attractive and useful parking area beside the Boultenhouse Heritage Centre at no cost to the Trust! On behalf of the membership, the THT board of directors extends its sincere thanks to the Town of Sackville.- Editor

Rockport Gold and Other Mysteries

by Colin MacKinnon
"It happened at
Cape Maringouin,
Forty barrels
they did roll in"

For years, I heard stories about "buried treasure" in Rockport and about "coins" found on the beach. The trail has grown cold, but what follows is what I have been able to piece together over the last twenty years. I should add that I have heard various versions regarding the events surrounding the "Rockport treasure" but would be very happy to hear of any new information.

This story is centered in the Peck's Cove area of Upper Rockport about 3.2 km above the steel bridge heading towards Sackville ( Figure 1 ). In the early decades of the 20th century, Captain Amos Pickering "Pick" Ward (1849-1918) lived next to the shore across from Cole's Point while Bedford Milledge Cole (1849 - 192?), his wife Ada (1856 - 1935) and family, lived across the road ( Figure 2 ). The Cole house is long gone but the "Cole Orchard" still marks the site of the farm.

Figure 1. View of the shore below Captain
Pickford "Pick" Ward's house, Cole's Point,
Upper Rockport, New Brunswick

(C. MacKinnon photo).

Figure 2. Aerial photograph of a portion of
Upper Rockport, New Brunswick,showing
approximate location of where the coins
were found,the "Cole's Point trenches"
and other salient features.

I have also been told that this treasure "came out of the bank" and did not wash up on shore (as might be expected from a shipwreck). Apparently it was young Harold Cole (Bedford's grandson) who first found some coins on the beach below Captain Ward's property during the mid - to late 1930s. Later Bedford "Beffy" Cole (b.1926), Harold's brother, also found coins and "Beffy’s" mother Agnes (Bainbridge) Cole (1902 - 1981) used most of the money the boys found in support of the family but saved one of the coins for him. There were reports that other people found coins as well.
I have been told that many people were worried about so called "Treasure Trove" laws and thought any of this new-found wealth would have to be turned over to the government. There were also unconfirmed stories that a jeweler in Sackville took the more valuable gold coins in trade and melted them down. The old Cole farm in Upper Rockport burned around 1940 and, supposedly, some of the coins were used to purchase a new home for the family on the hill overlooking Wilbur's Cove ( Figure 3 ). The house they bought was the old "Alec Tower" place. Mr. Tower had died and the house was vacant when they bought it.
Figure 3. The farm the Cole family purchased in the 1940s at Wilbur's Cove, Rockport (closest house in photo).
Photo courtesy Sylvia Ison.

Adrian King recalled that when he was a teenager, he and Leonard Smith found a hole on the beach below Pick Ward's. They dug into the hole (6 x 6 feet) to a depth of 5 or 6 feet, as far as they could go, and found a buried ladder, barrel hoops and some wood where the original hole had been "slabbed up the side" . . . but no gold! I have asked a number of people for "confirmation" of the story in the form of something tangible, specifically hoping to see one of the actual coins. My main reason for this search was to narrow down the approximate date when the "treasure" was hidden.

Figure 4. British Crown, dated 1845,
found as part of the "Rockport Treasure"
(C. MacKinnon photo).
Coin courtesy Louise Bateson.
Luckily, Louise Bateson, wife of the late "Beffy" Cole, still had in her possession the coin that had been found by her husband when he was a boy and allowed me to examine it. She kept it as a keepsake and good luck charm. "Beffy’s coin" is a "British Crown" dated 1845 ( Figure 4 ). It carries the image of a young Queen Victoria in the 8th year ofher reign. One "Crown" was worth approximately £0.25, so when the coin was found (c. late 1930s), it was worth a little more than one dollar. To place this amount in perspective: in the early 1900s, one dollar would be a daily working wage for a labourer and gold coins, of course, would be worth much more. There is an inclination to assume any "treasure" must be old: Captain Kidd's pirate treasure or buried French Acadian gold have been proposed for the Upper Rockport find. The 1845 coin dismisses these earlier dates but still does not answer the question of where the money came from and who hid it. The simplest answer, and what seems most probable, is that Captain "Pick" Ward buried the coins on his land next to the shore for safe-keeping.

Captain Ward was also involved in building and repairing boats along the shore below his house so it is also conceivable that one of the transient ship builders or labourers could also have been responsible for hiding the money (possibly the stolen goods from some nefarious deed!). The reader must remember that one hundred years ago there was less faith in banks and many people kept their cash at home, stashed in the proverbial mattress, or buried in a secret location. There is also a story that Captain Ward had a "secret" and that, on his death bed, he tried to tell his family where the money was buried! So did Captain Ward bury the coins? I suppose we will never know.

Equally as interesting as the Rockport coins, and maybe even more mysterious, are a series of shallow trenches (< 6" deep) visible on Cole's Point. Cole's Point is the tip of a rocky headland just across "Green Creek" below the Captain Ward place ( Figure 2 ). The trenches are in the forest and must have been dug at least 60 or 70 years ago based on the size of the trees growing up through the depressions. But they could conceivably be much older. There appears to be no local tradition as to what they were built for or by whom. Some people say the trenches were built by the "French" but do not offer further explanation.
The trenches (at least seven) vary in length and, in some places, are hard to follow. They are all parallel with each other, spaced about ten feet apart, and extend from the cliff face into the woods. One of the trenches terminates at the edge of a rather large pit (oval, about 8' x 14' x 5' deep) while another smaller pit (oval 7' x 9' x 3' deep) is off the trench lines ( Figure 5 ). But what were these trenches for? An immediate thought is that they are associated with the "treasure" found across the creek. Was this earth- moving an attempt to search for more buried treasure? If so, it would appear to be an odd way to go about it. Herb Tower recalled a story that old Jim Tower "Humpy Jim" dug into one of the pits at Cole's Point and found a piece of a broken sword at the bottom. Could this have been a knife blade for cleaning fish?
Figure 5. Sketch of the "trenches" and "pits"
on Cole's Point, Upper Rockport,New Brunswick.

If so, the only other plausible explanation for those trenches I can come up with is that these are remnants of fish-drying racks. Many years ago, while on a trip to the Grassy Island Fort National Historic Site, near Canso, Nova Scotia, I was shown linear depressions in the earth that vaguely looked like the Rockport trenches. These depressions at Canso were formed by fishermen walking up and down the length of wooden drying racks to place the fish and, in the process, leaving linear depressions in the soil. Cole's Point faces south and lies next to a natural harbour in the adjacent creek. The bay has been noted for its Shad fishery for generations but fish drying, as far as I know, was not practiced locally. In light of this, it is noteworthy that at the head of the creek, behind Cole's Point, are the remains of a small wharf. This wharf could only have accommodated a very small boat and may even have been used for pulling small "shad boats" out of the water for winter ( Figure 2 ). I am not particularly convinced with my "fish drying rack" explanation so I welcome supporting evidence for it or any other possible interpretations.

Many years ago, Austin King told me about old "French cellars" in Rockport. Some years later, after a number of fruitless trips in search of these elusive sites, I was finally able to track down their exact location. The salt marsh upstream of the steel bridge at Peck's Cove, in Upper Rockport, was once dyked. The remains of the bed that supported the old aboiteau can still be seen just below the bridge at low tide. The last aboiteau was put in sometime around 1932 but, apparently, did not last long. The stream that runs through this marsh has a number of branches. The western branch is undivided and the remains of the pilings that once supported "Harry Maxwell's Lumber Mill" can still be seen at the head-waters. The north fork briefly divides again at the head of the marsh before entering the woods. This north branch passes a small wooded peninsula of land that is surrounded on two sides by salt marsh while the north side is cut off by a branch of the aforementioned stream.

Figure 6. Aerial photograph of Peck's Cove, Upper Rockport with location of old house site on
Israel's Point (see Figure 7). The "steel bridge"
is at the bottom left of photo.
Figure 7. House site at Israel’s Cove, Upper Rockport;
note the trench (tunnel) leading from one of the basements (sketch not to scale). Parallel lines represent the land
sloping down to the marsh.

It is this peninsula that is called "Israel’s Point" ( Figure 6 ). It was at the North West corner of this point that I finally found the basements. But were they French or English? I found two basements in a small clearing, about 20 yards square, not far from the edge of the marsh ( Figure 7 ). The entire point is forested but the clearing is more open and, at an earlier time, it is obvious that the land had been cleared. One foundation along the South East corner of the clearing consisted of an earthen ridge (about 12' x15' square) with a shallow depression in the middle. This feature may have actually just been the footing for a building and not actually a true basement.

Figure 8 (above). Don Colpitts in the "pit" located at the end of the 27' tunnel that leads from one of the basements on Israel's Point, Peck's Cove (C. MacKinnon photo).

Figure 9 (right). Artifacts recovered from the old basement at Israel's Point, Peck's Cove. A) Ox shoe, B) Shell-edged Pearlware pottery fragment (c. 1780 - 1830) and C) iron splitting wedge (C. MacKinnon photo).

The more interesting site is a slightly smaller basement (12' x 14') in the North West corner of the clearing that was about 3 feet deep and had the remains of a few stone footings that had fallen in towards the centre of the depression. Leading from the west corner of the basement was a peculiar 27 foot long, "V" shaped, ditch that terminated in a small pit that was about 7.5 feet in diameter and 3 feet deep ( Figure 8 ). Again, we have a mystery: what was this hole leading away from the basement built for? Was it just some type of drainage ditch or could it have been a tunnel? If the latter, it may have, at one time, concealed an alternate escape route from the house and even have been a place to store contraband? Apparently some people actually dug for "treasure" on Israel’s point many decades ago and so it is possible that some of these depressions may be from that work.

In the area of the basement, we found the remains of a severely rusted ox shoe, an iron wedge (probably for splitting stone) and a piece of "Shell-edged, Pearl-ware" pottery that dates circa 1780-1830 ( Figure 9 ). It's not much to go on but suggests that the site was occupied during settlement by early New England "Planters" and not pre-expulsion Acadians (before 1755). Just one more Rockport mystery!

I would be interested in hearing of any additional information regarding the above stories. I can be reached by phone at 536-4283, mail (176 King Street, Sackville, NB, E4L 3C2) or email (cnanmac@nbnet.nb.ca).

I would like to thank a number of people who have contributed to the "file" that has rounded out this story. A special thanks to Louise Bateson for allowing me to photograph the coin from the “Rockport Treasure”. I gratefully acknowledge Sylvia Ison, Austin King, Gladie MacKinnon, Herb Tower, Jeff Ward and the late Adrian King and Hilyard Crossman for reminiscences of time spent in Rockport. I would also like to thank my son, Andrew MacKinnon, for assisting in measuring the Cole's Point trenches and Don Colpitts for helping to record the dimensions of the basements at Israel's Point.

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