Issue # 59, February 2013, ISSN 1913-4134
More love letters and a special move
George Anderson originally built this unusual house on Bulmer Lane, Sackville, back in 1855. As a shipbuilder and sea captain (from a family of sea captains) George somehow picked up on a new fad for building houses with eight sides. Hundreds were built across North America around 1850-70 but only a scatter of these extraordinary houses remain. There are only two or three others in the Maritimes and none remains as close to its original condition as George Anderson's.
In 1987, the Town of Sackville took ownership of the Anderson Octagonal House, moved it onto the site that had been cleared of the Fawcett Foundry on the corner of King and Main Street (now a Mt.A parking lot) and converted it into the town tourist bureau (Tourist Info above main door) and Craft Gallery. Twenty-five years later, with a new facility for tourist information built at the bottom of Mallard Drive, easily visible from the Trans-Canada highway, the Town was looking for someone to take the now-unused octagonal house off its hands. The Tantramar Heritage Trust offered to re-purpose it once more, but only if it could be moved yet again, back to its old neighborhood next to the home of another 19th century ship-builder, Christopher Boultenhouse.
After 130 years of sheltering many different families and boarders, the Anderson House still retained three chimneys and a back extension that we assume was the kitchen. But before the Town could move the building to its new location, the chimneys and rear portion had to be taken down ... and the roof lifted off and removed in order to allow the building to fit beneath power lines once the house was fitted onto a set of wheels (see photos). The house survived, kept its rather jaunty octagonal character and became both Tourist Bureau and Craft Gallery at the back portion of the parking lot on the corner of King and Main St.
Fast-forward twenty-five years. As in the earlier move, if the Trust were going to move the octagon a second time around, it too would have to deal with the roof. The difference was that this time the roof would need to be completely dismantled in order to permit for the construction of a fully modern roof structure with some surprising new features (for that transformation, you’ll need to wait till our second article on this subject).
At that point, the old Octagon began running a remarkable obstacle course! First it had to stop for a cross walk (don't we all!) where the sign had to be lifted out of the way and the building banked sharply around the stoplights (turning on a red light?) only to pause again for NB Power to lift the power lines. You can tell from the photos that it was really raining!
I don't think the RCMP would let any of us take a corner quite like that but a big tractor with an 8-sided house takes whatever space it needs! Next, it was up the hill towards Marshview Middle School where the building had a narrow miss with a telephone pole!
Finally, the moving crew struggled up the driveway at the Boultenhouse Heritage Centre (29 Queens Road) and brushed closely by Boultenhouse which was soon to be the Octagon's new neighbor.
At that point Joe MacDonald and his movers, wet and weary, left Anderson House near its future location and headed home to get dry. When they returned next day, it was bright and sunny and the Octagon was clearly pleased to be nestled into its new location!
Raised up on cribbing, the house was carefully located, leveled and stabilized so the excavators could dig directly beneath the elevated building and prepare for a full basement to be poured.
When she was nestled back down on her solid new foundation, the carpenters moved back in and began erecting a brand new roof. But that's the beginning of our next installment: the renovation of the Anderson Octagon that can reclaim some of its original dignity and at the same time begin a new life serving quite different purposes than ever before.
By Colin MacKinnon
Figure 1. Location of the "brush mat" and portion of the "fort road", outside of the dyke, along Cumberland Creek below Fort Beauséjour (Crown Grant Map).
In 1995, I visited the site of Cumberland Creek, situated below Fort Beauséjour, traditionally known as the landing place of some of the area's Yorkshire settlers in the early 1770s (see Figure 1). At that time, the remains of a "brush mat" were exposed along the edge of the saltmarsh, outside of the dyke. This feature may have been associated with a very old aboiteau that was situated here or, possibly, as part of a marsh road built to access a place where smaller ships were unloaded. This brush mat was buried nearly one meter under the marsh and as the upper bay has a silt deposit rate of approximately 30 cm/year, the mat could easily be well over 200 years old (Figure 2). While exploring the protruding fragments of this "mat", I noticed, sticking out of the mud, a rounded piece of wood with two mud-filled eyes staring back at me! The artifact was "in situ", thus of contemporary age with the mat and on closer examination turned out to be a fragment from a likely 18th century English Ox Yoke (Figures 3 and 4). I refer to it as an English Yolk because of the way the oxen were attached. In a French Yoke, the horns of the oxen were strapped to the yoke while in the English type, the heads of the oxen protruded through wooden hoops which were connected through the two holes in the main beam of the yoke (see figures 4 and 5).
Figure 2. Cumberland Creek, Bay of Fundy. The Ox Yoke was discovered just to the right of the “brush mat”
(just outside of the photo). This mat is buried nearly one metre below the top of the saltmarsh.
Colin MacKinnon photo.
| Figure 3. Side view of Yoke, approximately two feet long, cleaned with mud washed off.
Colin MacKinnon photo
| Figure 4. Top view of Yoke, cleaned with mud washed off.
Colin MacKinnon photo
|Figure 5. Yoke sketch and fragment (shaded) found along Cumberland Creek.|
The ox yoke fragment is a tangible link to many past events witnessed below the ramparts of Beauséjour. Ancestors of many of Chignecto's early families first stepped foot in the New World at Cumberland Creek and one can easily imagine a heavily laden ox-cart, filled with a settler's carefully chosen supplies and cherished possessions, plodding along the track that connected the creek to Fort Cumberland. This scene must have been replayed many times and this fragment of wood reminds us of those struggles. The Cumberland Creek ox yoke has been deposited with the Tantramar Heritage Trust.
By Peter Hicklin
In our last newsletter (No. 58, December, 2012), reference was made of "Mr. Kinnear" in Stephen Millidge's letter to Sally dated either January 20, 1792, or January 18, 1793 (see Eugene Goodrich's notes about this letter on page 7 of The White Fence no. 58, but also see below). Soon after the newsletter was distributed, I received a call from Mrs. Mary Day, a young and vivacious 91-year-old from Midgic, who informed me that that this reference to 'Mr. Kinnear" in the newsletter was a reference to Mr. Andrew Kinnear, a distant relative of Mrs. Day's via her maternal grandmother. She informed me that she had much information on Andrew Kinnear about whom she had intended to write a book. Would I be interested in seeing the information that she had accumulated? It certainly did not take long for me to reach Mrs. Day's back door! In fact she passed on a large folder to me filled with information about the Kinnears. The present note merely brushes the surface of the meaty collection of information she passed on to me. Mrs. Day possessed sufficient information about the Kinnears to easily write a series of books about this most interesting family with fascinating characters of past years in our region. From this large collection of information, I extracted a few interesting bits about Mr. Kinnear which are described below:
Andrew Kinnear was a native of Ireland, born in 1750. He was an officer of the British forces in Canada for most of his adult life and served at Fort Cumberland in 1777. He served as Barrack-master and Commissary at that post for seventeen years (Letter from Thomas Carleton to the Rt. Hon. Lord Dorchester, dated 1794). Kinnear settled in Westmorland Co., New Brunswick, and was a member of the House of Assembly in 1786 and 1792. In 1792, Kinnear wrote a "Memorial" with respect to the purchase of marshland where he made reference to Stephen Millidge:
That your memorialist having in consequence of a resignation in his favor on the part of B. S. Williams of a lot of land in the Township of Westmoreland in Letter C. Division on No. 7, made application for the home marsh of said lots together with the marsh of the adjoining Lot No. 8 applied for by Spilller Fillmore but purchased of Fillmore by your memorialist which with the home lot No. 9 and 10, your memorialist has got a vote of cancel for. Your memorialist finding that said B.S. Williams not withstanding his resignatiom in favor of your memorialist, has in your memorialist's absence when in Europe, disposed of said lot for the sum of 5 pounds and the above mentioned Spiller Fillmore refuses to accept this, as the surveyor Mr. Milledge, who is now in town, can testify - Your memorialist therefore respectfully prays for a grant of the said upland lot as they are contiguous to your memorialist's marsh and your memorialist will if thought necessary consent to the indemnifying the purchase from Williams to the amount of 5 pounds and your memorialist as in duty bound will pray.
24th February, 1792
In 1792, Andrew Kinnear sat as a representative in the Assembly of the newly-formed Province of New Brunswick along with Amos Botsford (Speaker), Charles Dixon and Samuel Grey.
In 1803, he lived in Westmorland with his wife and two children over the age of ten and two children under the age of ten. He died at the age of 67 in Westmorland Co. in 1818; his wife Letitia Boyd, born in Litterkenny Co. in Donegal, Ireland, died in Saint John.
I am most grateful to Mrs. Day to allow me to peruse the large collection of information that she had lovingly accumulated over many years of thoughtful research.—P.H.
Also in the December issue (see page 8, footnote no. 6), Eugene Goodrich wrote a clarification about William Allen in relation to a reference to "Allen" made by Stephen Millidge in his letter to Sally on 20 January, 1793. In his footnote, Dr. Goodrich indicated that William Allen "was the father of John Allen, one of the original fomenters of the Eddy Rebellion". However, Mr. Charles Thompson wrote to us indicating that "William Allen is brother to John Allen the Rebel and not father". Mr. Thompson seems to have important historical connections on this subject. He wrote: "The piece of land our farm now sits on here in Oxford, Nova Scotia, was purchased from William Allen in 1791 by Richard Thompson (of Jolicure) and registered in 1799." However, looking at the genealogical history of the Allens (I thank Colin MacKinnon here for his assistance), we find that there were two William Allens over the years when Stephen Millidge wrote to Sally Botsford. William Allen Sr. died in 1785 and his son Judge William Allen Jr. died in 1806. Hence, neither Eugene Goodrich nor Mr. Charles Thompson was wrong: there were two William Allens: William Allen Sr. was the father of William Allen Jr. who was the brother of John Allen. What was missing in Stephen"s original letter were the qualifiers "Sr." and "Jr."
My! My! . . . how details matter! Readers, please correct me if I am wrong. I will provide an update in the next newsletter. I thank Mr. Thompson for giving attention to this important detail! It is nice to know that our newsletters are read so critically and seriously by readers such as Mrs. Day and Mr. Thompson. Your commentary, phone calls and emails are very much appreciated!
Although Marion Wells was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, and grew up in Moncton, New Brunswick, she became an avid historian of the communities of Point de Bute, Jolicure and Aulac. Following graduation from Aberdeen High School in Moncton, and the Provincial Normal School in Fredericton, she taught school in Taylor Village, Moncton, and Point de Bute where she met Harold C. Wells, a descendant of the Etter family, who later became her husband. While living on a farm in Point de Bute where they raised three sons, Chesley, Roger and Keith, Marion involved herself in community activities such as the Point de Bute Women's Institute.
It was at such events that she became familiar with the people of the community. She had a passionate interest in the history of the families of the area, their homes, schools, land holdings, and occupations. Marion took great care in collecting, recording and compiling information about her husband's ancestors, the Etters, and her adopted home.
Harold, Marion and sons lived in Point de Bute for 17 years before moving to Sackville where Marion was bookkeeper for the Sackville Medical Centre for over 20 years. She continued to be involved with various organizations such as the United Church Women, the Fort Beausejour IODE, Tantramar Heritage Trust, St. Mark's Anglican Church Women, Westmorland Historical Society and the Sackville Business and Professional Women's Club.
A 25-page finding aid has been compiled listing and describing all the records related to the Etter/Wells and related families, and the community of Point de Bute containing family trees, historical sketches, photographs, letters, deeds, baptism records, marsh records, estate inventories, maps, programmes and clippings. Anyone wanting to view the records is advised to call the Boultenhouse Heritage Centre at (506) 536-4521, or email email@example.com for an appointment. Artefacts related to the family have also been donated to the Boultenhouse Heritage Centre Museum.
Then & Now COMPARISON AND CONTRAST
Berton Allison astride a horse next to a pond on his Main Street, Sackville, property. His house Brookside is barely visible in the trees on the left side of the photo. Note the wooden sidewalks and unpaved street.
Photograph courtesy of Mount Allison University Archives, R. C. Archibald fonds, 5501/9/2/1/70
The body of water in the 1895 Then photo was situated where the Save Easy grocery store is now located in Sackville (at extreme right of 2012 Now photo, with parking lot). In its early days, it was known as Allison Pond or Willow Pond. Henry Allison's house Brookside was built in 1854 where the Jean Coutu pharmacy is now located (extreme left of 2012 Now photo); his property extended from Bridge Street to the Miller Block (beyond Save Easy). Allison constructed a dam in the brook which flowed through his property thus creating an artificial pond as clearly shown in the 1895 photo. The dam was destroyed by the Saxby Gale in 1869 and, after Allison died, his son H. Berton Allison replaced it in 1893. As Main Street grew with new business centres, the dam was removed and the brook was piped underground (see Donna L. Sullivan, Skating on Steel-Shod Feet pages 13-14 (2011). It was a much "greener" site in 1895!
Then & Now COMPARISON AND CONTRAST
Current photo taken from the same angle as the ca. 1895 photograph. Jean Coutu now occupies the site where Allison's home (later the Ford Hotel) stood. Note that the pond no longer exists and Save Easy now occupies the spot where the pond once was.
Photograph courtesy of Donna Sullivan
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