Saint Croix Courier, St. Stephen, NB
January 21, 1892
GLIMPSES OF THE PAST
Contributions to the History of Charlotte County and the Border Towns.
All the facts of history, says Emerson, pre-exist in the mind as laws. . . The fact narrated must correspond to something in me to be credible or intelligible.
The half settled, half nomadic Indians, returning from time to time to rebuild their bark wigwams on the old sites, are men whom we can understand; for we, too, are a wandering race, with our hearts still turning towards home, though our canoe is the ocean steamship, and the railway our forest trail. The stories of French discoverers and explorers appeal to a love of adventure which each of us feels, or has felt. The spirit of enterprise which brought the earliest English speaking settlers to these shores is still alive in their children; and that noble devotion to sentiment by which our Loyalist forefathers were moved is a trait which, even in this more prosaic age, should find admiring sympathy in every heart.
There are many places of historic note within the limits of the old Acadia; yet few of which the recorded events are more interesting or more important than are those of Passamaquoddy bay and the surrounding country. The history of this region falls into four distinct periods:
a. The Indian period. When the first Europeans visited this country, they found here an aboriginal race, of unknown antiquity; a friendly and hospitable people, of interesting language, traditions and customs; but a people so weak in numbers that the intruders, whether French or English, had no hesitation in taking possession of the land in the name of their respective kings. This people, whose home was the forest, welcomed the French to a share in the products of the chase; but they instinctively understood, (better, perhaps, than we do to-day,) that forest wealth was the true wealth of the country, and they had good reason, therefore, apart from their alliance with the French, to look upon the Saxon, the axe-man, as their natural enemy. Fairly or unfairly, they have been dispossessed; and the period of European discovery was to them the beginning of the end.
b. The French period. Passing over the early Norse, Spanish and Portuguese explorers, who, so far as known, did not visit Passamaquoddy, (though the Spanish undoubtedly saw and named the Bay of Fundy,) the French period begins with the voyage of DeMonts, in 1604, and ends with the treaty of Utrecht, in 1713. This may be subdivided into an early period, the period of French exploration, and a later one, that of French occupation. After the treaty of Breda, in 1669, in which the English surrendered, for the time, their claim to Acadia, the French settled in considerable numbers about the shores of Passamaquoddy bay, but they seem to have abandoned it before the English conquest. We have relics of their occupancy in names of places, as will be seen in the article on geographical names.
c. The early English period. Nearly fifty years after the departure of the French, the first New Englanders came. They came voluntarily, as new settlers, to seek their fortunes-a movement very different from that which marked the following period. It is not generally recognized that the attitude of the Passamaquoddy Indians at this time was a source of much anxiety to the British, and possibly had an influence in deciding the result of the Revolutionary war.
d. The Loyalist period. Like a page of romance is the story of the coming of the United Empire Loyalists; largely a forced migration, yet cheerfully undertaken, from devotion to principle; a movement that has marked on the map of North America an indelible boundary line and given British responsible government to half a continent. Sincere and brave men there were in the land they left behind them, who are honored as patriots there; but none of purer motives or of more noble life. The lands they cleared, the towns they built, the county they named with a royal name, are our inheritance; and whatever we can learn of their thoughts and words and deeds is well worth learning.
Correction: Article XXIII contains the following correction to this one: "In fifth paragraph, for 1669 read 1667."