Restigouche County, New Brunswick 

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Eastern Restigouche in 1847
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Early Life In & Around New Mills

Author Unknown

The first whitemen on the North Shore of New Brunswick were of French extraction and settled in the Bathurst Area. They allied themselves with the Micmacs against the Mohawks, and when, in 1639, the Mohawks defeated the Micmacs at Eel River, the Acadians were forced to leave. From that day on however, there were Acadian settlers in the area most of the time.

The first Britishers seemed to have been a group of Scottish settlers, who had taken up land at Thol Point, N.B. around 1783. In 1790 James Doyle lived at Jacquet River. He and his family were the only settlers between Bathurst and Dalhousie. They were robbed repeatedly by the Indians. But during the next ten years, others arrived. Irishmen and Acadians who gave some of the places the names they bear to the present day. Louis Laviolette is said to have settled at Louison River and to have given his name to that district. He sold out to John McNair in 1835. Charlo was called Charleau in 1799. That is an Acadian diminutive form of the name Charles. New Mills was called Malagash or Merliguish in reports written 1789 and 1814, and is said by one reliable writer to have been settled before 1814 by a Mr. Rumpoft, a Dutch shipbuilder and cod fisherman. But this is quite improbable. There was a Captain Nash at Nash Creek by about 1830. As nearly as we can ascertain the first Scottish family in the New Mills area was that of James McPherson, from Nairnshire. The McPhersons with four sons and two daughters - another daughter was born later. They landed at White’s Cove, (On a farm now occupied by Ian Hamilton) in June 1819 and spent their first winter in a cellar they had dug. In the following year, they constructed a log cabin. For some years they had no close neighbors.

Robert C. Dutch Says.

About the year 1820, Joseph Caldwell and his son settled on 1000 acres of land on the mainland opposite Heron Island. About 1822, John Dickie and family arrived at Caldwell’s. They had poled along the shore from the Miramichi in canoes. A year or two later John Dickie Junior was coming along the shore on horseback and was drowned attempting to make his horse swim the mouth of Jacquet River. He was buried on them Caldwell firm (farm), which is now known as New Mills Cemetery. The Dickies moved about three miles east and settled at what is now called Dickies’ Cove or Seaside. They were living there at the time of the Miramichi fire in 1825. David Dickie remembered seeing ashes on the turnip leaves. Joseph Caldwell died in 1826 and was buried on his farm, near John Dickie Junior. Joseph Caldwells’ stone is still standing near the vault in the cemetery. There is no marker on the grave of John Dickie Junior. But his father’s grave is marked. John Dickie Senior was married twice and most of the Dickies on the lower part of the charge today are his descendents. They came from Ayrshire and did not have the Gaelic.

Caldwell’s daughter married William Flemming, Esq, who erected a sawmill and grist mill. The grist mill ground not only the usual wheat and oats, but, also pot barley. Flemming was also a Commissioner of Marriages in the days when there was no settled Minister. He was also Justice of the Peace and a Magistrate, and used to hold court in a barn with the fanning mill for a desk. He gave his name to Flemming’s Island (Now called Jerr’s Island). George and Alexander Dutch arrived in 1826, with their nephew George Maxwell. They were descended from a Dutch Sailor who had been rescued during a shipwreck off Taymouth during the reign of Queen Anne, and, had settled down in Scotland. George Maxwell helped to build William Flemming’s sawmill, and one day having no oil, George Maxwell was sent for oil. On the 1st. day of May, he walked from Heron Island to Carleton on the ice returning the same day with the oil. Flemming also cleared some land and built three vessels.

James C. Inglis tells of changes which took place around 1800.

ARRAN SCOTLAND - "At that time, the land throughout the island was unenclosed and cultivated on the communal system. There was a Hamlet or Township on every farm, comprising generally from four to a dozen families, all jointly concerned in its cultivation. It was divided on the run rig system or according to agreement, one of the number being the leader and responsible to the Landlord for the rent. This system, which was in operation for generations, was now about to give place to modern methods, and many years previously the Duke of Hamilton’s representative had inaugurated and were working a new condition of land tenure and cultivation, which culminated successfully in 1815, after passing through several stages of experimenting, initiated by Mr. Burral. He visited the Island frequently between the years of 1766 and 1782. With the object in view, the farms on the property had been carefully surveyed and maps made dividing the lands into separate farms.

It was a great upheaval and a memorable time, and naturally such was an extensive change not viewed with too kindly feelings by the people, who, however, felt that prudence was a better part of valour and reluctantly fell into line.

Ere long the transformation was complete. Each farm on the Hamilton Estate was left out to one tenant, in a few cases to two. It was apparent however, that all who had hitherto been concerned with the cultivation could not get a portion, and I was told many long years ago by an old respected farmer, who, had been in touch with people of that momentous time that he got information from that, in order to discriminate, the plan adopted was this. Those who were in arrears with their rents got none, while those who had their rents paid up got lots, but they had to pay up the arrears of their unfortunate neighbours. Many were transplanted from their respective districts and many transferred in other parts, some long distances away, and those who were fortunate to get lots were bound to erect houses on places pointed out, for which they received, one Years’ rent, lime and timber. In the case of those who became tenants of the larger farms, of which there were a limited number, the expense was shared jointly between Landlord and Tenant, and the houses erected were more modern and up to date, than, the houses erected on smaller lots. These were of the same type as those the people were leaving, built rough with stones and heather or straw thatched roofs.

Rules and regulations were laid down and general system cropping was prescribed, with which the tenant had to comply, or fines were imposed. These regulations were rigidly enforced. Goats were banned as being unprofitable, and swine, which had hitherto been allowed to roam at large, were ordered to be confined. During the old communal system there were 113 farms on the Duke of Hamilton’s property, which were divided into 152 holdings in 1815. But, in many cases, the tenancies under the new conditions had become irksome and exacting, and, circumstances over which the people had no control acting adversely, sometimes brought about a state of affairs insurmountable, and consequently their lands were added to the neighbouring farms and they had to seek out pastures new. The new system had not been in operation long, however, when Estate officials adopted another policy of making larger farms, by adding farm to farm, and, if hardship followed the first operation, greater hardship apparently followed the latter. By 1843, the number of holdings had been reduced to 458. In all the county Bute, there were in 1854, only 518 holdings, of which perhaps half were on Arran. Thus has the population declined.

According to the population and information gathered by W.R. McMillan about 500 families migrated to North America, part of their passages being paid by the Duke. Considering that today the population of the Island is a little more than 4,0000. A large proportion of the inhabitants must have migrated to Megantic County, Quebec and Chaleur Bay are mentioned as among the areas which they colonized.

Restigouche by the 1840’s - Previous to 1825, Restigouche and Gloucester were part of Northumberland County. From that date until 1837, Restigouche was part of Gloucester. The town of Dalhousie, however, had been laid out in 1826, and, in 1827 became the Shire Town of Restigouche.

Abraham Gesner paid a visit to Restigouche in 1842, and described conditions for those who might wish to settle there.

The Highway, or Great Road, as he termed it, was a series of swamps partially filled with short logs or projecting masses of rocks threatening to capsize passengers. The traveler sometimes relieved of these obstacles by being driven along a narrow path to the very brink of the seawall, or, among the soft sand and slippery kelp, and driftwood on the shore, where horse and driver are every now and then greeted with a shower of spray, from every wave. Many of the roads used in summer are abandoned in winter, and the inhabitants prefer traveling on the ice rather than roads liable to snow drift. The building of the road from Bathurst to Dalhousie was begun about 1829. There seems to have been a weekly mail service, at least from 1834, and, sometime before 1866 a daily service had been established. A stage coach ran from Bathurst to Campbelleton, stopping at Seaside where Alex Dickie had an Inn, and, at McPherson’s at Charlo, where Walter Hayes now lives. The cost of a ticket was 30 shillings and Postage rates were high also.

The byroads were maintained by legislative grants and statue labour of the inhabitants. The position of Road Commissioner was a political appointment, filled according to political affiliation and support rather than abilities in road making. The grants were from 5 pounds to 100 pounds per section, and the statute of labour from 2 to 20 days depending on the circumstances of the worker. Roads and bridges were very poor and in swamps the roads were made of logs placed crosswise and covered (more or less with mud). These were called corduroy roads. According to the 1840 census, there were 462 inhabitant houses in the County, with a population of 3,161 not including about 1,200 persons who were supposed to be working in the woods at the time the census were taken. There were three Presbyterian Churches or places of worship. Campbelleton built 1831. Dalhousie built prior to 1836, New Mills built 1832-1834. There was one Roman Catholic Church presumably at Campbelleton. There were three grist mills and six sawmills. There were 426 horses, 1,118 head of cattle, 1,698 sheep, 1,325 hogs, 5,579 acres had been cleared. The men outnumbered the women two to one. In 1851 census lists, 4,161 inhabitants and presumably to this number also are some to be added who were away working in the woods, or a decrease in population during the previous decade must be assumed. Colborne Parish had 659 inhabitants, 3 sawmills, 2 grist mills and two places of worship. In each county, Gesner reports a grammar school had been established, supported by subscription, tuition fees, and a grant from the Province ranging 50 to 100 pounds each year. They would seem to have been high schools. In addition, there were parish or common schools within reach of a great majority of children and receiving grants of 10 to 30 pounds per year. Free schools were established in 1871. Colborne Parish Presbyterian Church, New Mills and Roman Catholic Church at Charlo. Durham’s population is reported at 871 with one sawmill, no grist mills, no place of worship. Dalhousie had 1,403 people, one sawmill and two places of worship. Addington 1,147 people, one sawmill, one grist mill, two places of worship.

Gesner reports Sunday schools were quite common in the 1840’s and gives them high praise. He also reports the existence of Temperance Societies, and gives them more cautious praise; they have done much good in the cause of moral reform, but have a tendency to degenerate into political pressure groups. Gesner advises immigrants to arrive in New Brunswick by the first week of May, so they can clear some land and plant their potatoes, oats, buckwheat and turnips among the stumps before the 25th of June, and build a comfortable log house before winter. Eight men can build a house in two days. The roof will be covered with bark or with broad cedar shingles. He gives direction for building the house, digging the cellar, making a fireplace and floor. He lists the articles the settler should bring with him from the Old Country or purchase in the Towns and the abilities he must have. Every Settlement should have its fiddler and piper. Music and occasionally a little innocent fun or recreation, cheers the mind of the immigrant amidst his early struggles and privations.

Gesner gives some examples of prices and wages prevailing in the Province in the 1840’s. Blacksmiths and Carpenters may expect L40 per year with board and lodgings. Miller’s L30, Farm labourers L25, and dairy women L12-L10. Potatoes are Is-3d-per bushel, beef 4d per pound, eggs 9d per dozen, a horse L20-L30. A yoke of oxen L15-L20, a milk cow L5-L7, oats 2s-3p, wheat 8s, hay L2-L4 per ton, butter 1s per 1b, sheep 10s, a cart L7-10s, double harrow L13, cost of ticket from Grennoch, steerage, providing ones own food is L2-10s, steerage plus provisions L13-6s, cabin with provisions L15. The journey takes about 45 days. The pound sterling is worth 4 American dollars. Some of the early settlers in this area were - Mr. McMaster, Presbyterian Minister, in 1847 fall. He began his 30 year period (Pastorate); Caldwells, Alexander and Jane Ferguson, Peter Hamilton, Alexander McPherson, John McCormick, Alexander Cook, John McMillan, Donald Cook, Ronald McAlister, Archibald Kelso, Robert Hervie, William McMillan. Mr. Rev. McMaster was inducted into charge of New Mills and Point La Nim. There were 9 elders ordained: 6 from New Mills, two from Point La Nim, and one from Escuminac. There were now ten elders on the charge since John Cook had evidently been ordained prior to the Presbyterian meeting in June. Seven of these were at New Mills. They were John Cook, Charles McAlister, John Currie Sr., Robert Narvie (Hervie), Archibald McNair, Robert Alexander, William McMillan. John Cook (1810-1879) was born on Arran and came to Canada with his parents sometime before 1833. They settled at Charlo on the property now occupied by Gordon MacKinnon, and lived near the shore. His wife was Margaret McPherson, daughter of James McPherson mentioned above. They were married at Dalhousie, N.B. by James Steven in the year 1839. Mr. Cook was a Justice of the Peace and a Captain of the Militia. His brother Alex, (Sandy) was a trustee of the Manse and later had a sawmill at Blackland Bridge, another brother Neil, sold to Rev. Thomas Nickolson in 1867, this property owned by Herbert Hickey. Robert Alexander came from Bally Castle, Ireland and lived at North Rustico, P.E.I. and at Point La Nim, N.B. in 1832. The Alexander’s at Charlo are descendants. Charles McAlister (1796-1876) was born at Arran, Scotland and settled at Benjamin River on a farm now owned by George Taylor. He and John Cook represented two congregations at the Presbytery in 1875. His wife was Mary Ferguson. His brother Ronald was one of the Manse Trustees. John Currie came from Arran with his wife’s relatives who were Fergusons in 1839. He and his wife were related to the Macmillan’s at Blackland’s and Breadalbane. He settled at River Louison, where his family established a Post Office begun prior to 1860 and a carding mill. Robert Hervie Sr. (1797-1889) was born on Arran and spent some years at Doaktown before settling at Nash Creek at the end of the Lorne Road on property now occupied by George Hunt Hervie, receiving his grant in 1881. He was married twice. First wife - Mary Strathorn; second wife - Mary Murchie. W.R. McMillan tells that Robert Hervie always walked six miles to church, claiming that after six days, his horses needed their Sabbath rest. Nathaniel McNair settled at Breadalbane, where Walter Simonson now resides. Nathaniel McNair received a grant of 200 hundred acres in 1829. Archibald McNair (1803-1870) was his son, and was married to Isabella McMillan, daughter of Donald McMillan of Blackland. They moved to Heron Island. He died of pleurisy after being treated by Rev. Angus McMaster. The McNairs were from Campbellton, Kintyre, Argydlshire. William MacMillan 1815-1896, his father-, John, and brothers James, Robert and John came out from Kilbridge, Arran 1831-1832 and settled on farms purchased from a man named Furlotte on both sides of the Jacquet River. William lived on the property now occupied by Mrs. Wallace Steeves (east side of the river). The communion service was always held outside, rain or shine. Roman Catholic’s were known to inquire in the dry season, when New Mills sacrament was to be held, as they usually had rain then.

Heron Island - In the year 1889 there were 60 souls on Heron Island. There were more than 30 children going to school on the Island. On Heron Island, Sunday School was conducted by David MacLean until his passing, and thereafter by William Maxwell until he moved to the mainland in 1928. There were two teachers and 14 scholars reported in 1893. The folks who were on the Island at the time remember hearing the Church bell ringing in New Mills. And the greater part of the population of the Island crossing the water on Sunday afternoons for service. In 1889 many of the young men on Heron Island were going west. John MacAlister (1842-1918) was born on Heron Island. He was a schoolteacher and a lawyer, spending most of his life in Campbelleton where he became the first mayor. He sat as a Member of Parliament (Conservative) from 1891-1900 when he was defeated by James Reid. He was never married. James Creighton born at Douglastown, N.B. in 1873 and moved to Heron Island with his parents in 1880. Mrs. Creighton was Marguerite MacMillan. Ministers at New Mills were: Rev. James Waddell 1832-1834; Rev. Angus McMaster 1847-1877; Rev. Thomas Nickolson 1862-1884; Rev. Issac Baird 1887-1891; Rev. J.M. McLeod 1895-1912; Rev. J.A. Greenless 1891-1894; Rev. Mr. Job 1912-1920; Rev. McIntosh MacLeod 1921-1922; Rev. Mr. MacLennan 1922-1925; Rev. George Miller 1925-1927; Rev. G.R. MacLean 1927-1932; and Rev. George Sears 1932-1940; Rev. T.D.F. Everett 1940-1944-Oct.-1943. Rev. Mr. MacKay 1944-1951, Rev. Mr. Elliot 1951-1954, Rev. George Bennett 1954-1958, Rev. Flemming Holmes 1958-1963, Rev. James Miller 1963-1964, Rev. David Whiston 1964-1969, Rev. Russel Burns 1968-1971, Rev. Gordon Symon 1971-1974 (Simon).

The Brig Boliver 150 tons was built on Heron Island in the year 1827 by Captain Alex Dutch and brothers. This was a two masted, square-rigged ship. There is a picture painting of it by Robert Dutch. On the west side of Heron Island there is a part known as the Frenchman’s Woods sometimes called the Frenchman’s Cove. There was a Frenchman from Caraquet, his name was Theophile Beaulieu, who cut sea weed or sea grass, dried it on the beach, then baled it with a hay-press and it was shipped and sold for the making of mattresses. Elmer MacNight from the Miramichi-operated a lobster factory on Heron Island, on the road leading to the wharf, starting it around 1910. He left there about 1922. He kept a nice two-masted schooner for many years there. He returned to Newcastle, N.B.. Charles Robinson also had a two-masted schooner and was a pilot for many years. There was some 21 ships built on Heron Island some 50 tons. When the Indians had settled at the mouth of the River Louison, they buried there dead on Heron Island. Mrs. Allen Hicks resides at Dalhousie Junction was a daughter of Archibald MacNair and was born on Heron Island. John MacNickol, his wife Isabella Hamilton, in 1860 he purchased 100 acres of land from Donald MacCormick. John MacMillan 1814-1895 emigrated from Damlash, Arran with his parents, Donald and Brabara Shaw MacMillan. John spent his adult years in New Mills. He operated the Post Office, which was called Breadalbane. His wife was a sister of Archibald McNair of New Mills. Robert Archibald Sr. 1816-1879 was born at Saltcoats, Ayrshire and his parents and brothers emigrated in 1830 and made his home at Archibald Settlement on land which was once granted to David Coutts. Robert Archibald married Catherine Black, a sister of Donald Black. Peter Hamilton Sr. came with his father and brothers from Arran and fished extensively along the shore. His wife was Elizabeth Hamilton, sister of James Hamilton Sr. (Baker) who emigrated from Arran in 1834. Their son Peter Jr. 1838-1922 1st. wife Mary Chalmers, 2nd. Wife Mary MacMillan daughter of John MacMillan of Breadlabane. Donald McAlister and Ronald and Charles were brothers. Donald Stewart 1826-18?? Came from Blair Athol Perthshire about 1852 and was related to MacLeans in Charlo. Some of the early settlers were: Rev. William Murchie; Dr. Kate McMillan; Rev. William MacNickol; Rev. W.R. Auld, 1827; Captain Alex Dutch built the brig Boliver – 150 tons on Heron Island; Robert C. Dutch; William Fleming Esq.; George Maxwell; Abraham Gesner 1842; Charles Laughlan; William MacPherson; John MacMillan; John ?urrie 1903-1884 – Alexander Ferguson; Jane Ferguson; Peter Hamilton; Alexander Mcpherson; John McCormick; Alexander Cook; John MacMillan, Donald Cook; Ronald McAlister; Archibald Kelso; Robert Harvie; William McMillan, Robert Alexander; Charles McAlister; Nathanael McNair; Archibald McNair; John McNickol 1832-1922 – Alexander Winton; Donald Black; Henry Connacher; Lawrence La Pointe; John McIntosh; James Campbell; Donald McCormick; Jack Dutch; Peter Hamilton Jr.; George E. White; Peter Hamilton Sr. 1905-1899 – William Dickie; and Thomas Nickolson born 1828 died 1908 interred at New Mills, N.B.