Communits – Tankville

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Tankville

By Shirley Cail

The village of Tankville was located north of Moncton along the Irishtown Road (Route 115). It began at Caledonia Road and extended to the Irishtown line–a distance of about 6 kilometers. It became a suburb of Moncton with amalgamation – part of it in 1956 and the rest of the village when Moncton was extended to the Irishtown limits in 1973.

For many years the area, mostly marshland, was known as ‘Irishtown’ – like the village further along Route 115 – simply because everyone in Moncton assumed that everything north of Moncton was ‘where the Irish lived’. Tankville did have some Irish settlers, and other family groups as well.

When shipbuilding began to decline in Moncton in the 1850’s, many families left to make a living elsewhere. Some settled on crown land on the Irishtown Road (Route 115) in the Tankville area. One such family was the Richard Anketell family. They left Ireland in 1831 and came to the Moncton area, later moving to Tankville around 1860. They came from Emyvale, parish of Donagh, County Monaghan where they once lived on a great estate and were part of the Irish landed gentry. However, Richard, disgraced after having married a Catholic, was sent off the estate and he left Ireland for New Brunswick.
 

The Anketell farm (the house is typical of an Irish cottage – but built with wood instead of stone)
The Anketell farm (the house is typical of an Irish cottage – but built with wood instead of stone)

 

Anketell took up farming and his son (who was also named Richard) carried on farming after his father passed away. The Anketell name was prominent in Tankville until 1993 when Mary, the daughter of Richard Jr., and the last surviving member of the family, passed away.

Other persons granted land in Tankville included: Harper, Crossman, Humphrey, Delahunt, Gray, Ritchie, Sellick, Hannagan, Kennedy, Bishop, Russell, Carmichael, Morrison and Hickman.

The village was given the name Tankville in 1904 when a post office was established in the community. The post office existed from 1904 until it was closed in 1927. Brunswick Steeves was the postmaster from 1904 to 1913 and Reuban King from1913 until 1927.

The Moncton & Buctouche railway passed through the village, stopping at the Tankville station on its way to and from Buctouche. There was a large water tank located beside the station where the train would take on the water needed to run its steam engine. It was from this tank that the village was given its name – Tankville.
 

Tankville train station and tank looking north towards Irishtown (courtesy of local artist – Brian Hansen)
Tankville train station and tank looking north towards Irishtown (courtesy of local artist – Brian Hansen)
The train was an integral part of the community. It was used to get to and from Moncton – especially in the wet weather seasons when the road was barely passable. It also delivered mail to the community. The local postmaster would meet the train when it stopped at the station coming from Moncton and pick up the mail. On the return trip from Buctouche the postmaster again met the train and sent the outgoing mail to Moncton.

One cannot mention Tankville without thinking of the infamous Philip Sellick – even if he wasn’t Irish! Originally from Prince Edward Island he was given a land grant in Tankville in 1889. He owned property behind the school. He had an innate fascination with wild animals and would capture wild animals and keep them in pens on his farm. One of his main interests, of which he had many, was taming moose and at one time he had six moose on his farm. He would have shows in Moncton where he would have the moose on display and at one time he even took them to a show in Boston.

The story most people remember about Philip concerns his bear and a hired man. As the story goes the hired man went out to the barn to feed the bear that was chained in its pen. The bear sprang toward the man and broke his chain. He leaped upon him cutting him badly around the face and neck area. Philip was away at the time and his wife, who was in the house, heard the man screaming for help. She immediately let their dog out and he tackled the bear allowing the hired man to escape. Philip was not far away and he heard the dogs barking. He quickly returned to the house and was able to quiet the bear and returned him to his pen. The dog died of its wounds. Philip had his own special homemade ointment that he used to nurse the hired man back to good health.

Social activities in the community were limited. The Christmas concert at the school was one of the major events of the year attended by almost everyone in the community. From time to time there would be a Chicken Raffle. Some families in the community raised chickens. When the chickens got too old and were laying very few eggs they needed to be replaced. A card party would be arranged with each person paying a fee to play a game. Whoever won a game was given a chicken to take home – alive and usually in a burlap bag. The money from the raffle often helped to buy new chickens.
 

The Tankville School, 1934
The Tankville School, 1934
There was a one-room school in the community located near the railroad station. It is not known when the first school was built but we do know that it existed as far back as 1873. School records for 1881 show that there were 41 pupils attending school that year. That was the largest number of children to ever attend the school up until it was closed in 1967. Considering the size of the school at that time, pupils must have had half-day classes with half of the children attending in the morning and the other half attending in the afternoon.

The school has been restored on its original site and is now a museum with a basement added serving as a community centre. The schoolroom is now a museum and it is open to the public five days a week during July and August with a student on duty to provide information.

Located on land that is now part of the Irishtown Nature Park, the school has become a popular destination for school children in the Moncton area. Daytime excursions by school bus to the school have become quite popular with the children. They get to sit in the old double desks in the one room school and see what school was like so many years ago. They also get to enjoy the many trails of the nature park as well.
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Bibliography

Cail, Shirley Landry, Village of Tankville, Moncton, Privately published, 2004.