The Herald – 1878.01.12 – Letter from Johnville and from St. George -Irish Grievance – #6


To the Editor of the HERALD

Dear Sir,– I continue to be of the opinion that it is with new Settlements as with young children, too much petting spoils them. Stanley, in York County, is an example of this. The world knows what this place cost the Company, and in what it all ended – complete failure.

I hope it is pardonable in us to feel and express a grateful pride in the success of our Settlement, unprecedented, I may say, in the history of this Province. We delight, also, in the euphonious name Johnville, – not so much on account of agreeable sound but because it was so named through respect for our worthy and beloved Bishop, who took such an active part in the Colonization movement and organized the St. John Emigrant Aid Society, in 1859, the object of which was to better the condition of the poor laborer, by encouraging him to settle on the Crown

Lands in different parts of this Province.

In the summer of 1860, his Lordship the Bishop, through the Society, petitioned the Government for a reserve of ten thousand acres I the Parish of Kent, Carleton County. The petition was favorably received and the survey ordered forthwith. Instructions to that effect were given to James Hartley, Deputy Surveyor, who made the survey in the autumn of that year, very much to the surprise, no doubt, of Mrs. Inches, who tried to make it appear that there was no vacant land in that quarter; but the business of the Society was not with any subordinate in the Crown Land office, but with the Hon. Jas. Brown himself, the head of the Department.

Before the work of the survey was quite complete, Hugh McCann and his wife arrived from St. John, with their effects and provisions for twelve months. This worthy couple, — who are even yet called the Adam and Eve of the Settlement, the first man and woman – full of courage, and at that late season, November, set to work with a will, and in a few days, wit but little assistance, had a comfortable, temporary dwelling erected, and there lived through the long, dreary winter alone, in the heart of the forest, (the wild woods of America they called it,) three miles distant from the nearest neighbor, and as happy as the days were short. That was their first and certainly their last lonely winter in Johnville, for before the commencement of another winter there could not have been less than fifty men and their wives in the Settlement. All who came were charmed with the quality of the land, the growth of the wood and the abundance of good water.

It is astonishing to see, and it needs seeing to believe, how much two men, who understand the work and are accustomed to the use of the axe, can accomplish in a short time, on a new place, in the green woods.

In May, 1861, Bartholomew Riley, accompanied by his son, arrived from Nova Scotia. They lost no time in getting to work. They commenced at once in the green woods, and at the end of two months had three acres under crop, consisting of oats, turnips and potatoes. In September Mrs. Riley and the rest of the family came, and on their arrival Riley had a comfortable house ready for them – and all that on ground where, on the 1st of May there was not one tree cut. What they did any other two good men may do, and that, too, without Government pap. The turnips and straw fed their cow, and they paid out no money for potatoes that winter.

Several families came later I the season, too late to get any seed in the ground that year, and had to wait until the next season before they got any return for their labor, — some of them, however, had money and could wait without inconvenience, others who had not found suitable employment among the farmers at the River ; and thus things moved on smoothly without a grievance, and no whining in the papers about Government neglect, or broken promises, or any such humbug.

Some at first were new to the work, but in time they grew to it, and time, which cures everything, cured that also. With patience and perseverance they improved. and soon the use of the axe came easy to them. Thomas Crehan from Galway, Ireland, and his son Michael, were of this class. At the time of their coming to Johnville, July, 1861, Mr. Crehan could not speak one work of English and had never before seen an axe. They took two lots, one mile was of H. McCann’s, put up a camp and moved into it as soon as finished. Mr. Crehan had to support his large family for fourteen months before he got anything out of the land Who can tell the difficulties this family had to contend with, and their privations during all that time, — and all that without a murmur? To-day the Crehan family is among the most prosperous of this Parish, – respectable and respected? They have three hundred acres, making two good farms, with convenient, comfortable buildings, a good stock and all the necessary farming appliances. The good old man now says he is happier and better off than the old landlord he left, without any regrets, in Ireland.

I mention these instances, a few out of many such, to show that, as somebody says, (Shakespeare, perhaps) “difficulties disappear when boldly confronted.”

With these few remarks I close my second letter
Yours, truly,
January 9th, 1878

The Herald – 1878.01.12 – Letter from St. George – Irish Grievance – #6


To the Editor of the WEEKLY HERALD

Dear Sir, — You have not directly or editorially given any utterance which tends to belittle the Hon. A.H. Gillmor, M. P., for this County, and, judging from the liberal manner in which your paper is conducted, I cannot permit myself to believe that you would so unless you were in possession of facts which would tend to convict that hon. gentleman. The article published by the St. Croix Courier will do little good to its Party’s cause and can do Mr. Gillmor no harm. That “Irish Grievance” of the Courier’s will be attended to, and so will every “grievance” that might exist within the limits of the County be attended to, if it comes within Mr. Gillmor’s sphere, as his influence with the Government of the day is, perhaps, greater than that possessed by any member representing the County since Confederation- the St. Croix Courier to the contrary notwithstanding. Before the Courier existed Mr. Gillmore held honorable and exalted positions in the affairs of our Province, and few have yet dared to assert that he shirked any duty, or was politically dishonest.

Thanking you for the space I have occupied in your columns, I remain, yours, truly,
St. George, Jan. 8th, 1878.
O. M.