Begetting and Begatting: Ancestors of the Whalen Family of King’s County, New Brunswick by James M. Whalen

This book is provided here by permission of the author. He also wishes to let people know that there are still hard copies available should anyone wish to pruchase one. Copies can be ordered directly from the author for 10 $CDN within Canada, 15 $CDN if shipping to the Unitd States.

The mailing address is to request a copy is:
James M. Whalen
30 Rosewood drive
Fredericton, New Brunswick
E3C 1L9

or contact via email at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

To read this book online, please enter here.

The Bowmaster and Sullivan Families

By William J. Flynn

The first forefathers of the Bowmaster and Sullivan families to settle in Canada were military men from the Royal West India Rangers.

Private Michael Sullivan enlisted into the Rangers for unlimited service on 11th December 1816, aged 26. Michael was a deserter from his previous regiment, the 62nd Foot. He was born in Tralee, County Kerry, Ireland and was a labourer by trade. He was five feet six inches tall with dark hair, grey eyes, fair complexion and a slender build.

Sergeant Henry Bowmaster (Heinrich Bauermeister) enlisted 7th January 1808 for unlimited service and was a commuted man from the King’s German Legion. Commuted men in these cases means men who were sent abroad in commutation of punishment or instead of being brought to trial for offences which they may have committed in their former regiments. These men, together with deserters and men convicted of civil offences, were sent to the army depot at Albany on the Isle of Wight (off the south coast of England), where they would be drafted into regiments like the Royal West India Regiment of Rangers. Henry was born in Norgatton, Hanover, Germany. He was aged 22 on joining and was five feet two inches tall and a labourer by trade. Henry had light hair with grey eyes, a fair complexion and was of slender build. Further research shows that Heinrich Bauermeister (Henry Bowmaster was the anglicised version of his name) was recruited into the King’s German Legion on 27th November 1804, aged 19 years. The Kings German Legion was formed to protect the Kingdom of Hanover which was under the rule of the King of England during the period of the Napoleonic War.

The reason for his dismissal from the KGL has not been determined. Both Henry and Michael Sullivan were discharged at Saint John, New Brunswick on 24th June 1819 when & where their regiment was disbanded.

Michael Sullivan was accompanied by his wife Ellen Elizabeth and 3 children. Ellen’s family name has not been determined as yet.

Henry was accompanied by his wife Sarah (Everett) and 3 children. Sarah was from Milton Bryant, Bedfordshire, England. Since Henry and Sarah’s brother William were both sergeants in the Royal West India Rangers one can imagine that this is how he met Sarah. Henry and Sarah’s son Henry was born on route from St. Kitts, West Indies, to Saint John, N.B.

William Everett, Sarah’s brother was born in Milton Bryant in Bedfordshire and joined the Rangers as a deserter from the 82nd Foot on 15th December 1813.

The Royal West India Rangers were formed in October 1806, when the African Corps, a regiment originally raised in 1800 (for the defence of the Island of Goree in West Africa) and known as Fraser’s Corp of Infantry was divided into two regiments. The Royal African Corps (as they were now titled) remained in Africa while the other, The Royal West India Rangers, were sent to the West Indies. The Rangers remained solely in the West Indies, taking part in the campaigns in St. Kitts, Antigua, Barbados and also saw action on the island of Guadeloupe before embarking for Canada and eventual disbandment at Saint John, New Brunswick. The Rangers recruited mainly from men held at the British Army depot at Albany where deserters and men sentenced to General Service in the army for civil crimes were held. There were also large numbers of deserters and prisoners from Napoleon’s army in the Peninsula being held at Albany.

You might think that this all sounds bad but you have to understand the conditions these men and their wives and children as well endured while in the West Indies and then settling in the forested land of the north west portion of New Brunswick. On route to the West Indies many died of typhoid and in the West Indies men were dying in droves from malaria and yellow fever. The living accommodations were poor, especially for women and children, few of whom came with their husbands. Soldiers were given a daily ration of rum which in the early days was contaminated with lead from the distilling process. The soldier’s belief was that the rum prevented yellow fever but the alcohol resulted in many of the soldiers suffering from diseases associated with alcoholism, cirrhosis etc. The death rates from disease from the years 1793 to 1815 have been reported as high as 41% and total deaths over this period in the neighbourhood of 65,000 men. The regiments were plagued with deserters as well. This was attributed to the soldiers being permanently stationed there with no relief from the harsh conditions and diseases, it was their only escape.

On route to Saint John the 3 ships, Abeona, the Buena and the Starr docked in Halifax harbour for a month with all passengers confined to ship. On arriving in Saint John on June 10, 1819 these were anxious people and reports are that many of the soldiers who didn’t accept land spent the pittance of 10 pounds sterling that they were given on booze in the city. These men in many cases ended up on the welfare roles of the parish.

The families who accepted the land grants in what was called Ranger Settlement were taken up the Saint John River in flat bottom boats referred to as bateaux by the Acadians. This was a long journey but after the time on the ships it was reported a relief to them. The settlers were dropped off at their lots by the middle of July 1819 with some supplies. Many of them spent the first two winters at the barracks in Presque Isle and the children were reported to be very ill the first couple of years in the settlement.

Through history mankind has endured hardships that one wonders how they survived it and had the strength and courage to keep going. None could have been much worse that what these men, women and children endured and current generation owe them a debt of gratitude for this.

Little history has been written about the Royal West India Rangers. It appears that the importance of their service to England has been discounted because of the nature of the recruitment for the regiments. Hopefully this will be corrected sometime in the future and these people will be given their rightful place in history of honour and dignity.

For reading more detailed reports the following books are available:

The British Army in the West Indies by Norman Roger Buckley, available through inter-library loan there is a copy at Queen’s University Library in Kingston, Ont.

The Famished The Hungry and the Cold, a report written by Ernest Clarke for the Carleton County Historical Society, available through inter-library loan from the Hartland, N.B. Public Library.

These two men successfully managed to plant their roots in the Perth/Andover area, Medford, Tilley in particular and their descendants number in the thousands. Many still live in the area, others have moved to other parts of New Brunswick, across Canada and to the U.S. They can be found in all walks of life, nurses, teachers, lawyers, trades people, factory workers etc.

This article was written by William J. Flynn for his wife Emily’s family tree. She is a direct descendant of both of the above men, 6th generation.

November 5, 2007.

Thomas W. Riordan and his Grist, Carding and Sawmills
From Disadvantage in County Cork, Ireland
To Small Industry in Gloucester County, New Brunswick, Canada

By Greg Riordan

Thomas W. Riordon was born in Pokeshaw, New Brunswick (a portion of which was called Riordon for some time) on March 12th, 1867 to John Joseph Riordon Jr. and Ellen (Walsh) Riordon. His father (J. J. Riordon Jr.) was born at the same place in 1837, being the son of Irish Immigrants, John Riordon Sr. and Johanna Leahy. John Riordon Sr. (the immigrant) was one of four boys; Patrick, John, James and Matthew, all of whom crossed the Atlantic from Ireland to North America some time between 1820 and 1825. The exact place of residence and the socio-economic status of the Riordons immediately prior to their departure from Ireland is not known. As to date, investigations have not revealed precise information.

A biography of Archbishop Patrick William Riordon, second Archbishop of San Francisco does provide some insight however. Patrick William Riordon was the eldest son of Matthew who is believed to be the youngest of the aforesaid four brothers. Matthew appears to have arrived in Canada several years later than the three other brothers and initially settled in the Miramichi area (rather than on the south shore of the Bay of Chaleur as his brothers did) where he married one Molly Dunne. Shortly thereafter, he and family moved to Chicago with other members of the Dunne family where the young Patrick entered the seminary and began what was to become a somewhat pivotal role in the early Roman Catholic Church of the Western United States.

The biography, written in 1965 by Reverend James P. Gaffey suggests that the Riordons lived in Kinsale prior to departure. This coincides with what has been passed down orally through the successive generations of descendants of John Riordon Sr. The proposition that Matthew was a tradesman (shipwright) and therefore quite employable also coincides with family oral story. There is no mention either in the biography or in family folklore as to what the other three brothers might have been engaged in before departure from Ireland, nor what might have instigated their immigration to Canada.

In the aforementioned biography, Reverend Gaffey does quite eloquently describe the extremely disadvantaged state of Ireland and its native people. He describes the effects of the end of the Napoleonic Wars, centuries of confiscations of Irish Lands by the English from the largely agrarian Irish people, the penal laws and the crippling collection of tithes for the established Church of England. The basic derangement of the Irish economy and the rapid growth of the Irish population in the early 1800s created a crisis. Vast estates were in the hands of foreign landlords and remaining lands were divided and subdivided into a multitude of holdings so small that the native farmer could barely survive. Reverend Gaffey quoted Sir Walter Scott who described the condition of the average Irish farmer at the time:

There is much less exaggeration about the peasantry than might be imagined. Their poverty is no exaggeration; it is on the extreme verge of human misery; their cottages scarce serve for pig styes even in Scotland; and their rags seem the very refuge of a sheep, and are overspread on their bodies with such ingenious variety of wretchedness that you would think nothing but some sort of perverted taste could have assembled so many shreds together.

Again, it is not known where the Riordons fit into this mosaic, though one might assume that their position was not one of utter despair as they were able to buy passage to North America. No doubt the political stagnation and the relentless economic constrictions that clouded the breadth of Ireland gave birth to the waves of Irish Immigration after 1815 in which the Riordons found themselves.

Certainly, at the outset, life in Canada was not easy. John Riordon Sr. settled next to his brother Patrick in Pokeshaw where they began establishing clearings in the hope of obtaining land grants. The following quote from an 1833 Land Grant petition submitted on behalf of 36 of Pokeshaw’s original settlers, including Patrick Riordon, John Riordon Sr.’s brother, aptly describes the plight of Pokeshaw’s initial inhabitants. (It should be noted that many of the 36 had petitioned for their lands before this time).

“Your Excellency’s petitioners having been neighbours in the land of their birth were naturally desirous of continuing so in this country and having heard of this desolute and lonely tract from which the face of mankind appeared to be averted, they, in a body attempted a settlement upon it, trusting that by reciprocal acts of support and assistance they might in time surmount those obstacles which have too long deterred individual enterprises. Ignorant of the rigours of the climate and nearly destitute of the means of procuring those common necessities of life which they had then scarcely learned to want, their sufferings in a trackless wilderness far distant from any habitation of man may be easily conceived, they cannot trouble your Excellency with a recital of what they endured, suffice to say that several of the old people and some of the children perished during the first winters.
Your petitioners by dint of hard labour and industry have at length in some measure subdued the wilderness, their clearances are now sufficient for the support of their families, and they have lately entered into arrangements for the support of a schoolmaster, nor have they been negligent of those duties which they owe to their King and County. Your petitioners during the last nine yeas have cheerfully performed their Militia duty and Statue labour and paid their proportion of all rates and assessments for country and parish charges, participating (until lately) in the provincial appropriations only to the extent of a few small sums to offset in cutting passages down the cliffs.”1

In 1839, John Riordon Sr. who had been living next to his brother Patrick and who had been working in co-operation with Patrick, applied for 100 acres next to him. Fortunately, with his petition, he was assisted by William End, a Justice of the Peace in Bathurst whom, it is reported, had been a champion of Irish and Acadian efforts. Mr. End added the following remark to John Riordon Sr.’s petition:

“I cannot refrain from laying the case of this unfortunate petitioner before his Excellency. He has a sickly wife and seven children all dependent on his labour. About four years ago he was caught in a snow storm and had both feet so frozen that all of his toes dropped off. In this condition, he continued to cultivate his clearance for the support of his family. He got a little better and at length was able to go into the woods for firewood. While there employed, a tree fell upon him and broke his left arm. Far removed from proper assistance, he lingered a long time under this injury and his feet again became very troublesome. He is a hard working and sober man and determined to die rather than apply for aid to the parish. When his arm began to mend, his feet still continued so painful that he was for several months, unable to stand. Notwithstanding this accumulation of misery, he has persisted in supporting his family and, as I am credibly informed he has frequently been seen at the earliest dawn of day assisted by his eldest child, a girl of ten, on his knees, his left arm bound up, hoeing his potatoes with the right, unable either to stand or use his left arm.”2

In time, with perseverance and hard work, progress was made and self-sufficient farms were established. The business of clearing lands, raising crops and livestock, building houses and barns was all consuming during those years. Survival dictated their industry. Unfortunately, their initially weak socio-economic status, their reluctance to promote and infringe on others and the overbearing influence of the neighbouring cultures, dictated the gradual demise of their own language and many of their cultural niceties, just as was the Irish experience in the remainder of the Province.

In 1852, John Riordon Sr. conveyed one acre of his land where the Pokeshaw River crossed his Grant, to a William Boltenhouse.3 Mr. Boltenhouse purchased three acres from Patrick Riordon’s neighbouring lot (also where the Pokeshaw River crosses) in 1853.4 It is said that Mr. Boltenhouse was a close descendant of the Yorkshire settlers who established themselves in the Sackville area of New Brunswick during the latter half of the 18 century. In any event, Mr. Boltenhouse apparently had the capital to construct a saw and grist mill on the property purchased from the Riordon’s which he operated for the better part of a decade. Following William Boltenhouse’s death in 1860, Boltenhouse’s descendants transferred the Mills and mill property to Thomas and Richard Dempsey5 and Richard Dempsey conveyed his ½ interest to Thomas Dempsey in 1880.6 Both Dempseys were descendants of Irish Immigrants. In 18887 the Mill site returned to the ownership of the Riordon family along with the dam, the mill buildings and machinery. They were purchased in the name of Thomas W. Riordon; however, there were resources required for such an acquisition and such were provided for by his father, John J. Riordon Jr. as Thomas would only have been 21 years of age at the time.

Young Thomas W. Riordon began learning the business and operating the mill soon after the purchase. Unfortunately, within a year or so disaster struck. The Mills, the adjacent road bridge and the dam burned to the ground.

Thomas W. Riordon was somewhat discouraged. However, at the urging of his father, his neighbours and the local parish priest, he decided to rebuild. With the help of his father and neighbours who were aware of the advantage of a local mill, construction began. Two “post and beam” buildings were constructed. Family oral tradition holds that a civil war veteran, Patrick McKernin, was the principal carpenter. It is said that all of the frame pieces were cut, squared and mortised in the forest with assembly taking place later at the site. One building was finished on the exterior as finely as a home; this one housed a three story gristmill and a large carding machine. Each story of the grist mill building was packed with machinery used in the different phases of flour production and consisted of over twenty tons of shafts, turbines and rollers. Being inside the mill was like being at the center of a sprawling tangle of shafts, conveyor belts, chutes and collector bins. Before the wheat was ground into flour, it traveled from the bottom floor to the top three times. Advanced for its time, the grist mill used metal rollers rather than mill stones to grind the wheat and water driven turbines rather than water wheels to supply the water power. The mill equipment was built to be aesthetic as well as functional. Each piece of equipment was carefully painted and shaped in an almost sculpture-like fashion. The manufacturer name “Greey’s” of Toronto appeared in several places on the machinery written with italic grandeur along with its patent date, being 1888. It is obvious that the machinery and equipment was very advanced for its time, especially in rural New Brunswick given the date of its patent and the date of its installation at the Riordon Mill site (early 1890s). The carding machine, on the upper floor, also powered by the same turbine, was as technologically advanced at the grist mill and somewhat massive in weight and size.

The second building housed the sawmill which included a long lumber left-handed carriage, cut-off saws, a lathe machine and a shingle mill. That equipment was initially powered by a twin set of water wheel turbines, 22 feet in diameter and 14 feet in width. These were replaced some 36 years later by a much smaller and more efficient steel turbine. The new dam was constructed of cedar cribbage underneath with a smooth surface on the top water side. The water side consisted of 2 layers of 3 inch deal. Two pinstocks carried the water, one from the dam gate to the grist and carding mill building, the second to the sawmill building.

In 1891, Thomas W. Riordon married Mary Ann Barry of Pokemouche when he was 24 years old. With his wife, he proceeded to raise a family and to operate the mills which had become a going concern in the area. His father, John J. Riordon Sr. passed away in 1909 and Thomas assumed the operation of the whole Riordon farm which he expanded as time passed. In those days, horses provided the power utilized in the operation of a farm and logging business. A substantial portion of the land had been cleared and was continually being cleared and coming under cultivation. Much of this land was used to provide hay and grain for the horses. As with any other farm, the Riordon farm also raised cattle, sheep, hogs, poultry and mink. As part of a program established by the Department of Agriculture in the early 1900s, the Riordon farm was designated as an “Experimental Farm” where numerous yearly experiments in relation to crop varieties, fertilizers, crop rotation, cattle and horse breeding were sponsored and carried out. Annual field days attracting hundreds of farmers from throughout the County provided the opportunity for all to examine and discuss various farming practices and procedures. As for the mills, they attracted customers from across the County from as far away as Tetagouche and Petit-Rocher in the West to Miscou in the East. Customers arrived, and their horses were allowed to rest in a horse barn specifically provided for that purpose and in the event that the mill process could actually be carried out in short order, many customers from a distance were accommodated at the Riordon home overnight.

An excerpt, from the Gloucester County Council in 1902 was reproduced in the Le Courrier des provinces Maritimes on February 6th, 1902. It read:

“moved by Councilor Comeau and seconded by Councilor Branch in view of other flour mills in the county not being taxed, and that it was the express wish of the Council of 1899 and 1900 that it was right such industries should be exempted, that the assessors of the Parish of New Bandon be requested not to assess the Mill of T. W. Riordon in said Parish and that this exemption apply so long as the other flour mills are exempted in their respective parishes; and further, that the secretary-treasurer do and is hereby requested to attach a copy of this resolution to the warrant of assessment each year when sending said warrant to the assessors of the Parish of New Bandon. Carried.”

The mills of Thomas W. Riordon provided not only valuable services to a substantial portion of Gloucester County, but also provided employment. In the days when trees were cut with axes, cross-cut saws, and buck saws, substantial numbers of men were required in the woods. Many horses and expansive logging equipment were required to move the logs to the mill site. At the mill site, labour requirements were great as “fork lifts” did not exist and conveyor belts were primitive by today’s standard. Employees worked long hard hours and were paid not only in cash but also in kind from the General store operated by the Riordons.

Coincident with the farming and milling operation, Thomas W. Riordon became a dealer in several commodities. T he Caraquet railway was constructed in the late 1880’s and fortunately, the railway crossed the original Riordon Grant within 500 feet of the mills. Of course this allowed the shipment by railway of the products of the mill. Long lumber, railway ties, shingles and lathes were shipped by the boxcar load to various points for many years. The railway also allowed for the shipment of pulp wood to the Bathurst Power and Paper Company Pulp Mill in Bathurst constructed in 1916 along with potatoes purchased from many neighbouring farmers, Christmas trees, pit props destined for off shore markets and various other commodities.

A small migration in the 1920’s, typical of other similar migrations on New Brunswick’s north shore would affect the production of the Riordon water powered sawmill. Many communities in Northern New Brunswick were along the coast and their inhabitants depended largely on the fishing industry and the large companies controlling it. Moreover, many of those communities along with some inland communities became populated to the point where the strips of land originally settled and utilized in an agrarian fashion became divided and subdivided and in time became too small for the numbers living on them. Consequently, the Provincial Government with the support of the Catholic Clergy made inland tracts of land available to those who wished to relocate and become self-sufficient on adequate parcels of land. In the mid 1920’s, 25 to 30 families from nearby Saint-Léolin relocated to what is commonly known as Upper Black Rock Colony. The resettlement in this area involved the clearing of land, cutting of trees and the inevitable draining of fairly large tracts. Initially, the new settlement presented an opportunity for Thomas W. Riordon as most if not all of the buildings constructed in the new settlement were constructed with lumber and shingles that had been processed in his mill. General supplies and food stuffs were purchased through his store. Moreover, he was the principal purchaser of pulpwood, logs and farm produce from the new settlement and a number of its inhabitants were under his employee for substantial portions of each year. The new settlement however did present a problem. The Pokeshaw River originates in the area of the new settlement and due to the aforementioned settlement activities; the water level in the river was reduced drastically. During the dryer months of July, August and September, the water powered mill could often only operate until noon and even then, some days it could not be operated at all. This forced Thomas W. Riordon to explore other options and in 1928 along with several of his sons (he had nine sons and three daughters) he constructed a new mill building which was to house a saw, shingle and lathe mill on the south side of the original mill pond all powered by a large single piston steam engine. Much of the equipment in the mill had been used previously as it was purchased from a pre-existing mill operated by the Dumas’ in Grande-Anse and some pieces were purchased from the Sutherland Mill in Pokemouche. The steam powered mill had substantial production capacity and the long lumber carriage and saw had the capacity to cut logs up to three (3) feet in diameter. Adjacent to the steam mill, a small house was constructed to house a night watchman who maintained fire in the fire box so that steam could be produced to power the engine at the beginning of each 8 am. workday. The steam powered mill was operated for many years and for a number of years when the water level of the Pokeshaw River allowed, the steam powered mill and the water powered sawmill operated concurrently.

The grist mill was not operated beyond 1914. Large commercial operations had the ability to supply even rural New Brunswick with more refined flour by that time. The “opening” of the western provinces and their ability to produce grain along with the expansion of the railway impacted greatly on the production of grain in the Maritime provinces. Moreover, advancing technology outdated the Riordon grist mill and parts became difficult to replace.

Thomas W. Riordon passed away in 1939 at the age of 72 and Mary Anne passed away in 1942 also at 72 years of age. The sawmills were operated for a number of years after the latter’s death by their sons; however, as time passed pulpwood sales became the principal source of livelihood along with various agricultural commodities. As with the grist mill earlier, both the water powered saw mill and the steam powered mill became outdated. They could not compete with the large modern mills in the big centers. Eventually, the mills fell into complete disuse and presently the descendants of Thomas W. Riordon operate a relatively large and modern dairy farm on the original Riordon farm. In the early nineteen eighties, the grist mill building and machinery, along with the carding machine, which had fallen into a state of disrepair, were purchased for little more than a nominal figure by the Province of New Brunswick for refurbishment and reconstruction at the Acadian Village. Both the building and each part of each machine were completely disassembled and painstakingly repaired and reassembled to their original condition at the Acadian Village in Caraquet.

Today, it forms a major component of the attractions at the Acadian Village. Its history, though not properly recognized, is partially provided orally by the Village staff if requested.

To the passerby, driving by the Riordon farm, he or she would not be aware of the industry that once took place there. Neither would they be aware of the contribution of the mills that were there to the development of not only the small and immediate communities in the vicinity but to New Brunswick’s north shore in general and of the contribution of those who worked and supplied them. Certainly, the industry created and operated by John Joseph Riordon and Thomas W. Riordon was small in comparison to the larger industries in bigger centers. Small industries of this kind however at one time dotted rural New Brunswick in its entirety. Stories of this nature can be written by the hundreds for each and every one of those little industries. There is no doubt that those little industries in New Brunswick formulated a major portion of the foundation of New Brunswick’s development and contributed in large part to the raising of generations of New Brunswickers, many of whom had roots in Ireland and many of whom have left our province and who have and continue to contribute to the development of vast regions of Canada.

[1] Land Petition Records, Provincial Archives of New Brunswick.
[2] Land Petition Records, Provincial Archives of New Brunswick
[3] Gloucester County Records, Volume 5, page 586.
[4] Ibid. p. 443.
[5] Ibid. Volume 23, p. 479.
[6] Gloucester County Records, Volume 28, p. 163.
[7] Ibid. Volume 33, p, 916, No. 415.

Profile of a Special Irish Lass – – Eva Steele–

eva steele 1

eva steele 2



A diminutive five feet tall, weighing less than 100 lbs, Eva Steele embodies all that is Irish with her sparkling blue eyes that will either embrace you or dismiss you in a flash of pure Irish honesty.  Born in Ennis, County Clare, Ireland in what she would coyly admit was some time during our last century, Eva was the only daughter, 2nd eldest in a sea of five sons born to James and Violet (ni Capon) Lynch.  Her father was a member of the Irish constabulary.
Eva dancing at the Hampton Coffee HouseA resident of Saint John since December 13th 1946 when she arrived in Canada as a young war bride on The Empire Brent, (which docked at Pier 1, Halifax) Eva still retains that soft Irish brogue from her home town. Soon after settling in Saint John with husband, John H Steele, Eva resumed her career in nursing, first in private duty, then at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Saint John and finally at the Saint John Regional Hospital until her retirement. Eva is the proud mother of two; her son Robert (Nicole) Steele (currently of Fredericton) and daughter Joyce (Dave) O’Hanlon (of Australia). 

Picture (R): Eva dancing at the Hampton Coffee House.

Eva in the thick of Irish celebrations!Throughout it all, Eva’s boundless energy was evident as she made her mark in her adopted homeland, amazing all with her enviable ability to work tirelessly for a good cause and to charm all those around her while she was at it. Not one to sit quietly in the background, Eva became a well-recognized fixture of the Saint John community, entertaining everyone with her Irish dancing, singing, acting, poetry recitations and endless capacity for good old Irish fun! Her recitation “Ode to Dr. Collins,” a poem about a young Saint John Doctor who gave his life helping the sick on Partridge Island in 1847, resounds with the lilt of the Irish land and you can still hear the ring of the hills of Clare in her voice. To this day, if there is an Irish activity underway, you’ll find Eva in the thick of it!!

Eva was a founding member of the Irish Canadian Cultural Association of New Brunswick and has worked tirelessly for the advancement of Irish culture and heritage in this province ever since. A remarkable and determined worker, she was responsible for single-handedly obtaining over 3,000 signatures to have Partridge Island protected as a historical site.

It would never be a surprise for the phone to ring at 8:30 a.m. “Hello, it’s Eva. I’ve just sold a full page advertisement for the Shamrock Leaf.” By this time this youthful senior would already be at work in her “office” having finishing her breakfast of four slices of bacon, a grilled tomato, some scrambled egg and a slice of whole wheat toast, a good hearty breakfast for a deceivingly hearty individual! 

Picture (R): Eva with Farrell McCarthy, Editor of the ICCANB newsletter magazine, The Shamrock Leaf.
Eva with Farrell McCarthy, Editor of the ICCANB newsletter magazine, The Shamrock Leaf.
As much as Eva is consumed with energy when it comes to promoting Irish history and culture, she is also consumed with the love of friends and family. She makes frequent trips to Ireland, visiting her one remaining brother, Bill Lynch in Malon, County Donegal, and the rest of her extended family, and has made the trip to Australia five times to visit her daughter and family.

Fiercely independent, Eva insists she could make these trips on her own but her son, Robert, accompanied her on her most recent trip to Ireland just “so she could keep an eye on him!”. It’s this Irish humour, combined with her small stature, boundless energy and mischievous glint in her eye that makes Robert think his mother may very well be of Leprechaun stock!

Eva with ICCANB members Mary May, Donna Blanchard and Helena Hook at the Saint John Arts CentrePicture (L): Eva with ICCANB members Mary May, Donna Blanchard and Helena Hook at the Saint John Arts Centre.

In addition to her extended family and her 4 grandchildren, Michelle & Jason Steele, Deirdre (O’Hanlon)(Joe) Quinn and James (Ceri Forbes) O’Hanlon, and three great-grandsons, Declan Quinn, Callum and Bailey O’Hanlon, Eva has no difficulty keeping track of years’ worth of friends and acquaintances from around the globe. She’ll regale you with stories of who is married to whom, who has recently welcomed a new addition to their family, who has fallen ill and who is on the mend, all the time weaving in history lessons and tidbits of general interest. Her amazing memory and capacity for capturing details, and then retelling them in the most entertaining way, may be attributed to the social skills she developed during her nursing career but are just as likely to stem from the very makeup of this extraordinary Irish lass.

Recognition for Eva’s Efforts

Throughout her active life, Eva has accumulated many volunteer hours and has been deservedly honoured for her efforts. She was at the inaugural meeting of the I.C.C.A.N.B. held at St. Malachy`s High School in 1984 and has been on the Board of Directors ever since. She has also served on the Provincial Board for over twenty years and is a well known face in the ticket booth at the Miramichi Irish Festival.

In March of 2003, Eva was presented with a framed certificate which read:

“In appreciation of faithful and dedicated service, and as a token of esteem and affection, A Lifetime Membership Award is presented to Eva Steele, by the Irish Canadian Cultural Association of New Brunswick, Saint John Chapter.”
In March of 2005, she was named Honorary Chairperson of St. Patrick’s Week in Saint John and presented with a plaque which read:
“In Recognition and Appreciation to Eva Steele, Honorary Chairperson, St. Patrick’s Week, March 12 2005”.
 “I’m delighted. She really is a treasure,” commented past President Dr. Danny Britt when told that Eva Steele was selected to be the Honorary Chair of the 2005 celebrations.


Eva as “Queen Aoife” 
Eva presiding as Queen Aoife

Dubbed “Queen of the Irish” by the group Men and Music, Eva has earned this title through her countless contributions to the Irish Canadian Cultural Association of Saint John. In recent years she has dressed up in her long green velvet gown and golden crown to preside as “Queen Aoife” of Tir Na N’Og (The Land of Youth) for the St. Patrick’s Week children’s ‘Wearing of the Green’ held in Brunswick Square.

Eva, the Performer 

Eva with film director Daniel McCarthyAlways willing to perform, Eva was delighted when, as soon as movie director Daniel McCarthy laid eyes on her, he knew that she was perfect for a role in his movie “Irish Eyes” (released as “Vendetta – no justice, no mercy”) which starred Daniel Baldwin. No stranger to the stage, Eva danced her Irish hornpipe and recited poetry at the Imperial Theatre on numerous occasions. You will usually find her at the Annual Benefit Breakfast at O’Leary’s Pub in Saint John, in aid of the Belfast Children’s Vacation, with her dancing shoes at the ready. She was on the Entertainment Committee for the arrival of the 3 masted sailing ship, “The Jeanie Johnston” when it arrived in Saint John from Tralee, Ireland. Picture (L): Eva with film director Daniel McCarthy 

Eva is also an active member of Comhaltas, a worldwide organization that promotes the music, song, dance and language of Ireland, and has fundraised and organized many of their Christmas parties and events in Saint John.

Eva and Famous People:

Never far from a camera lens, Eva has been photographed with Frank McKenna; Former Mayor, Shirley McAlary; Former MP Elsie Wayne; Monsignor Sheehan; President of Ireland, Mary McAleese; Irish Tenor, Frank Patterson; Film Director, Daniel McCarthy, Fiddle champion, Seamus Connolly of Boston and many more!! She is the darling of all!
Eva with Frank McKenna
Eva with Aide to President of ireland
Eva with Monsignor Sheehan
Eva with Monsignor Sheehan
Eva with Elsie Wayne
Pictures: Eva with:( L-R, Top to bottom) Frank McKenna; Aide to the President of Ireland; Monsignor Sheehan; Elsie Wayne, former Mayor of Saint John; fiddle champion Seamus Connolly. 
The ICCANB feels honoured to have had such a long association with this great and inspiring lady and wishes Eva many more years in which to regale us with her quick wit, enthusiastic performances, and just the wee bit of helpful “advice” when we start to go astray!

Best wishes now and always, Eva, from all your family, friends, and general admirers.

Lest We Forget

by Shauna Driscoll

Spirituality is a subject that affects us all, in one way or another, throughout our entire lives, but there is no time that tests our beliefs more than in the time of war. Of all man’s inventions, this is the creation that forces even the purest of heart and mind to contemplate and question their faith. When faced with the horror that unfolds before them, they can do nothing but wonder what sort of God would allow such nightmares to exist on this beautiful planet.
They are not alone in their struggles. Within the ranks, marching side by side, are men and women who have not only given their lives to God, but to helping our service men and women retain the faith they need to make it through just one more day on the battlefield.
Little talked about, they are given perhaps the most important task of all – the care of the hearts, minds and souls of soldiers who dedicate their lives to protecting our safety and freedom.
“’I’ll give you just three nights in the front line trench before your hair will turn grey.’”(1) So Rev. B.J. Murdoch was told by another priest during his early days in the military of the first World War, and which he recounts in his book “The Red Vineyard”, which is then followed by the even less encouraging, “’You’ll not be very long in the army till you’ll wish yourself out of it again.’” (2)

lest we forget 1

Truer words were probably never spoken, but no matter how discouraging they may have seemed they could not stop the Reverend Murdoch from facing the horrors ahead. He was, if not prepared, then most certainly determined to continue his work despite being faced with such a dour outlook. His strong heart and mind, perhaps bred through his Irish heritage, would not turn away from such a worthy cause. 
Quaint churches, glorious cathedrals, unwavering parishioners were not to be part of his life for quite some time as he joined the ranks of war. Indeed, the main tool of his trade was provided by the military in a small wooden box, which he recalls with a sense of fondness.
“After a few days a box about one foot and a half long, one foot high and nine inches wide, arrived. It was made of wood covered with a kind of grey cloth, with strips of black leather about the edges and small pieces of brass at every corner. There was leather grips on it so that it could be carried as a satchel. It was my little portable altar, containing everything necessary for saying Mass. One half opened and stood upright from the part containing the table of the altar, which when opened out was three feet long. Fitted into the oak table was the little marble altar-stone, without which one may not say Mass. In the top of the upright part was a square hole in which the crucifix fitted to stand above the altar; on either side were holders to attach the candlesticks. From the wall that formed a compartment in the upright portion, where the vestments were kept, the altar cards unfolded; these were kept in place by small brass clips attached to the upright. Chalice, ciborium, missal and stand, cruets, wine, altar-breads, bell, linens, etc., were in compartments beneath the altar table. The whole was wonderfully compact and could be carried with one hand.”(3)
His whole life, his career, packed away in one small box that was able to be carried like a satchel. Looking about myself, taking in my own possessions, gathered with care and love and memories, I can’t imagine having my entire life put together in one small box, and yet Reverend Murdoch and those like him achieved perhaps their greatest feat with such limited resources. 
They did not think of all they had left behind, but looked ahead to all that they would gain.
For Reverend Murdoch, it wasn’t about the battlefield or skirmishes. It was about lives, the lives of men he would have seen everyday, and the stories they’d have to tell. Repentance would be the norm from men afraid of what would happen from day to day, hour to hour, and yet he never questioned their motives, or their purpose. He remained an honoured confidante with the strength of character to listen to all these men had to confess, and offer them some form of salvation.
One afternoon Reverend Murdoch was approached by a soldier who, in his quiet manner, desperately needed to talk. For hours this soldier poured out his entire life history, stating over and over “’Father, I’ve led an awful life!’”(4) He seemed to feel it was important for Reverend Murdoch to know why he’d turned his back on God, and why he wasn’t deserving of any forgiveness for his sins. After hours of this conversation, when the soldier had apparently exhausted all he’d needed to say, he didn’t meet any form of recrimination or doubt, just an acknowledgement of the words spoken, and an offer to help. “’Yes,’ I said, ‘and now if you will come with me into the confessional and ask God’s pardon from the bottom of your heart for all those sins, I will give you holy absolution.’”(5)
It was late evening by the time Reverend Murdoch finished speaking with the solider, offering advice and hope, despite the soldier’s initial thought that he deserved none of it. One small step, to make such a great difference in the life of one man, and in doing the same for one more, and then one more, making a greater difference to all who had contact with him in such a dangerous time.
Rev. Raymond Myles HickeyPerhaps Reverend Murdoch thought his war-time counsel would have ended with WWI, but he was most certainly mistaken. Many years later, as Canadian soldiers once again gathered to be sent overseas, he was approached by a former student, the young Reverend R. Myles Hickey (Picture at left).
Reverend Hickey was making his own decisions of whether to go to war or stay home, wrestling with the same questions Reverend Murdoch had had some years before. His mentor offered encouragement, as repeated in Hickey’s book, “The Scarlet Dawn”, and truth combined. “’Yes, go Father Raymond; you will make a good chaplain; and if you are killed, well you’ll save your soul.’”(6)
Reverend Murdoch’s last words would have shaken the strongest of men, and they did cause Reverend Hickey to realize, perhaps for the first time, that death was a great possibility. It might have made others turn aside from the service, but Reverend Hickey faced those fears and joined the men going to the war. Later, during some of the worst battles, Reverend Murdoch’s words came back to him, and in them Reverend Hickey found the strength to carry on. He might die on those fields so far from home, but in so doing he would save his soul, and perhaps the souls of the men fighting alongside him.
Later, when Reverend Hickey had occasion to speak with a Senior Chaplain who describes for him in vivid detail the horrific retreat at Dunkirk, Hickey wished to be back in his home at Jacquet River. His faith almost failed him, leaving him wondering, “My turn will come, and will I have the courage to go through it?”(7)
He finds, as the days continue to pass, that he does have the courage. He found the strength in his faith, and the faith of those around him to carry on, day by day, to continue administering to the needs of his men, and even to help them through their own little romances amidst the events that unfolded.
One evening Reverend Hickey is approached by a shy, young soldier who reminds him of an offer to write letters for the men who cannot read. Reverend Hickey might be a little surprised when the young man blurts out, “’Could you – could you – could you write a love letter.’”(8), but no matter how unusual the request for a chaplain, Reverend Hickey merely assured the man that he was a master at love letters.
A sweet moment during a terrible time; and a moment that came back to Reverend Hickey some four years later. When preparing the day’s dead he comes across a familiar face; the same soldier, who had been so anxious to write his love letter, now being lowered into a narrow grave. As Reverend Hickey whispers his prayer for the young man he recalls the struggle over that letter, the repeated “Dear Mary, Dear Mary,”(9) as the soldier tried to work out what to say to his love back at home. And later as the Reverend writes to her about the death of her husband, the same voice repeating “I love you, I love you as much as…”(10), to which the young man had eventually ended, “…as much as I love the Lord!” (11)
We hear so often of the struggles of soldiers, of the heroism on the battlefield. We’re asked to remember the war, in the hopes of learning from our mistakes. We’re taught about the great Generals of our time who led our men and women to victory. And here, almost silently, are a group of military service men who have put aside their comfortable lives and quiet service to God so that they may be beside our soldiers, marching across war-torn countryside, to offer some sense of hope and faith in a time that could easily destroy both.
It may be rare to hear their names, or think of their positions, but they remain the silent guardians of all hearts in war. May we remember them, and pray for them, like all those who fought so fearlessly for our great country.
Lest we forget….

Memorial in Capriquet, France
(1) The Red Vineyard – Reverend B. J. Murdoch – Page 12
(2) Ibid.
(3) The Red Vineyard – Reverend B. J. Murdoch – Page 19
(4) The Red Vineyard – Reverend B. J. Murdoch – Page 116
(5) Ibid.
(6) The Scarlet Dawn – Reverend R Myles Hickey, UNIPRESS, Fredericton, N.B. – Page 12
(7) The Scarlet Dawn – Reverend R. Myles Hickey, UNIPRESS, Fredericton, N.B. – Page 97
(8) The Scarlet Dawn – Reverend R. Myles Hickey, UNIPRESS, Fredericton, N.B. – Page 40
(9) Ibid.
(10) The Scarlet Dawn – Reverend R. Myles Hickey, UNIPRESS, Fredericton, N.B. – Page 41
(11) Ibid

Picture (above): Memorial in Carpiquet, France to the soldiers of the North Shore Regiment, 8th Infantry Brigade, Canada

Right Rev. Benedict J. Murdoch (1886 – 1973)
Born in Chatham, NB on March 21, 1886, son of Robert Murdoch and Mary Allen, Benedict J. Murdoch received his elementary and high school education in Chatham, and his univerity courses at St. Dunstan’s College, Charlottetown, PEI, from which he graduated in 1908. In September of that year, he entered the Grand Seminary in Quebec and was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Barry on June 29, 1911.
Except for a few months spent in the Redemptorist Novitiate in Ilchester near Baltimore, Maryland, USA, in 1914, Father Murdoch’s early years in priesthood were given to the pastoral ministry in New Brunswick: in Balmoral, Charlo, Dundee and Newcastle. During World War I, in 1915, he enlisted as chaplain to the 132nd North Shore Battalion; and from then until the end of the war he served as chaplain with the Canadian Expeditionary Force in France, Germany and Belgium. From these harrowing years came the warp and weft of the material he presents in his best-known book, “The Red Vineyard.” Here, he relives for his readers the experiences of those war years which, when it was all over, demanded an exacting toil from his human resources, as he recounts in a later autobiography, “Part Way Through.”
In his book about his WWI experiences, “The Red Vineyard”, Father Murdoch provided this dedication:
“To the memory of all those men
With whom I walked up and down
The ways of The Red Vineyard;
But especially to the memory of those
Who stopped in the journey, and now
Rest softly in their little green bivouacs
In the shadow of the small white crosses,
This book is affectionately dedicated by their
Friend and Comrade”

Returning home from the war, he served as pastor at Jacquet River (1919 – 1921) and at Douglastown (1921 – 1930). By then, the ill effects of his years in military service were definitely manifesting themselves, so that he was forced to give up his pastoral duties and accept a prolonged period of rest. In 1932, he retired from active full-time participation in the ministry and spent several years at Bartibogue, where he produced most of his novels and meditative writings by which he has been recognized as one of the leading prose stylists of Canada. His tenth and last book, “Facing Into The Wind”, arrived from the press on the very day of his death – the final visible achievement of this priest – soldier who has been described by one of his comrades-in-arms as “one of the very best”.

In 1971, on the sixtieth anniversary of his ordination, Father Murdoch received from Pope Paul VI the special honour and title of “Honorary Prelate to His Holiness”, a fitting recognition of his richly beautiful giving to the People of God during so many years. The last three years of his life were spent at Mount St. Joseph. He died at Hotel-Dieu Hospital on Wednesday evening, January 31, 1973.
Msgr. R. M. Hickey (Maj.) MC
Born in Jacquet River, NB, Raymond Myles Hickey attended the local school; St. Thomas University, Chatham; and Holy Heart Seminary, Halifax, NS.
After ordination in 1933, he did ministry in Bathurst, Campbellton, and Chatham, NB. For three years prior to the war, he was on the faculty of St. Thomas University.
His six years as Army Chaplain were a great experience. He won the Military Cross on D-Day at St. Aubin, France, and was invested by the late King George VI at Buckingham Palace on July 5, 1945. In 1956, he was made a Domestic Prelate with the title of Monsignor. In 1976, his Alma Mater conferred on him the degree of Doctor of Laws, Honoris Causa.
He is author of three books, “Scarlet Dawn,” “My Hobbies Three”, and “D-Day Memories.” He also collaborated with the Reader’s Digest in the three-volume “Canadians at War.” 
In his book “Scarlet Dawn” Monsignor Hickey penned the following dedication:
“To all in the Army, Navy and Air Force who went out to meet the “Scarlet Dawn”, but especially to those for whom that Dawn was the Evening of their life, this book is dedicated.”
Msgr. Hickey in France at 35th anniversary of D-Day“In 1979, Msgr. Hickey was chosen to attend the Ceremonies for the 35th Anniversary of D.Day in Normandy, France. On June 6, 1979, in the Beny-sur-mer Military Cemetery, where 2,400 Canadian Soldiers lie buried, Msgr. Hickey, speaking to the large crowd in French and English, ended his speech as follows:
“My dear friends, my dear confreres, my dear compatriots: 

The prayer that I am going to say with you here this morning is the same prayer that I said here so often – oh, so often – 35 years ago. 

You, too, from experience, know this prayer.

“They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning,
We will remember them; we will remember them.”
I thank you for the honour of saying this prayer here this morning. Without a doubt, it is for the last time.”(1)
In September, 1987, Father Hickey returned to France to take part in the unveiling of a monument to the men of the North Shore Regiment who died at Carpiquet on July 4, 1944. It was during this visit that Msgr. Hickey retired to his room for the night and quietly passed away in his sleep. As he so often prayed for others – he will be remembered.

(1)The Scarlet Dawn – Reverend R Myles Hickey, UNIPRESS, Fredericton, N.B. – Page xxxi


Links to other sites and stories about Chaplains BJ Murdoch and RM Hickey, and the war-time Chaplaincy in general:
In the Day of Battle:  Canadian Catholic Chaplains in the Field,1885-1945 by Duff Crerar (CCHA, Historical Studies, 61 (1995), 53-77)
The Scarlet Dawn by by Melynda Jarratt, Webmaster, – a brief biography of Msgr. RM Hickey
D-Day: Canadian troops land in Normandy as part of the largest invasion in history (A CBC “Canada – A People’s History” production)
An article on Capriquet and D-Day from Esprit de Corps magazine on-line 
The Normandy Campaign from the Juno Beach Centre

In addition to the two books mentioned above (The Red Vineyard by Rev. BJ Murdoch and The Scarlet Dawn by Msgr. RM Hickey), another book of interest about war-time Irish New Brunswickers is “North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment” by Will R. Bird, Brunswick Press 1963. Please check with your local library or book store for availability of these books as one or more of them may no longer be in print.