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A Journal of Dr Arthur Sagar ROBINSON

- contributed, and typed from the original by William Robinson of Calgary (- a Grandson of Dr Arthur Sagar ROBINSON)

"From A. S. Robinson’s Journal

Notes on Port Elgin Westmorland County New Brunswick December 15 1929

With the changing times and as I advance in middle life I seem to have less and less “leisure to think”. My work seems to become more exacting or, perhaps I am less able to do it with quickness and decision. Hence my time for note making is also less and those here written are done without any previous draft or preparation what ever. These lines are to preserve the memories of the village in which I was born.

I am prompted to jot these memories down by a realization that unless I do so all maybe lost. Since my father died I realize what a history of the shipbuilding in Port Elgin I might have written from his stories. But I was hurried and tired always it seems and when I sat and listened to his often repeated stories I did not realize how they might have been pieced together and by a few questions connecting information might have been obtained as it no doubt was in his mind. Now he is gone and that is lost forever.

This morning I had a conversation with my mother who is still with us and asked her some questions regarding the early history of her side of our family. When I was a school boy in the village school a teacher asked us to write of the early history of Port Elgin. My maternal Grandmother was then alive and she gave me some items of interest. I have not been able to find that essay. If I ever do I propose adding it to this article.

My mother was Eliza Jane Ward. Her father’s name was Amos Ward but her mother was Maria Ogden daughter of John Ogden who was the first settler who came to Port Elgin. He was from Sackville. His father was born in the United States and came to Sackville with the Loyalists. At that time his father lay in prison there for his loyalty and when he sent his family on to Sackville said he would remain in prison “till the flies carried him out the keyhole before he would change his politics”. This saying came down the years in our family but Grandmother Ward did not tell me whether her Great grand father ever joined his wife and children in Sackville or not.

There were other Ogdens in Sackville, cousins I believe, of my Grandmother – a big, hardy successful race of farmers.

Their first house was on the riverbank, a spring still bubbles from the bank where it stood. The next house was at the head of what is now Church street and was occupied in my boyhood by Paul Daverenne a French Acadian in the employ of Hazen Copp who was the lumber King of that district when I was a boy. I was never in that house. The shipyard was on the bank of the river above the house. In my boyhood it was a field coated with ships and the debris of the building bays. An old steaming box was there used by the men to steam the planks and make them pliable before putting them with the sides of the ship.

My great grandfather was a Methodist. His wife was a Baptist. I have their pictures in a quaint old case. I have also a church card issued to John Ogden by his minister in the year 1839, June quarter tickets, this was a custom of the Methodist church right down to its entering the union with the United Church of Canada. John and his wife had eight children Alfred, John Strong, Edward, Cynthia who married a tailor named William of River John, Maria (Mrs. Amos Ward my grandmother) Roxana, ( who was married for her mother and married Byron Atkinson, an employee in the ship yard. She had a hard life and died at the age of 28 leaving two boys Eddie and Ethelbert a nurse, Eddie is a doctor now, Williams and Alfred.

The oldest was Alfred who died with a fever very young and the youngest was also Alfred who lived to be an old man and died at the age of 82 in Bedford, Nova Scotia. Alfred was a member of parliament for Guysboro county Nova Scotia representing the county at Ottawa during the heyday of Charles Tupper’s career. He was selected as a suitable candidate by Sir Charles himself. Alfred worked at one time for the Portland Packing Company in the city in winter and in the corn fields in summer where they put up corn. My mother lived with them in Portland Maine USA from 1869 to 1871 a year and seven months. At the time of his death he had charge of a fish hatchery at Bedford Basin near Halifax. Edward was the shipbuilder. I gather that many of his building operations were financed by the Woods in Sackville. Mortimer Wood and his son Joshua, who belonged to the first class of the BA’s from Mount Allison and was afterward Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick.

Strong Ogden was drowned in the river at Port Elgin. Edward died at his home in Sackville. Edward’s first wife was Carrie Gooden sister of Edwin C Gooden. Edwin C Gooden kept a store and did a lumber business in Baie Verde in my boyhood. My first visit to a city was to Charlottetown when I was eleven years old I went in the Venola a tugboat owned by the E.C. Gooden company Mr. Gooden himself accompanied us. By his first wife E.C. Gooden was the father of professor Will Gooden who taught in Upper Canada and is now an old man but a well known scientist and is, I think, an expert in mining and geology. I saw not long ago his name quoted and I gathered that he was in that department for the Dominion Government.

Edward and Carries Ogden had one daughter Alice, She is Mrs. (Rev.) Smith. They live in the west. He is now a retired minister. Alice Ada visited at our Port Elgin farm a few years before my fathers death (about 10 years ago) and made notes from his communication regarding the ships built by Uncle Edward Ogden. Picture I have in my Moncton home of the Brigantine Alice Ada is a craft named for her. Edward Ogden’s second wife was Lattie (Charlotte) Silliker, daughter of Jacob Silliker and referred to in my article often pages back on the Fort Moncton property. I got the picture from Mrs. Maggie Atkinson who likely enough got it from Uncle Edward’s second wife who was her sister.

The side saddle which my great-grandmother Ogden used to ride to Sackville when she went shopping was at one time on the Silliker place at the Fort and was supposed to have been given to Fred Silliker’s sister, Miss Margaret, at present a teacher; and at this date teaching near Shediac. Grandfather Ward had a grant of land of 160 acres in what is now the road to Cape Tormentine and Shemogue. It was between the village and the place where Chandler Allen now lives. It included all or part of the farms of Anthony and David field brothers, both blacksmiths of Port Elgin. Mother was down in the old Ogden house at the head of Church St.. The Wards lived in a log house on the East side of the river and afterwards moved to a house in the village built by Strong Ogden and now owned by Courtney B. Copp. This house has been re-built and is next to the Doctor H.C. Carter property in the village on which Courtney B. Copp now lives. Grandfather Ward was not a successful farmer and Grandmother Ward secured a life-lease of the house I have referred to. She died at our Fort Moncton place. She lived with us after Grandfather’s death. She was 82 at the time of her death. She lived with us about 10 years. Grandfather was born at the Upper Cape, so called. He worked around the ship-yard, he had no force and was very deaf ever since I could remember. He had a brother John Ward a carpenter – a very intelligent man. He is the father of Mrs Annie Moore who lives a great deal of the time in a cottage at Indian Point near Fort Moncton. John Ward worked in the first Ladies College Building in Sackville and took his pay up in tuition for his daughter, Annie. She married Alfred Moore. They had in my boyhood a gristmill, a mile north of Port Elgin on Otter Creek, ---Moore’s Mill, we called it. We fished in the pond and were always welcome. Mr. Moore became an agent for the Great West Life Insurance Company and was very successful in that capacity.

Grandfather Ward’s mother was a Raworth [first letter of this name is somewhat illegible]. She was born in England and taught school in Newfoundland at the age of 16. There were 7 in my mother’s family: Alfred (drowned at sea), Edward. A farmer in Illinois, Douglas a Cabinet Maker who worked at the Carriage trade with Harris Chapman in Port Elgin and later with Rhodes Henry, Amhearst, H………., an utter failure of whom I know not whether he is living or dead. William, a plasterer, of Chicago, I think. Eliza, my mother and Mary who is Mrs. David Murray. David Murray was an unsuccessful general merchant in Port Elgin. He now lives with his son Harold Horatia on a place adjoining ours. “Uncle Dave keeps the lighthouse” at the fort and has charge of The Dominion park there. Douglas is dead. Aunt Mary is still living at the fort.

Of my father’s people I know less than I ought. There were thirteen I think in the family: Mrs Whiteman, Mrs Lewis, Mrs O’Brien, Mrs Doyle, all dead except Mrs Whiteman, who still lives, I think in British Columbia. There were perhaps more girls. Of the boys I remember about John, a rich farmer in Point-de-Bute, now dead. Alexander, my father, Silas of Mt. Whatley, West Co. Amos of Boston and Trenholm of Amhearst Head all dead. Edmond, for a long time a farmer in Shemogue, but now living in Baie Verte. I do not know of the others.

My grandfather died before he was an old man – of a fever I think.

Grandmother Robinson married again to “Joe Ephriem Allen” a farmer of Cape Tormentine. They were also of the old school of hard working powerful people. All my father’s people seemed to be unusually big and strong and mostly of an extremely rough but hearty nature and many of their great “drivers”, that is, people who could put through an immense amount of physical labour on farms, in mills, in the woods etc. They were the pioneer type in its purest form. Uncle Trenholm (“Uncle Tren”) was the one beloved of the children, jolly and red-faced who joked with the young fry of our numerous projeny and for at least three generations of children delighted them with queer noises he was able to make with his tobacco pipe. He owned a small place in Amhearst Head near where the whole family loved at one time but he was a “sawyer” and followed the builder operations.

Grandmother Robinson was a Taylor (Eunice) She came from Five Islands N.S. I think but one of her ? received a grant of land from the King in or near Parsborough, N.S. being the first male child born there. But the land did not stay in the family. I can remember of seeing Grandmother Robinson but once. She came up from Cape Tormentine and it seemed to me my father carried her into the house from the carriage as she was ill from some cause and could not walk. This is all the recollection I have of her. I have just remembered another of my father’s sisters, aunt Olive. It seems strange I should have forgotten her. She is over ninety and lives with her son Albert Oulton in some part of Massachusetts I think. She was married three times I think. She was a Mrs Oulton, Mrs. Clarkin, and Mrs. Oulton again, the last time she was a very old woman when she married the second Mr. Oulton. They lived near Baie Verte till his death when she went with her son. Mrs. Doyle was Aunt Roxana (“Roxy”) she was married at least three times also.

August 31,1931

Mr. Jas Scott the road commissioner in the Port Elgin district began widening the road in front of the homestead – August 17, 1931. The ditches belonging to the old, French Road were quite plainly seen in “The Grove” when the underbrush was cleared away.
Several large trees and many small ones were cut down Capt. Carl Goodwin, Hudson Campbell, Omar Campbell his son, and Floyd Silliker were employed in this job.

Statement made to me by Mr. James G. Scott of Baie Verte.

“The first Allen, progenitor of the numerous race of Allens around Baie Verte, Port Elgin and Cape Tormentine, was a Scottish man by the name of Benjamin Allen. He married a woman of Dutch descent named Somers – a man-like woman of the pioneer type from whom the Allens claim they inherit their rather rough and ready characteristics. Benjamin and his hard-fisted wife had a large family and as they grew up they were well handled by their mother. As each boy in her mind had reached manhood she took him in a row boat around the short of the Bay to select a suitable farm site. This series of selections extended as far as Jourmarine Island (beyond Cape Tormentine lighthouse. A light is on it too at this date). It is called Liff’s Island. The last Government spent $55,000 trying to build a good road to it. To get to this island, instead of taking the sharp turn at Bayfield Corner as you come from Port Elgin and go to Cape Tormentine,
Keep right on out toward the beach. The tides wash the road away. Liff ( Eliphalet?) Settled on the island; Jonas at Bayside (…….) Probably the other. The first Allen house stood on one of my (Mr. Scott’s) farms. The gravestone of Benjamin is leaning against the house now used as a barn. On it is the following epitaph:

“Remember now, as you pass by,
As you are now so once was I,
As I am now so will you be,
Remember, now, prepare to dee”

James G. Scott
August 17, 1931

Since Mr. Scott told me the above story I saw the tombstone mentioned above in the Baie Verte Cemetery just inside the gate – but not set up. Evidently he had sent it up there. It has occurred to be perhaps Mrs. Allen was from “The Bend” as “Somers” was the name of the German families who first settled what is now Moncton."

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