Glimpses of the Past-Magaguadavic GLIMPSES OF THE PAST-SAINT CROIX COURIER-AUGUST 10, 1893






Captain Philip Bailey and the fifty-eight others received a grant of 100-150 acres of land in the valley of the Magaguadavic, of the same date as the grant to Dr. Paine and others, March 29, 1784. Most of Captain Bailey's associates were brother officers, or non-commissioned officers and private soldiers of his regiment, the Royal Fencible Americans.

It was probably through the influence of Lieut. Clinch of the same regiment, whose extensive grant of land at the lower falls has been already mentioned* that the Magaguadavic valley was selected for these settlers, in accordance with the general plan of placing soldiers and their officers along the border line.

The beautiful valley with its rich meadow lands, its noble forests and its grand water power, no doubt looked very attractive to the enthusiasts who first visited it; but the rocky hills, now valuable for their red granite quarries, were worthless to those who chanced to draw their lots in those places. The first seven lots on the east side of the river, running northward from the Clinch grant, extended to the lake, the position and the extent of which were unknown to the surveyors at the time; and lands to the eastward of the lake were afterwards allotted to the proprietors of these seven lots by the New Brunswick government, 'to make up the deficiency occasioned by error in the Nova Scotia grant, by which no allowance was made for the lake.'

It was at this time that the lake received its name of Utopia, (Nowhere,)--not from any fancied resemblance to Sir Thomas More's imaginary happy island of that name, but in remembrance of the disappointment of the grantees when, in exploring their land, they found so large a portion of it covered by the waters of the lake.

Among the grantees of the river lots farther to the northward were John Walton, Ronald Campbell, John Goss, James Neill, Digory Sparks, Henry Snyder, William Sutherland, Samuel McDugald, and Samuel Bliss; with others whose names are less familiar to people of the present day.

At the forks of the Magaguadavic, on an old plan, appear the names of John Davidson, Moses Estey, George Von Gereau, Charles Cox, Daniel Lee, and Daniel Lee, Jr. The stream here entering the main river is called Pestuguack--now Kedron brook.

However attractive the valley of the Magaguadavic may have seemed to the first explorers, it must have been the scene of great hardships to the soldiers who were waiting there for their grants through the winter of 1783-4. A graphic account of their situation is given in the following extract from a letter written by the late Patrick Clinch, in 1835:--

My father had charge of a party of soldiers who were disbanded at Fort Cumberland in 1783, and sent to colonize a howling wilderness--the most unfit employment they could be put to. The delay which took place in furnishing a vessel to convey them and their stores added much to their difficulties. It was not until the 10th of November that a landing was affected at the mouth of the Magaguadavic, where there was neither house nor habitation of any kind to receive them; and so glad was the skipper of the vessel to get rid of such a disorderly and almost mutinous crew, that he sailed away the moment he got them landed. He was under some apprehension that they would insist on coming away with him again rather than land on such an inhospitable shore. That night my father slept in the open air, and such a heavy fall of snow came that he had some difficulty in removing the bed clothes next morning.

Many of these soldiers, perhaps, made their way to the town of St. George's and lived there as best they could until the destruction of the town; others took the first opportunity of leaving the country. The few who remained are the forefathers of the present inhabitants of the upper district of St. George.


*Articles lxx and lxxiv.

Written by permission of the Saint Croix Courier

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