Old St. Andrews



Dr. McStay's, St. Andrews



St. Croix Courier, March 12, 1942
Shiretown Items
Some Local History

When a reader writes a long letter . . . and states that he is old enough to clearly remember the Saxby Gale (1869), when he tells of many interesting personal experiences during his boyhood and youth spent here; and when he says that although he has covered a lot of ground since leaving St. Andrews he has never found a place that he liked as well as the old home town, it seems that his letter should have public recognition.

The writer was W. F. McStay, now living in Moncton. . . . Mr. McStay was living at the corner of Princess Royal and Carleton streets at the time of the big gale. He says every shade tree in town was uprooted and flattened to the ground. He was much interested in the picture of Fort Tipperary, appearing recently in the Courier, and remembers the band that used to practise there. He says there were 400 soldiers stationed there at one time and his grandfather Dr. McStay was the army doctor. He as a vivid recollection of wonderful coasting on Kirk Hill, of wharves lined with ships, loading or unloading; of sham fights the soldiers used to have; of marching to the cemetery and back on a soft day in winter with a new pair of shoes which were ruined. He remembers Harold Stickney's father, who also just have been musician as the writers claims he could swear by note.

The old armoury, destroyed by fire, had a wonderful bell. It could be heard, in St. Stephen when the wind was blowing upriver. After the fire the bell was melted down and everybody in town had a ring made from it, cast by Mike McMonagle at his foundry. (I wonder if anybody in town has one of those old rings!) Mr. McStay speaks of Jim Handy, organizer of fox hunts on Minister's Island; of the launching of the Annie P. Odell; of single scull races between Bob Brown and Harry Jones in their fifty-foot racing shells. Mr. McStay worked in the machine shop here and recalls the names of some more of the old wood-burner locomotives, the "Shamrock," the "thistle," the "Rose" and the "Manners Sutton." He remembers the old river boats including the Belle Brown. When the weather was thick Eber Polleys was engaged to stand on the wharf and blow bugle-calls in answer to the steamer's whistle so she could find her way in. . . .

Mr. McStay tells of an interesting local incident connected with the so-called "Trent Affair," of 1861 as told to him by his father who was an eyewitness. The people of St. Andrews had known nothing of this affair which nearly caused war between United States and Great Britain and were much surprised when a British troop ship steamed in to the harbour. Several hundrewd soldiers were put ashore and formed on at Gove's hall near the depot headed by a military band. They marched to the head of the town, then down again with fixed bayonets, the band playing and the soldiers singing, "We'll grease our bayonets on the Rebels 'way down in Dixie." Then they boarded the train with the local inhabitants none the wiser,; but after a few days they were back again, boarded their ship and sailed away never to return. The Trent affair, thanks to wise heads, had been settled amicably.