Old St. Andrews



The Blockhouses



The Blockhouses


July 23, 1841
Visit of His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor
On Monday afternoon, the 19th instant, we were gratified by a short and unexpected visit of His Excellency the Lieut. Governor. The instant it was ascertained that he had arrived several of the Magistrates, and person sin authority, waited in him, and attended him about the town, to show him the public buildings and to point out to him the best views. He took a hasty view of our Block Houses, and dilapidated Fort. We are informed His Excellency expressed himself much pleased with the neat appearance of the streets, the numerous handsome houses, and the general air of comfort that pervades our little town. We observed him conversing very affably with a number of Emigrants that have lately arrived from Ireland, and heard him advise them to weigh well the consequence of seeking a home in a foreign country, in preference to staying in the Provinces, which were government by Laws they were accustomed to. He seems very solicitous, that more facilities should be afforded the new comers, and more inducements offered the emigrant to settle upon our vacant lands. In his views we most earnestly concur. About half past 9, all the magistrates and as many of the gentry as could be assembled on so short a notice, waited upon him at Mr. Copeland’s Hotel, and presented him through the Hon. Col. Wyer with a respectful Address, which with his answer will be found in our columns of today. At 10 o’clock, he and a number of gentlemen repaired to the Hon Col. Hatch’s where they passed the evening. In the morning he inspected the Court House and Gaol, and there learning the peculiarly hard case of a Crown Prisoner confined for debt, most kindly, and in a very feeling manner desire the Sheriff to discharge him. His Excellency embarked shortly after in the steamboat Nova Scotia, for Saint John amidst a discharge of artillery and the cheers of a great concourse of spectators. The impression remaining on the our minds from what we have heard and seen of His Excellency, is that few Governors will have been more popular than Sir William Colebrooke bids fair to be.


April 15, 1866
Since our last issue, there has been an addition to the garrison; fifty men of Major Simonds Fredericton Volunteers, with officers, arrived, and a fine body of men they are, well drilled and of the right stuff to meet the enemies of their country; we know ell what the Frederictonians are. Major Simonds is at present acting commandant and drills the men daily. The large car shed of the Railway Company has been converted into a temporary barracks, the guard house on Water Street, and the Block House at Joe’s Point also afford shelter, and are points of observation.


May 30/1878
Jottings on the Street. No.1
Standing at the upper end of the town, and just where Harriet Street coyly touches Water Street, we look away down Water Street, taking into view as best we can its length and its breadth. One mile long it is said to be, by actual measurement. The statement is accepted.
            Here, at our starting point, a look in the opposite direction sees a dilapidated building—grim and war-like-looking, even in its antiquity. It bears the name of “Block House.” “It cants its head towards”—well, the East. Whatever service it may have rendered in the past—it promises none in the present or the future. Now, on each side of the Street, here at the Harriet Junction, are private residences. Those on the water side at not so cozy-looking as their opposites—neither have they fine garden plots as have the others. A few rods bring us to a vacant water lot—and here, some 40 years ago, James Rait, Esq., carried on a great trade as Merchant and Shipbuilder. The buildings were capacious, and in keeping with his very extensive business. Those were the times when grumbling over “hard times” were at a discount. The wail of “no work” was drowned by the busy hum of business on the shore, and the cheery “yo-heave-ho,” of the gallant tars in the harbor. Farmers, too, rattling along the streets with the rural products, found ready prices.


June 4/1891
The Block House
Well on to eighty years have passed since the block houses were erected in St. Andrews. Three of them were put up, one at Joe’s Point, one at the Western block, and one at the lighthouse wharf, near Indian Point. Their primary purpose was for the protection of the inhabitants of the peninsula against attacks of unfriendly Indians from United States territory, but he Indians never came, although they were frequently seen hovering around the shore on the Maine side of the St. Croix. In those days these wooden forts were considered almost impregnable against the attack of such an enemy, and certainly the precautions that were taken to strengthen them would justify such an idea.
            They were constructed of heavy pine logs, seventeen inches square, piled on top of each other, the interstices being tightly closed with tow. The lower section of these bloc-houses was in one room eighteen feet square, the upper section being twenty-two square feet, thus projecting two feet all around. The upper room of the fort had two rows of musket-holes around it, and there were also openings in the projection, so that those occupying the fort could fire down upon an enemy approaching the door or seeking to destroy the building by fire from either side. Racks filled with loaded muskets, encircled the room, above them being a collection of boarding-pikes, cutlasses and other implements of offence and defence. Two brass four-pounders completed the armament of the fort, port-holes being provided to shoot from.
            Of the three blockhouses, only one--that one at the western block—is standing today. The fort at the lighthouse wharf yielded to the march of civilization, being removed at the time the railway was begun. [1847] The Saxby gale proved more than a match for the fort at Joe’s Point, for when the gale subsided not a stick was left upon another. When Western block fort is still in a good state of preservation, but it was robbed of its munitions many year ago.
            The ramparts around this latter fort were protected in early times by twelve eight-pound cannons. For years these watchdogs did silent duty, and then when their usefulness was gone, and they were able to bark no longer, they were sold for old junk to the Pembroke iron-works. The present large ordnance were placed at the Fort during the period of the Fenian scare, but they have never been used, except for practice. The present block-house became one of the possessions of the Dominion government at Confederation, and the militia department has since controlled its destinies and collected the rents therefrom. Within a recent period Lady Tilley has secured a lease of the block-house. It is not known what purpose she intends putting it to. It would make quite a romantic summer hotel.


Aug 28/1902
Reminiscences of Bye-Gone Days
For the Beacon
In one of your late issues you requested information from the old inhabitants of St. Andrews, relative to the English soldiers who occupied the old Barracks, lately purchased by Sir Thomas Shaughnessy. As a native of St. Andrews, where I lived till the summer of 1854, I will simply say I have no recollection of the time when there were not solders in St. Andrews. In my schoolboy days I went to school with the sons of soldiers, at the old school house at the entrance to the old Episcopal Church, near the residence of the late Thomas Algar. I was born in 1826. In 1839 I left school and went to learn my trade with James Kennedy, who at that time lived in the old Gilchrist house, next to the house occupied by the late Russell Bradford. On the wharf below was John Treadwell’s block and spar yard. At that time, the officer in command was Lord Hill. He was a very handsome little man, a great horseman and had two English thoroughbred horses—the most beautiful creatures I ever saw. If I mistake not, his father was second in command at Waterloo. He used to gallop up the street to Mr. Kennedy’s, get off his horse and hitch him the latch of the door, sit up on Mr Kennedy’s cutting board, and chat by the hour about their old home in Ireland. They were both from the same town, in the County of Antrim, Ireland. There were never in my recollection more than 25 or 30 solders at the barracks, commanded by a lieutenant, the regiment being at St. John or Fredericton. Lord Hill was removed to St. John. As I remember he volunteered to ride a tailor’s horse in a race and won the race. He was afterward killed while riding a vicious horse in steeple chase in the old country. The horse threw him and broke his neck. He was the second man that horse killed. They shot the horse. I distinctly remember many of the officers,--a Mr. Cole, who kept a horse. When he left, his equipment was sold at auction. Dr. McStay bought his sleigh. It was after the fashion of a Russian sleigh—very low. I remember the Doctor’s daughters when in it seemed a reclining position. A Lieut. Wedderburn, another officer with money, was a great ladies’ man; also Mr. Lacy or DeLacy. He always dressed in is scarlet regimental clothes when going to church on a Sunday,--the only officer I ever saw do so. He was a tall beautiful figure of a man. In fact, all the officers were the same.
            The soldiers all had to go to their respective places of worship on a Sunday. The officers seldom went with them. They would all leave the barracks in Company form, come down the hill together as far as the George D. Street House. Those who were Roman Catholics would drop out here and go to their place of worship, the same at the Kirk. The Episcopalians would continue on to the Episcopal church. I don’t remember ever seeing one at the Methodist church. The majority were Roman Catholics.
            I don’t remember the names of the many officers till that of Lieut. Wells, of Her Majesty’s, (it was then) 1st Royals. He came very prominently before the inhabitants of St. Andrews by his assaulting Mr. A. T. Paul (your late Sheriff) in A MacFarlane’s pasture. I did considerable work for him. He was a very nice gentleman, and distinguished himself in the Crimean War. [this is the man who did the undated lithograph of St. Andrews! As Mr. J. M., the contributor, lived in St. Andrews until 1854, the lithograph predates this year]
            The officer who relieved him was Lieut. Herrong, or some such a name. he was a great boating man. I used to loan him my boat, and borrow his. We got along very nicely together. He was also a very nice gentleman. He is the last I remember, as I left in 1854.
            There were always two artillerymen at the Western Block House. It was there the guns and accoutrements used by the Militia on training days were kept, and I presume they were there to care for them. They were mostly Scotchmen and went to the Kirk.
            So far as my life in St. Andrews was concerned, there were always soldiers at the old Barracks on the hill. I could prove it, were it necessary, from many reminiscences. I was told that when the Confederation of the provinces took place the English Government said, if you want solders you will have to pay for them, but as we declined to pay for them, and they wee of no used to us, the were taken away.
            I realize that when a man emigrates from the place of his birth he always in a retrospective view, sees it and every body and thing about as he had been accustomed to see it. It is always the same dear old home to him, regardless of its humbleness. Nature seems to place in the heart of man a love for the humble, old home that no amount of prosperity or riches in another sphere can obliterate, hence so many remember in their last will and testament a fond recollection of their old home. A I read the columns of the home paper it makes me sad to see how few names in it I recognize, I too forget how time passes, forget it is 48 years since I left and that great changes in the population have taken place, to see there is not he name of Wilson, Hatch, or Street in the town,--and so many that moved in the same circle—Col. David and Mrs. Mowatt, David W. And Mrs. Jack. Col. And Mrs. Wyer, Thomas Wyer, Mrs. Wiggin, the Hon. B. R. Stevenson, and his brother, Fletcher, all have passed to their reward. They were a goodly lot of ladies and gentlemen, who would add grace and dignity to any condition of life, and a community should be much the better for their having been of it.
--J. M., Boston, 1902


St. Croix Courier
Aug 6/1964
SA Blockhouse only survivor of 14 built during 1812 War, to be restored by National Parks Branch to 1812 condition.


St. Croix Courier
Dec 1/1966
SA Blockhouse getting facelift. One at base of Patrick St gone, and third at Joe’s Point gone also. “Western Blockhouse” only survivor.


May 4/1977
Shiretown Coins are Collector’s Items. “This year’s dated nickel-copper addition features an engraving of the Algonquin Hotel.” (First issued 1976; proved popular. 7,500 minted. Same sizes as standard Canadian coin dollar. Photo. First had blockhouse on reverse.


St. Croix Courier
April 6/1983
SA is Jubilant as Royal Tour Announced
Don Richardson
SA--Local residents reacted jubilantly to word this week the Prince and Princess of Wales will visit here on Saturday, June 18. “I’m delighted that they’re coming,” said Mayor Jack Boone. “I think we’ll be very happy to see them,” said Rose McKay Haughn of Augustus St. “We’re very lucky . . . this is going to be a great attraction.” The visit was officially announced by Premier Richard Hatfield Thursday afternoon. The two-and-a-half day tour of NB will also see Prince Charles and princess Diana visit Saint John, Rothesay, Campbellton and Dalhousie. Mayor Boone told The Courier Tuesday that meetings will be held with provincial tour co-ordinator Brig. Eric Snow next week to review itinerary and security arrangements for the tour.
            A nine-member royal tour committee will be established, the mayor said, consisting of town councillors, bicentennial committee members and other town citizens. A tentative schedule published in the April 2 edition of Courier Weekend would see the Prince and Princess open a special photographic exhibit of painting of George III and his family at the Charlotte County Courthouse, tour the town, and host a reception and lobster boil.
            Last week’s news had many Shiretown residents thinking back to a misty and foggy day in July, 1967, when the town was last graced by a royal visit. Queen Mother Elizabeth came here that year to officially open the Centennial park and the St. Andrews Blockhouse. “They’ll certainly be welcome,” said Dr. Carl Medcof of 75 Charles St. “The last royal visit in 1967 was quite a drawing card.”
            “I have no doubt St. Andrews will be able to put on a first-rate show for the royal couple,” commented Dr. David Scarratt of 279 Pagan St., a town councillor and assistant Director of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Biological Research Station here. “I only hope it will be sunny day, and not rain like it did the day the Queen Mother came,” he commented.
            “I’m delighted--very pleased,” added Deputy Mayor Mary Saunders of 144 Reed Ave. “I’m sure everyone in town is.” “I think it’s just great,” said Ruth Spicer of 127 Water Street, curator of the Ross Memorial Museum. “I think it’s marvellous that they’re coming right here,” she added. “I’m looking forward to seeing them.”
            Bicentennial Committee secretary Jean Williamson told The Courier last week local organizers had the aid of a member of the British aristocracy who owns property in the St. Andrews area in convincing Buckingham Palace officials to include St. Andrews in the royal tour. Margot Mais of Prince of Wales St. said her first cousin, the Right Honourable Lord Shaughnessy, has asked her during a telephone conversation if he could be of any assistance in bringing the royal couple to the town. Lord Shaughnessy later spoke with Michael Adien, the Prince of Wales’ private secretary, about the possibilities of including St. Andrews on the tour. Mais said Lord Shaughnessy is Canadian by birth, but has resided in Britain for the last few years. He is a member of the British House of Lords, and works as a businessman in a number of fields. Mais describes him as “thoroughly Canadian,” and said he owns a home in Bocabec, where he frequently spends his summers.


St. Croix Courier
Oct 15/1993
Blockhouse, gutted by fire in August, to be restored. Earl Caughey dies Sept 27. 87 years old. Provincial court judge 1963; County court judge 1971. Queen’s Bench 1979, retired 1981.


St. Croix Courier
Aug 11/1998
A Historic Day for SA: Shiretown gets its due with recognition as historic district. A-2.
A grand plaque was unveiled in market square Friday afternoon denoting St. Andrews as a national historic site, Barbara Smith-Graham, a board member of Charlotte County Archives, spoke of the historic significance of St. Andrews. She was assisted by Elise Stuart and Erin Doon, dressed in period costume, who held up sketches done in the 1920s by local artist Frances Wren.
            In 1793 a group of United Empire Loyalists determined to remain loyal to British values settled permanently in St. Andrews. The town was laid out in a regular gridiron pattern according to the town plan model developed by British colonial authorities in the 18th century. This, said Smith-Graham, provided extraordinary protection against fire and this legacy has meant that today over 50 percent of the homes are over 100 years old with many almost 200. The gridiron pattern, with reserves for public buildings and defence, and clear definition between urban and non-urban spaces is still clearly evident today. It was in 1995 that the Historic Sits and Monuments Board of Canada recommended that the town be declar3ed of national historic and architectural significance because it is a rare and fine example of a Canadian town retaining the key elements of an 18th century colonial town plan.
            It is also distinguished by its fine collection of commercial and residential buildings which span the history of the community and are consistent in the use of elements of British classicism in their design.
            The town was laid out by British army engineers under the supervision of Charles Morris, son of the first Surveyor General of Nova Scotia. His plan provided for six streets running parallel to the shoreline with 29 shorter avenues intersecting these at right angles to form 60 blocks, each divided into eight lots.
            the street names reflect the Loyalist roots of the settlers—King, Queen, Prince of Wales, Princess Royal and the Christian names of the children of King George III. three areas of land were reserved within the plan for public buildings.
            Named the county seat, or Shiretown, of the newly created Charlotte County in 1786, the town soon established itself as a centre for trade, sending such goods as furs, lumber and dried fish to England and the West Indies. The nickname Shiretown ahs remained with St. Andrews to this day.
            SA was also a garrison town and during the War of 1812 with the US, the inhabitants erected three batteries with blockhouses along the waterfront and a small fort on the hill overlooking the town, Fort Tipperary, to guard against American privateers.