“The Parliamentary Excursion to the Maritime Provinces,” Montreal Gazette (11 August 1864)
By: Montreal Gazette
Citation: “The Parliamentary Excursion to the Maritime Provinces,” Montreal Gazette (11 August 1864)
THE PARLIAMENTARY EXCURSION TO THE MARITIME PROVINCES
ST. JOHN, N.B., Aug. 6.
At about five o’clock on Thursday, the Canadians, en route for St. John, made their way to the boat through a semi-deluge of rain. This, and the fact that the boat was already crowded with passengers from Boston, discouraged several parties, who turned back. And this may, perhaps, be the proper place to free my mind of something which has vexed it. Mr. Ferrier and Mr. McGee took very great pains to ascertain if a sufficient number of members of the two Houses would come to St. John, to justify them in informing the local committee here that they might complete their arrangements, seeing that their guest tables would be full. First of all, there were long and troublesome delays in getting answers to the letters of invitation. Then about 100 accepted the invitations, and said they would go, and this list was transmitted to the Committee here. On the strength of these acceptances the preparations were proceeded with here, and a large amount of money spent. How would any of these gentlemen like to spend their money on a sumptuous banquet to be given to a large party, and find half or a third staying away, after misleading their inviter by an acceptance? A neglect of the courtesies of life becomes, sometimes, a serious grievance, and that neglect should not occur in such a case as this for any frivolous cause. The greater loss has, of course, been theirs who staid away from one of the most pleasant excursions—one most fruitful of good results, I hope—that has ever been planned in the British Colonies. We have not suffered, but gained somewhat, perhaps, by their absence—for the kind-hearted St. John’s men have spared no exertion, have slackened nothing in the zeal to entertain us, because of these shabby fellows absence; but one cannot fail to see there is a disappointment felt, though not uttered, that an invitation specially made to the legislators should have been accepted, in so many cases, by proxies, or not accepted at all. They offered to entertain the members of the Legislature, and the guests who came are only members in the proportion of little more than one in three (leaving out the press, who came to get their lesson in Lower Province statistics, resources, &c. and teach it, in their turn, to the Canadian people,) the numbers are, Legislators, 37 (Legislative Council, 15. Assembly 22) on the private list 32.
The following is the complete list as finally revised on our arrival here:
Legislative Council—Hon. Messrs, Ferrier, G. Boulton, P. H. Moore, Robt. Read, A. A. Burnham, A. Vidal, Walter McCrea, J. O. Bureau, R. Leonard D. Reesor, W. H. Chaffers, J. H. G. Proulx, Oliver Blake, J. S. Sanborn, Mr. Armand.
Legislative Assembly— Hon. T. D. McGee, G. Perrault, A. Wright, Archambault, J. O. Beaubien, H. Munro, A. Dufresne, J.H. Bellerose, A. Walsh, T. Scatcherd, A. Gagnon, M. Fortier, T. C. Wallbridge, W. Ferguson, Jas. Cowan, L. Burwell, Samuel Ault, J. H. Poulin, J. S. Ross, T.D. McConkey, Mr. Chambers, A. McKellar.
Quebec Daily News, Brockville Recorder, Montreal Gazette, Kingston British American, Quebec Chronicle, Montreal Herald, Kingston Whig, Quebec Gazette, Montreal Minerve, Toronto Globe, Quebec Canadien, Montreal Witness, Toronto leader, Sorel Gazette, Montreal Evening Telegraph, London Prototype, St. Johns News, Hamilton Spectator, Cobourg Star, Kington Daily News, Hamilton Times, Journal de Quebec, La France, Paris, Hastings Chronicle.
Judge Maguire, Mayor of Cobourg, L. Renaud. Jr., Rev. J. Ellegood, Mayor of Sherbrooke, F.D. Fulford, J. Daintry jr., Dr. Beatty, J. Haydon, W. Sache, H. J. Hubertus, E. Rawlings, Dr. Hingston, A. M. Dellale, Dr. McDonell, W. H. Himaworth, Wm. B. Lindsay, Adolphe Caron, Herbert Swift, John Thompson, Hugh McGill, J. H. Daley, J. O’Neil, James A. Green, Mr. Steele, Wm. Workman, Mr. Langevin, Josh. Mitcheson, Mr. Delaye, P. Macfarlane, Mr. Stevens, Rev J. Irwin, A. Robertson, Q. C., Mr. D. H. Murphy, Sheriff Hall, J. Duggan, Q. C., T. W. Wood, G. T. C., Mr. Martin, Rev. Mr. Phillipps.
Of the trip from Portland hither, I cannot write much. It was dark evening when we got out of the harbour. The “New England” was crowded, full of freight, baggage and passengers as a ship could well be. The floor of the cabin was covered over with mattresses and all along beside the bulkheads in the upper saloon, were stretched those who, having no state-rooms were too weak stomached to endure the close air of the lower cabin. But the morning broke and with it came fine weather. The sail along the rugged coasts of Maine, into the mouth of the Bay of Fundy, was a very fine one; the surface of the sea smooth as if it were oil not water. Past Grand Manon and fairly entered into the Bay of Fundy. Past the beautiful island Campo Rillo and into Passamaquoddy Bay; and so past the little fishing village of Lubec to Eastport. Here we are in the entrance to the St. Croix river—the false St. Croix as we hold—which was made the boundary between New Brunswick and Maine. The true St. Croix, it is held by well-informed New Brunswickers was the Penobscot and a glance at the map will show out of how great a territory we were choused by the Ashburton treaty. Here we lunched—some at Sanborn’s on shore, some on the New England, just as she set sail. From Eastport a steamer—the Queen—plies to Calais and St. Stephentown, at the head of the bay and mouth of the river proper, calling at St. Andrews, fifteen miles up the terminus of the St. Andrews and Quebec Railway, which is now built as far North as Woodstock. A very large proportion of our deck load on the New England, was transferred to the Queen to supply Calais and Houlton in Maine, and St. Stephen and St. Andrews in New Brunswick, and their circumjacent districts. Away again along the picturesque rocky shore only covered with dwarf fir trees till just at sunset, after a glorious day’s sail, we entered the harbour of St. John.
And here such a greeting awaited us as I have seldom seen—such as none of us expected. From 6000 to 9000 people were gathered upon the wharf to meet us. Some had been there for three or four hours, as we were that much behind the usual time for the arrival of the boat. The Reception Committee was there with carriages for our conveyance to the hotels and houses where free quarters had been provided for us. Next morning we were introduced to the Mayor and some of the principal citizens, at a sort of levee held at the Court House. There we broke up into little parties, and were driven by our St. John friends about the city. For myself, my friends of the St. John press took me in hand, and from the time that two of them seized me and my trunk on landing till now, have never let me lack for anything I wanted. One of them took three of us out to see the environs of the city. Down past ship-yards where those world-famous clippers, the “Marco Pollo” and her sisters, were built; out through their beautiful cemetery; back through the parish of Portland to the confines of Indian town; across the beautiful suspension bridge to Carlton; past the very fine Provincial Lunatic Asylum; a turn up the beautiful Douglas Valley and Fredericton road; then back, through Carleton, home. I cannot stop to tell you how beautiful was the scenery we saw during this fifteen miles drive. Here was a quiet valley of that rich land formed of the deposit from the water that formerly covered it: the jutting headlands, with little bays stealing in behind and around them, busking and glittering in the bright sunlight. But that which surprised most was what we paused on the bridge to witness: just where it spans the river, the shores contract, leaving the channel only 600 or 700 feet broad. It is also narrowed a few yards above by a large island. Here by the bridge, at low water, is a fall of fifteen or twenty feet. But the tide rises 27 feet in the harbour, and comes rushing up in such huge volume, struggling to get through this narrow gorge, that it not only blots out the falls, but for a time creates a furious rapid almost a fall of several feet in the other direction. “A very sensible river,” remarked a Western man. Most rivers, at falls persist, after a tiresome fashion, in running always one direction, and tumbling over the precipices in one way; but this takes a change every few hours to rest itself. The population of St. John was in 1861 27,317; with its suburbs, its present estimated population is about 35, 000. It was a few years ago principally built of wood, but now brick, of a very excellent description, predominates with a few very fine stone buildings. The Custom House is a large granite building, and several of the banks have erected very fine banking houses. The streets are generally broad, and some of the shops on Prince William and King Streets would rival, if they do not excel, anything in Boston or Montreal. In church architecture I saw nothing noteworthy except the R. C. Cathedral. The hospital is a large brick building, just erected, on an airy eminence. It is strange that there should have been a lunatic asylum here so long, but not until now an hospital. The Government built the former, and Bluenose is like Jean Baptiste in looking to Government to do these things. They have two large squares neatly laid out with trees, walks and fountains. Altogether, there is an air of push of business, energy and enterprise about the place which tells favorable upon the stranger. Besides the shipping and commerce, a few factories are stirring. There is a pretty large sugar refinery, and a cotton factory employing about fifty hands, with very excellent machinery. Apropos of the shipping trade, St. John has acquired a bad name among our neighbours as a place devoted to the [illegible] out of blockade runners, but three out of four, or four out of five of them are fitted out with the means and for the profit of Boston and New York capitalists. Every where as we drove out, [illegible] to do us honour, and we were eyed with not a little [illegible] by those of us who indulged in French [illegible]—by the denizens. I hope they formed on the whole a favorable impression. But I fear some of the Canadians looked on the affair too much in the light of a simple spree for pleasure, too little in the light of an opportunity afforded to compare notes and make lasting friendships.
This, however, brings me naturally enough to dinner, of which I enclose you a report.
I may, perhaps, as well state that our present programme is to go on Monday to Fredericton, the capital, returning on Tuesday. On Wednesday morning early we embark for Halifax, Messrs. Pryor, Wire and Coleman having arrived from that city last night to take charge of us. Mr. McNaughton is also here, and there is a chance that arrangements may be made for the “Acadia” to come to Halifax for us, and take us home via Gaspe, calling at Charlottetown.
I enclose a poetical welcome to us, written by a gentleman connected with the St. John Telegraph, and published in that journal on Saturday.
NEW BRUNSWICK TO CANADA
Welcome ye sons of sister land,
Who meet us here on our native shore:
New Brunswick greets you with friendly hand,
And bids you be strangers here no more.
Her shores are rude, but a greeting kind
Is every here for the worthy guest
And more, when the ties of kindred bind
The thoughts and hopes of each loyal breast
Canadians—men of the Province fair,
The fertile soil, and the verdant plain,
The noblest land beyond compare
On the nearest side of the Western main—
You are welcome here to our ruder strand;
Tho’ we may not boast of a soil like yours;
We still are heirs to a fertile land,
Whose fields are green and whose wealth endures’
A land which but eighty years ago,
Was the home of the world, the moose, the bear—
Untrod, except by their Indian foe,
As he tracked them up to their forest lair;
Where the settle’s axe had never rung,
Or his rifle’s voice been heard or known:
Where the stunted birch and cedar spring,
And girt the cliffs with an emerald zone;
Where far away, upon every side,
The forest stretch’d like the deep profound;
An ocean dark as the Volga’s tide
Without a break, and without a bound.
Now come and view upon hill and vale,
What the toil of eighty years hath done:
The forest yields to the stranger pale,
And fertile fields from its grasp are won.
Our cities rise where the wigwam stood;
Our ships are found upon every sea,
Not wealth, but its skill and labor rude,
Have made our Province what now you see.
You have come from where the St. Lawrence sweeps,
In its long career to the ocean wide;
From where the Niagara madly leaps,
And rolls a sea o’er a mountain’s side.
From the mighty Lake Superior’s shore,
And deep Ontario’s inland sea—
For where the waves of Erie roar—
And toss their crests in their furious glee—
From Huron’s still and silent breast,
From river wide, and from boundless plain,
Where the pleasant winds of the fertile west—
Fan fields like oceans of ripening grain.
You come, proud sons of a noble state,
Too long estrang’d and too long unknown,
To meet us here by the Ocean’s gate,
And grasp our hands which are friendship’s own.
We are brothers, too, for a common flag
Unfurls its folds to protect us all—
From strong Quebec, with its fortress crag,
From the lofty mound and the frowning wall.
Where e’er that noble flag is seen,
‘Tis joyous still as the star of day,
For freedom’s flag it hath ever been,
And still shall be until time’s decay.
For it our Loyalist fathers bore
The loss of all but the hate of foes;
For it they toil’d on this rocky shore,
Till the crags were cleft and our City rose
And their sons should surely be the friends
Of those who the same allegiance own,
Whose bordering land unto ours extends,
Who love our Queen and uphold her throne
Then in the name of that banner proud,
The royal throne and our sires of yore,
We raise our voice in a welcome loud,
And greet you here on New Brunswick’s shore.
St. John, August 5th