“The Parliamentary Excursion to the Maritime Provinces,” Montreal Gazette (12 August 1864)
By: Montreal Gazette
Citation: “The Parliamentary Excursion to the Maritime Provinces,” Montreal Gazette (12 August 1864)
THE PARLIAMENTARY EXCURSION TO THE MARITIME PROVINCES
St. John, Aug. 6th.
I send you particulars which I have gathered respecting the Government and institutions of New Brunswick:—
The form of Government here is identical with ours—the Executive Council or Ministry is composed of nine-members.
They now consist of,
Hon. S. L. Tilley, Prov. Secretary,
J.M. Johnson, Atty. Gen.,
Chas. Watters, Sold. Gen.,
G.L. Hatheway, Com. Pub. Works.
M. McMillan, Surveyor Gen.,
Jas. Steadman, P. M. Gen.,
W.E. Perley (without portfolio)
P. Mitchell (without portfolio), and
W.H. Steves (without portfolio),
The Executive Councillors without offices receive no salary. The Provincial Secretary has also the management of the finances. The Surveyor General has the direction of the Crown Land Department.
The Legislative Council consists of twenty one members, appointed by the Crown. The House of Assembly consists of forty one members representing the city of St. John and the fourteen counties into which the Province is divided, each county having two or four members. The franchise is granted to persons having an income from any source of 100 l. or owning real estate of the value of 50 l. The property qualification for members of Parliament is real estate to the value of 500 l.
The city of St. John has a royal charter conferring votes for Municipal Councillor or on freeman. Every man who is a native of St. John is ipso facto a freeman. Strangers may buy the right for six pounds or after four years apprenticeship in the city for three pounds.
Some years ago an act was passed allowing counties to organize county councils after the manner of those in Canada, but only a portion of them have done so. The others still retain the old quarter sessions machinery. The main roads through the country are still maintained by the Provincial Government. But the principal part of the road making is still done by the old system of statute labor arranged according to a scale of age and property. The Province makes an allowance annually to the several counties for their bye-roads. In 1859, as I learn from Mr. Ellis’s very valuable prize essay, there were expended on the sixty lines of great roads, 2, 200 miles in length, 17,800 l, while the allowance for bye-roads was as large as 14,000 l. It is the pride of these New Brunswickers that they have good roads, and that tollgates are a thing unknown among them.
The Courts of Justice in the Province are the Supreme Court, Court of Vice Admiralty, Probate Courts, Court of Marriage and Divorce, Inferior Court of Common Pleas and General Sessions. The Court of Chancery has been abolished, and the Master of the Rolls added to the Supreme Court, sitting separately to hear cases on the equity side, there being an appeal from his decisions to the whole Court in banco. The Judges of the Supreme Court are: Chief Justice Sir James Parker, and Hon. N. Parker, Hon. R. Parker, Hon A. Wilmot, and Hon. W. Ritchie, Puisne Judges. It has jurisdiction in all criminal cases, and in civil suits where the amount in dispute exceeds five pounds, except in cases of appeal from the Justice’s Court. The Chief Justice receives $3,000 per annum, and each of the Puisne Justices $2,400.
The Inferior Court of Common Pleas and General Sessions of the Peace is, in effect, such as the Circuit of County Courts with us, and the Quarter Sessions. There is a Court of Probate for each County. The City Court in St. John exists by virtue of a royal charter. The common clerk and one of the Aldermen hold it, and it has jurisdiction in cases of debt to $80 and above $20, and in cases of tort up to $20.
There is no Bankrupt Court but insolvent acts have from time to time been passed and then been repealed or allowed to repose.
There is a Law Society with two hundred and twelve barristers on the roll, Mr. Weldron, Q. C., being President.
The Court of Governor and Council, which deals with cases of marriage and divorce, sits three times a year, but usually only pro forma. It consists of the Lieut-Governor, the members of the Executive Council, and usually one of more judges of the Supreme Court.
All lands are held in free and common soccage, and title is traced in all cases to the Crown Patent. The transfer of land is accomplished by deed of bargain and sale which must be enregistered as with us. In the distribution of real estate, the widow in all cases has her right dower. When there is no will, the law gives two shares to the eldest son, and one share to each of the other children. If there are no other children, the next of kin take in equal shares. With respect to personal property, the widow takes one-third, and the residue is divided among the sons and daughters, share and share alike. If there are no children the widow is entitled to one half of the personal estate.