Submitted by Christine Gorman
Hon. Alex Anderson, Centreville Bedeque, Born at Rustico, 1795. - Public Archives of Prince Edward Island, Ac. No. 2702, Series 20, Item 298.
Unanswered questions are omitted; square brackets are mine.
1. Are you a native of P E. Island?
2. Where and when were you born?
At Rustico in Queen's County on the 16th of April, A. D., 1795; removed when 2 yr. old to Bedeque in Prince County.
9. Who owned the first Mill in your settlement? Was it a saw, grist, carding or fulling mill?
Mssrs. Gordon, Proprietors of the North Moiety of Lot 26. It was a grist mill.
10. When was the first Church built? Who built it and what clergymen used to preach in your settlement? Before you had churches, where were religious services held? Did the different denominations use the same building at different times? Did they worship in barns? Were different denominations buried together?
The first Presbyterian Church was built at North Bedeque. Rev'd. Mr Urquart was the first minister, I believe. Before we had churches, services were held in Barns in summer and in private houses during the winter season. Different denominations buried in what is now the Methodist Burying Ground, Bedeque.
11. What sort of roads had the early settlers, and when and who opened the first one in your neighborhood?
Very crooked and narrow ones, and in many places, no roads at all. The chief mode of travelling being by canoe.
12. Were there any shops or fishing stations near you, and where?
13. Were there many stores in Charlottetown when you were a boy? Describe the town as it then was.
The first time I was in Charlottetown, I think I was about 15 years of age. There were not many stores. I recollect being in one (Water's & Birnie's) in which the late Joseph Higgins was clerk. He wore a long white apron. While in there, I heard a rumble coming down the street. When all rushed out of the store to look at the wonder which proved to be a wheel carriage just brought from England by Mr. Brecken, and was, I believe, the first on the Island.
14. What sort of schools had the people?
15. What old men and women do you remember? Where were they born?
Old Mr. Thomas Hooper, Refugee from US.; Nathan Weatherall, also a refugee; Richard Price, from England, Benjamin Cole, Wrights, and others.
16. Who had the first wagon, gig, jaunting sleigh, cariole, cart or plough in your settlement? what was the horse tackling made of? Who had saddles, and what were the cart wheels like?
The late J. R. Gardiner had the first waggon. Horse traces were made of seacow hyde, and very strong. Nathan Weatherall and old Mr. Heard had the first saddles. Some cart wheels were made of plank.
17. Were the houses shingled or thatched? When was the first frame house put up in your locality?
Chiefly thatched with birch bark or spruce rinds.
18. What was the price of oats, butter, potatoes, &c. sold for?
Oats were 1/6; butter 1/-; potatoes 1/6.
22. Who was the first blacksmith, tailor, shoemaker, saddler, cooper or carpenter, in your settlement?
------------ Baker was the first Blacksmith.
23. How was grain taken to the Mill in old times, and was oatmeal manufactured as it is now?
In canoes, round the shore and up the Rivers.
Oatmeal was not manufactured as now.
25. Who do you think built the dykes round the marshes, and what were they intended for?
I think those Dykes are the work of Nature, produced by various causes, such as the continual and repeated deposits of seaweed, drift sand, the rise and fall of tides in wintertime, &c.
26. How many people lived in your settlement when you first knew it?
About 40 to 50 people.
27. Are any of the old people living yet, and who?
28. Were dances and folics more kept up than they are to-day?
They were, and innocent amusements much more relished.
30. What old schoolmasters did you know, and can you tell anything about them?
Mr. Craig, a very respectable man.
31. Was there more snow, and were the winters colder than now?
Snow was much deeper, and winters much colder.
33. Did you ever see the Sea Cow, or any traces of it on the Island?
I have seen the teeth and bones.
34. What wild animals were in the Island in your young days?
Bears, [fold - illegible] Polecats, [?] Foxes, Martins, Rabbits, Minks, Muskrats, Otters, Squirrels, &c.
35. Where used the mails to cross in the winter?
Mails did not cross at all in winter.
39. Who were the chief business men in your young days?
Alexander Campbell, Esq.
42. Who built the first vessel in your neighborhood, and how long was ship building carried on?
The first I recollect was built by old Mr. Cambridge.
43. How did the people of Crapaud, Tryon, DeSable, Malpeque, Cape Traverse, Bedeque, Belle Creek, Tignish, New Perth, Bonshaw, Murray Harbor, Rustico, Covehead, St. Peter's, West River, South West, Egmont Bay, West Cape, New London, Souris, East Point, Grand River, St. Andrew's, Fort Augustus, Vernon River, Eldon, Murray Harbor Road, get to town before they had their present roads? State at length any information you may about the mode of travelling in the early history of the Island.
Principally along the shores, and by means of canoes, and in the winter time, on the ice. I remember to hear that old Mr Robins, one of the first settlers, perished on the ice off Sea Cow Head on his way from Charlottetown. The first time I went to Town was by the Old Town Road.
No house was to be seen from Bedeque to Charlottetown except one small log house put up by the government and kept by one Myers at the North River. We stopped at the Government log house and fed ourselves and horses having provender and provisions with us. We found [there] an axe, a birch broom, and a tinder box, also a ladder leading to the loft where we deposited our oats, &c. There were about a dozen other bags left by other travellers. We then pursued our journey and on our return found all things as safe as we had left them. This would be about the year 1810 and was the same trip on which I saw Mr. Brecken's wonderful carriage.
44. How did you get the mails?
J. Hockins of Ch'town brought the mails. The mail bag consisted of a Pocket Handkerchief.[?] In winter time, he travelled on snowshoes.
45. Who were the first and oldest brewers you remember?
George Bearistoe of Malpeque.
46. What is the oldest wayside tavern you know of?
Myers of North River.
47. Were there any salmon, gaspereaux or shad, in our rivers when you were a boy, and what rivers had most of them? Are there any in your locality now?
Yes, there were salmon, and gaspereaux. I do not know what Rivers had most. There are quantities of Salmon in our Rivers yet.
48. On their way to and from Charlottetown, how did people living at a long distance away, get along when night overtook them on the journey? How far did they go in a day, and did they often meet with any dangers? How did they find their way?
See No. 43.
50. Where was your settlement situated and who were its leading men?
Situated on Lot 26. The leading men were David Murray, John Montgomery, Donald Mcfarlane, and others.
52. Were oxen used for ploughing and farm work, and are they so used now in your settlement?
Oxen were used, but not now.
53. Who were the first Doctors you remember, and where did they live?
Drs. Simonson and Graham. They lived in Bedeque.
54. When did mussel mud come to be used as a manure; did many farmers use it at first, and how was it dug and carried from the beds?
Very little used until these few years past, and it was at first carried from the beds in carts.
56. When was your first ferry started? What kind of bridges had the people 80 years ago?
The first Bridges were logs placed endways across the creeks.
60. Were there many bears 50 years ago, and were they dangerous?
There were, and dangerous to livestock.
61. Do you know of the old settlers cutting through the ice and taking shell-fish in winter? Did you ever hear what distances they had to travel for food. Give all you know on this point.
Settlers at Bedeque used to travel to a French settlement at St. Eleanor's and carry potatoes on their backs to their canoes at Green's Shore, and thence by canoe home.
62. Do you remember anything of a plague of mice, and when did it happen?
I remember the crops to have been destroyed by mice. I cannot recollect the date.
64. Do you know anything of fires laying waste considerable sections of the country, and are their effects still perceptible?
I do, and their effects are easily seen to this day.
65. Was game more abundant in old times than now? Were wild pigeons ever here?
Yes, Pidgeons were in great numbers.
67. To what extent did hogs exist on beachnuts 50 years ago? Was it difficult to catch them in the beginning of winter?
They lived chiefly on beechnuts in the autumn, and it was often difficult to catch them.
68. Of what breed were the horses within your earliest recollection? What kind of horned cattle, sheep and pigs, had farmers then?
The old Island Breed of Horses are said to have come from Russia.
71. What variety of potatoes had people 30 years ago, and before then?
The Turks, Blue and White potatoes.
73. How were potatoes cultivated, dug, disposed of, or preserved for winter?
Usually planted in hills, dug with a hoe, and preserved in Pits dug in the field and covered with earth.
74. Was rye raised to any extent in this Island?
Winter Rye was generally raised.
75. Was flax grown generally? State the process of its cultivation and manufacture.
Flax was universally grown, and manufactured by hand.
77. How was barley pearled in old times? Have you ever seen a barley pounder?
Yes, I have often seen Barley Pounders, and also pounded barley in them myself..
79. Have you ever known of ploughing done in January, February or March, and in what years?
I have known ploughing to be done on the 14th of January in the year 1840 or 1841.
81. Do you know of any whales or grampuses being taken in our rivers or bays?
I have know of one grampus coming ashore on the Sand Hills of Salutation Cove.
82. Who was the first to use lime as a manure in your neighborhood?
I think the late Benjamin Cole.
83. What sort of shoes did people wear 60 or 70 years ago?
Principally, mocassins, some of tanned leather and some of Green Hyde.
88. What traces of the French occupation care you acquainted with? Give all the particulars you can on this head.
Cleared land, Apple Trees, and Garden herbs, also a Burying Ground, and Blacksmith's Cinders.
89. Do you know anything about the existence of moose on the Island?
I have found Moose or Deers' horns while clearing land.
90. Have you ever seen any weapons of stone used by the Micmacs of this Island in their savage state?
I have seen stone axes, and arrowheads of stone.
92. Note down your own name and Post Office address, and the names of those giving you items of information.
Hon'ble Alex. Anderson, Centreville, P. O.
93. How were weddings celebrated in time of your earliest recollection, and have any changes taken place with respect to marriages and weddings?
Weddings were celebrated by a general gathering of the friends by invitation, and a time of unbounded rejoicing attended with music and dancing.
There is a considerable Change of Practice of Late.
94. What amusements were prevalent in old times, and what changes have taken place in this respect?
Dancing, generally, Horse-racing occasionally, and skating.
95. Were drinking habits more prevalent in your earliest recollection than now, and illustrate the change, if any.
Drinking was more general, but Drunkenness very rare.
98. Were the people formerly as comfortable as now? In either case, were they formerly happier than now, as a rule? What is your opinion in this respect?
I think the people were formerly happier than now.
99. Was Gaelic, or Irish, or French, more generally spoken than at present? What changes are taking place in this respect?
Gaelic and French was more generally spoken then than now.