Anonymous Reply to Survey, 1876

Recommend Me! Suggest This Page To A Friend!

Submitted by Christine Gorman

This is the same questionnaire that John Books, of Murray Harbor, answered in 1876. The person answering this questionnaire is unknown, but he was born and lived in the Bedeque area. P.E.I. Archives: Accession #2702, Series 20, No. 316. Can someone identify the respondant?


1. Are you a native of P. E. Island?

Yes, I was born in Bedeque in 1799

2. Where and when were you born?

Bedeque, 1799.

3. When and in what vessel did you come to P. E. Island? From what port did you sail?

4. Were there many people in her, and were they used well?

5. When and where did they land?

6. Who were born, and who died on the passage?

7. What was the state of the Island when you came here?

8. How did the settlers manage to get along at first?

9. Who owned the first Mill in your settlement? Was it a saw, grist, carding or fulling Mill?

A saw and grist Mill built and owned by a Mister Cambridge, and subsequently known as "Taylor's Mills."

10. Where was the first Church built? Who built it, and what clergyman used to preach in your settlement? Before you had churches, where were religious services held? Did different denominations use the same building at different hours? Did they worship in barns? Were different denominations buried together?

The first church was built in North Bedeque by the U. Presbyterians B Rev Dr. Keir from

Malpeque preached occasionally previous to the arrival of Mr. Patterson. Previous to the erection of churches, barns and outhouses were used for that purpose. Different denominations worshiped in the same buildings. In the earliest days, the dead were buried wherever a suitable plot was found. In Bedeque, the Methodists were the first to lay out a burying ground, and all, for some time, irrespective of creed were laid there.

11. What sort of roads had the early settlers, and when and who opened the first one in your neighborhood?

The early traveller was directed on his way by the aid of Blazed trees. The Hon. Alex Campbell opened the first waggon road.

12. Were there any shops or fishing stations near you, and where?

There was no shops or fishing stations.

13. Were there many stores in Charlottetown when you were a boy? Describe the town as it was then?

14. What sort of schools had the people?

The buildings were little log buildings usually erected for the use of domestic animals and subsequently appropriated to the use of the school-room.

15. What old men and women do remember? Where were they born?

Mr. and Mrs. Schurman, Mr. and Mrs. Hooper, Mr. and Mrs. Wetheral, Mr. and Mrs. Wright, Mr. and Mrs. Wells, all came from the United States. Mr. and Mrs. Murray came from Scotland.

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?

Major Hooper owned the first waggon which was imported by Hon. John R. Gardiner.

Richard Cole owned the first gig. Hon. Alex Campbell owned the first cart. The horse tackling was made of sea-cow hide. John Baker owned the first saddle. The cart wheels were out of the end of logs and a hole punched through for the axle.

17. Were the houses shingled or thatched? When was the first frame house put up in your locality?

Houses were thatched with seaweed. Elisha Hooper('s) was the first frame house put up some 70 years ago.

18. What was the price of oats, butter, potatoes, &c., sold for?

Oats sold for 2/-, butter 1/-, potatoes 2/- . Butter, laird tallow and eggs B 1 lb. of the former and 1 doz. of the latter for a long time brought the same money in the market.

19. When was the first Court House built?

The first Court House was built in St. Eleanors in the year 1830.

20. Which is the oldest house in town, and who first lived in it?

21. Were there any forts or batteries in Charlottetown when you first remember it?


22. Who was the first blacksmith, tailor, shoemaker, saddler, cooper or carpenter in your settlement?

The first blacksmith was John Baker. The first shoemaker was William Wright. The first carpenter was George Brown.

23. How was grain taken to the Mill in old times, and was oatmeal manufactured as it is now?

Grain was taken to the Mill in the winter season on hand sleighs, sometimes drawn by dogsBthose who were fortunate to own one Bbut generally drawn by the strong arm of the hardy pioneer. In the summer season, in boats followed out of a log. There was no oatmeal manufactured on the Island.

24. When was the road opened

The road was opened from Wilmot Creek to Centreville, formerly Hoopers Corner about 60 years ago. The Anderson Road was opened from Bedeque to Charlottetown in the year 1831.

25. Who do you think built the dykes around the marshes, and what were they intended for?

The dykes were built by the French for the purpose of keeping the tide off the marsh.

26. How many people lived in your settlement when you first knew it?

There were 12 families living in the settlement.

27. Are any of the old people living yet, and who?

There is none now living.

28. Were dances and frolics more kept than they are to-day?

Dances and frolics were much more common than they are today.

29. Who was the first settler in your part of the country?

William Schurman was the first settler in this part of the country.

30. What old schoolmasters did you know, and can you tell anything about them?

Messrs. Whelan, Gig and Craig. Whelan taught in a building that was intended for a pig-house and the upstairs for a hen-coop. To punish the children, he would send them aloft into the hen-coop. At other times he would grind up glass [the word is GLASS, but maybe "grain" was meant] and make the offender go on his bare knees on it, and at other times, if the child to be punished was a male he would send out the girls and cause the boy to strip to the bare buff and placing him on the back of another boy, he would proceed to chastise him to his heart's content; if the guilty party was a girl, the case was reversed, the boys going out.

31. Was there more snow, and were the winters colder than now?

Much more snow and winters (were) colder.

32. Do you know of anyone who carried on the seal fishery?

Don't know of anyone (who) carried on seal fishery.

33. Did you ever see the Sea Cow, or any traces of it on the Island?

I saw traces of the Sea Cow by finding bones.

34. What wild animals were in the Island in your young days?

There were bears, wild cats, foxes, etc.

35. Where used the mails to cross in winter?

The mails crossed from Charlottetown to Pictou.

36. How long did it take letters from England to reach here, and what was the postage paid?

37. Which was the first Island newspaper? Who printed it, and where was his office? When was the next one started? Name all the Island papers you remember.

The first newspaper was printed in Ch'town by James Bagnal.

38. Who was the first native white person born on the Island? Who was the first born in your settlement after coming here?

39. Who were the chief business men in your young days?

The chief business men were Hon. Alex. Campbell, and William Schurman.

40. When was the first wharf or bridge built in your settlement? Who was the contractor, and how much did it cost?

The first bridge was built 80 years ago by [hard to read, and crossed out.] The first wharf was built and owned by Joseph Pope, 50 years ago.

41. When did you get a post office, and who kept it?

The first post office was kept by Thomas Hooper.

42. Who built the first vessel in your neighborhood, and how long was ship building carried on?

The first vessel was built by 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, Fort Augustus, St. Andrew's, Vernon River, Eldon, Murray Harbor Road, get to town before they had their present roads? State at length any information you may have about the mode of travelling in the early history of the Island.

The people of Crapaud, etc went to Ch'Town following the shore, crossing rivers with canoes and over small streams on fallen logs. At a later date, the they were enabled to travel through the unbroken forest by the aid of blazed trees. John Baker, father of John M. Baker of North Bedeque once travelled all around the Shore to Ch'Town for a bottle of medicine.

44. How did you get the mails?

There was an organized conveyance for the mails. They came when an opportunity offered.

45. Who were the first and oldest brewers you remember?

46. What is the oldest wayside tavern you know of?

The first tavern was kept by W. Clark.

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?

There was and still continue to be.

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 could they go in a day, and did they meet with any dangers? How did they find their way?

People travelling to and from Ch'Town camped by the way. Would make from 15 to 25 miles per day. There was great danger in travelling. Some 6 of the pioneers of Bedeque were returning from Ch'Town when one of the number, Richard Robins(on?), grandfather to Thos. Robinson of Bedeque, became fatigued. His fellow travellers seated him between two immense boulders and hastened home for help, but on their return found him in the position froze(n) to death. There was danger in travelling on the ice as it sometimes moved off; this happening once carrying out to sea its living human freight.

49. Have many of the early French settlers removed from the Island? How many, and where did they go to; and who is the oldest French person you can speak of?

A number of the early French settlers moved to Canada.

50. Where was your settlement, and who were its leading men?

Situated in Bedeque, Hon. Jos. Pope and Hon Alex Campbell, etc.

51. How were the first houses lighted in the day time? Were they carpeted? When did people begin to use kerosene? How long since cooking stoves came into use?

Houses were lighted by day by making a hole in the wall, and stopping it up at night and when it stormed. There was no carpeting, and, in not a few cases, no floor. Kerosene came in use some 15 years ago. Cooking stoves came into use some 30 years ago.

52. Were oxen used for ploughing and farm work, and are they so used now in your settlement?

Oxen were used for ploughing but they are not used now.

53. Who were the first Doctors you remember, and where did they live?

The first doctors was Gram (Graham?) and Bell.

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?

Mud was used 40 years ago and was carried from the beds in lighters and drawn off in carts.

55. How many mud diggers were in your neighborhood?

There are somewhere about 100 mud diggers.

56. When was your first ferry started? What kind of bridges had the people 80 years ago?

The bridges 80 years ago were canoes and fallen trees.

57. Do you remember any period of great distress for food on the Island?

In the year 1836 the frost destroyed the crops and the consequence was great distress.

58. Do you remember early frosts destroying the crops and in what year? Any and what steps (were) taken to meet the case?

In the year 1836 frost destroyed the crops. The government helped the poor people with bread and seeds for the coming year.

59. What is the earliest time of the season the rivers have been frozen, what the latest time of breaking up in the spring; when did navigation begin earliest and close latest?

60. Were there many bears 50 years ago, and were they dangerous?

There was quite a number.

61. Do you know of the old settlers cutting through the ice and taking shell-fish in winter? Did you ever hear what distance they had to travel for food. Give all you know on this point.

The early settlers have gone some eight or ten miles to procure clams and oysters through the ice to ward off starvation.

62. Do you know anything of a plague of mice, and when did it happen?

In the year 1791 the mice destroyed almost everything.

63. Do you know anything of a great storm called the Michaelmas gale, and when was it?

64. Do you know anything of fires laying waste considerable sections of the country and are their effect still perceptible?

The effects of a very destructive fire are quite noticeable still which occurred about sixty years ago. It swept across the entire Island.

65. Was game more abundant in old times than now? Were wild pigeons here?

Game was much more abundant then than now....any amount of wild pigeons.

66. Was any fox hunt ever held on the Island; when, and under whose auspices?

Not aware of any.

67. To what extent did hogs exist on beechnuts 50 years ago? Was it difficult to catch them in the beginning of the winter?

Hogs were fattened in this way, and it 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 breed known as the old Island breed was the principal horse in the early days of the Island. The kinds are similar to what they are now, only fewer of them.

69. When and by whom were artificial grasses introduced?

I do not know.

70. Do you remember how long since Swedish Turnips were first introduced?

Don't know.

71. What variety of potatoes had people 30 years ago, and before then?

The principal potatoes 30 years ago were Turnbulls, Corbets, Red Potatoes and Murray (?) Blues.

72. When was two-rowed barley introduced?

I do not know.

73. How were potatoes cultivated, dug, disposed of, or preserved for winter?

Potatoes were cultivated amongst the stumps in black ground, or new lands, and kept in the ground.

74. Was rye raised to any extent in this Island?

Rye was extensively cultivated in this Island.

75. Was flax grown generally? State the process of its cultivation and manufacture.

Flax was never very extensively cultivated in the Island. It was sown broadcast like other grain, pulled, and spread on the grass to rot, and then manufactured by hand.

76. State the process of making wool into cloth, including "thickening."

Wool was converted into cloth first; taking it from the sheep's back, and washing, carding it between boards with innumerable hooks protruding from one side of each, made into

yarn, worked(? ) and wove in a hand loom, when in a coil, the two ends were sewn together. Thirty boys and girls (were) called in; a long table (was) put up, sufficient to hold all hands. The web (was) strung around the table, and after some soap suds is applied, all hands take hold and the swaying motion of the actors proclaim the wok of thickening commenced.

77. How was barley pearled in old times? Have you ever seen a barley pounder?

Barley was pearled by pounding it in a trough.

78. Who owned the first metal mounted plough in your settlement; where was it made, and what kind of plough had they before then?

Elisha Hooper owned the first metal mounted plough.

79. Have you known of ploughing being done in January, February or March, and in what years?

About twenty-five years ago, there was ploughing done in January.

80. Do you remember any great drought in the Island?

81. Do you know of any whales or grampuses being taken in our rivers or bays?

About 25 years ago there were 5 grampuses taken in Bedeque Bay.

82. Who was the first to use lime as a manure in your neighborhood?

Hon. Joseph Pope first used lime as a fertilizer.

83. What sort of shoes did people wear 60 or 70 years ago?

The shoes were wooden clogs and sealskin moccasins.

84. Do you know of any manuscript or writings in existence that would throw light on Island history?

We do not.

85. Who owned or manufactured the first horse rake in your settlement?

The first horse rake was made by John Murray, Bedeque.

86. Who owned or manufactured the first threshing machine; what was the date, and describe its manufacture.

The first threshing machine was manufactured by a Mr. William Narraway, formerly of Pictou.

87. When was the first mower or reaper introduced; what was it like?

The first mowing machine introduced was Mr. Murray's.

88. What traces of the French occupation are you acquainted with? Give all the particulars you can on this head.

The only traces of the French were agricultural implements that have been dug up along Bedeque Bay.

89. Do you know anything of the existence of moose on the Island?

Have found bones and other evidences of their existence.

90. Have you ever seen any weapons of stone used by the Micmacs of this Island in their savage state?

91. Any other information not covered by these questions, you are respectfully requested to put down in your answers.

92. Note down your own name and Post Office address, and the names of those giving you items of information.

93. How were weddings celebrated in (the) time of your earliest recollection, and have any changes taken place with respect to marriages and weddings?

Marriages were celebrated similar to what they are now.

94. What amusements were prevalent in old times, and what changes have taken place?

Amusements B dancing B pulling the lazy stick, [??] etc.

95. Were drinking habits more prevalent in your earliest recollection than now, and illustrate the change, if any.

Drinking habits were more prevalent.

96. What changes have taken place in regard to amusements, comforts, habits and mode of living of the people and illustrate by examples.

97. Have you known of cases of witchcraft, or belief in witchcraft, or charms to exist in the Island; and can you mention instances of belief on those or kindred subjects, or name people who resorted to charms or fortune-tellers?

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?

The people were not so comfortable as at present, but much happier.

99. Was Gaelic, or Irish, or French, more generally spoken than at present? What changes are taking place in this respect?

Gaelic, Irish and French were much more spoken than now.

Anonymous, copy thanks to Kevin Macdonald, Archives

© Dave Hunter and The Island Register: HTML and Graphics

Last Updated: 11/30/2004 10:04:48 AM
Return to Top!
[ Return to Fenceviewers and Lists Page!] | [Return to Main Page! ]