Submitted by Christine Gorman
Historical Survey completed by Peter Sinnot, 1876, PEI PARO Accession No. 2702, Volume 313
With thanks to Kevin MacDonald.
Historical Survey completed by Peter Sinnot, Public Archives of Prince Edward Island, Accession No. 2702. Vol. 313.
"Answers of Peter Sinnott, aged 86, Morell, taken by D. O'M Reddin, 10 June, 1876."
1. Are you a native of P. E. Island?
Of Ireland, County Wexford.
2. Where and when were you born?
Wexford, 3rd Sept. 1790.
3. When and in what vessel did you come to P. E. Island? From what port did you sail?
From Newfoundland in 1821 in the schooner........Capt. Peters.
4. Were there many people in her, and were they used well?
6 passengers, well used.
6. Who were born and who died on the passage?
7. What was the state of the Island when you came here?
In 1821, poor and miserable.
8. How did the settlers manage to get along at first?
I worked on the Worrell Estate at sawing and mowing. At 1/6 a day, and found. Most men did the same.
9. Who owned the first Mill in your settlement? Was it a saw, grist, carding or fulling Mill?
Charles Worrell had a grist mill near Morell.
10. Where was the first Church built? St Andrew's Catholic church. Who built it, and what clergyman used to preach in your settlement? Bishop McEachern Before you had churches were there religious services held? Did the different denominations use the same building at different hours? Yes, except Catholics. Did they worship in barns? In barns and school houses. Were different denominations buried together?
11. What sort of roads had the early settlers, and when and who opened the first one in your neighborhood?
Bishop McEachern was the Head Road Commissioner for the whole Island and (he) opened the Main Road from St. Peter's to St. Andrew's in 1822.
12. Were there any shops or fishing stations near you, and where?
At St. Peter's Harbor, a shop and fishing [station were] established by George Wright, brother of the Surveyor-General. Caught 2000 quintains in 1822.
13. Were there many stores in Charlottetown when you were a boy? Describe the town as it was then.
Few stores in C. Town....about 3 or 4, Waters & Birnie, Brecken, Cambridge & Williams.
14. What sort of schools had the people?
Very poor log-built schools supported by the people, each head of family paying 20/- per annum.
15. What old men and women do you remember? Where were they born?
I remember the McDonald family of St. Peter's Lake. They came from Scotland, long before I came.
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 made of?
Charles Worrell had a jaunting car, and a cariole. He brought harness from England. Tackling used by farmers was made of yellow birch trees, split up and (illegible...) collars No shoring on wheels (?) There was only one saddler on the Island, named Daly.
17. Were the houses shingled or thatched? When was the first frame house put up in your locality?
Some shingled, others barked and batten. First frame house in 1822, by the Bishop.. That is the present St. Andrew's College house.
18. What was the price of oats, butter, potatoes, &c., sold for?
1/- for oats; butter 6; potatoes 1/- in Charlottetown.
20. Which is the oldest house in town, and who first lived in it?
Waters & Birnie, the old Court House.
21. Were there any forts or batteries in Charlottetown when you first remember it?
The 4 gun Battery and a battery at Block House in 1821.
22.Who was the first blacksmith, tailor, shoemaker, saddler, cooper or carpenter in your settlement?
Thomas Robinson, blacksmith first;
John Doyle, about first tailor;
Saddler was Thomas Daly;
Shoemaker James McKay from Scotland.
Cooper John Whelan;
23. How was grain taken to the Mill in old times, and was oatmeal manufactured as it is now?
On the people's backs, and glad to have it to carry. Ground by hand with two round stones, fitted one on the other.
24. When was the road opened from St Peter's to St. Andrew's?
In 1821, by the Bishop, or rather the old road was strengthened .
25. Who do you think built the dykes around the marshes, and what were they intended for?
Don't know who built the dykes. I think they were to keep the water off.
26. How many people lived in your settlement when you first knew it?
Not more than 5 or 6 families.
27. Are any of the old people living yet, and who?
I am the oldest living yet and my wife. I am 86 and she is 82. We had 9 children, all living, 56 grandchildren, 3 great grandchildren in 1875, wife and I....illegible..
A McDonald from the St. Peter's Lake...came from Scotland.
30. What old schoolmasters did you know, and can you tell anything about them?
My brother John Sinnott taught school in St. Peter's in 1821. He is dead. (There were ) about 15 scholars; he had £14 a year.
31. Was there more snow, and were the winters colder than now?
Great deal more snow and much more severe......no sickness.
32. Do you know of any one who carried on the seal fishery?
33. Did you ever see the Sea Cow, or any traces of it on the Island?
34. What wild animals were in the Island in your young days?
Bear, wildcat, fox, beaver, otter, mink, martin, rabbits, squirrels, ferrets.
35. Where used the mails to cross in winter?
36. How long did it take letters from England to reach here, and what was the postage paid?
One and sixpence postage, and it took about three months.
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.
Haszard's; J. D Haszard, afterwards Bagnall. I remember "Royal Gazette," "Islander," "Examiner," "Morning News," "Palladium," etc. etc.
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 businessmen in your young days?
Charles Worrell, Captain Davison, and the others in Ch'town already named.
40. When was the first wharf or bridge built in your settlement? Who was the contractor, and how much did it cost?
Morell Bridge [solid] before 1820. Floating bridge afterwards built about 45 years ago, planned by Charles Wright, built by one Kelly.
41. When did you get a post office, and who kept it?
Over thirty years ago. Kept by Dr. John Jardine, the doctor.
42. Who built the first vessel in your neighborhood, and how long was ship building carried on?
Kemble Coffin, and then Charles Worrell.
43. How did the people of Crapaud, Tryon, DeSable, Malpeque, Cape Traverse, Bedeque, Belle Creek, Tignish, New Perth, 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.
On foot through the forest, along edge of Rivers and Bays.
Carrying compass...it was a week's journey from Souris to Ch'town, scarcely any track from Souris.
44. How did you get the mails?
On horseback. First postman was Michael Egan at St. Andrew's.
45. Who was the first and oldest brewer you remember?
46. What is the oldest wayside tavern you know of?
10 Mile House...kept by Hickey in 1823.
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?
All those fish were here but not caught much. Shad only in East Riverplenty of trout and salmon in Morell River but half as much as in old times...the mills interfered with them.
48. On their way to and from Charlottetown, how did people living at a distance away get along when night overtook them on their journey? How far could they go in a day, and did they often meet with any dangers? How did they find their way?
In my time (one) could always make out a house to stop at.
50. Where was your settlement situated, and who were its leading men?
Morell; Charles Worrell.
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?
Glass...["Glafs"] - no carpets. Cooking stoves were brought from [blank] about 20 years ago.
52. Were oxen used for ploughing and farm work, and are they so used now in your settlement?
Oxen [were used] but not now in this settlement.
53. Who were the first doctors you remember, and where did they live?
Dr. Jardine at St. Peter's in 1821, before him, Dr. Turner from Scotland, 1823.
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?
In scowsnot long since.
55. How many mud diggers were in your neighborhood?
About 10 or 12.
56. When was your first ferry started? What kind of bridges had the people 80 years ago?
Post and shore bridges.
57. Do you remember any period of great distress for food on the Island?
In 18.. [unfinished.]
58. Do you remember early frosts, destroying the crops, and in what year? Any and what steps were taken to meet the case?
On the 7th day of September, A. D. 1[unfinished] Frost destroyed crops inland, but on the North Side crops escaped. I had to buy oats and potatoes that year. I lost all my crop.
59. What is the earliest time of the season the rivers have been frozen; what is the latest time of breaking up in the spring; when did navigation begin earliest and close latest?
About the 9th of December, the earliest I recall.....We crossed the Hillsboro on May 2...on a foot of ice about 25 o4 30 years ago.
60. Were there any bears 50 years ago, and were they dangerous?
Plenty of bears; destroyed on me one night 12 sheep....very fierce. In 1825, Nicholas the Indian was attacked and [he] killed a bear said to weigh 800 pounds.
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.
Settlers cut through Morell ice for trout and eels, and do so yet.
62. Do you know anything of a plague of mice and when did it happen?
In Souris, about 1823 or 4. Mice destroyed the stacks and crops of grain.
63. Do you know anything of a great storm called the Michaelmas gale, and when was it?
I think in September, don't know the year, say 27 years ago, a great storm ...destroyed many vessels; chiefly American fishermen.
64. Do you know anything of fires laying waste considerable sections of the country and are their effects still perceptible?
Heavy fires destroying timber and firewood often occurred many years ago....effects felt yet.
65. Was game more abundant in old times than now? Were wild pigeons ever here?
Game far more plentiful-no pigeons now, but plenty 30 years ago.
66. Was any fox hunt ever held on the Island; when, and under whose auspices?
I think Governor Huntley held a fox hunt.
67. To what extent did hogs exist on beachnuts 50 years ago? Was it difficult to catch them in the beginning of winter?
Hogs were largely fed on nuts 50 years ago and twenty years ago.....easily caught with potatoes.
68. Of what breed were the horses within your earliest recollection? What kind of horned cattle, sheep and pigs, had farmers then?
Governor Ready brought a stud horse from England, called the "Roncevalles."
Old Island Breed (French) were the hardiest. English cattle, etc. were brought here 45 years ago.
70. Do you remember how long since Swedish turnips were first cultivated?
71. What variety of potatoes had people 30 years ago, and before then?
Old Island Bluesbest since.
72. When was two-rowed barley introduced?
Before 1821, but not much of it.
73. How were potatoes cultivated, dug, disposed of, or preserved for winter?
Dug with a hoe and put down by hand. Kept in green houses. Few cellars.
74. Was rye raised to any extent in this Island?
Very little in 1821.
75. Was flax grown generally? State the process of its cultivation and manufacture.
There was an abundance of flax since and before 1821. Good country for flax. Sown same as grain, by hand, then harrowed, and raked etc. and rolled
76. State the process of making wool into cloth, including "thickening."
Spun the wool, first carded, then wove, and thickened.
77. How was barley pearled in old times? Have you ever seen a barley pounder?
In a trough, pounded with mallets. I have seen lots of pounders, and stone troughs for pounding.
78. Who owned the first metal mounted plough in your settlement; where was it made, and what kind of plough had they before then?
Charles Worrell; wood work was made here, metal part was imported.....1821.
79. Have you known of ploughing being done in January, February or March, and in what years?
Yes, I think we ploughed on January 10th in 1840....not in February or March in this area. But I think they ploughed in those months to the westward in that year.
80. Do you remember of any great drought in the Island?
Not much in drought; I remember nothing very serious.
81. Do you know of any whales or grampuses being taken in our rivers or bays?
Several whales at Tracadie and a shark at St. Peter's Bay.
82. Who was the first to use lime as a manure in your neighborhood?
Lime was used about 30 years ago.
83. What sort of shoes did people wear 60 or 70 years ago?
Mocassins green hide.
84. Do you know of any manuscript or writings in existence that would throw light on Island history?
85. Who owned or manufactured the first horse rake in your settlement?
A very short time ago, we had horse rakes.
86. Who owned or manufactured the first threshing machine; what was the date, and describe its make?
I don't know. Threshing machines were made with 6 horse power with shafts to which horses
were yoked, and walked round about.
88. What traces of the French occupation are you acquainted with? Give all the particulars you can on this head.
The forts at East River. St. Peter's Harbor was capital of the Island in French times. Old grave yard on Stukely (?) Farm at the mouth of St. Peter's Harbor. I saw the ruins of the French Chapel, and the boundaries of streets, etc. The Bell found on .....( illegible) Farm in 1871; it is now in St. Dominick's Chapel, Rollo Bay.
89. Do you know anything of moose on the Island?
Never saw or heard of any.
90. Have you ever seen any weapons of stone used by the Micmacs of this Island in their savage state?
I heard of, but never saw the Indian stone arrow, spears, and axes.
91. Any other information not covered by these questions, you are respectfully requested to put down in your answers.
In 1826, I attended Michael Carey's funeral to St. Andrew's graveyard. Everyone went on foot.
There was only one truck to be had to carry the women. In 1872, I attended a funeral at which there were about 140 horses and wagons....which we valued at [£] 5000 pounds. The funeral [was that of?] Rev. Joseph McDonald who was also buried at St. Andrew's.
93. How were weddings celebrated in time of your earliest recollection, and have any changes taken place with respect to marriages and weddings?
In my time, weddings were carried out with much more merriment than now.
94. What amusements were prevalent in old times, and what changes have taken place in this respect?
In old times, there were dances, frolics, etc.
95. Were drinking habits more prevalent in tour earliest recollections than now, and illustrate the change if any.
They were as bad, if not worse, to drink, as now. I think worse, but liquor was far better...Jamaica Rum, Brandy and wine.
96. What changes have taken place in regard to amusements, comforts, habits, and mode of living of the people, and illustrate by examples.
People are far more comfortable, in fact, there is no comparison. People are better, more moral and more attention [is paid] now to religion.
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 persons who resorted to charms, or fortune-tellers?
I know nothing about this. There was talk of such things, but no attention was paid to it.
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?
In my opinion, and everyone knows that the people are in every respect happier and more comfortable than in my early days. Now most farmers have enough of everything...horse, carriages, harness of the best kind.
99. Was Gaelic, or Irish, or French, more generally spoken than at present? What changes are taking place in this respect?
Gaelic was most spoken in my early days. The Irish spoke English, the French had very little, or no English.
In 1821, when I came here, I had neither horses nor cattle.
Now I have:
9 horses, 16 cows, 41 sheep, 20 pigs.
1 Irish pig;
4 Mares- good breed.
2 waggons, 2 sets harness;
1 cart, 1 truck;
2 iron ploughs; 1 dr [Drag?] harrows; 1 cultivator;
1 mowing machine; 1 threshing machine;
1 horse rake;
2 Barns, 300 acres of land, 170 acres under cultivation.
"I wrote these answers from Peter Sinnott, Morell, age 86; he has good health and his faculties are quite clear.1. Are you a native of P. E. Island?
(Signed) D. O'M. Reddin."
Of Ireland, County Wexford.