1972 Newspaper Article: “Scottish Colony in N. B. Marking Centenary Next Year”

_MG_3290By Joan Dundas Parfitt

 “The Telegraph-Journal carried a news item July 14 which began with these words: “The chairman of the Scotch Colony Centennial Committee, James Barclay, said plans for the 1973 100th anniversary are now well under way.” This announcement interested me for it acted as a reminder of a poignant story I read in a Scots magazine last year, which told of the hardships endured by this colony when they left their native land in 1973. It may interest other Scotch immigrants throughout N. B. other than myself.

The drama started in 1871 with a Capt. William Brown, an officer of the Anchor Shipping Line, who had seen many a lone emigrant set out from the Clyde to seek his fortune in the New World. It motivated him to think in terms of a group setting out together, and he enlisted the help of a Stonehaven farmer, Robert Stewart, to further his aim. They set sail for New Brunswick, where 170 miles up the St. John River they found land which they thought would suit their purpose. They negotiated with the N. B. government of that day and certain propositions were agreed upon August 16, 1872, one of which was: “The county of Victoria to be sub-divided and the new county called New Kincardineshire.” The men returned to Scotland to carve a way into the untamed lands of the Monquart Hills and the Tobique Highlands.

A few months later started the exodus of nearly 600 people, said to be unsurpassed in Scottish history. On the morning of April 15, 1973, these people who came from the farms of Kincardineshire and Aberdeenshire gathered first at Aberdeen station with their slender belongings. This being my home town station, I can imagine the leave-taking there and the sad farewells. Then the long train pulled by two engines stopped a few miles down the coast at Stonehaven where the steep cliffs slope into the North Sea and the ruins of Dunnotar Castle stand on a promontory. That evening they boarded the S. S. “Castalia” at Glasgow which sailed the following morning. Now came the final parting from the land of the heather whose emigrant sons always refer to as “home” no matter how long the exile in other lands. As the Scottish bard, Robbie Burns, so aptly expresses it: “O Scotia, my dear, my native soil.”

One Born On Way

The ship’s record reports this was the largest group of young children ever transported to an American port with 198 under the age of 12 years. The ship landed with 199. Records show that this baby born on the “Castalia” was the longest survivor of the group, dying at the age of 93 in 1966.

The ship arrived in Saint John May 10, 1873. It was proposed that the women and children stay behind while the men prepared the forest way, burn the tree choppings, and fit up the rude log dwellings for their habitation, as the season was backward and snow still abundant in the woods. But their women folk said: “We’ll nae bide ahin. We’ll gang wi’ oor men tho’ we su’d hae tae traivel.” Then began a story of human courage and determination by these people from North-east Scotland. However, these early colonists had a strength beyond their own – their Bible and their kirk meant much to them. Until the Melville church was dedicated in 1878 (named after the Rev. Peter Melville who played such a significant part organizing for a church and schools) their homes were used as a meeting place for prayer and services.

Kintore and Kincardine in Victoria County mark the area today and where the celebrations will be held next July 20, 21. And of course Bobbie Burns’ birthday on Jan. 25 will have greater emphasis than ever. Perhaps some of the descendants do not realize that all his ancestors came from the same area as theirs did. Just recently I read one of his letters which referred to this, dated Sept. 17, 1737, written in Edinburgh to his brother Gilbert; its says in part: “I returned by the coast through Nairn, Forres, and so on to Aberdeen, thence to Stonehaven where James Burness” (the former family name, later changed to Burns) “from Montrose met me. I spent two days among our relations, and found our aunts Jean and Isabel still alive, and hale old women.”

Participation Urged

Since the news item was printed I have corresponded with the chairman of the committee, James Barclay. A chance remark in his reply was very meangful to me. This man born 10 [20] years after the colonists arrived and now 79 years old said: “I must be brief for I am very busy haying for help on a farm is impossible to get, most people would rather go on welfare.” Progress?

The colony is interested in hearing from Scottish groups who would like to attend the festival and take part in the competitions, highland dancing etc. Although an immigrant from that same region many years later, I hope to attend, God willing, and would urge others to help make it a success __ to do honor to those pioneers and to Auld Scotia itself. As Robbie Burns expresses it in his immortal song sung around the world in a spirit of brother hood: “Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind.” One would probably leave a gathering such as this again quoting Burns:

From scenes like these, old Scotia’s grandeur springs,
That makes her loved at home, revered abroad;
Princes and lords are but the breath of kings,
An honest man’s the noblest work of God.”

Source: August 4, 1972 Newspaper Clipping from Cumming/Duncan Clan Archives

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