Nine months of Kincardine by a Settler, Edward Bruce of Bannockburn

NINE MONTHS OF NEW KINCARDINE. (By a Settler.) I may say, by way of preface, that I am quite satisfied with the territory myself, its prospects being very good for those able and willing to undertake the clearance of forest land, and possessed of a little capital. In this connection, I may state that many who arrived here almost penniless have done remarkably well, their earnings from work on colony roads and other sources having been considerable.
The land on the Kintore section is not quite so level as one would wish, but there is nevertheless enough manageable ground on the majority of lots to make suitable farms. The soil on hardwood tablelands and in the valleys is equal, and in some respects superior, to anything you can find in Aberdeenshire. The soil, as a matter of course, is deepest in the valleys, along river banks, and will hold longest without manure—such crops as turnips, grass, and oats being best adapted to these places; while wheat, barley, Indian corn, buckwheat, and potatoes do best on higher, drier levels. The staple native productions are—Buckwheat, potatoes (a fine crop), oats, and hay, and in winter lumber; but under proper cultivation, a la Scottice, the other crops, I am sure, can be raised in a propitious season.
The trees comprising the forest around us consist of spruce, hemlock, fir, birch, elm, beech, sugar and rock maple, ash, cedar, pine, larch, and oak, with a sprinkling of other woods, not of much importance. Maple lands are reckoned best for farms, but a land with mixed timber is quite good for any purpose, and is most peculiar to this section. Abundance of water of the purest quality is a great feature of the Kintore valley, the Muniac stream being the principal source of supply; while brooks and springs are found on almost every farm. The labour of clearing, to those unaccustomed to much outdoor employment, is rather trying at first, but is not by any means an impossible task, and always becomes lighter as one gets habituated to the use of the axe. Every big tree tumbled over and stripped of its branches tells on the aspect of things; and after a considerable space is chopped down, and the burning up is accomplished, one looks over his embryo farm with a feeling of satisfaction.
The process of clearing, although laborious in execution, can be described in few words. First—The underbrush, consisting of bushes and small trees, is cut down closely. Secondly—The larger trees are cut down on top of the brush, deprived of their branches, and the trunks cut into lengths of 12 or 15 feet (or “junked,” as the local term is), so as to allow of their being more handily piled afterwards. Thirdly—When the brushwood is all sufficiently dry, a day is selected, with the wind in a quarter to cause a proper conflagration without danger, and the match is put to it. Fourth, and last—The skeletons of what once were goodly trees are heaped closely into piles, and again fire is applied, until nothing remains but black stumps, and the virgin soil is now ready for cultivation.
The climate, to judge by the appearance of our people and the natives. is remarkably healthy, the temperature being equable, and unaffected by those sudden atmospheric changes so peculiar to more southerly latitudes. All through last summer (1873) we had an endless succession of bright “sun-shiny” days, with just enough rain to promote vegetation. Occasionally we were visited by a slight storm of thunder and lightning, accompanied by heavy rain. In autumn, again, there were bright, clear skies, but the gradually cooling air, and frost at night, began to turn everything subject to its influence to a riper state, and paint the leafy woodlands with variegated hues, beautiful, if they did not foretell the near approach of winter. Frosts are not so frequent nor so telling during this season in the highlands as in the intervale, and simply because there is a greater evaporation proceeding from the well-watered hollows than from the hills. Not until November do the bright days leave us, and even then the sun strives to the last to retard approaching winter. In December we had some sharp westerly winds, but nothing of a severe nature recurred, until the last week of January, when a rigorous cold set in, most trying to outdoor duties. The thermometer on one of those days marked in the open air at Woodstock, 38 deg. below zero. These two days were the coldest of the winter so far, and resulted in frozen noses, bands, and feet, to those who exposed themselves in ignorance.
My farm contains 200 acres, of which 12 to 15 are perfectly level, rich, bottom land, the rest being a gradual sloping hill. My front boundary is the Muniac stream, and a tributary brook divides the hilly from the level portion, joining its confluent some little distance below. The latter supplies me with excellent water, and is abounding in trout of small size. Were I to make a pond, they would increase in dimensions, and angling would then be easy, profitable, and pleasant. My stock is limited as yet, owing to the small extent of my clearing and premises. The cows get plenty of nutritious food in the woods all through the summer, and, provided with bells, need never get lost, if their owners are a little watchful. In fact, when her calf is kept secured at home, the cow may wander off into the forest without bell or herd, but she never fails to come back to attend to her youngster.
With regard to the insect tribes, we must admit that in summer they are very plentiful, and exceedingly annoying. There are three varieties which exist to plague the body of man, viz., sandflies, black flies, and mosquitoes. The first-named are most teasing, as they sting during the night, the others are insignificant. and the few mosquitoes seen here are quite different in pugnacity from the Yankee tribe. The smoke of cedar bark is the best remedy to keep all those pests at a distance. The dense bush growing around my dwelling was greatly the cause of their numbers, but, happily, it is now all removed for a good many acres round me. Black flies trouble only in the day time, and seldom out from among the trees.
I would advise the Scotch immigrant to procure most of his farming and household utensils from home, as they are of better material and cheaper in Scotland —an important consideration. Many kinds of seeds, plants, roots, berry bushes , &c., should also be bought. Some of our Kintore colonists brought many kinds of these articles, and they seem to thrive well. This is a wonderful country for small fruits—strawberries, raspberries, currants, &c., growing wild in the greatest profusion.
Abundance of New Brunswick “partridges” (almost as large as hens), rabbits. foxes, porcupines, and squirrels, afford unlimited sport during the summer and fall; while, to a regular hunter, the winter season brings such large game as bears. wolves, moose and caribou deer— the two last named being numerous, but the others are seldom seen near settlements. The caribou in a splendid animal, big as a heifer; has large spreading hoofs and pronged horns. It appears among us more frequently than the moose. The latter can be heard in fall sometimes, making a call of defiance, something similar to the blowing of a large horn. Black bears have been seen in the woods by some of our people, but though I have roamed with my gun through them a good deal, I have never yet met with one, only seen their tracks.
We have now good colony roads running through both the Kintore and Stonehaven districts. The former line of road, from the St John to the Tobique river, is about 14 miles long. The St John is a noble river, flowing upwards of 500 miles from its source to the ocean, and in places 150 miles from its mouth, is nearly half-a-mile wide. In summer steamers ply on its waters, and in winter it is frozen over, so that the heaviest teams cross at all points. I had a sleigh ride on the ice this winter for 30 miles along its course. and enjoyed the swift, easy motion greatly. Sleigh riding with a fast horse is splendid, and can be had here to perfection.
I could not say whether winter or summer be healthiest, but I think young strong people feel heartiest in the bracing, frosty, winter air. There has not been, that I hear of, a single death, but more than 30 births since the colony was established. The natives are nearly all of remarkable strength and stature. All are notable for straightness and symmetry of body. Negroes and all seem to thrive well in New Brunswick.
One great advantage to the colony is the River du Loup Railway, now constructing from the St John to the St Lawrence River. It passes the colony at a distance of only two miles, and must be of great service to all who have goods to transport to, or receive from, the seaboard. The colonists have partial employment in assisting to lay down this line, and may secure work at good wages for two or three years. Those able to do much get from 5s. to 6s. per day. Those settled here possessed of capital have bought partially cleared lands, dwelling-house and barn, for prices ranging from £1OO to £200. One farm of 100 acres sold, I understand, for £6O. But, generally speaking, the cleared land on them, from negligent farming, is nearly exhausted. My idea is for young men to get a good piece of uncleared land, and than expend money and labour to make a farm of it. It will be the best investment, unless something arises to enhance the value of riverside farms independent of their fertility.
It is my candid opinion, as a settler, that if any person, married or single, has motives for emigration to a new country, more favourable to his well-being than his present locality, he could not do better than to come to this already thriving colony. What with a free grant of 200 acres to married, and 100 to single men, a roomy and substantial log cottage ; four acres of land ready chopped, or 36 dols. to do it himself, good roads already made, and the home feeling of living among one’s own countrymen, one might search the known world and not find such another opportunity as is here presented. The intending settler, I am sure, will find everybody willing to advise, assist, and do everything in their power to make him feel that he is living among friends, and forget that be is not in Scotland.
People may perhaps dread the winter season more than any other feature of this place, but I can tell them that our experience of winter weather has been nothing like what we expected; and this fact will be endorsed by every one of my fellow-colonists. The average winter in Scotland is more productive of bad health, and far more disagreeable in every way than the same season in New Brunswick.
With regard to the newcomers now being selected and appointed, under the management of Mr George Troup, I am told that they number among them people of considerable means and worth—in fact, are quite a superior class of persons. This, added to the fact that there are already dwelling among us people of intelligence and education, is a certain guarantee of the prosperity and social advancement of this large community.
We have a sawmill partially constructed, only awaiting the advent of spring for completion. A grist mill is also about to be added. A church and cemetery site has been granted and set apart, while new roads for the extension and consolidation of the colony are contemplated for commencement in the coming spring of Summer.
After this year (1874) the Government, I understand, will afford no more assistance to parties desirous of settling here, so there will never again be offered such chances and privileges to the harassed Scotchmen as are offered now.
Bannockburn, New Kincardine Colony, February 28, 1874.


Edward Bruce had 100 acres on lot 26 that he called “Bannockburn” in Kintore. In 1877, he had one (himself) in his family, a house with valuation of $100 but no barn, 8 acres chopped and 5 acres cropped with a valuation of $78 on clearings. He was a teacher at Upper Kintore. A colony paysheet shows that he was paid $75 for working for 23 3/4 days between Nov. 23-Dec. 26, 1874 on the construction of the Lower Kintore road. [Did he leave the Colony for some reason? No further evidence of his life in the Colony has surfaced so far!]

“Nine months of Kincardine by a Settler” written by Edward Bruce on Feb. 28, 1874 at Bannockburn, Kintore, New Brunswick. Published in the Montrose, Arbroath and Brechin Review and Forfar and Kincardineshire Advertiser Friday 10 April 1874.;

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