|The Parish of North Lake and its People|
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Early in the morning of April 19, 1775, a group of British soldiers faced a group ofmilitiamen across the village green at Lexington, Massachusetts. A shot rang out; then athunderous volley. When the smoke had cleared away, eight militiamen/farmers lay dead.
This skirmish marked the beginning of an intense and often bitter conflict that wouldcontinue for eight years before peace overtook the combatants. In the process, a newnation was born. And thousands exiled from their homeland.
Among the colonial population of two and a half million people there were varyingdegrees of commitment to this Civil War, this Revolution, this tragedy. Civil in the sensethat neighbor fought neighbor; revolutionary in the sense of a population throwing off theyoke of a tyrannical government in which they had no voice; and tragic not only because ofthe killing and maiming, but because many had their property confiscated as well as beingexiled from their country.
Some eighty to one hundred thousand people became refugees. Many returned to Englandwith the departing troops in 1783; others emigrated to other British Colonies. Somefourteen thousand chose Sunbury County, Nova Scotia which later would become NewBrunswick. They were the Loyalists.
Sir Guy Carleton directed the exodus out of New York, the last city to be occupied bythe British. From April until October of 1783, a flotilla of ships discharged their humancargo at or near the present city of Saint John. The challenge facing them was to locateand then to construct rudimentary shelters until more permanent structures could beerected. Those who arrived in April at least had six or seven months to accomplish theirobjective before the harsh winter set in. Those unfortunate enough to arrive with theOctober sailing faced an immediate dismal future. While the British Government offeredeach family the basic life support materials such as lumber, shingles, window glass, food,an ax, a spade and a hoe, survival depended on individual efforts and each other.
Adapting to the new frontier posed unexpected problems. Many believed they would find alush and inviting countryside and were stunned to face a rugged untamed land. None facedthe wilderness with more fear and dismay then those considered affluent in their formerhomes within the cities and towns of New England. Even those who lived previously inback-woods settlements found the environment challenging.
The following recollections of Hannah Ingraham describes a loyalist settlement on theSaint John River a few miles above Fredericton:
We lived in a tent at St. Annes until father got a house ready. He went up through our lot until he found a nice fresh spring of water. He..pulled away the fallen leaves that were thick over it and tasted it. It was very good so there he built his house. One morning when we awoke we found the snow lying deep on the ground all around us and then father came waiding through it and told us the house was ready and not to stop to light a fire and not to mind the weather, but follow his tracks through the trees, for the trees were so many we soon lost sight of him going up the hill. It was snowing fast, and oh so cold. Father carried a chest and we all took something and followed him up the hill through the trees to see our gable end.Various trades and social levels were among the refugees. Farmers and tradesmen;lawyers and teachers. There were prominent people who were forced to give up successfulcareers in business, politics, education, military and the church. While these became bestknown through their leadership in founding the institutions of the province of NewBrunswick, it was the ordinary farmer, the laborer and soldier who formed the backbone ofsociety and created the foundation on which the new province was built.
It was the view of the self professed elite that only they had the necessaryqualifications to occupy positions of power in the new land, based on their education andformer achievements. Accordingly, they immediately set about the business of carving forthemselves a niche in history. Fifty-five of them petitioned the British Government forland grants of 200,000 acres each with the idea of renting the lands back to the tenantfarmers. It was to be basically the same feudal system as existed in England. The averagecitizen had different ideas. They wanted their own land to work for their own benefit, notsome absentee landlord. Six hundred signed a petition to that effect. Fortunately, theBritish Government agreed. The end result, there was enough land for everyone and theproposed dynasty of land barons never got off the ground.
Nonetheless, the group of fifty-five then set out a political course designed to createpositions of power in the new land. In this they were more successful. In 1784, about oneyear after they arrived, all of Nova Scotias Sunbury county became the Province ofNew Brunswick. In 1785, New Brunswick was further divided into Counties and within thosecounties created townships, later to be called "Parishes." It is interesting tonote that only New Brunswick and the State of Louisiana use the term "parish"instead of "township" but in political terms they mean the same thing.
One such division, York County is bounded on the west by the US, on the south byCharlotte county, on the east by Northumberland. Initially, the northern boundary was theQuebec border which in 1785 lay just north of Grand Falls. Later on, the boundaries withQuebec and the State of Maine would be fixed in their present location, but not before abit of saber rattling and posturing by the respective governments of the day.
Let's take a look at the Communities that make up the Parish.
For great detail on the creation of North Lake, see From Oromocto to North Lake