Charles Connell was born in Northampton in 1810 to Charles Connell Sr, a Connecticut loyalist, and Mary Palmer. He received his education at a public school in Northampton and later established himself as a successful businessman in Woodstock, where he became one of Carleton County’s leading lumbermen. In 1835, he married Ann Fisher, sister of Charles Fisher, and they had seven children.
Charles Connell was actively involved in local affairs, serving as a justice of the peace and later as a justice of the Inferior Court of Common Pleas for Carleton County. His political career began in 1846 when he was first elected to the assembly. He was appointed to the Legislative Council in 1849 but resigned in 1851 and was subsequently returned as a member of the lower house.
In 1858, Connell became postmaster general in Charles Fisher’s government and held this position until his defeat in the 1861 election. He is best known for an incident that occurred during his tenure as postmaster general when a stamp bearing his likeness was issued. The stamp was quickly withdrawn after a public outcry, and Connell resigned.
Charles Connell returned to the assembly in 1864 and was re-elected in the confederation elections of 1865 and 1866. He supported Samuel Leonard Tilley’s efforts to have New Brunswick enter confederation and briefly served as surveyor general in Robert Duncan Wilmot’s cabinet. Connell was elected to the first dominion parliament in 1867 and remained an MP until his death.
Although he was generally considered a Liberal, party lines were not firmly drawn in New Brunswick during his time in politics. Connell’s voting decisions were often influenced by parochial sentiments rather than party affiliation. He was survived by his wife, three sons, and three daughters, and he epitomized the New Brunswick politicians of his era as a loyalist, lumber merchant, and man of political connections.
Located at 128 Connell Street in Woodstock, Connell House stands as a testament to the Greek Revival architectural style, having been constructed in 1839. This grand structure was once the abode of the Honorable Charles Connell (1810-1873). Interestingly, it’s believed that Connell House was modeled after a house Charles Connell had admired in Hudson Valley, New York. As a thriving merchant and timber businessman, Mr. Connell ensured his residence was adorned with top-tier furnishings. Within its walls, he and his wife, Ann Fisher, nurtured their family.
Adjacent to the main building, a quaint saltbox structure exists, speculated to have been either a workspace or perhaps a home for the main builder. This structure later became an integral part of the primary building, forming the start of its West Wing.
The year 1873 saw the passing of Charles Connell, with his wife, Anne, following in 1895. Their two elder daughters, Ella and Alice, only chose to wed after their mother’s demise in 1896 and 1897 respectively. Subsequent to this, the house underwent numerous modifications and saw multiple ownerships. Around 1898, an east wing was integrated, converting the house into a double tenement. Notably, Fred B. Greene from the Maritime Pure Food Company inhabited the west half, whereas Frank C. Denison, the then United States consul, resided in the east portion for a duration. By about 1920, the house was segmented into three apartments and by 1960, another was added. These renovations saw the addition of a new entrance on the Connell Street side, a secondary staircase to the upper floor, and individual kitchen and bathroom facilities in each section.
Fortunately, in May 1975, the Historical Society acquired Connell House, potentially saving it from being razed. Recognizing its significance, the house was designated a National Historic Site in 1976, though the plaque to honor this status was only placed in 1979. Since then, Connell House has been the central hub for the Historical Society, offering offices and ample space to safeguard their treasured archives and collections of artifacts.
Learn more at the Carlton County Historical Society Web site.
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