The event of the Scots-Canadian establishment of New Kincardineshire intrigued and fascinated everyone in New Brunswick. It represented the most significant planned immigration to New Brunswick, second only to the influx of the United Empire Loyalists. This event is thought to be the largest migration of individuals from a small area in the Old Country to form a single community in Canada.
The majority of the immigrants landed in Saint John on the Castalia, followed by a second group arriving on the S.S. Sidonian the following year. Over the next twelve years, individual families and small parties continued to arrive and join their kin in the settlement, which quickly gained the moniker of the “Scotch Colony”.
These newcomers hailed from Kincardine and Aberdeen, encouraged by Captain Brown of the Anchor Shipping line, a native of Stonehaven, Scotland. Witnessing the struggles of countless Scots barely surviving on barren, stony land, Captain Brown saw potential in these hardworking people. He predicted they would thrive on the fertile land of New Brunswick, amidst beautiful landscapes, thanks to their tireless energy. The settlers were all selected from Kincardineshire, known for their reputable and industrious nature, with every man possessing a trade skill, from blacksmithing to weaving.
Captain Brown, a visionary, alongside Robert Stewart, traversed the unique kite-shaped region of Victoria Co., nestled between the Tobique and the Saint John rivers. They optimistically envisioned farms with ample space for sugaring, firewood, and timber. However, not all of Captain Brown’s forecasts were accurate.
On May 10th, 1873, the Castalia arrived in Saint John, and after a warm reception, the settlers journeyed upriver to Kilburn. They were taken aback by the severe winter that had stalled construction of roads and houses, and the snow still piled high. However, their resolve remained unbroken, and they pressed on to build their new homes amidst the challenging wilderness.
With unwavering faith and relentless work, they transformed the rugged wilderness into fruitful farms and cosy homes, establishing four vibrant hamlets, named Lower Kintore, Upper Kintore, Bon Accord and Kincardine. Their newly acquired farming and animal husbandry skills came into great use.
Known for their integrity, hard work, and resilience, the Scots-Canadians fostered a strong sense of community, aiding each other in overcoming obstacles. By their 25th year in New Brunswick, they had flourishing farms, well-constructed homes, barns, and outbuildings, complete with gardens, orchards, and farm equipment. The Melville Church in Kincardine dedicated a window to these settlers in 1948, which has since undergone significant restoration.
Over the years, numerous pastors, including the renowned Peter Melville and Rev. Dr. Gordon C. Pringle, guided the community’s spiritual growth. Today, the community continues to thrive, with many descendants of the original settlers still residing here, maintaining the spirit of faith and achievement. The church, with its refurbished steeple and bell tower, stands as a proud symbol of this enduring community.
The bell you hear rung prior to service bears the inscription- “Presented to the church in Stonehaven by the Anchor Steamship Company, Glasgow 1873.” The exterior of the steeple housing the bell has been restored. In the early days, Capt. Brown referred to what is now Kincardine as Stonehaven. Those who farmed here may tell you that name suited it well!
The original settlers would be proud of their colony today. Many descendants still live here and the spirit of faith and accomplishment still lives on. The church stands tall and proud with its restored steeple and bell tower. The peaceful cemetery ground is well maintained. The congregation, though much smaller, serves and cares diligently for church and community. There is also a beautiful, small church, Upper Kintore United, still operating in the northwest corner of the Scotch Colony.
The Scotch Colony continues to celebrate its rich history and cultural heritage through various activities, including an annual Burn’s Night Concert. The women of the colony are renowned for their baking, which they occasionally sell at the Perth Andover farm market. The love for music is evident among the residents, with many skilled musicians among them.
Today, the Scotch Colony still boasts residents who are descendants of the initial settlers, along with those who have chosen to make this place their home. The enduring spirit of community and care remains vibrant in this beautiful place they are proud to call home.
Here is a list of the the graves in the Melville United Church Cemetery.
Click on a thumbnail to see more photos
Here’s a CBC-TV News story on the Scotch Colony.
Here is the link to the accompanying 2020 CBC-TV story, with beautiful photos, about the Colony and their Burns Celebration.
You can contact Scotch Colony on their Facebook Group Page.
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