The MacDonald Farm Provincial Heritage Place is a cultural attraction located in Bartibog, just 10 kilometers east of the city of Miramichi, surrounded by picturesque countryside and overlooking the Miramichi River. The property spans approximately 120 hectares on both sides of the highway and features a 2 ½ storey classical 19th century stone farmhouse with a 100 square meter footprint overlooking the river.
Visitors can take a tour of the restored MacDonald Farm, accompanied by costumed guides, to experience life in the 1820s when the Scottish settler Alexander MacDonald and his family lived and helped develop the area. The tour includes an opportunity to smell traditional foods, view embroidery and domestic crafts, and observe gardening and daily farm chores.
The MacDonald Farmhouse is believed to have been built between 1815 and 1820, and documents reveal information about its builder, Alexander MacDonald. A native of Ardnamurchan, Scotland, MacDonald enlisted in the 76th Regiment of Foot at the age of 15 during the Revolutionary War. He was present at the surrender of Yorktown and was disbanded in Shelburne, Nova Scotia in 1783. MacDonald arrived on the Miramichi in 1784 and gradually increased his land holdings through grants and purchases over the next 20 years. He was reported to have been fishing the river as early as 1788 and was carrying on a salmon fishery at his Bartibog river lot in 1813.
Alexander MacDonald married Grace McLean in 1790, likely. Grace was a native of the Island of Eigg and may have been the daughter of an established family or a Loyalist. The couple had 13 children, with the first, James, born in 1792 and the last in 1815.
From 1790 to 1825, Alexander held various positions in the parish including Town Clerk for the Middle District, Commissioner and Surveyor of Roads, Overseer of the Poor, Assessor, Commissioner of Roads, and Trustee of Schools. In 1799, he was appointed as Captain-Commander of a company in the 1st Battalion of the Northumberland County Militia and was later promoted to Major-Commandant in 1813 and Lieutenant-Colonel in 1829. The MacDonald family had a tradition of militia service and at least three of their sons held commissions in the Northumberland Militia. James’ farm in Bay du Vin was also used as a parade ground for the battalion.
Alexander passed away on December 11, 1834 at the age of 72 after a two-week illness, and his wife, Grace, passed away two weeks later on December 31st after an extended illness.
Alexander’s life in New Brunswick was typical of the European immigrant, where he maintained old world values such as the importance of land ownership for success, close kinship and religious ties, and a diversified subsistence lifestyle during an era of economic development. He built his house of stone, a material and style more familiar to him and reflective of traditional Scottish design, something that was not attainable in Scotland but could be achieved in New Brunswick with hard work.
Despite the spectacular expansion of the Miramichi region during the early 19th century, Alexander did not actively participate in the exploitation of the region’s resources. Instead, he focused on fulfilling his community obligations as a parish official and major-commandant of the local militia and lived a simple life centered around the Bartibog, with little knowledge of the outside world.
MacDonald Farm is a Must-See cultural attraction located in Bartibog in a pastoral setting overlooking the Miramichi River.
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