The New Brunswick Land Company was established in 1834 with the aim of transforming a wilderness area of New Brunswick into an appealing location for immigrants to settle. To achieve this, they built roads, mills, clearings, houses, and farms, creating an attractive environment for immigrants and leasing property to them. Two of their settlements were Stanley and Campbell, sometimes identified on maps as Campbell Town or Campbellton, situated in the Bloomfield Ridge/Boisetown area.
The Company’s land, chosen for its fertility and the numerous rivers running through it, encompasses approximately 587,000 acres (fifty-five miles by about twenty), adjacent to properties already settled along the Nashwaak and St. John Rivers. The land is not entirely a wilderness, as a community of Welsh settlers lived there in poverty until the construction of the Royal Road. Now connected to Fredericton, they are in a much more prosperous state. Around ninety lots, comprising roughly twenty thousand acres, are reserved for these Welsh settlers and a few others.
The Company’s first priority was to construct another road to encourage settlement. They had purchased property from Messrs. Cunard in southwest Miramichi, and the road’s path was planned to run parallel to the Cardigan Settlement, along an elevated ridge behind the Nashwaak grants until it intersected with the Nashwaak River. This location, where the river bends northwest after running about twenty-five miles due north, was an ideal spot for building a sawmill and a town. The exploratory team was directed towards Porter’s Brook, and it was decided to establish a town named Stanley on the Nashwaak and another near Porter’s Brook, named after Governor Sir A. Campbell. A road would then be built connecting the two towns and linking to the existing Royal Road.
This is when challenges began to emerge. The Company’s approval to proceed had come late in the year, and no Fredericton contractor was willing to take on the work except at an exorbitant rate of £270 per mile or more. The Bank of St. John was also unhelpful, and I was instructed to obtain funds from the Messrs. Cunard at Miramichi, whose Nova Scotia Bank paper had a discount of seven and a half percent.
I then sought quotes for contractors’ provisions, with Ratchford and Lugrin from St. John being the lowest bidders. I purchased the necessary supplies from them. Subsequently, Messrs. Hansard and Power agreed to construct the first eight miles of road for £60 per mile, and several other contractors accepted this lower market price, joining the project on the same terms. Work was underway when we received word to halt for the season, with only about ten miles completed.
During this time, bridge construction progressed between the Royal Road and Stanley, while a team cleared around seventy acres near the mill, serving the dual purpose of preparing the land and reducing fire risk. Dam construction advanced swiftly, and the sawmill’s frame was being hewn and readied. The best logs were retained, and houses were built to accommodate the workers. The damming of the Nashwaak engaged every available hand to protect it from potential flooding, a precaution that proved wise as the flood arrived the day it was completed. All the cattle not needed at the Campbell farm were brought to Stanley until the dam’s completion.
These operations necessitated supplying provisions to six different parties, which had to be transported over twenty to thirty miles through trackless forest, as the Nashwaak River was too low for heavy scow navigation. Each party also required advances proportional to their work; otherwise, the contractors would halt their operations. To oversee this work, I had to exercise utmost vigilance. Workers were also stealing pine timber in various locations, prompting me to request protection from the governor. He kindly granted my request and appointed me a deputy commissioner of crown lands with the authority to confiscate any timber cut without a license. Upon learning this, the workers approached me for permission to cut timber in specific locations, and I received the tonnage, which was applied to the timber account. After all these efforts, the road has been levelled through to the Taxis and the heights above the St. John, at Fredericton.
The house I rented in Fredericton was cold, uncomfortable, and inconvenient. I recommended to the court the purchase of a property on the Stanley side of the river, opposite Fredericton. This location is advantageous for the Company’s purposes, and once completed, the house will be spacious, with the added benefit of offices and storehouses suitable for storing goods.
At the same time, buildings were being constructed at Campbell, and by the end of the season, three log houses, a blacksmith’s shop, and a tavern were built at Stanley. The mill frame was erected, and there were enough sawn boards to cover it and to plank the houses. During the winter, groups obtained logs for sawing, some by contract and some by hired labor, both of which resulted in similar costs. Hay and supplies, enough to last until summer, were transported on the Nashwaak River and stored at the Stanley depot.
As spring arrived in 1835, operations resumed with teams organized for the completion of the Stanley Road, the construction of the Campbell Road, the finishing of the bridges, and clearings in and around Stanley and Campbell. Others worked on burning off and cropping the areas that were cut down the previous summer. About 120 acres on the town plot of Stanley were cleared, and rocks that hindered navigation on the Nashwaak were blasted and removed. Taking advantage of these improvements, rafts of deals were run to the river’s mouth, where they were shipped off to Mr. Thurgar for sale at St. John.
The frames of six houses were erected on the cleared portions of the Stanley town plot, the tavern was completed, a flour mill was built in anticipation of the arrival of stones from England, and machinery for driving circular saws was installed. Additionally, a house was built for the mill man, one for the blacksmith, a sort of barrack for the workmen, and two others to utilize the refuse and unmarketable boards from the mill. A large barn was also built near the tavern to store the crop and stable the cattle. Workers were engaged in completing log houses along the finished road and in quarrying and preparing stone for chimneys.
Meanwhile, Messrs. Palmer and Fulcher arrived, and arrangements were made to accommodate them. Fifty acres were cleared for Palmer and ten for Fulcher, all chopped and prepared for burning. A log house for Fulcher and a frame for Palmer were built. Provisions for the workers and fodder for the cattle were purchased, and horses and oxen were acquired to complete the logging parties.
The mill contractor agreed to construct a double sawmill at Stanley for £200, in addition to £600 worth of sawn timber from its initial production. Farming operations continued at Campbell, and the Company was now well-prepared to accommodate a significant number of immigrants who wished to purchase land in the Company’s tract. A road connected the main stations, with clearings and log houses placed at convenient distances, and around 500 acres of cleared land, including at Campbell. Sixteen houses, a double and single sawmill, and a flour mill of appropriate construction were established at Stanley, while a single saw and grist mill, blacksmith’s shop, and the equivalent of ten houses were built at Campbell. Additionally, a farm with a large amount of stock, tools, and implements, and an establishment in Fredericton served as a convenient location for depositing the baggage of immigrants.
Future operations would largely depend on the prospect of attracting immigrants. Advertisements should be placed and personal communication employed as necessary to ensure this.
The Village of Stanley offers a picturesque drive filled with rustic farms, hardwoods showcasing stunning fall colors, and memorable views of the Nashwaak River.
The Stanley Fair, New Brunswick’s longest continuously running agricultural fair, has taken place in Logan’s Field since 1851.
Stanley is an area steeped in tradition and history. Numerous homes and buildings in the Stanley area are over a century old, with many of these properties still occupied by descendants of the original owners.
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