"To the memory of
conquerors who devastate the earth, and of politicians who vex the
life of its denizens with their struggles for power and place, we
raise sumptuous monuments: to the memory of those who by their toil
and endurance have made it fruitful we can raise none. But
civilization, while it enters into the heritage which the pioneers
prepared for it, may at least look with gratitude on their lowly
IT is not without
misgivings that the writer presents this book to the public. Its subject
matter is such that to do full justice to those mentioned therein, it
should have been written at least one-half a century ago and by one who
was either personally acquainted with the facts or had received them
first hand. To endeavour at this late date to tell the story of the
trials and hardships of our pioneers, many of whom have departed almost
a century ago is well nigh an impossible task. That this book will fall
far short of rendering a true appreciation of their labours none can be
more conscious than the writer. But every year the difficulty of
obtaining accurate information of former years becomes greater, for each
year there are slipping from our midst men and women whose minds were
veritable storehouses of the traditions and folk-lore of the past. Much
of the information contained in these pages, the writer feels sure,
could not be obtained ten or twenty years hence. It is better that the
effort be made now and that a record, imperfect as it is, be rendered
than that the lives and deeds of our early pioneers should never be
known to the public.
Then, too, the writer has doubts as to the accuracy of several
statements contained in the Dages of this book Still, apart from minor
detail he thinks that the matter will not be found inconsistent with
fact. That errors, especially n the genealogical records, have crept in
inevitably follows from the very nature of the work.
The writer has experienced difficulty in determining to what area of
country to confine his remarks. There is no statutory district of
Tatamagouche and what country is to be included under that name is a
question to which no definite answer can be given. Dealing with the
earlier years when the settlers were few and information limited a
larger scope of country has been included. During the last years
references have been confined almost entirely to the village of
Tatamagouche itself. Though New Annan and Earltown have not been
included in the writer's observations, he has nevertheless inserted some
quotations from the “History of Pictou County” regarding their
The genealogical records the writer, as a rule, has carried only to the
first generation. Of those coming to Tatamagouche subsequent to 1850 no
notice has been given other than to the head of the family.
Four years ago when this work was begun there was but little known to
the public of the early history of this place; what references there
were, being confined to a few pages in the “History of Pictou County”
and “Memoirs of Dr. MacGregor” by the late Dr. Patterson. Without the
information there a future history of Tatamagouche could have little
value, for in these books and in these books only, is found the material
that can form a good foundation for any historical work on Tatamagouche.
Information concerning the early French period the writer has obtained
from French documents contained in “Le Canada Francais” and also from
the two books by Dr. Patterson mentioned above.
A lengthy letter by S. D. Scott, now editor of the “News-Advertiser,”
Vancouver, and published in the “Colchester Sun” of July 31, 1893,
contained many interesting facts relating to the days of the DesBarres
estate. That papers belonging to Colonel DesBarres and pertaining to his
Tatamagouche property are extant there seems little doubt. The contents
of the above mentioned letter show that at the time of its publication
such papers must have been in existence and its author, Mr. Scott, has
informed the writer that a great deal of his information was obtained
from an account of the Tatamagouche estate written for Col. DesBarres in
1790 by a Capt. McDonald of Prince Edward Island. The original
manuscript was borrowed by Air. Scott from the late Sir Robert Wetherbee
but since then it has been lost. The late Louis DesBarres of Halifax
had, so it is said, many interesting papers of Colonel DesBarres in his
possession, but what has become of them since his death is not known.
For information concerning happenings of later dates, the writer is
indebted to many people in this community who have supplied him with old
documents, family records, etc. Papers originally belonging to Well wood
Waugh, Rev. Hugh Ross and the Rev. Robert Blackwood may in particular be
Knowledge of matters within living memory has been obtained from many of
our older inhabitants. Information concerning the development and
decline of the shipbuilding industry has also been obtained from the
same source. With the compiling of the list of vessels built at
Tatamagouche the writer must publicly acknowledge the assistance of R.
P. Fraser, Esq., Collector of Customs at Pictou, who undertook the
tiring work of making out this list from the Custom records at that
port. Records of vessels built before 1840 were obtained by the writer
from the Custom records at Halifax.
Of those at Tatamagouche who have assisted the writer in the collecting
and the arranging of the material contained herein, the public will
pardon him when he mentions in particular his father, the late W. A.
Patterson His thorough knowledge of conditions in Tatamagouche for the
last fifty years—a knowledge acquired from a most intimate association
with its people—and his retentive memory, which permitted him to recall
with accuracy the events of fifty or sixty years ago, have made possible
this present work. Mention must also be made of James Bryden of the
village who has gone to no little trouble to assist the writer,
particularly in gathering information of matters relating to the
“forties” and “fifties” and the days of the shipbuilding industry. The
writer may also mention his friend, W. M. Nelson, for whose assistance
the writer gives this public acknowledgment. To the various others at
Tatamagouche who in one way or another have lent their aid the writer
extends his thanks.
Of those elsewhere he feels that he should mention two. Major J. P.
Edwards of Halifax, although having no particular interest in
Tatamagouche, has given the writer the greatest assistance; his library,
one of the best collections of Canadian Historic works in Canada, and
which is now owned by Acadia College, Wolfville, was placed as far as
possible at the use of the writer. Information was secured from
Major Edwards and his library which could not be obtained elsewhere. W.
F. Ganong, Ph.D., of Smith College, Northampton, has also assisted the
writer, particularly by his explanation of the local nomenclature.
If, with all its defects and errors, this work is successful in a small
measure at least in saving from oblivion the records of our past and in
stimulating a more lively interest in the lives and labors of our
pioneers—men and women whose memory deserves our highest respect—then
the writer feels that he has not labored in vain.
Frank H. Patterson. Tatamagouche, N. S., Aug. 29th, 1917.
Chapter II. Indians
Chapter III. The French at Tatamagouche
Chapter IV. The First Permanent Settlers
Chapter V. From the Arrival of the First Scotch Settlers until the
end of the Eighteenth Century
Chapter VI. From the Close of the Eighteenth Century to the
Beginning of the Shipbuilding Industry
Chapter VII. From the Rise to the Decline of the Shipbuilding
Chapter VIII. The Churches and their Ministers