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Information reposted and shared by Friends of Beaubears Island Inc., Senior Historical Correspondent, John English.

Chatham RHSJ: The history

I intended to examine just the school, but during my investigation I realized that it was so intertwined with the Sisters and hospitals and the Catholic Church, that I had to tell the whole story in order to understand the history. All pictures and text are (unless otherwise stated) from “Centernary The Sisters of Chatham, NB 1869-1969”, Library of the Catholic Health Alliance of Canada).

The history of the Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph of Chatham [RHSJ]

The following is from mountsj.ca/:
It was founded the Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph, a congregation of religious women founded by Jerome le Royer de la Dauversiere in 1636 in Le Fleche France. A married civil servant with 5 children, he wanted to provide health care to both settlers and natives, specifically in New France, now known as Canada.
It was not until 1659 – with the help of Jeanne Manse, the 1st lay nurse of North America – that the Religious Hospitallers arrived in Montreal. Jeanne had already established a hospital in 1642 with Maisonneuve, the governor of New France.
 
On July 16, 1869, five RHSJ’s from Hotel Dieu of Montreal disembarked at Chatham, N.B., where at the request of Bishop Rogers, they had accepted to take care of the sick, to open a boarding school for young girls and an orphanage.
End of text from mountsj.ca/:

The history of the Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph of Chatham [RHSJ], N.B. is replete with adventure, hardship, success, and heroism. On July 16, 1869, after three days voyage (aboard the steamer Secret) our Mothers set foot upon the soil of their adopted country, where sacrifices of all kinds awaited them … (annals). The day after their arrival, they set to work preparing the first Hotel Dieu of Miramichi. In the first eighteen months, 100 patients were treated in hospital, as well as 1000 out-patients. Doctor Stafford Benson, a well-respected physician of the community, tended the sick, gratis[without charge].
Very often food and fuel were scarce. The Annals relate story after story of privation. Our fare was frugal.
Fresh meat was conspicuous on the daily menu by its absence, this delicacy being ours only when friends of the sisters procured it for us. The ordinary viands were fish, salt pork, and corned beef. Butter was not often passed while sugar was a luxury. The cold was perhaps the hardest of all. . . to endure in these days of first beginnings. Often sleep was driven away in a too engrossing search after a little warmth.

Even after moving into the third Hotel Dieu in 1876, we read in the records that conditions were much the same”. Wood and water had to be carried to the third flat by the sisters. There were thirty-nine stoves in the establishment and the sisters who sat up at night with the sick, had to watch the fires.

In l887, six sisters fell victim to tuberculosis and died. Within the next two years, a summer house was provided for
relaxation, the water pump was moved from outside into the kitchen, a furnace and hot water heating system were installed. These conveniences greatly reduced the labors of the sisters, and as is noted in the annals, after 1890 the sisters health improved.

The sisters from Montreal were not accustomed to living outside the cloister, and the circumstances during their first years in Chatham were such that regular monastic life could not be observed. Because of the strictness of their rules these conditions caused them some misgivings and sacrifice.
In 1876, however the sisters realized their dream for a regular monastery when they moved into the convent adjoining the third Hotel Dieu.

The Hospitals

I Presbytery for first resident priest
2 Episcopal Residence for Bishop Rogers 1850
3 First Hotel Dieu of Miramichi 1869 – 1870 (see Fig 1)
4 St. Joseph Preparatory School l9l9; Moved to present site 1931; Renovated 1962
5 Landscaped and renovated as a museum for centenary 1959.

The second Hotel Dieu was constructed under the direction of Bishop Rogers and consisted of a wing adjacent to the then existing church. lt was occupied by the sisters from July 1870 until 1876. The building was destroyed by fire in 1878.

The third Hotel Dieu (see Fig 2) was an elaborate building of T shaped construction. The building was an almost self-contained unit. There were gardens and orchards at the rear, kitchen and laundry facilities in the basement. The chapel and priests quarters occupied a central position accessible from all parts of the building. Between 1875 and 1913, it served as a hospital; from 19l7 to 1937, as a nurses’ residence and at different times it housed employees, boarders from the Academy, nursing assistants, senior citizens, and other persons or groups, as necessity dictated. The building was finally demolished in 1963. 

The annals record many incidents and improvements that took place in this historic building, the remains of which, in part at least, rest beneath the present Hotel Dieu Convent and adjacent lawns.

As previously mentioned, there were improvements in the multi-purpose building from time to time, and we note that in 1889 the basement was finished. On April 10, 1902, the hospital was incorporated under The Sisters of the Hotel Dieu of Chatham, N.B.  ln this year as well, the town obtained water service and upon request, the hospital was supplied free of charge.

ln 1905 the vacated school apartments were renovated and converted to serve as part of the hospital. For some time the sisters were aware that an operating room was needed, but funds were low due to school construction. However, in 1909, a donation of $15,000 was received, and in 1910 the sisters turned the sod for the fourth Hotel Dieu (see Fig 3) on Lobban Avenue. By the time of the opening in 1913, the cost had mounted to $87 000. for about 70 beds.

A new steam laundry was installed in 1917, at an expense of $6 868. In this same year the School of Nursing was opened with six students graduating in 1920. 

April 25, 1920, was the inauguration o f the Hospital Aid which continues to serve the hospital. 

Hotel Dieu passed the inspection of a doctor chosen by the American College of Surgeons and obtained standardization. That is, the hospital provided the requirements considered necessary to give adequate healthcare.

In 1923, a central heating plant was installed, providing greater comfort in all buildings of the establishment.

In May 1924, a Social Service Department was opened, the hospital employing a V. O. N. nurse.  Each day, accompanied by a student nurse, she visited the poor sick. Unfortunately, the hospital could not continue to pay the expense involved, so in an effort to maintain the much-needed service, the sisters applied to the town for support. The Town Council was not prepared to support this undertaking it was discontinued. Again in 1968, a study was made to inaugurate a Social Service Department, and although the need was present, the resources were not. History repeats itself.

The Nurses’ Alumnae was established in 1927.

ln 1922, Sister Walsh and other keen, knowledgeable religious in the hospital field were making, a study of the conditions within the Catholic Hospital Association of the United Slates and Canada, with a view to establishing a Maritime Association. This was accomplished in the 1920s, thus bringing to the Maritimes, the distinction of being the first area in Canada to organize, and the first area to pass C. H. A. standardization. 

The Nurses’ Home begun in April 1936 was completed in February 1938. In March a housewarming and Silver Tea were h eld to celebrate the opening.

Because many of the patients in the hospital didnt need active treatment, if was decided in 1948 to turn St. Michaels Academy into a Chronic Hospital. St. Michaels was renovated and re-named Mount St. Joseph, receiving chronic cases in 1949, with the formal opening February15, 1950.

Due to increased government involvement in hospital affairs, it was necessary to establish a Lay Advisory Board for the hospital in 1949. A new laundry was constructed in 1949, and a School for Nursing Assistants was opened.

In 1950, the Red Cross provided free blood transfusion service to all hospitals requesting it.

The sod was turned on May 8, 1956, and excavation begun May 30, 1956, for the proposed $ 1,141,425 hospital wing. The opening of the wing took place in 1958.The fourth Hotel Dieu was renovated at this time, bringing the bed capacity io 127.

Chatham RHSJ: The School 

All pictures and text are (unless otherwise stated) from “Centernary The Sisters of Chatham, NB 1869-1969”, Library of the Catholic Health Alliance of Canada).

See Fig 4 for St. Michaels School

See Fig 5 for the site in 1958.

Chatham RHSJ: The Leaders and Sisters 

All pictures from “Centernary The Sisters of Chatham, NB 1869-1969”, Library of the Catholic Health Alliance of Canada).
See Fig 6 for a list of bishops.

See Fig 7 for a list of priests and chaplans.

See Fig 8 for a list of community leaders.

See Fig 9 for a misc. collection of photos .

See Fig 10 for a list of the Sisters’ photos .

See Fig 11 for a list of the Sisters’ photos.

See Fig 12 for a picture of the Sisters’ photos.

Chatham RHSJ: Additional such as Old Records, Doctors, etc.

All pictures from “Centernary The Sisters of Chatham, NB 1869-1969”, Library of the Catholic Health Alliance of Canada).

See Fig 13 for a key of the photocopies.

See Fig 14 for photocopies of correspondences.

See Fig 15 for photocopies of correspondences.

See Fig 16 for photocopies of correspondences.

See Fig 17 for misc. pictures.

See Fig 18 for a list of doctors and dentists.

See Fig 19 for a picture of list of doctors.

See Fig 20 an arial of the complex, which I assume is from about 1960s-ish.Image attachmentImage attachment+Image attachment

Information reposted and shared by Friends of Beaubears Island Inc., Senior Historical Correspondent, John English.

Chatham RHSJ: The history

I intended to examine just the school, but during my investigation I realized that it was so intertwined with the Sisters and hospitals and the Catholic Church, that I had to tell the whole story in order to understand the history. All pictures and text are (unless otherwise stated) from “Centernary The Sisters of Chatham, NB 1869-1969”, Library of the Catholic Health Alliance of Canada).

The history of the Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph of Chatham [RHSJ]

The following is from mountsj.ca/:
It was founded the Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph, a congregation of religious women founded by Jerome le Royer de la Dauversiere in 1636 in Le Fleche France. A married civil servant with 5 children, he wanted to provide health care to both settlers and natives, specifically in New France, now known as Canada.
It was not until 1659 – with the help of Jeanne Manse, the 1st lay nurse of North America – that the Religious Hospitallers arrived in Montreal. Jeanne had already established a hospital in 1642 with Maisonneuve, the governor of New France.

On July 16, 1869, five RHSJ’s from Hotel Dieu of Montreal disembarked at Chatham, N.B., where at the request of Bishop Rogers, they had accepted to take care of the sick, to open a boarding school for young girls and an orphanage.
End of text from mountsj.ca/:

The history of the Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph of Chatham [RHSJ], N.B. is replete with adventure, hardship, success, and heroism. On July 16, 1869, "after three days voyage (aboard the steamer 'Secret') our Mothers set foot upon the soil of their adopted country, where sacrifices of all kinds awaited them" … (annals). The day after their arrival, they set to work preparing the first Hotel Dieu of Miramichi. In the first eighteen months, 100 patients were treated in hospital, as well as 1000 out-patients. Doctor Stafford Benson, a well-respected physician of the community, tended the sick, gratis[without charge].
Very often food and fuel we're scarce. The Annals relate story after story of privation. "Our fare was frugal.
Fresh meat was conspicuous on the daily menu by its absence, this delicacy being ours only when friends of the sisters procured it for us. The ordinary viands were fish, salt pork, and corned beef. Butter was not often passed while sugar was a luxury. The cold was perhaps the hardest of all. . . to endure in these days of first beginnings. Often sleep was driven away in a too engrossing search after a little warmth".

Even after moving into the third Hotel Dieu in 1876, we read in the records that "conditions were much the same”. Wood and water had to be carried to the third flat by the sisters. There were thirty-nine stoves in the establishment and the sisters who sat up at night with the sick, had to watch the fires.

In l887, six sisters fell victim to tuberculosis and died. Within the next two years, a summer house was provided for
relaxation, the water pump was moved from outside into the kitchen, a furnace and hot water heating system were installed. These conveniences greatly reduced the labors of the sisters, and as is noted in the annals, after 1890 the sisters' health improved.

The sisters from Montreal were not accustomed to living outside the cloister, and the circumstances during their first years in Chatham were such that regular monastic life could not be observed. Because of the strictness of their rules these conditions caused them some misgivings and sacrifice.
In 1876, however the sisters realized their dream for a regular monastery when they moved into the convent adjoining the third Hotel Dieu.

The Hospitals

I Presbytery for first resident priest
2 Episcopal Residence for Bishop Rogers 1850
3 First Hotel Dieu of Miramichi 1869 – 1870 (see Fig 1)
4 St. Joseph Preparatory School l9l9; Moved to present site 1931; Renovated 1962
5 Landscaped and renovated as a museum for centenary 1959.

The second Hotel Dieu was constructed under the direction of Bishop Rogers and consisted of a wing adjacent to the then existing church. lt was occupied by the sisters from July 1870 until 1876. The building was destroyed by fire in 1878.

The third Hotel Dieu (see Fig 2) was an elaborate building of "T" shaped construction. The building was an almost self-contained unit. There were gardens and orchards at the rear, kitchen and laundry facilities in the basement. The chapel and priests' quarters occupied a central position accessible from all parts of the building. Between 1875 and 1913, it served as a hospital; from 19l7 to 1937, as a nurses’ residence and at different times it housed employees, boarders from the Academy, nursing assistants, senior citizens, and other persons or groups, as necessity dictated. The building was finally demolished in 1963.

The annals record many incidents and improvements that took place in this historic building, the remains of which, in part at least, rest beneath the present Hotel Dieu Convent and adjacent lawns.

As previously mentioned, there were improvements in the multi-purpose building from time to time, and we note that in 1889 the basement was finished. On April 10, 1902, the hospital was incorporated under "The Sisters of the Hotel Dieu of Chatham, N.B." ln this year as well, the town obtained water service and upon request, the hospital was supplied free of charge.

ln 1905 the vacated school apartments were renovated and converted to serve as part of the hospital. For some time the sisters were aware that an operating room was needed, but funds were low due to school construction. However, in 1909, a donation of $15,000 was received, and in 1910 the sisters turned the sod for the fourth Hotel Dieu (see Fig 3) on Lobban Avenue. By the time of the opening in 1913, the cost had mounted to $87 000. for about 70 beds.

A new steam laundry was installed in 1917, at an expense of $6 868. In this same year the School of Nursing was opened with six students graduating in 1920.

April 25, 1920, was the inauguration o f the Hospital Aid which continues to serve the hospital.

Hotel Dieu passed the inspection of a doctor chosen by the American College of Surgeons and obtained standardization. That is, the hospital provided the requirements considered necessary to give adequate healthcare.

In 1923, a central heating plant was installed, providing greater comfort in all buildings of the establishment.

In May 1924, a Social Service Department was opened, the hospital employing a V. O. N. nurse. Each day, accompanied by a student nurse, she visited the poor sick. Unfortunately, the hospital could not continue to pay the expense involved, so in an effort to maintain the much-needed service, the sisters applied to the town for support. The Town Council was not prepared to support this undertaking it was discontinued. Again in 1968, a study was made to inaugurate a Social Service Department, and although the need was present, the resources were not. History repeats itself.

The Nurses’ Alumnae was established in 1927.

ln 1922, Sister Walsh and other keen, knowledgeable religious in the hospital field were making, a study of the conditions within the Catholic Hospital Association of the United Slates and Canada, with a view to establishing a Maritime Association. This was accomplished in the 1920's, thus bringing to the Maritimes, the distinction of being the first area in Canada to organize, and the first area to pass C. H. A. standardization.

The Nurses’ Home begun in April 1936 was completed in February 1938. In March a housewarming and "Silver Tea" were h eld to celebrate the opening.

Because many of the patients in the hospital didn't need active treatment, if was decided in 1948 to turn St. Michael's Academy into a Chronic Hospital. St. Michael's was renovated and re-named Mount St. Joseph, receiving chronic cases in 1949, with the formal opening February15, 1950.

Due to increased government involvement in hospital affairs, it was necessary to establish a Lay Advisory Board for the hospital in 1949. A new laundry was constructed in 1949, and a School for Nursing Assistants was opened.

In 1950, the Red Cross provided free blood transfusion service to all hospitals requesting it.

The sod was turned on May 8, 1956, and excavation begun May 30, 1956, for the proposed $ 1,141,425 hospital wing. The opening of the wing took place in 1958.The fourth Hotel Dieu was renovated at this time, bringing the bed capacity io 127.

Chatham RHSJ: The School

All pictures and text are (unless otherwise stated) from “Centernary The Sisters of Chatham, NB 1869-1969”, Library of the Catholic Health Alliance of Canada).

See Fig 4 for St. Michaels School

See Fig 5 for the site in 1958.

Chatham RHSJ: The Leaders and Sisters

All pictures from “Centernary The Sisters of Chatham, NB 1869-1969”, Library of the Catholic Health Alliance of Canada).
See Fig 6 for a list of bishops.

See Fig 7 for a list of priests and chaplans.

See Fig 8 for a list of community leaders.

See Fig 9 for a misc. collection of photos .

See Fig 10 for a list of the Sisters’ photos .

See Fig 11 for a list of the Sisters’ photos.

See Fig 12 for a picture of the Sisters’ photos.

Chatham RHSJ: Additional such as Old Records, Doctors, etc.

All pictures from “Centernary The Sisters of Chatham, NB 1869-1969”, Library of the Catholic Health Alliance of Canada).

See Fig 13 for a key of the photocopies.

See Fig 14 for photocopies of correspondences.

See Fig 15 for photocopies of correspondences.

See Fig 16 for photocopies of correspondences.

See Fig 17 for misc. pictures.

See Fig 18 for a list of doctors and dentists.

See Fig 19 for a picture of list of doctors.

See Fig 20 an arial of the complex, which I assume is from about 1960s-ish.
... See MoreSee Less

October 7th, 6:00 am
IAFF Local 5087 Miramichi Professional Firefighters Association 
How amazing it is to have our local fire department use the history of Beaubears Island as inspiration for their new logo. We are so very proud of your all! 
Comme il est étonnant que notre service dincendie local utilise lhistoire de lîle Beaubears comme source dinspiration pour son nouveau logo. Nous sommes tellement fiers de vous tous! 

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=183956960861227&id=100077407733306

 #Beaubear #beaubearsisland❤️ #IAFF #local5087 #miramichifirefighters #historic #mikmaq #acadians #shipbuilding #partnerships #parkscanadanb #passportplaces #explorenb

IAFF Local 5087 Miramichi Professional Firefighters Association
How amazing it is to have our local fire department use the history of Beaubears Island as inspiration for their new logo. We are so very proud of your all!
Comme il est étonnant que notre service d'incendie local utilise l'histoire de l'île Beaubears comme source d'inspiration pour son nouveau logo. Nous sommes tellement fiers de vous tous!

m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=183956960861227&id=100077407733306

#Beaubear #beaubearsisland❤️ #IAFF #local5087 #miramichifirefighters #historic #mikmaq #acadians #shipbuilding #partnerships #parkscanadanb #passportplaces #explorenb
... See MoreSee Less

October 5th, 6:00 am

Comment on Facebook

Beautiful 😍

Vary nice

Limited tickets available.
Buy yours today
Billets limités disponibles.
Achetez le vôtre aujourd'hui
... See MoreSee Less

October 2nd, 9:35 pm
Today is National Day for Truth and Reconciliation! Today we have the opportunity to stop, listen, learn, participate and support all indigenous people near and far.
Niki will participate in the Blanket Exercise in the morning and then the park at 2.

Today is also the last day at the centre for our season. The centre will be open until 1:30. Staff will participate in the March of Unity in the town square. 

Aujourdhui, cest la Journée nationale de la vérité et de la réconciliation ! Aujourdhui, nous avons la possibilité de nous arrêter, découter, dapprendre, de participer et de soutenir tous les peuples autochtones proches et lointains. Niki participera à lexercice de couverture le matin puis au parc à 2h. Aujourdhui est aussi le dernier jour au centre pour notre saison. Le centre sera ouvert jusquà 1h30. Le personnel participera à la marche de lunité sur la place de la ville.

#orangeshirtday2022 #truthandreconciliation #indigenous #supportourindigenouspeople #beaubearsisland❤️ #beaubearsislandinterpretivecentre #miramichi #MiramichiImage attachment

Today is National Day for Truth and Reconciliation! Today we have the opportunity to stop, listen, learn, participate and support all indigenous people near and far.
Niki will participate in the Blanket Exercise in the morning and then the park at 2.

Today is also the last day at the centre for our season. The centre will be open until 1:30. Staff will participate in the March of Unity in the town square.

Aujourd'hui, c'est la Journée nationale de la vérité et de la réconciliation ! Aujourd'hui, nous avons la possibilité de nous arrêter, d'écouter, d'apprendre, de participer et de soutenir tous les peuples autochtones proches et lointains. Niki participera à l'exercice de couverture le matin puis au parc à 2h. Aujourd'hui est aussi le dernier jour au centre pour notre saison. Le centre sera ouvert jusqu'à 1h30. Le personnel participera à la marche de l'unité sur la place de la ville.

#orangeshirtday2022 #truthandreconciliation #indigenous #supportourindigenouspeople #beaubearsisland❤️ #beaubearsislandinterpretivecentre #miramichi #miramichi
... See MoreSee Less

September 30th, 8:27 am
Information reposted and shared by Friends of Beaubears Island Inc., Senior Historical Correspondent, John English.

St. Michaels College, Chatham an dits morphism to St. Thomas University.

St. Michael’s College, Chatham and its morphism to St. Thomas University

It began life in the town of Chatham as a small, faith-based academy dedicated to educating the children of English-speaking Roman Catholics in the valley of the Miramichi River in the northern part of the province of New Brunswick. St. Thomas University began its institutional life in October of 1860 as St. Michaels Academy. St. Michaels was the creation of Bishop James Rogers (see Fig 1), the first bishop of the newly created Diocese of Chatham. Rogerss ambition was to improve educational opportunities for the people of the Miramichi region of the province, especially its anglophone Roman Catholics.

Rogers was born in 1826 at Mount Charles, County Donegal, Ireland. He arrived in Halifax
with his parents in 1831 at the age of five. The family was poor, his father in bad health. As a boy he
had shown a keen interest in the priesthood as a future vocation. When his father died in 1847, at
the age of twenty-one he enrolled as a student at St. Mary’s College, Halifax, where he became the
protegé of his confessor and professor of theology, Fr. Thomas Louis Connolly. Connolly in 1852
became Bishop of Saint John and in 1859 Archbishop of Halifax (see Fig 2).

Creation of the Diocese of Chatham:
In the first half of the 19th century only one Catholic diocese existed in the province of New
Brunswick. It included the whole of the sparsely populated province as well as part of Maine. By 1860,
the population of the province had increased dramatically with the arrival of large numbers of
immigrants. The majority came from Ireland, and the majority of them were Catholics, with the result
that Irish had supplanted French as the dominant element in the New Brunswick Catholic community–
including in the church hierarchy. That community numbered about 85,000, which represented one third of the population of the whole province. It was concentrated in two places: in the port city of Saint
John, and in the lower Miramichi river valley and its port city of Chatham, where virtually all the Irish 
immigrants were Catholic.

That demographic split explains why in 1860 the Church authorities decided to divide the southern two-thirds of New Brunswick into two dioceses, Saint John and Chatham. At Archbishop Connollys suggestion, Fr. James Rogers, at 34 and Irish, was appointed the first Bishop of the Chatham Diocese. He remained bishop there until his retirement forty-two years later in 1902. In Chatham Rogers established a diocesan cathedral, St. Michaels, and a St. Michaels Academy, which aimed to prepare anglophone priests for the anglophone community.

The Chatham Diocese in 1860 was still a large one, encompassing the northern half of the province from Edmondston and even part of the state of Maine in the west to the Acadian settlements on the east coast. The region was considered by many, including Rogers, as “the most backward unsettled part of the Maritime Provinces.” The population of the diocese was only about 54,000. It was certainly isolated.
Most of the men worked as fishermen, farmers and mill- and woods-workers. The main settlements were in the area around the Port of Miramichi, which included Chatham, Newcastle, Nelson, and Douglastown. The labouring population of these communities and the smaller settlements in the area actually varied considerably according to the amount of work in the woods and lumber mills
and in loading ships. A large proportion of the bishops flock was termed “a floating population,”
working wherever they could, in the area or in other parts of the province or in the United States. Few
were rich, most were poor, and most were poorly educated.

Installation of Bishop Rogers
The creation of the Diocese of Chatham and the installation of its first bishop were significant events for the people of the region, not only for Catholics but for Protestants as well. The newly appointed bishop was consecrated in Charlottetown by Archbishop Connolly, on August 15, 1860, assisted by Bishop Sweeney of Saint John and the Bishop of Harbour Grace, Newfoundland. After a brief stay in Charlottetown, Rogers sailed for Chatham in the company of Connolly and Sweeney. According to Rogers, they had an enjoyable overnight voyage, “the wind being fair, but rather light” and with “the supply of good things on board.” The archbishop had “burst out occasionally into immediate laughter in contemplating the group!” They had regained their composure by the time they arrived in Chatham on the morning of August 21 where they were given a royal welcome. That evening the bishops paid a visit to Reverend Michael Eagan at Nelson, the venerable priest who had built the first Catholic church on the Miramichi in 1838-39. The installation of Bishop Rogers took place the next day, on August 22, 1860.

Problems in the Diocese
Rogers confronted many difficulties in his new diocese. The first half of the nineteenth century
had seen considerable hostility between Protestants and Catholics throughout New Brunswick and
Nova Scotia. In New Brunswick in the 1840s riots and even deaths had occurred in Saint John,
Fredericton and Woodstock. There had been less violence in the Miramichi region, but resentments lay
beneath the surface since the area was controlled by a Protestant population that held both political and economic power.

Rogerss chief concern as bishop of course was the spiritual health of his people. His diocese,
which he described at the time of his appointment “as the poorest in all America,” had thirty churches,
many of which were only half-built. He had to deal with a widely scattered Catholic population, a large
proportion of whom were French-speaking. Many of his older Irish parishioners knew only their Gaelic mother tongue and were unable to speak English or French. He had only seven priests to minister to the
needs of his parishioners. Supervising and supporting their work kept him busy traveling to distant
parts of the diocese.

Like most Catholic bishops at the time, Rogers subscribed to the notion of preserving the faith
by educating Catholic and Protestant children separately in the provinces schools and colleges. Yet that
meant he must greatly improve Catholic educational opportunities. The entire educational system in the
northern part of the province was in its infancy. There were no good Catholic schools or colleges.
Rogers, convinced that education was the best way to overcome economic poverty, throughout his
tenure never lost his enthusiasm for establishing Catholic schools and colleges.

Episcopal Enthusiasm
He spent the first few months of his tenure examining first-hand the diocese and its many
problems. He personally visited all diocesan churches and missions. No railways ran through the
northern part of the province at the time, which meant long days and nights on the road in a carriage or
sleigh, on horseback or even on foot. He never complained, and he was always impatient in his drive to
improve conditions . Whether it was new churches, schools or hospitals, he was never short of new
projects. For the rest of his life he was a tireless worker in his desire to improve the lot of the Catholic people of his diocese.

Education as Bishop Rogerss Priority
Rogerss educational efforts ran up the highest bills. At the time of his arrival, Catholic priests
were scarce in all of British North America. The Church made constant efforts to recruit boys who
could be educated and sent on to seminaries. It is hardly surprising that Rogers, on his arrival in
Chatham, set as his first priority establishing an academy for Catholic boys. This, he hoped, would not
only protect Catholic boys from losing their faith but also provide some local candidates for the
priesthood. He also wanted to see Catholics play a more important role in the economic and social life
of the province, a world dominated by anglophone Protestants, but he knew that would only happen if
better educational opportunities existed. He even hoped to create educational opportunities for girls,
although that was not his first concern.

At the time, denominational schools existed throughout the province, but for most people
education was not a priority. Few politicians were concerned with improving educational facilities. It
was especially true for the northern region of the province where most saw little value in an education
beyond learning to read and write. Teachers were scarce since they were so poorly paid and easily induced to take other better paying jobs.

Catholic Colleges and Academies
When Rogers arrived in Chatham in 1860, universities, colleges or academies in New
Brunswick existed only in Fredericton and Sackville. Early attempts to establish Catholic colleges in
Memramcook, Fredericton and Saint John had failed. In the northern part of the province most students
attended local parish schools Some of these went on to grammar schools located in the larger
communities, such as Chatham, Newcastle and Bathurst, but they were restricted to those whose
parents could afford to pay for room and board.

It did not take Rogers long to realize that in most communities in his diocese the people of power and influence were Protestant and that most Catholics were labourers. With Catholic priests scattered, his “ever increasing flock” of parishioners was exposed to neglect and in danger of abandoning the faith. Priests had to be found, especially priests who could speak both French and English, which he considered “indispensable” for the mixed population of his diocese. He needed to establish Catholic schools and acquire books in order to help his people better their position and educate their children. It demanded more manpower and money than he possessed. He was determined to find the help he needed.

Saint John had briefly acquired a “seminary” in the diocese in 1854 when Fr. François-Xavier LaFrance
opened the Collège St-Thomas in Memramcook, really a school for Acadian boys and girls. But in 1862 it too was closed because of financial and staffing difficulties. At the time, Fr. LaFrance informed Bishop Sweeney of Saint John that he was willing to give the buildings and land to a religious order. Sweeney, eager to have a religious educational institution established in his diocese, tried unsuccessfully to persuade the Christian Brothers to take it over. He was more successful in his negotiations with the Holy Cross Order, persuading them to come to Memramcook where, in 1864, they opened the Collège St-Joseph. Sweeney then had a bilingual college in his diocese (and one which survived, for it became one of the four Catholic Acadian colleges that would amalgamate to become the Université de Moncton in 1964).

Rogers, as usual, had his own ideas. He wanted to set up an educational institution in Chatham where he
and his staff could instruct a few vocational students who in turn could teach younger students. Later when appropriate the young instructors could be sent on to proper seminary studies in Montreal. He decided to call the institution St. Michaels Academy. The new St. Michaels Academy (see Fig 3), which was located in the Temperance Hall. St. Michael’s Academy opened officially in the fall of 1860. The curriculum included Latin and French in addition to the “usual branches of an English education.” With meagre resources and great personal effort, Rogers had created his own seminary and academy. As he wrote to his friend the Bishop of Charlottetown, “a little Catholic academy has unpremeditatively and by force of circumstances sprung up in our midst.”

See Fig 3 as during Bishop Barrys residency, the building also functioned as St. Michaels Male Academy (source: historicplaces.ca).

Establishment of Female Academies
Rogers did not ignore the educational needs of Catholic girls. Schools for Catholic girls had existed
before his arrival, and Rogers wanted to encourage them. The year after St. Michaels opened, he hired a Miss Anne Quinlan, a native of Ireland who had trained as a teacher in the Saint John Normal School, to teach in what would be referred to as “St. Michael’s Female Academy,” also located in the Temperance Hall. It immediately attracted sixty students. Quinlan was assisted by a Miss McCarthy, but it was clear more teachers were needed for the girls. Rogers hit upon the idea of establishing convents in the diocese. Nuns not only could help with some parish duties, relieving the chronic shortage of priests, but they might also help with educating Catholic girls.

In January of 1863 he made a trip by coach to Halifax and brought back several Sisters of Charity.
He was impressed by their willingness to come. In his correspondence he speaks of them “braving the
hardships of a journey in midwinter of three hundred miles over ice and snow, a journey that none but
true heroines of charity would undertake.” The result was the establishment of two convents, one in
Bathurst in the north and one in Newcastle on the Miramichi. By 1866 there were four more girls schools, all taught by the sisters from the convents. He paid regular visits to these convent schools
where he was always warmly welcomed.

 
New Building for St. Michael’s
The Temperance Hall soon proved to be too small to handle the rapidly increasing number of
pupils at St. Michaels. Early in 1862, Rogers announced to his parishioners that he intended to create a
“new and spacious building” for the academy “on an elevated and healthy site” above the town, near
the cathedral. The new building could also serve as the bishops residence and seminary. The very next
morning, as he reported to his enormous pleasure, people organized and sent parties several miles away
“to a suitable place in the woods” to cut and prepare the wood for the frame of the building.
He also announced his intention in the not too distant future to replace the wooden cathedral on
the hill, the old St. Michaels Church, with a proper stone cathedral. His plans required the purchase of
additional land. Since the Church had little money, he turned to some prominent citizens and, with their
financial support together with promissory notes from some of his parishioners, purchased three
adjoining lots on the hill. The following year he purchased another large block of adjoining land for
future expansion. The Churchs property eventually expanded to some twenty acres. St. Michaels
Academy and College, St. Michael’s Female Academy, the Hotêl Dieu Convent and Hospital, the stone St.
Michaels Cathedral (started in 1903 and finished in 1921), and St. Thomas College (see Fig 5), would all take shape on that location on the hill overlooking the town.
See Fig 5 for St. Thomas University as seen in Chatham.

“Due to financial constraints, they shut down the college first in 1871 [or] 72, then again in 1880,” [Jason]O’Hearn said. “That’s why we don’t recognize that as our anniversary.” The Basilian Fathers assumed order of the college in 1910, he said. Since they already owned a school in Toronto with the same name, St. Michael’s College was changed upon reopening to St. Thomas College, named after Saint Thomas Aquinas (source: theaquinian.net).
After the initial purchase of the land, the work of constructing the new building for St. Michaels Academy proceeded rapidly. After Rogers himself staked out the location of the future cathedral, the digging for the nearby academy building began. The parishioners divided themselves into three groups: one group excavated the basement, another assembled the stones for the foundation, and the third prepared the timbers for the framing. The two-storey building went up quickly over the next few months, and in June 1862 Rogers declared St. Michaels Academy open in its new premises. With the volunteer labour it had been built quickly and at very little cost to the diocese.
Annual Public Examinations
In order to demonstrate the seriousness of his educational intentions, Rogers directed the annual
examinations at St. Michaels be open to the public. The first examination took place in the Temperance Hall in July 1861 and lasted two days. The second annual examination of students took place at the academys new premises in July 1862,

Students, according to the newspaper report, faced a series of oral examinations in “Spelling, Writing, Arithmetic, Geography (with the use of Globes), Mensuration, Algebra, Geometry, History (Ancient and Modern), French, Latin and, we believe, Greek.”. The annual public examinations must have been quite an ordeal. The following year, in July 1863, examining began at 10 AM and lasted until 6:30 PM with one hour off for dinner.

The opening of these academies resulted in the closing of several ordinary schools, and when
Rogers opened his girls academies more were closed.

St. Michaels public annual school examinations continued to draw interested members of the
public and were regularly reported in the local newspapers. In 1865 those in attendance at the
academys examinations were reported to have included the four local members of the House of
Assembly (including the Hon. Peter Mitchell and the Hon. John Mercer Johnson, two of New
Brunswick’s future “Fathers of Confederation”: discussions of confederation among the Maritime and
Upper and Lower Canadian colonies were taking place at precisely this time), as well as “several other
Gentlemen interested in the advancement of education.”

Fund Raising for St. Michaels
Rogers understood the importance of publicizing his educational aims. The public oral
examinations were not his only publicity device. In October, 1860, shortly after St. Michaels had
opened, a “Grand Soirée” at the Temperance Hall raised £60 for a chapel for the academy. The event
was described as being the largest gathering in town under one roof since Cunard’s Moulding Loft Tea
Party,” held in 1847 for the relief of Irish famine sufferers.

A French Catholic Academy
Rogers had recognized the bilingual nature of his diocese from the start, and with his experience
among the Acadians in Nova Scotia early had intended to establish two academies or colleges in his
diocese: one in Chatham where “English would be the language of the house,” and one in some central
parish with a large French population “in which the French language would dominate.” His intent was
also to have the two institutions “under the same general management so that they might mutually aid
each other and so that a fraternal feeling, not antipathy, might be fostered in their fraternal rivalry.”
The students in each institution could then advance in their studies so that “such of the boys of the
French house as wished to perfect themselves in English could come to Chatham and, vice versa, those
in Chatham [who] might wish to perfect themselves in French could be transferred to the French
house.

It was a noble and somewhat radical idea for the times. As we have seen, Rogers directed his
initial efforts to establishing St. Michaels as the English Catholic school in Chatham, but he needed
help to establish a second Catholic school in a French parish. When he had arrived in Chatham in 1860,
of the seven priests in the diocese, six were fluent in both French and English. Rogers himself was also
fluent in French. The seventh priest, Fr. Eagan, who been there since 1833, did not speak French but on
the other hand was fluent in Irish Gaelic. Yet the priests were completely occupied by their parochial
duties. Rogers began to search for a Catholic teaching Order that was willing to come to a French speaking parish. The site he chose was the Madawaska area, which actually included part of the state of
Maine. In 1869 he would suggest to the Holy Cross Fathers that they establish a college in St-Basile,
but to no avail. Then, in the early 1870s, he would meet a Jesuit priest visiting Chatham and, after
talking to him, would write to the Superior of the Society of Jesus in Montreal, offering the Order land
for a college either in the town of St-Louis-de-Kent on the Kouchibouguac River, or at Petit Rocher in
Gloucester County, or indeed at any mission in the Madawaska area of the diocese. But the Jesuits
would also turn him down.
New Staff and a Musical Programme
In 1865 St. Michael’s Academy, reflecting its growing stature, became St. Michaels College. It
had ninety-six students enrolled and several new teachers added to staff. Patrick Dixon, the seminarian
who had taken over the teaching of Greek and Latin, was reported to be very serious and very
demanding. Fr. B. J. Murdock, who taught at St. Thomas College in later years, recalled that Dixon “was a short, somewhat slight man …, a great scholar–aware of the fact, and proud of it.... He was
kind, generous, punctilious and quick-tempered. He and I had a few little clashes. I liked him.” So did
Max Aitken, the future Lord Beaverbrook, who as a precocious youth in Chatham in the 1890s met Fr.
Dixon and in later years donated money for a hall to be named after him in the village of Beaverbrook,
just outside Newcastle.
The bishop also appointed Israel DeLandry “Professor of Vocal and Instrumental Music.” DeLandry added a new touch to the college when he established a brass band. Popular in the town, it led the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Newcastle in March of 1866. Its fame spread and the members took part in parades and other civic functions throughout the area.

Search for a Rector
By May of 1866, Rogers, who kept close track of potential priests for his diocese, was becoming concerned that he might lose the promising young novice. Barry was twenty-five years old, still not ordained, and the bishop was worried that he might lose him because he had expressed a desire to become a Jesuit. He wrote Barry to inform him that he would agree to any dispensation needed to speed up his ordination. When Barry requested the bishops permission to join the Society of Jesus, Rogers weighed in with his episcopal authority. He had plans for young Barry at St. Michaels. He denied the request on account of his “great need for priests and the hope of future utility which you would be to promote God’s glory in my diocese.” He told Barry to trust in God to show him the right thing to do.
The bishops prayers were answered. Barry decided not to join the Jesuits and was ordained
later that year. He returned to Chatham towards the end of 1866 to accept his appointment as priest of
St. Michaels Cathedral. He also agreed to take over as St. Michael’s fourth rector. It was a significant
moment in the pre-history of St. Thomas, and not only because he proved to be a diligent and highly
competent administrator. It would be thanks to Barrys efforts during his tenure as Bishop of Chatham
following Rogers retirement in 1902 that St. Michaels College in 1910 was reincarnated as St. Thomas
College.
Bishop Rogers Goes to Rome
In the fall of 1866 Rogers finally made plans for his “visit ad limina,” a Catholic bishops
requisite pilgrimage to the Vatican. He would be away from the diocese for some time (it turned out to
be a year and a half), during which time he planned to leave Chancellor Barry in charge of diocesan
affairs.
Always optimistic in spite of the financial obstacles, the incorrigible Rogers wrote Barry in
January, 1868, that they should look into the possibility of acquiring even more land on the hill in
Chatham. “I should like to have that land up the ridge,” he wrote “as that may be the spot on which a
future college might be built.” He was nothing if not persistent. He would, eventually, acquire the
property he had in mind, and it would be there, although he would never live to see it, that the new
buildings for St. Thomas College would indeed be built.

The New Brunswick Common School Act
In 1871 a controversy arose in New Brunswick over the proposed Common School Act. In
providing for free, tax-supported, non-sectarian schools, the Act eliminated all grants to denominational
schools. The grant St. Michaels had been receiving, which amounted to some £600, would end. It had
been the main source of funds, so the colleges very survival was now in jeopardy. With the expenses of
the dioceses newly established convents in Bathurst and Newcastle and a hospital in Chatham,
although all staffed by sisters, Rogers was hard pressed to keep everything going.
The Act naturally engendered considerable opposition. Among the strongest opponents were
those Catholics opposed to “Godless Schools.” Bitter debates broke out in newspapers and at
meetings. A riot in Caraquet resulted in two deaths. At the time of Confederation in 1867, sectarian
schools in Ontario and Quebec had been allowed to continue in operation with government support.
Catholics argued that denominational or sectarian schools had existed in New Brunswick at the time of Confederation, just as in Quebec and Ontario, and therefore should not be deprived of support.
Unfortunately, it turned out, sectarian schools had existed before Confederation in New Brunswick
only by custom, whereas in Quebec and Ontario they had existed by statute. They were not, therefore,
protected by the British North America Act as they were in Quebec and Ontario. The circumstances
were not propitious for attracting the Christian Brothers, or any other religious teaching order, to
Chatham.
Appeals to the federal government to have the New Brunswick School Act repealed failed. In
1872 it went into effect in New Brunswick.
Catholic and Presbyterian Rivalry over a Grammar School
The new education act cut the governments grant not only to St. Michael’s but also to the
Presbyterian Academy in Chatham. In a move to get around the law and continue to receive
government grants, the trustees of the Presbyterian Academy arranged with the trustees of the
Northumberland County Grammar School to merge the two, welcoming the Grammar Schools teachers
and students into the academys substantial buildings. Although in practice it remained primarily a
Protestant school, in name and in law it became the new Northumberland County Grammar School.
Diocesan Debt and the Depression
Rogers was understandably discouraged. By the mid-1870s the Diocese of Chatham had
become severely burdened with debt. The bishop’s concern for the welfare of his diocesan flock had
led him to establish teaching convents in Newcastle, Bathurst and other parts of the diocese. He had
brought in Hôtel Dieu nuns, who opened hospitals in Chatham and St. Basile as well as in Tracadie to
serve the leper colony there, but these involved expenses. The diocese had also been hurt by the
economic downturn. The merchant in Chatham who had supplied them with most of their needs on
credit had gone bankrupt. The government was giving no more subsidies to denominational schools. To
cover the debts, Rogers mortgaged the church properties in Chatham for five years. Even that did not
provide enough to pay off the diocesan debt, which had grown to $30,000, annual interest on which
absorbed all their local revenues. Only funds from the Propagation of the Faith in Europe, which they had been receiving since the diocese was established, kept them going.
Destruction of St. Michael’s College
On February 14, 1878, less than two years after the opening of the new college, a major fire
consumed the buildings of St. Michael’s Commercial College, the old church (designated St. Michaels
Cathedral since 1860), and the bishops and priests residence. It became clear that none of the buildings could be saved. All the buildings in the church and academy compound were built of wood, two and a half storeys high, although on stone foundations. The old church, where it started, seemed to go down before the fire like dried leaves.” It spread quickly to the residence of the bishop and his priests, the college building, the brothers living quarters, and the dormitories. Students were able to remove some of their possessions before the fire spread through the dormitory. They rescued Fr. Bannon, who had collapsed in front of the altar in an unsuccessful attempt to save the sacred vessels. Attempts to save the brothers newly acquired stock of school books and stationary, however, were unsuccessful. The block of buildings that included the Hôtel Dieu convent, hospital, schools and chapel was situated only twenty feet from the burning buildings, but the firefighters successfully saved them. The other college buildings and the church were beyond help.

A few days later Rogers convened a meeting to determine what could be done. A decision was
made to rebuild the College on the same foundation but taller where, according to the ever-optimistic
Rogers, the brothers would be able to reopen St. Michaels with increased accommodations for their
students. As for the cathedral, the diocese would provide “temporary church accommodations until the
foundation for the new Cathedral is ready.”

Opening of the New St. Michael’s College
In spite of the delays the new building was completed in October, 1878. An advertisement
appeared in the newspapers outlining the courses and fees for the year. Everything seemed to be back
on course at St. Michaels Commercial College. The biggest excitement of the year, however, was the
laying of the corner stone for the new stone cathedral, the new St. Michaels Cathedral. A small wooden
church that had been constructed on the foundation of the destroyed St. Michaels Pro-Cathedral was
serving until the new cathedral could be constructed. The noted American church architect Patrick
Keely (1816-1893) had been engaged to draw up the architectural plans. It promised to be the tallest
church in Canada east of Quebec. In an ironic twist, at the same time he was writing Brother Joseph
about funding problems, a young, brash, penniless seventeen-year-old from Newcastle named Max
Aitken was electioneering for one of the towns young lawyers named R. B. Bennett who was running
for the position of alderman for newly-chartered Chatham. Fifty years later Aitken as Lord
Beaverbrook would become a noted and generous benefactor of St. Michael Colleges successor St.
Thomas College.

Hard Times
In 1899 Rogers, who was not well, requested the appointment of Fr. Thomas Barry as Coadjutor
Bishop with the right of succession. In his explanation to Barry he pointed out how fortunate he had
been over the years. His confessor and spiritual director, Archbishop Connolly, in 1861 had sent him a
first-class student, Fr. William Varrily, whom he had “ever regarded as a precious gift.” Then in a
second stroke of good fortune, his good friend Bishop Sweeney of Saint John “had generously ceded
his right” to keep one of his seminarians and instead had given him to the Chatham Diocese. That
seminarian was Thomas Barry. Although he and Barry had disagreed about a number of things over the
years, he felt he was the one most suitable to replace him. He made the recommendation to Rome, even though Barry expressed misgivings about taking Rogerss position. The recommendation was accepted, and Barry was appointed. Rogers stepped down as bishop in February 1902. Although Barry accepted the appointment reluctantly, he proved to be an excellent replacement for Rogers, who died a year later on March 22, 1903, at the age of seventy-seven.

Rogers died too soon to see his two life-long dreams realized. The beautiful sandstone, copper-roofed,
neo-Gothic St. Michaels Cathedral had architectural blueprints drawn up and as we saw its
corner stone laid in 1879, so that he knew what it would look like, high on its hill overlooking the town
of Chatham, the tallest building in eastern Canada. Yet for lack of funds construction did not begin until
the year of his death. (It would not be completed until 1921.) His second unrealized dream was to see
his beloved St. Michaels College reopen. Yet seven years later in 1910 thanks to the efforts of his able
successor, Bishop Thomas Barry, that dream, too, would be realized.

(source: text is taken from: Spray & Rhinelander, History of St. Thomas University: The Formative Years 1860-1990)

St. Thomas University
The origin of St. Thomas University dates back to 1910. At that time, the Most Reverend Thomas F. Barry, Bishop of Chatham, invited the Basilian Fathers of Toronto to assume charge of an institution in Chatham, New Brunswick, providing education for boys at the secondary and junior college levels. The institution was called St. Thomas College.

The Basilian Fathers remained at St. Thomas until 1923. That year the school was placed under the direction of the clergy of the Diocese of Chatham. In 1938, the Diocese of Chatham became the Diocese of Bathurst. In 1959, a section of Northumberland County, including within its territorial limits St. Thomas College, was transferred from the Diocese of Bathurst to the Diocese of Saint John.

From 1910 until 1934, St. Thomas College retained its original status as a High School and Junior College. It became a degree-granting institution upon receipt of a University Charter on March 9, 1934, at which time the provincial legislature of New Brunswick enacted the following:
“St. Thomas College shall be held, and taken, and is hereby declared to be a University with all and every power of such an institution, and the Board of Governors thereof shall have full power and authority to confer upon properly qualified persons the degree of Bachelor, Master, and Doctor in the several arts and faculties in the manner and upon the conditions which may be ordered by the Board of Governors.”
In 1960, an act of the provincial legislature of New Brunswick changed the name of St. Thomas College to St. Thomas University. The following year, the high school courses were eliminated from the curriculum. In 1962, a royal commission on higher education in New Brunswick recommended that St. Thomas University enter into a federation agreement with the University of New Brunswick and relocate on the campus of the latter institution.
(source: text is taken from https://www.stu.ca/about/history/).Image attachmentImage attachment+1Image attachment

Information reposted and shared by Friends of Beaubears Island Inc., Senior Historical Correspondent, John English.

St. Michael's College, Chatham an dit's morphism to St. Thomas University.

St. Michael’s College, Chatham and it's morphism to St. Thomas University

It began life in the town of Chatham as a small, faith-based academy dedicated to educating the children of English-speaking Roman Catholics in the valley of the Miramichi River in the northern part of the province of New Brunswick. St. Thomas University began its institutional life in October of 1860 as St. Michael's Academy. St. Michael's was the creation of Bishop James Rogers (see Fig 1), the first bishop of the newly created Diocese of Chatham. Rogers's ambition was to improve educational opportunities for the people of the Miramichi region of the province, especially its anglophone Roman Catholics.

Rogers was born in 1826 at Mount Charles, County Donegal, Ireland. He arrived in Halifax
with his parents in 1831 at the age of five. The family was poor, his father in bad health. As a boy he
had shown a keen interest in the priesthood as a future vocation. When his father died in 1847, at
the age of twenty-one he enrolled as a student at St. Mary’s College, Halifax, where he became the
protegé of his confessor and professor of theology, Fr. Thomas Louis Connolly. Connolly in 1852
became Bishop of Saint John and in 1859 Archbishop of Halifax (see Fig 2).

Creation of the Diocese of Chatham:
In the first half of the 19th century only one Catholic diocese existed in the province of New
Brunswick. It included the whole of the sparsely populated province as well as part of Maine. By 1860,
the population of the province had increased dramatically with the arrival of large numbers of
immigrants. The majority came from Ireland, and the majority of them were Catholics, with the result
that Irish had supplanted French as the dominant element in the New Brunswick Catholic community–
including in the church hierarchy. That community numbered about 85,000, which represented one third of the population of the whole province. It was concentrated in two places: in the port city of Saint
John, and in the lower Miramichi river valley and its port city of Chatham, where virtually all the Irish
immigrants were Catholic.

That demographic split explains why in 1860 the Church authorities decided to divide the southern two-thirds of New Brunswick into two dioceses, Saint John and Chatham. At Archbishop Connolly's suggestion, Fr. James Rogers, at 34 and Irish, was appointed the first Bishop of the Chatham Diocese. He remained bishop there until his retirement forty-two years later in 1902. In Chatham Rogers established a diocesan cathedral, St. Michael's, and a St. Michael's Academy, which aimed to prepare anglophone priests for the anglophone community.

The Chatham Diocese in 1860 was still a large one, encompassing the northern half of the province from Edmondston and even part of the state of Maine in the west to the Acadian settlements on the east coast. The region was considered by many, including Rogers, as “the most backward unsettled part of the Maritime Provinces.” The population of the diocese was only about 54,000. It was certainly isolated.
Most of the men worked as fishermen, farmers and mill- and woods-workers. The main settlements were in the area around the Port of Miramichi, which included Chatham, Newcastle, Nelson, and Douglastown. The labouring population of these communities and the smaller settlements in the area actually varied considerably according to the amount of work in the woods and lumber mills
and in loading ships. A large proportion of the bishop's flock was termed “a floating population,”
working wherever they could, in the area or in other parts of the province or in the United States. Few
were rich, most were poor, and most were poorly educated.

Installation of Bishop Rogers
The creation of the Diocese of Chatham and the installation of its first bishop were significant events for the people of the region, not only for Catholics but for Protestants as well. The newly appointed bishop was consecrated in Charlottetown by Archbishop Connolly, on August 15, 1860, assisted by Bishop Sweeney of Saint John and the Bishop of Harbour Grace, Newfoundland. After a brief stay in Charlottetown, Rogers sailed for Chatham in the company of Connolly and Sweeney. According to Rogers, they had an enjoyable overnight voyage, “the wind being fair, but rather light” and with “the supply of good things on board.” The archbishop had “burst out occasionally into immediate laughter in contemplating the group!” They had regained their composure by the time they arrived in Chatham on the morning of August 21 where they were given a royal welcome. That evening the bishops paid a visit to Reverend Michael Eagan at Nelson, the venerable priest who had built the first Catholic church on the Miramichi in 1838-39. The installation of Bishop Rogers took place the next day, on August 22, 1860.

Problems in the Diocese
Rogers confronted many difficulties in his new diocese. The first half of the nineteenth century
had seen considerable hostility between Protestants and Catholics throughout New Brunswick and
Nova Scotia. In New Brunswick in the 1840s riots and even deaths had occurred in Saint John,
Fredericton and Woodstock. There had been less violence in the Miramichi region, but resentments lay
beneath the surface since the area was controlled by a Protestant population that held both political and economic power.

Rogers's chief concern as bishop of course was the spiritual health of his people. His diocese,
which he described at the time of his appointment “as the poorest in all America,” had thirty churches,
many of which were only half-built. He had to deal with a widely scattered Catholic population, a large
proportion of whom were French-speaking. Many of his older Irish parishioners knew only their Gaelic mother tongue and were unable to speak English or French. He had only seven priests to minister to the
needs of his parishioners. Supervising and supporting their work kept him busy traveling to distant
parts of the diocese.

Like most Catholic bishops at the time, Rogers subscribed to the notion of preserving the faith
by educating Catholic and Protestant children separately in the province's schools and colleges. Yet that
meant he must greatly improve Catholic educational opportunities. The entire educational system in the
northern part of the province was in its infancy. There were no good Catholic schools or colleges.
Rogers, convinced that education was the best way to overcome economic poverty, throughout his
tenure never lost his enthusiasm for establishing Catholic schools and colleges.

Episcopal Enthusiasm
He spent the first few months of his tenure examining first-hand the diocese and its many
problems. He personally visited all diocesan churches and missions. No railways ran through the
northern part of the province at the time, which meant long days and nights on the road in a carriage or
sleigh, on horseback or even on foot. He never complained, and he was always impatient in his drive to
improve conditions . Whether it was new churches, schools or hospitals, he was never short of new
projects. For the rest of his life he was a tireless worker in his desire to improve the lot of the Catholic people of his diocese.

Education as Bishop Rogers's Priority
Rogers's educational efforts ran up the highest bills. At the time of his arrival, Catholic priests
were scarce in all of British North America. The Church made constant efforts to recruit boys who
could be educated and sent on to seminaries. It is hardly surprising that Rogers, on his arrival in
Chatham, set as his first priority establishing an academy for Catholic boys. This, he hoped, would not
only protect Catholic boys from losing their faith but also provide some local candidates for the
priesthood. He also wanted to see Catholics play a more important role in the economic and social life
of the province, a world dominated by anglophone Protestants, but he knew that would only happen if
better educational opportunities existed. He even hoped to create educational opportunities for girls,
although that was not his first concern.

At the time, denominational schools existed throughout the province, but for most people
education was not a priority. Few politicians were concerned with improving educational facilities. It
was especially true for the northern region of the province where most saw little value in an education
beyond learning to read and write. Teachers were scarce since they were so poorly paid and easily induced to take other better paying jobs.

Catholic Colleges and Academies
When Rogers arrived in Chatham in 1860, universities, colleges or academies in New
Brunswick existed only in Fredericton and Sackville. Early attempts to establish Catholic colleges in
Memramcook, Fredericton and Saint John had failed. In the northern part of the province most students
attended local parish schools Some of these went on to grammar schools located in the larger
communities, such as Chatham, Newcastle and Bathurst, but they were restricted to those whose
parents could afford to pay for room and board.

It did not take Rogers long to realize that in most communities in his diocese the people of power and influence were Protestant and that most Catholics were labourers. With Catholic priests scattered, his “ever increasing flock” of parishioners was exposed to neglect and in danger of abandoning the faith. Priests had to be found, especially priests who could speak both French and English, which he considered “indispensable” for the mixed population of his diocese. He needed to establish Catholic schools and acquire books in order to help his people better their position and educate their children. It demanded more manpower and money than he possessed. He was determined to find the help he needed.

Saint John had briefly acquired a “seminary” in the diocese in 1854 when Fr. François-Xavier LaFrance
opened the Collège St-Thomas in Memramcook, really a school for Acadian boys and girls. But in 1862 it too was closed because of financial and staffing difficulties. At the time, Fr. LaFrance informed Bishop Sweeney of Saint John that he was willing to give the buildings and land to a religious order. Sweeney, eager to have a religious educational institution established in his diocese, tried unsuccessfully to persuade the Christian Brothers to take it over. He was more successful in his negotiations with the Holy Cross Order, persuading them to come to Memramcook where, in 1864, they opened the Collège St-Joseph. Sweeney then had a bilingual college in his diocese (and one which survived, for it became one of the four Catholic Acadian colleges that would amalgamate to become the Université de Moncton in 1964).

Rogers, as usual, had his own ideas. He wanted to set up an educational institution in Chatham where he
and his staff could instruct a few vocational students who in turn could teach younger students. Later when appropriate the young instructors could be sent on to proper seminary studies in Montreal. He decided to call the institution St. Michael's Academy. The new St. Michael's Academy (see Fig 3), which was located in the Temperance Hall. St. Michael’s Academy opened officially in the fall of 1860. The curriculum included Latin and French in addition to the “usual branches of an English education.” With meagre resources and great personal effort, Rogers had created his own seminary and academy. As he wrote to his friend the Bishop of Charlottetown, “a little Catholic academy has unpremeditatively and by force of circumstances sprung up in our midst.”

See Fig 3 as during Bishop Barry's residency, the building also functioned as St. Michael's Male Academy (source: historicplaces.ca).

Establishment of Female Academies
Rogers did not ignore the educational needs of Catholic girls. Schools for Catholic girls had existed
before his arrival, and Rogers wanted to encourage them. The year after St. Michael's opened, he hired a Miss Anne Quinlan, a native of Ireland who had trained as a teacher in the Saint John Normal School, to teach in what would be referred to as “St. Michael’s Female Academy,” also located in the Temperance Hall. It immediately attracted sixty students. Quinlan was assisted by a Miss McCarthy, but it was clear more teachers were needed for the girls. Rogers hit upon the idea of establishing convents in the diocese. Nuns not only could help with some parish duties, relieving the chronic shortage of priests, but they might also help with educating Catholic girls.

In January of 1863 he made a trip by coach to Halifax and brought back several Sisters of Charity.
He was impressed by their willingness to come. In his correspondence he speaks of them “braving the
hardships of a journey in midwinter of three hundred miles over ice and snow, a journey that none but
true heroines of charity would undertake.” The result was the establishment of two convents, one in
Bathurst in the north and one in Newcastle on the Miramichi. By 1866 there were four more girls' schools, all taught by the sisters from the convents. He paid regular visits to these convent schools
where he was always warmly welcomed.


New Building for St. Michael’s
The Temperance Hall soon proved to be too small to handle the rapidly increasing number of
pupils at St. Michael's. Early in 1862, Rogers announced to his parishioners that he intended to create a
“new and spacious building” for the academy “on an elevated and healthy site” above the town, near
the cathedral. The new building could also serve as the bishop's residence and seminary. The very next
morning, as he reported to his enormous pleasure, people organized and sent parties several miles away
“to a suitable place in the woods” to cut and prepare the wood for the frame of the building.
He also announced his intention in the not too distant future to replace the wooden cathedral on
the hill, the old St. Michael's Church, with a proper stone cathedral. His plans required the purchase of
additional land. Since the Church had little money, he turned to some prominent citizens and, with their
financial support together with promissory notes from some of his parishioners, purchased three
adjoining lots on the hill. The following year he purchased another large block of adjoining land for
future expansion. The Church's property eventually expanded to some twenty acres. St. Michael's
Academy and College, St. Michael’s Female Academy, the Hotêl Dieu Convent and Hospital, the stone St.
Michael's Cathedral (started in 1903 and finished in 1921), and St. Thomas College (see Fig 5), would all take shape on that location on the hill overlooking the town.
See Fig 5 for St. Thomas University as seen in Chatham.

“Due to financial constraints, they shut down the college first in 1871 [or] 72, then again in 1880,” [Jason]O’Hearn said. “That’s why we don’t recognize that as our anniversary.” The Basilian Fathers assumed order of the college in 1910, he said. Since they already owned a school in Toronto with the same name, St. Michael’s College was changed upon reopening to St. Thomas College, named after Saint Thomas Aquinas (source: theaquinian.net).
After the initial purchase of the land, the work of constructing the new building for St. Michael's Academy proceeded rapidly. After Rogers himself staked out the location of the future cathedral, the digging for the nearby academy building began. The parishioners divided themselves into three groups: one group excavated the basement, another assembled the stones for the foundation, and the third prepared the timbers for the framing. The two-storey building went up quickly over the next few months, and in June 1862 Rogers declared St. Michael's Academy open in its new premises. With the volunteer labour it had been built quickly and at very little cost to the diocese.
Annual Public Examinations
In order to demonstrate the seriousness of his educational intentions, Rogers directed the annual
examinations at St. Michael's be open to the public. The first examination took place in the Temperance Hall in July 1861 and lasted two days. The second annual examination of students took place at the academy's new premises in July 1862,

Students, according to the newspaper report, faced a series of oral examinations in “Spelling, Writing, Arithmetic, Geography (with the use of Globes), Mensuration, Algebra, Geometry, History (Ancient and Modern), French, Latin and, we believe, Greek.”. The annual public examinations must have been quite an ordeal. The following year, in July 1863, examining began at 10 AM and lasted until 6:30 PM with one hour off for dinner.

The opening of these academies resulted in the closing of several ordinary schools, and when
Rogers opened his girls' academies more were closed.

St. Michael's public annual school examinations continued to draw interested members of the
public and were regularly reported in the local newspapers. In 1865 those in attendance at the
academy's examinations were reported to have included the four local members of the House of
Assembly (including the Hon. Peter Mitchell and the Hon. John Mercer Johnson, two of New
Brunswick’s future “Fathers of Confederation”: discussions of confederation among the Maritime and
Upper and Lower Canadian colonies were taking place at precisely this time), as well as “several other
Gentlemen interested in the advancement of education.”

Fund Raising for St. Michael's
Rogers understood the importance of publicizing his educational aims. The public oral
examinations were not his only publicity device. In October, 1860, shortly after St. Michael's had
opened, a “Grand Soirée” at the Temperance Hall raised £60 for a chapel for the academy. The event
was described as being "the largest gathering in town under one roof since Cunard’s Moulding Loft Tea
Party,” held in 1847 for the relief of Irish famine sufferers.

A French Catholic Academy
Rogers had recognized the bilingual nature of his diocese from the start, and with his experience
among the Acadians in Nova Scotia early had intended to establish two academies or colleges in his
diocese: one in Chatham where “English would be the language of the house,” and one in some central
parish with a large French population “in which the French language would dominate.” His intent was
also to have the two institutions “under the same general management so that they might mutually aid
each other and so that a fraternal feeling, not antipathy, might be fostered in their fraternal rivalry.”
The students in each institution could then advance in their studies so that “such of the boys of the
French house as wished to perfect themselves in English could come to Chatham and, vice versa, those
in Chatham [who] might wish to perfect themselves in French could be transferred to the French
house.

It was a noble and somewhat radical idea for the times. As we have seen, Rogers directed his
initial efforts to establishing St. Michael's as the English Catholic school in Chatham, but he needed
help to establish a second Catholic school in a French parish. When he had arrived in Chatham in 1860,
of the seven priests in the diocese, six were fluent in both French and English. Rogers himself was also
fluent in French. The seventh priest, Fr. Eagan, who been there since 1833, did not speak French but on
the other hand was fluent in Irish Gaelic. Yet the priests were completely occupied by their parochial
duties. Rogers began to search for a Catholic teaching Order that was willing to come to a French speaking parish. The site he chose was the Madawaska area, which actually included part of the state of
Maine. In 1869 he would suggest to the Holy Cross Fathers that they establish a college in St-Basile,
but to no avail. Then, in the early 1870s, he would meet a Jesuit priest visiting Chatham and, after
talking to him, would write to the Superior of the Society of Jesus in Montreal, offering the Order land
for a college either in the town of St-Louis-de-Kent on the Kouchibouguac River, or at Petit Rocher in
Gloucester County, or indeed at any mission in the Madawaska area of the diocese. But the Jesuits
would also turn him down.
New Staff and a Musical Programme
In 1865 St. Michael’s Academy, reflecting its growing stature, became St. Michael's College. It
had ninety-six students enrolled and several new teachers added to staff. Patrick Dixon, the seminarian
who had taken over the teaching of Greek and Latin, was reported to be very serious and very
demanding. Fr. B. J. Murdock, who taught at St. Thomas College in later years, recalled that Dixon “was a short, somewhat slight man …, a great scholar–aware of the fact, and proud of it.... He was
kind, generous, punctilious and quick-tempered. He and I had a few little clashes. I liked him.” So did
Max Aitken, the future Lord Beaverbrook, who as a precocious youth in Chatham in the 1890s met Fr.
Dixon and in later years donated money for a hall to be named after him in the village of Beaverbrook,
just outside Newcastle.
The bishop also appointed Israel DeLandry “Professor of Vocal and Instrumental Music.” DeLandry added a new touch to the college when he established a brass band. Popular in the town, it led the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Newcastle in March of 1866. Its fame spread and the members took part in parades and other civic functions throughout the area.

Search for a Rector
By May of 1866, Rogers, who kept close track of potential priests for his diocese, was becoming concerned that he might lose the promising young novice. Barry was twenty-five years old, still not ordained, and the bishop was worried that he might lose him because he had expressed a desire to become a Jesuit. He wrote Barry to inform him that he would agree to any dispensation needed to speed up his ordination. When Barry requested the bishop's permission to join the Society of Jesus, Rogers weighed in with his episcopal authority. He had plans for young Barry at St. Michael's. He denied the request on account of his “great need for priests and the hope of future utility which you would be to promote God’s glory in my diocese.” He told Barry to trust in God to show him the right thing to do.
The bishop's prayers were answered. Barry decided not to join the Jesuits and was ordained
later that year. He returned to Chatham towards the end of 1866 to accept his appointment as priest of
St. Michael's Cathedral. He also agreed to take over as St. Michael’s fourth rector. It was a significant
moment in the pre-history of St. Thomas, and not only because he proved to be a diligent and highly
competent administrator. It would be thanks to Barry's efforts during his tenure as Bishop of Chatham
following Rogers' retirement in 1902 that St. Michael's College in 1910 was reincarnated as St. Thomas
College.
Bishop Rogers Goes to Rome
In the fall of 1866 Rogers finally made plans for his “visit ad limina,” a Catholic bishop's
requisite pilgrimage to the Vatican. He would be away from the diocese for some time (it turned out to
be a year and a half), during which time he planned to leave Chancellor Barry in charge of diocesan
affairs.
Always optimistic in spite of the financial obstacles, the incorrigible Rogers wrote Barry in
January, 1868, that they should look into the possibility of acquiring even more land on the hill in
Chatham. “I should like to have that land up the ridge,” he wrote “as that may be the spot on which a
future college might be built.” He was nothing if not persistent. He would, eventually, acquire the
property he had in mind, and it would be there, although he would never live to see it, that the new
buildings for St. Thomas College would indeed be built.

The New Brunswick Common School Act
In 1871 a controversy arose in New Brunswick over the proposed Common School Act. In
providing for free, tax-supported, non-sectarian schools, the Act eliminated all grants to denominational
schools. The grant St. Michael's had been receiving, which amounted to some £600, would end. It had
been the main source of funds, so the college's very survival was now in jeopardy. With the expenses of
the diocese's newly established convents in Bathurst and Newcastle and a hospital in Chatham,
although all staffed by sisters, Rogers was hard pressed to keep everything going.
The Act naturally engendered considerable opposition. Among the strongest opponents were
those Catholics opposed to “Godless Schools.” Bitter debates broke out in newspapers and at
meetings. A riot in Caraquet resulted in two deaths. At the time of Confederation in 1867, sectarian
schools in Ontario and Quebec had been allowed to continue in operation with government support.
Catholics argued that denominational or sectarian schools had existed in New Brunswick at the time of Confederation, just as in Quebec and Ontario, and therefore should not be deprived of support.
Unfortunately, it turned out, sectarian schools had existed before Confederation in New Brunswick
only by custom, whereas in Quebec and Ontario they had existed by statute. They were not, therefore,
protected by the British North America Act as they were in Quebec and Ontario. The circumstances
were not propitious for attracting the Christian Brothers, or any other religious teaching order, to
Chatham.
Appeals to the federal government to have the New Brunswick School Act repealed failed. In
1872 it went into effect in New Brunswick.
Catholic and Presbyterian Rivalry over a Grammar School
The new education act cut the government's grant not only to St. Michael’s but also to the
Presbyterian Academy in Chatham. In a move to get around the law and continue to receive
government grants, the trustees of the Presbyterian Academy arranged with the trustees of the
Northumberland County Grammar School to merge the two, welcoming the Grammar School's teachers
and students into the academy's substantial buildings. Although in practice it remained primarily a
Protestant school, in name and in law it became the new Northumberland County Grammar School.
Diocesan Debt and the Depression
Rogers was understandably discouraged. By the mid-1870s the Diocese of Chatham had
become severely burdened with debt. The bishop’s concern for the welfare of his diocesan flock had
led him to establish teaching convents in Newcastle, Bathurst and other parts of the diocese. He had
brought in Hôtel Dieu nuns, who opened hospitals in Chatham and St. Basile as well as in Tracadie to
serve the leper colony there, but these involved expenses. The diocese had also been hurt by the
economic downturn. The merchant in Chatham who had supplied them with most of their needs on
credit had gone bankrupt. The government was giving no more subsidies to denominational schools. To
cover the debts, Rogers mortgaged the church properties in Chatham for five years. Even that did not
provide enough to pay off the diocesan debt, which had grown to $30,000, annual interest on which
absorbed all their local revenues. Only funds from the Propagation of the Faith in Europe, which they had been receiving since the diocese was established, kept them going.
Destruction of St. Michael’s College
On February 14, 1878, less than two years after the opening of the new college, a major fire
consumed the buildings of St. Michael’s Commercial College, the old church (designated St. Michael's
Cathedral since 1860), and the bishop's and priests' residence. It became clear that none of the buildings could be saved. All the buildings in the church and academy compound were built of wood, two and a half storeys high, although on stone foundations. The old church, where it started, "seemed to go down before the fire like dried leaves.” It spread quickly to the residence of the bishop and his priests, the college building, the brothers' living quarters, and the dormitories. Students were able to remove some of their possessions before the fire spread through the dormitory. They rescued Fr. Bannon, who had collapsed in front of the altar in an unsuccessful attempt to save the sacred vessels. Attempts to save the brothers' newly acquired stock of school books and stationary, however, were unsuccessful. The block of buildings that included the Hôtel Dieu convent, hospital, schools and chapel was situated only twenty feet from the burning buildings, but the firefighters successfully saved them. The other college buildings and the church were beyond help.

A few days later Rogers convened a meeting to determine what could be done. A decision was
made to rebuild the College on the same foundation but taller where, according to the ever-optimistic
Rogers, the brothers would be able to reopen St. Michael's with increased accommodations for their
students. As for the cathedral, the diocese would provide “temporary church accommodations until the
foundation for the new Cathedral is ready.”

Opening of the New St. Michael’s College
In spite of the delays the new building was completed in October, 1878. An advertisement
appeared in the newspapers outlining the courses and fees for the year. Everything seemed to be back
on course at St. Michael's Commercial College. The biggest excitement of the year, however, was the
laying of the corner stone for the new stone cathedral, the new St. Michael's Cathedral. A small wooden
church that had been constructed on the foundation of the destroyed St. Michael's Pro-Cathedral was
serving until the new cathedral could be constructed. The noted American church architect Patrick
Keely (1816-1893) had been engaged to draw up the architectural plans. It promised to be the tallest
church in Canada east of Quebec. In an ironic twist, at the same time he was writing Brother Joseph
about funding problems, a young, brash, penniless seventeen-year-old from Newcastle named Max
Aitken was electioneering for one of the town's young lawyers named R. B. Bennett who was running
for the position of alderman for newly-chartered Chatham. Fifty years later Aitken as Lord
Beaverbrook would become a noted and generous benefactor of St. Michael College's successor St.
Thomas College.

Hard Times
In 1899 Rogers, who was not well, requested the appointment of Fr. Thomas Barry as Coadjutor
Bishop with the right of succession. In his explanation to Barry he pointed out how fortunate he had
been over the years. His confessor and spiritual director, Archbishop Connolly, in 1861 had sent him a
first-class student, Fr. William Varrily, whom he had “ever regarded as a precious gift.” Then in a
second stroke of good fortune, his good friend Bishop Sweeney of Saint John “had generously ceded
his right” to keep one of his seminarians and instead had given him to the Chatham Diocese. That
seminarian was Thomas Barry. Although he and Barry had disagreed about a number of things over the
years, he felt he was the one most suitable to replace him. He made the recommendation to Rome, even though Barry expressed misgivings about taking Rogers's position. The recommendation was accepted, and Barry was appointed. Rogers stepped down as bishop in February 1902. Although Barry accepted the appointment reluctantly, he proved to be an excellent replacement for Rogers, who died a year later on March 22, 1903, at the age of seventy-seven.

Rogers died too soon to see his two life-long dreams realized. The beautiful sandstone, copper-roofed,
neo-Gothic St. Michael's Cathedral had architectural blueprints drawn up and as we saw its
corner stone laid in 1879, so that he knew what it would look like, high on its hill overlooking the town
of Chatham, the tallest building in eastern Canada. Yet for lack of funds construction did not begin until
the year of his death. (It would not be completed until 1921.) His second unrealized dream was to see
his beloved St. Michael's College reopen. Yet seven years later in 1910 thanks to the efforts of his able
successor, Bishop Thomas Barry, that dream, too, would be realized.

(source: text is taken from: Spray & Rhinelander, History of St. Thomas University: The Formative Years 1860-1990)

St. Thomas University
The origin of St. Thomas University dates back to 1910. At that time, the Most Reverend Thomas F. Barry, Bishop of Chatham, invited the Basilian Fathers of Toronto to assume charge of an institution in Chatham, New Brunswick, providing education for boys at the secondary and junior college levels. The institution was called St. Thomas College.

The Basilian Fathers remained at St. Thomas until 1923. That year the school was placed under the direction of the clergy of the Diocese of Chatham. In 1938, the Diocese of Chatham became the Diocese of Bathurst. In 1959, a section of Northumberland County, including within its territorial limits St. Thomas College, was transferred from the Diocese of Bathurst to the Diocese of Saint John.

From 1910 until 1934, St. Thomas College retained its original status as a High School and Junior College. It became a degree-granting institution upon receipt of a University Charter on March 9, 1934, at which time the provincial legislature of New Brunswick enacted the following:
“St. Thomas College shall be held, and taken, and is hereby declared to be a University with all and every power of such an institution, and the Board of Governors thereof shall have full power and authority to confer upon properly qualified persons the degree of Bachelor, Master, and Doctor in the several arts and faculties in the manner and upon the conditions which may be ordered by the Board of Governors.”
In 1960, an act of the provincial legislature of New Brunswick changed the name of St. Thomas College to St. Thomas University. The following year, the high school courses were eliminated from the curriculum. In 1962, a royal commission on higher education in New Brunswick recommended that St. Thomas University enter into a federation agreement with the University of New Brunswick and relocate on the campus of the latter institution.
(source: text is taken from www.stu.ca/about/history/).
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September 30th, 6:00 am
Please help us wish Donna Savoy a belated Happy Birthday. We may be a day late and you haven’t aged a bit in years. 

Aidez-nous à souhaiter à Donna Savoy un joyeux anniversaire en retard. Nous avons peut-être un jour de retard et vous navez pas vieilli dun poil depuis des années.

Please help us wish Donna Savoy a belated Happy Birthday. We may be a day late and you haven’t aged a bit in years.

Aidez-nous à souhaiter à Donna Savoy un joyeux anniversaire en retard. Nous avons peut-être un jour de retard et vous n'avez pas vieilli d'un poil depuis des années.
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September 28th, 4:52 pm

Comment on Facebook

Happy birthday a little late you're lookin' great!

Happy CAKE and CANDLE Day Donna. Hope you had a awesome BIRTHDAY yesterday. 🎂🎂🎂

Happy birthday 🎂🎁🎊 to you many more beautiful years

Happy Birthday Donna

Happy Birthday Donna. Hope you had a great day.

Donna: Happy Birthday young lady!

Great picture Donna

Happy Birthday Donna...Hope you are having a fantastic day...🎂

Happy belated birthday, Donna…hope you had a great day.

Àaaaarrrrrrgggg! Happy Belated Birthday Missy!

Happy Birthday Donna. Have a wonderful day.

Happy birthday, Donna!

Happy Birthday Donna

Happy birthday Donna,hope your day was greattt🎂🎁🎁🎈🎈cheers🍺🍺🍷🍷

Happy birthday!!

Happy Birthday Donna

Happy Birthday Donna

Happy birthday Captain Donna……😊

Happy Birthday Donna.

Happy Birthday Donna!

Happy Birthday Donna

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday Donna

Happy Birthday Donna!

Happy Birthday Donna

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September 25th, 9:45 am

It's windy out there. Be safe folks!

Il y a du vent là-bas. Soyez prudents!
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September 24th, 10:42 am

Comment on Facebook

Oh boy, I thought they'd removed the dock already! Wouldn't like to stand on it at the moment!

Oh wow.rough.

Due to the severe weather system, 
Beaubears Island Interpretive Centre will be closed for the day Saturday, Sept 24, 2022.  
Please stay safe, bring in your pets and check in on your neighbors.
En raison du système de temps violent,
Le centre dinterprétation de lîle Beaubears sera fermé pour la journée du samedi 24 septembre 2022.
Veuillez rester en sécurité, amenez vos animaux de compagnie et vérifiez vos voisins.

 #beaubearsisland❤️ #wellness #miramichi #history #discovermiramichi #Beaubears #parkscanadanb  #storm #staysafestayhome #bringinyourpetsImage attachmentImage attachment+1Image attachment

Due to the severe weather system,
Beaubears Island Interpretive Centre will be closed for the day Saturday, Sept 24, 2022.
Please stay safe, bring in your pets and check in on your neighbors.
En raison du système de temps violent,
Le centre d'interprétation de l'île Beaubears sera fermé pour la journée du samedi 24 septembre 2022.
Veuillez rester en sécurité, amenez vos animaux de compagnie et vérifiez vos voisins.

#beaubearsisland❤️ #wellness #miramichi #history #discovermiramichi #beaubears #parkscanadanb #storm #staysafestayhome #bringinyourpets
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September 23rd, 6:41 pm
Information reposted and shared by Friends of Beaubears Island Inc., Senior Historical Correspondent, John English.

A History of New Brunswick:
For use in public schools in the year 1903 and history of local school boards.

In this section on education I wish to examine the tone of what was taught in the public schools of NB as take from Gage’s 20th Century Series - A HISTORY OF NEW BRUNSWICK, for use in public schools in the year 1903, By George U.HAY, D.Sc, found at electriccanadian.com). My comments will be bolded.

I think the tone is set right from the beginning in this first illustration, which is of Queen Victoria inspecting the Royal Canadian Volunteers (see Fig 3). In 1903, Canada had only been it’s own country for 36 years. Before that it was a colony of the vast British Empire. Britain had a long history of overtaking regions all over the world in order to increase it’s own wealth at the expense of these regions. It still had a strong class hierarchy of society, which was still based largely on in which family a person was born to. 

New Brunswick was at this time mainly populated by immigrants from Scotland, Ireland, France, British loyalists from the United States, and of the original settlers which are the First Nations communities. The majority lived a rural lifestyle, except for those living in larger towns.
Immediately after the table of contents, the Britishism is enforced by the display of British flags (see Fig 4). The Union Jack itself, as a military flag, is floated above forts and garrisons, and is hoisted on all naval vessels carrying marines, and above the Parliament Houses of Westminster and Ottawa. The RED ENSIGN is the flag of the British people everywhere; also the British merchant-vessel flag. The WHITE ENSIGN is the flag of the navy. The BLUE ENSIGN is the flag of the Royal Naval Reserve. The Blue Ensign, with the Canadian coat-of-arms in the fly, is the flag of all Canadian Government vessels. The RED ENSIGN, with the Canadian coat-of-arms in the fly, is the flag of the Canadian people; also the flag of Canadian merchant-vessels.

The legendary Age.
The first chapter starts with the First Nations communities, and provides an illustration of stone tools( see Fig 5).

No tablets or mounds mark the spot where these rude forefathers now sleep their winters and summers away; no temple tells where they paid their devotions to a Great Spirit (of course the Augustine mound ‘discovery’ near Red Bank (designated an historic site in 1975(source Parks Canada)) gave us such a mound). In the long ago Glooscap went far north, where all was ice (this is interesting; does it signify that they knew about the last age here, or does it signify a migration from the south into northern latitudes where there were real winters?). He entered the wigwam of a mighty giant whose name was Winter. He sat down and smoked, while the giant told him stories of the olden time. Glooscap fell asleep and slept for six months. 

The Indians say that Glooscap looked and lived like other men. He dwelt in a big wigwam at Cape Blomidon,[NS] which still bears the name of Glooscaps home (Glooscapweek). Here strangers were always welcomed and kindly cared for. But after a while Glooscap left this country, displeased, it is said, by the coming of the white men (Vikings or 15th century Europeans?) and their bad conduct.

It was believed that Glooscap created man out of the heart of the ash-tree, and the tree has since been held sacred and an object of regard for its many uses. He shielded his people from evil spirits, and helped to supply their wants. He tamed the moose and caribou so that they came about the wigwams. He killed all bad animals or reduced them to a size that made them harmless. The
squirrel was at that time as big as a lion, and when Glooscap asked him what he would do if he
met a man, he flew at a stump and tore it furiously with his teeth and claws. Glooscap thought him
too dangerous, and therefore reduced him to his present size.
The great interior lake was reduced in size, and the Grand and Washademoak Lakes are the portions of it that still remain (J. Shaw, D.J.W. Piper, G.B.J. Fader, E.L. King, B.J. Todd, T. Bell, M.J. Batterson, D.G.E. Liverman, A conceptual model of the deglaciation of Atlantic Canada) depicts these lakes as much bigger at the end of the last ice age (see Fig 6). The legend was either deduced by observing that area’s landscape, or First Nations were there at the time that the lakes were larger and passed the knowledge down verbally). 

JACQUES CARTIER.
In the year 1534, when the eastern shores of New Brunswick were leaping into sudden and glorious summer, there crept through the mists of the Gulf of St. Lawrence two tiny vessels. From their mastheads waved the flag of France. On their decks stood more than a hundred hardy mariners of
St. Malo, who had braved safely the waves of the Atlantic and the chill winds and icebergs of the
Labrador coast. Their leader was Jacques Cartier, then forty years of age, a bold and skilful seaman
whom King Francis I. of France sent out to discover and take possession of new lands in the West.
Cartier and his companions were the first white men of whom we have any record that stood on the shores of New Brunswick (currently debatable, as there is a suggestion that the Vikings had a seasonal camp here named Hop [a small land-locked bay]). Many visits were made by the Norse sailors to the coast of America nearly five hundred years before Columbus came, and they carried back to Iceland many curious stories of the natives and the lands which they visited.

Cartier has given us, in his own words, the story of his discovery of the eastern shore of what is
now New Brunswick. By the aid of this story and copies of old maps, we are able to trace his course from point to point. Sailing through the strait of Belleisle, he coasted the southern shores of Labrador
and the west coast of Newfoundland. Thence he came to the north end of what is now Prince Edward Island, and sailed into the bay which narrows into Northumberland Strait at its lower extremity. This he called the Bay of St. Lunaire, because it was on the feast day of that saint that the bay was discovered. Cartier thought the land was  continuous  to the south, that is, that Prince Edward Island formed part of the mainland of New Brunswick, so he turned to the north and came to Point Escuminac, near the entrance to the Miramichi river. This was on the second day of July, 1534; and it is the first known record of the discovery of any portion of our province. Crossing the mouth of the Miramichi estuary,
a bay in the shape of a triangle, all ranged with sands and very deep (extending far into the laud), he continued his course along the low and sandy shores of Northumberland and Gloucester counties until he rounded the north point of the island of Miscou, which he named the Cape of Hope (Cap dEspe-
rance), because he hoped that in the bay which they were entering they would find the long-wished for
passage to China.

All along our east coast Cartier met parties of the Indians, who, finding that the white men meant no harm to them, became very friendly, showing that gentleness of disposition which has always marked
their nature when treated kindly and justly.

De Monts and Champlain

In 1603, Henry IV. of France gave to the Sieur de Monts the right to colonize Acadia, the bounds of which were not well marked, but were supposed to extend from Cape Breton halfway to Florida. He was given the feudal lordship over this new country, with the sole right to the fur-trade of that vast region, including Newfoundland and the mouth of the St. Lawrence. In return for these rights, de Monts agreed to found settlements, till the soil, and convert the natives to the Roman Catholic faith. Samuel de Champlain was appointed geographer, and was charged by the king to write a faithful account of all he saw. He sailed in the ship of 150 tons which conveyed de Monts and his company of priests and settlers to the new world.

Champlain had the qualities of a discoverer and a founder of colonies. In his dealings with the Indians he was fair and open, always treating them kindly, and wishing to persuade but never force them to become Christians. He had none of the greed of the trader. He frankly forgave those who wronged him. In his later years he governed Canada wisely, guiding it well through its first years, when settlers were few, and danger and hardship their common lot. On the 16th of June they entered Digby Basin, which Champlain says is one of the finest harbors I have seen along all these coasts, in which two thousand vessels might lie in security . . . which I have named Port Royal..

On Navy Island, at the mouth of the river, Champlain found an Indian long house, which he describes as a Cabin where the Savages fortify themselves. This was called in their language Ouigoudy, and Champlain thought this name was given to the river. But the Indians, both Micmacs and Maliseets, called it Woolastook, meaning the goodly river.

The Indians of New Brunswick
See Fig 7 for an illustration of the moose at the beginning of this chapter.

The accounts left us by Cartier and Champlain of the Indians of this country show that, if treated well, they were a harmless people. They lived by fishing and the chase, and clothed themselves in the skins of animals which they killed. Although the two tribes who lived here, the Micmacs and Maliseets, closely
resembled each other in appearance, having the same copper-colored skin, straight, coarse black hair, thin beard, high cheek bones, and strong, sinewy frames, the one could not speak or understand the language of the other. 

The Micmacs were found along the shores of the head of the Bay of Fundy, the Gulf of St. Lawrence,
and throughout Nova Scotia, their camp sites and villages being in sheltered coves and near the
mouths of tidal rivers. The sites were well chosen, where a wide view of the coast and the country around could be obtained, to guard against enemies. They were near both to the sea and forest, making
use of the outgoing and incoming tides, as do the fishermen of our own times, to aid them in getting
their supplies of food and driftwood for fuel. But there were few places that could yield enough for their wants in summer and winter for any length of time, so that they moved about from place to place, seeking the forests in winter for the greater shelter they gave and for the pursuit of game.

They know well the beasts of the forest; the trees, shrubs, useful plants, roots and their nature and uses; the birds, the time of their coming and going; the fish of the sea and the rivers, and their food qualities. Their language is soft and pleasing in sound, simple and expressive in meaning. They have legends which go far back into the past, and which, though mixed with fable, tell us much of their life and longings. They made rude pictures (see Fig 8) to mark events of their past history. They had figures cut upon rocks and trees to make known some fact to secure the safety of themselves or fellow-travellers through the forest or along rivers.

Dr. Gesner tells that while making a geological survey of the province many years ago, he could not find his way along an old Indian portage between the headwaters of the St. Croix and Eel River Lake. After some search the figure of an Indian carrying a canoe was found marked on an old cedar tree, and, following the direction, the path was found, hidden by grass and fallen leaves. On another occasion, while nearing a fall on Eel River, he saw a rude picture, fixed on a post, of two Indians with their heels uppermost and their canoe upset. The warning was observed and understood in time to prevent a
plunge over the fall beyond.

The Indians liked the French, who called them brothers, and were always ready to hunt or dance
with them, and were quick to learn their language. Their gay, light-hearted manners fitted into the graver moods of the savages. Their priests lived in the rude wigwams. The French also pleased the
Indians vanity by making presents of dress and trinkets with which the warriors adorned themselves.
They made no claims upon the lands of the savages, and were at all times ready to share with them the hardships as well as the joys of the wilderness. But it was not so with the English, who often slighted and did not trust them. The latter were less ready to offer presents, and treated lightly their rights as the owners of the lands.

The Micmacs and Maliseets have always lived quietly together in New Brunswick. The Micmacs were no doubt the first to come to the province, and probably had possession at one time of the whole, including the River St. John. The Maliseets were the more warlike. It is not known when they came upon the scene, or whether they drove by force the Micmacs to their present haunts on the North Shore, or agreed to share the country in peace between them. The Mohawks were the dreaded enemies of both tribes.

.. both Micmacs and Maliseets are settled upon lands reserved for them by the government; or they
ply their trade of basket and canoe making near some village or town where they can sell their wares. They are honest and harmless; and there are very few examples of Indians committing crimes. The change from a free, roving life of the forest to a half-civilized condition has not improved them. In a few cases they have become successful farmers and traders, but the condition of the larger portion of them is not a happy one.

Acadia and it’s fortunes

In 1621 James I. of England granted to Sir William Alexander, a Scottish knight, a great tract of laud which comprised the peninsula of Gaspe and Acadia. This territory was to be known as Nova Scotia, and the part of it north of the Bay of Fundy was called Alexandria, in honor of the man to whom the grant
was made. He was to have all the powers of a ruler to govern and make laws for his state, bestow titles and offices to his followers, and maintain fleets and fortresses. The curious old map (see Fig 9), which bears the date of 1624, shows that an attempt was made to replace the Indian and French names by those of Scotland, but they took no hold. Sir William Alexander made great preparations to found his colony, but before he could carry them out, Acadia was again given up to France, and only a small Scotch settlement at Port Royal was the result of all the efforts put forth.

A force under Major Robert Sedgewick of Massachusetts came on the scene, and Acadia once more fell into the hands of the English, although France and England were then (1654) at peace. 

Fort Beausejour surrendered on the 15th of June, 1755, its garrison marching out on following day, drums beating, with the honors of war. It was re-named Fort Cumberland, in honor of the soldier prince who had won the battle of Culloden. Fort Gaspereau became Fort Monckton ; and English garrisons were kept in the three forts, Cumberland, Monckton, and Lawrence, for several years later. After that tragic event the exile of the Acadians which closed the year 1755, hundreds of these unfortunate people found their way to the River St. John, the marshes of Westmorland and the North Shore and their history is merged afterwards with that of the British colonists who came to those places (in a previous piece that I did called “Acadians and the Miramichi” explains the Acadians in depth). This ends the section from Gage’s 20th Century Series - A HISTORY OF NEW BRUNSWICK, for use in public schools in the year 1903, By George U.HAY, D.Sc, found at electriccanadian.com).

See Fig 10 for the Millerton N.B. School .....1890s.

See Fig 11 for the Wayerton school,1877 /78.

See Fig 12 for the Chatham Head School (date not known).

See Fig 12.5 for the Alnwick School in 1955.

See Fig 12.6 for the Boiestown School 1945.

See Fig 12.7 for the Sillikers School (date unknown).

See Fig 12.7.1 for teachers who taught at the Sillikers School. Back row (L-R): Mary (Travis) Hamilton, Inez (Murphy) Somers, Mary (Lahey) Tozer, Gladys (Langan) Jardine, Agnes Chambers, Pat (Johnston) Hubbard, Rosalie (Mutch) Holmes, Lois (Somers) Travis. Front row: Lilla (Carter) Somers, Claire (McKenzie) Devan, Edith (Munroe) Somers, Jean (Taylor) McKnight, Annie (Sinclair) Taylor, Travis Mersereau.

See Fig 12.8 for the Oak Point School.

See Fig 12.9 for the Millerton N.B. 1890S Schoolhouse.

See Fig 12.910 for the Middle Island School, circa 1900.

See Fig 12.91 for the Mackinleyville school built in 1909.

See Fig 12.9.2 Miramichi Rural High School(Miramichi Bay)/students/ bus 1941.

Many other pictures can be found on the Miramichi Heritage FB site https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=oa.688154614551617&type=3

The following is from Nelson and its Neighbors: 300 years on the Miramichi by Earl J. English. The information was provided to Earl by John N.  Dolan. The section in the book has several student lists, but in the interest of space, I wont provide them here. They can viewed from that book. Much of the text that I will provide will give the reader a feel of how things were, regardless of the community. My comments are enclosed in []
Nelson Parish District No. 1
The first school in the Nelson Parish was situated in the village of Nelson-Miramichi on the property now owned and occupied by William Russell. It was likely built about 1820. It was listed as Nelson Parish School No. 1 one by the Province of New Brunswick.
The teacher was John Jameson. It was locally known as a Monahan school. It closed in 1902. Students who lived at Beaubear’s went to school on the island. The teacher was Alexander Mitchell. 
From school records dated March 1845, Alex Mitchell teacher District No. 5 states that Elizabeth Clouston went to school at Beaubear’s Island. Also, an account book of Burchill’s - Beaubear’s Island 1850-57 lists Michael Flinne as teacher. From Nelson No. 1 school (the Monahan school) 1877-78 [also] lists Michael Flinne as school teacher there.
The Monahan school was replaced by the Nelson school situated on the Sutton road – it is now the senior citizens building. It had three classrooms and taught grades 1-8 inclusive. Mr. H. M. McDonald, father of Mrs. John Burchill, was the architect and probably the builder. The total cost of the land, building and Furniture was $2,850. A photo taken at the opening in a 1903 lists the teachers as Miss Hudson and Miss McAntosh. J. P. Burchill, grandfather of John Burchill, was the first secretary.
See Fig 13 for The Sutton road school (date unknown, but from the age of the cars I would say 1960s.

This is a list of teachers who taught over the years at the school (not a complete listing):
 Miss Hudson, Mis McAntosh, McCombs, W. Flett, Miss C. Fitzpatrick, Miss N. Power, Mr. Ager, Norman Case, Miss Harrington, Mr. W.F. Daly, Mr. J. Gallager, Miss L. Fitzpatrick, Miss L. Powers, Mr. Fullerton, Miss Mary Ronan, Miss S. Noonan, Miss H. Noonan, Miss R. Blackmore, Miss K. Doyle, N. Holt, S. Dolan, Mr. Connell, Mr. Burgess, Miss Anna McCarthy, Miss Josephine Sullivan, Mrs. Doug Stewart, Mrs. John King. The secretaries were J.P. Burchill, Michael Fletcher, Patrick Gorman, W. Bert Coughlan.
From the time they were organized in about 1820 until about 1947 local school districts were independent corporate organizations. They operated within the N.B. Schools Act and were responsible for collecting taxes necessary to pay salaries and other expenses. They also hired the necessary personnel, reviewed the curriculum, etc. They were unpaid; however the secretary received a small percentage of the taxes collected.
The water from the well in the cellar wasnt fit to drink, occasionally someone will bring a pail of water from Kerr’s or Sullivans. There were 2 outdoor toilets called the “sheds”. They were located at the end of the school lot next to OBrien’s field. The boys never went beyond the door of the outhouse [I think this means that the boys would open the outhouse door and pee on the floor!]. A sheet of ice 4 inches or more thick formed on the floor. About the middle of May, before these outhouses were cleaned, the smell was overpowering.
At this school the discipline was never lax. Pupils going from the school to Newcastle or Chatham Schools were as advanced in their subjects as other pupils [coming directly from a Newcastle or Chatham school]. About 1947 all public schools in the county came under the County School Finance Board and in doing so surrendered a big measure of their independence such as having the authority to collect and dispense taxes. The office of the County Superintendent of Schools (Mr. J.E. Carton) was set up in Chatham.  The facility was a benefit to teachers and school boards.
In 1948 a major repair job was done to the Nelson School. A heating system, well, toilet facilities were all installed. No doubt these were much appreciated by all concerned. There were no other major changes until 1953.
South Nelson Road District No. 2 (also known as Vye Settlement)
The first school in South Nelson Road was located on property owned and occupied by Mrs. Earl Flett. As it was designated District No. 2, it was probably open sometime after the Monahan School.
From the 1948 annual meeting – the board borrowed $4,000 to repair the school building. The 1953 annual meeting – discussion regarding enlarging the school. A feasibility study was made. A special ratepayers meeting was held November 1953 resolved that District No. 2 join Nelson Consolidated School District. The last annual meeting with held July 1956. The school was closed in 1964.

See Fig 14 for the Old South Nelson Road School in about 1979.

Nowlanville School District
The first school in Nowlanville was about where Boyd Fitzpatricks home now is. The first teacher was John Flannigan. The present school building, now property of the Nolanville Womans Institute was built in 1866. It was closed as a school in 1960. Possibly there was another school building opposite to where the present building is, built before the present one.

Craigville School District
Craigsville School District number 1.5. This school was built in 1925. Previous to this the students attended Nelson School. It was built on property owned by the Hayes family. The school was closed in 1960. The building and property are now owned and occupied by Miss Margaret and Anna Hayes.
The Upper Barnaby School District
A property map of 1876 shows a school building located where the most recent school was located until 1960. When this school was torn down, the property was returned to the Burnaby River Catholic Church.
Lower Barnaby School District
There are no records before 1878. The school was closed in 1963. The building is now owned and occupied by Harry Gordon.
Semiwagan Ridge School District
Teacher James Dunn. The school closed in 1960.
Nelson Consolidated School District
An annual meeting of Nelson School for 1953 reported that Father John Ryan spoke on the dire need for high school education in the parish of Nelson. From this meeting a committee of A.D. English, James McDonald and John Dolan were appointed to study the means of consolidation of the parish schools and to report back. In the next year meetings were held in South Nelson Road, Craigville and Nowlanville and consolidation was approved in principle.
This was not the first attempt to get high school education in the district. Father Wallace appealed to the people at an annual school meeting in Nelson in the 1930s. This motion was defeated - those against his motions were claiming victory that they had saved the district from a great tax increase. As well, at a meeting in the 1940s Miss Polly Shannan (Clark) explained school consolidation to an audience in the community hall.
There were many difficulties in obtaining a high school education in Nelson before consolidation. Those students going to school in Newcastle walked, hitchhiking was unknown (of the few cars that were operating, their owners were not in the habit of sharing them). The walk to Newcastle morning and night was a hardship from Nelson - Ethel Masterson walked from her home at South Nelson Road to Newcastle. There was one more inconvenience: the roads were not always plowed. The Frank Dolan family traveled by horse and sleigh from Nowlanville to Newcastle. Those going to St. Thomas in Chatham traveled by the train called “The Gitney” - they usually arrived late for class. Another detriment to continuing education was finances through the 30s. There was as high as 90% unemployment. Tuition (about $30 a year) was often impossible to come by.
Probably one has to look at the reason why a high school was so long in coming to Nelson. What is acceptable at one time in history will not be acceptable at another - maybe at the time Father Ryan talked to the people it was no longer acceptable to have to send students outside the parish for education. Another reason why the building of the school occurred when it did could have to do with the offer of land valued in excess of $10,000 plus $14,000 in cash.
The intern board was in place by April, 1954 for the Nelson Consolidated School District: David Daigle (chairman), Clayton Doyle, Harry Brown, Earl Fleet, James Wallace, John N. Dolan, Warren power.
All of these men had a desire to see a better school district - and men like Harry Brown possibly had only one reason for being involved in this sometimes-controversial matter - a want to help his fellow man.
By February they were studying places for an 8 classroom building. Earl Foley replaced James Wallace after his death as a trustee. In July 1955 the board accepted the tender of Abby Landry for $195,000 to build Nelson Rural High School. On July 25th, 1955 a special meeting of the ratepayers of school districts 1, 1.5, 2, and 3 was held in Beaubear Hall. Trustees were given authority to build and equip, supply necessary transportation, and arrange necessary financing for the amount of $226,000. A gentlemans agreement between St. Patricks Church and Nelson Consolidated School District was presented for approval. By this agreement the church was to give the school district land and cash for a total of $24,000.
In exchange, the school auditorium was to be available free of charge to the people of all districts concerned. Religious instruction was to be in accordance with the N.B. School Act. While there were a sufficient number of students of the Catholic religion to hold classes, this was not the case for other denominations. The teachers from the Order of Notre Dame were the first nuns teaching in public schools in this area. The hiring of the sisters proved to be a very satisfactory agreement for this district. Their dedication to the teaching profession was appreciated by both parents and pupils of all faiths. The Nelson school district was fortunate in being able to conduct its affairs with no religious friction. This was due to the tolerant spirit of people of the South Nelson Road - in particular board members Harry Brown, Earl Fleet, Ray Bateman and Sammy Matchett.
The location of the school was somewhat controversial with nearness to what was then a busy highway and unsuitable soil that had to be corrected with $4,000 worth of wider footing paid by Father Ryan. As a result, there was some anxious waiting after the construction of the building and watching for the corners to crack. This building has never moved even the accepted amount.
There were still two school districts that were part of the Parish of Nelson that had not signified their wish to be part of the Nelson Consolidated School District. J. E. Carton, Superintendent of schools met with the ratepayers of McKinleyville in July, 1956. They decided to become part of the Millerton Consolidation. While consolidation was being discussed in the Nelson District, Father Ryan met with the leaders of the Barnaby River District to ascertain their interests. No interest was expressed. As time was running short before the opening of another school year, John Dolan met with Eddie Foley and John Murphy to outline the procedure needed to join the consolidation in Nelson. The result was that Upper and Lower Barnaby River and Semiwagan Ridge held meetings among themselves and with the county superintendent of schools. They made application for entry and was accepted in time for the opening of school in September, 1956. Warren Casey became trustee for the Barnaby District.

Nelson Rural High School
September 1956
Principal: W.M. Nugent, Vice-Principal Joseph Roach
Teachers: Anna McCarthy, Josephine Sullivan, Hanna Stewart, Elanor Creamer, Miss Harris, Miss Hubbard, Miss Coughlan, Sister Elizabeth Fitzpatrick, Sister Margaret Massey, Sister Joan McKenzie.
South Nelson Road - Miss Betty Murphy
Nowlanville - Miss Nellie Wallace
Craigville - Mis Eleanor Lawlor
Upper Barnaby River - Miss Shirley Bohan
Lower Barnaby River - Miss Mary McDonald
Semiwagan Ridge - Miss Myrna Blaquier
The trustees made arrangement with the Newcastle School Board to provide vocational education to Nelson Rural High School pupils. Transportation was provided by the board and tuition paid. This proved to be a very satisfactory arrangement.
In 1959 the trustees anticipated a shortage of classrooms in the near future. School planning conducted a survey of the district and their findings were forwarded to the board. The recommendations were found to be beyond the financial means of the district. From the minutes of the annual meeting July 13th, 1959: “Moved by B.M. Broderick and seconded by W.B. Coughlin that the chair declare a 15 minute recess to restore order”. The year was not uneventful.
In 1960 a decision had to be made about more classrooms. The school planning branch had recommended another eight classroom school plus a four classroom school in Barnaby River with the District’s share in the vicinity of $200,000. These were very difficult decisions as this could add $180 to some peoples tax bill who may be getting $60 a month old age pension. Architect engineer George Robinson of the Department of Education came through with the plan for an 8 classroom school, no auditorium, with water and heat supplied from the high school - projected District cost $61,000. Land came from the Citizens Committee who had brought it from Mrs. Veriker and had erected an outdoor rink there.
A word about the Citizens Committee fundraising. There was no means of paying for anything that was not covered by the ordinary budget as this budget was for standard educational costs only. The board tried public dances but they would have required policing. A committee of John Dolan, A.D. English and Vince McCarthy borrowed money from the credit union on their personal notes and started weekly bingos in the auditorium. By the time they had lost more than $2,000 , the game caught on. Until its termination this endeavor supported Boy Scouts, built ball diamonds, outdoor rinks, sports equipment, assisted the library, paid the music teacher salary, etc. An audited financial statement was given to the public each year. Willis Kelly, Benny Doyle and Billy English were willing workers in this organization[this speaks volumes of the dedication of the citizens to the community, and dedication like this by dozens of other citizens is what made the Nelson community so great].
In 1962 the South Nelson Road Company Pulp Mill construction was under way. Despite hopes of increased tax revenues from this company, the school board and the County of Northumberland negotiated for the same tax rate that had been received from the former owners of the land - the O’Brien Company.
Suitable housing was required to attract high school teachers to Nelson. Susie Dolans property was purchased by the board and three apartments were renovated at a total cost of $24,000.  These were then owned by the village of Nelson-Miramichi.
The staff in 1965 was:
J. Pat McCluskey, Principal
Anna McCarthy, Vice-principal
Maureen English, Sister Ann Carmel, Connie Cavonaugh, Sister Ann Marie, Sister St. Gertrude, Alice Lynch, Zondra Jardine, Carolyn Gunn, Bernard Keating, Hannah Stewart, Sister Loretta, Margaret Dawson, Sister St. Catherine, Ann Doyle, Sister Mary Raymand, Carmel Gill, Josephine Sullivan, David Wood, Josephine King. 
Trustees: A.D. English, Harry Brown, Sam Matchett, Bert Kelly, Gerald McGrath, Clayton Doyle, Warren Power, John Dolan.
Bus drivers: Hubert Esson, Vince Kirk, Jed Blackmore
In 1965 all elementary schools other than Nelson Elementary were closed. That year the total enrollment was 590 in the district, vocational at Harkins 31. Graduates of Nelson Rural High School were 18, Vocational 3.
As a result of the Provincial Governments Equal Opportunity action on the Byrne Commissions recommendations, sweeping changes were made. Nelson School District was dissolved and became part of District No. 10, Chatham with two trustees on that school board. Trustees of the Nelson School District opposed this move to the extent of their ability. As a board they had proven that they were a competent board capable of expanding if numbers dictated. The school boards recommendation was that the district became[become] part of the Newcastle District. All recommendations were defeated.
The final meeting of Nelson Consolidated School District was June 5th, 1967. Harry Brown requested the first minutes of the school board be read as recorded. This was done. Mr. Brown asked to record that it was his conviction that the board left this district, as far as education was concerned, in a better place than it was found.
Nelson Rural High School continued under District 10 School Board. The last graduation was grade 12, June 1969. In September 1969 grades 10, 11, and 12 transferred to Chatham. Nelson Junior High held Grades 6-9, Nelson Intermediate Grades 2-5. In June 1978 the old Nelson School closed on Sutton road (today Senior Citizen Hall).
The program of equal opportunity has accomplished what its promoters had intended - to supply equal education opportunities to those people of the province, who, for economic reasons, could not take advantage of then existing legislation. Has it improved education? This writer knows only what is read in the newspapers and there seems to be a great deal of dissatisfaction in the quality of education.Image attachmentImage attachment+Image attachment

Information reposted and shared by Friends of Beaubears Island Inc., Senior Historical Correspondent, John English.

A History of New Brunswick:
For use in public schools in the year 1903 and history of local school boards.

In this section on education I wish to examine the tone of what was taught in the public schools of NB as take from Gage’s 20th Century Series - A HISTORY OF NEW BRUNSWICK, for use in public schools in the year 1903, By George U.HAY, D.Sc, found at electriccanadian.com). My comments will be bolded.

I think the tone is set right from the beginning in this first illustration, which is of Queen Victoria inspecting the Royal Canadian Volunteers (see Fig 3). In 1903, Canada had only been it’s own country for 36 years. Before that it was a colony of the vast British Empire. Britain had a long history of overtaking regions all over the world in order to increase it’s own wealth at the expense of these regions. It still had a strong class hierarchy of society, which was still based largely on in which family a person was born to.

New Brunswick was at this time mainly populated by immigrants from Scotland, Ireland, France, British loyalists from the United States, and of the original settlers which are the First Nations communities. The majority lived a rural lifestyle, except for those living in larger towns.
Immediately after the table of contents, the Britishism is enforced by the display of British flags (see Fig 4). The Union Jack itself, as a military flag, is floated above forts and garrisons, and is hoisted on all naval vessels carrying marines, and above the Parliament Houses of Westminster and Ottawa. The RED ENSIGN is the flag of the British people everywhere; also the British merchant-vessel flag. The WHITE ENSIGN is the flag of the navy. The BLUE ENSIGN is the flag of the Royal Naval Reserve. The Blue Ensign, with the Canadian coat-of-arms in the fly, is the flag of all Canadian Government vessels. The RED ENSIGN, with the Canadian coat-of-arms in the fly, is the flag of the Canadian people; also the flag of Canadian merchant-vessels.

The legendary Age.
The first chapter starts with the First Nations communities, and provides an illustration of stone tools( see Fig 5).

No tablets or mounds mark the spot where these rude forefathers now sleep their winters and summers away; no temple tells where they paid their devotions to a Great Spirit (of course the Augustine mound ‘discovery’ near Red Bank (designated an historic site in 1975(source Parks Canada)) gave us such a mound). In the long ago Glooscap went far north, where all was ice (this is interesting; does it signify that they knew about the last age here, or does it signify a migration from the south into northern latitudes where there were real winters?). He entered the wigwam of a mighty giant whose name was Winter. He sat down and smoked, while the giant told him stories of the olden time. Glooscap fell asleep and slept for six months.

The Indians say that Glooscap looked and lived like other men. He dwelt in a big wigwam at Cape Blomidon,[NS] which still bears the name of Glooscap's home (Glooscapweek). Here strangers were always welcomed and kindly cared for. But after a while Glooscap left this country, displeased, it is said, by the coming of the white men (Vikings or 15th century Europeans?) and their bad conduct.

It was believed that Glooscap created man out of the heart of the ash-tree, and the tree has since been held sacred and an object of regard for its many uses. He shielded his people from evil spirits, and helped to supply their wants. He tamed the moose and caribou so that they came about the wigwams. He killed all bad animals or reduced them to a size that made them harmless. The
squirrel was at that time as big as a lion, and when Glooscap asked him what he would do if he
met a man, he flew at a stump and tore it furiously with his teeth and claws. Glooscap thought him
too dangerous, and therefore reduced him to his present size.
The great interior lake was reduced in size, and the Grand and Washademoak Lakes are the portions of it that still remain (J. Shaw, D.J.W. Piper, G.B.J. Fader, E.L. King, B.J. Todd, T. Bell, M.J. Batterson, D.G.E. Liverman, A conceptual model of the deglaciation of Atlantic Canada) depicts these lakes as much bigger at the end of the last ice age (see Fig 6). The legend was either deduced by observing that area’s landscape, or First Nations were there at the time that the lakes were larger and passed the knowledge down verbally).

JACQUES CARTIER.
In the year 1534, when the eastern shores of New Brunswick were leaping into sudden and glorious summer, there crept through the mists of the Gulf of St. Lawrence two tiny vessels. From their mastheads waved the flag of France. On their decks stood more than a hundred hardy mariners of
St. Malo, who had braved safely the waves of the Atlantic and the chill winds and icebergs of the
Labrador coast. Their leader was Jacques Cartier, then forty years of age, a bold and skilful seaman
whom King Francis I. of France sent out to discover and take possession of new lands in the West.
Cartier and his companions were the first white men of whom we have any record that stood on the shores of New Brunswick (currently debatable, as there is a suggestion that the Vikings had a seasonal camp here named Hop [a small land-locked bay]). Many visits were made by the Norse sailors to the coast of America nearly five hundred years before Columbus came, and they carried back to Iceland many curious stories of the natives and the lands which they visited.

Cartier has given us, in his own words, the story of his discovery of the eastern shore of what is
now New Brunswick. By the aid of this story and copies of old maps, we are able to trace his course from point to point. Sailing through the strait of Belleisle, he coasted the southern shores of Labrador
and the west coast of Newfoundland. Thence he came to the north end of what is now Prince Edward Island, and sailed into the bay which narrows into Northumberland Strait at its lower extremity. This he called the Bay of St. Lunaire, because it was on the feast day of that saint that the bay was discovered. Cartier thought the land was " continuous " to the south, that is, that Prince Edward Island formed part of the mainland of New Brunswick, so he turned to the north and came to Point Escuminac, near the entrance to the Miramichi river. This was on the second day of July, 1534; and it is the first known record of the discovery of any portion of our province. Crossing the mouth of the Miramichi estuary,
"a bay in the shape of a triangle, all ranged with sands and very deep" (extending far into the laud), he continued his course along the low and sandy shores of Northumberland and Gloucester counties until he rounded the north point of the island of Miscou, which he named the Cape of Hope (Cap d'Espe-
rance), because he hoped that in the bay which they were entering they would find the long-wished for
passage to China.

All along our east coast Cartier met parties of the Indians, who, finding that the white men meant no harm to them, became very friendly, showing that gentleness of disposition which has always marked
their nature when treated kindly and justly.

De Monts and Champlain

In 1603, Henry IV. of France gave to the Sieur de Monts the right to colonize Acadia, the bounds of which were not well marked, but were supposed to extend from Cape Breton halfway to Florida. He was given the feudal lordship over this new country, with the sole right to the fur-trade of that vast region, including Newfoundland and the mouth of the St. Lawrence. In return for these rights, de Monts agreed to found settlements, till the soil, and convert the natives to the Roman Catholic faith. Samuel de Champlain was appointed geographer, and was charged by the king to write a "faithful account of all he saw." He sailed in the ship of 150 tons which conveyed de Monts and his company of priests and settlers to the new world.

Champlain had the qualities of a discoverer and a founder of colonies. In his dealings with the Indians he was fair and open, always treating them kindly, and wishing to persuade but never force them to become Christians. He had none of the greed of the trader. He frankly forgave those who wronged him. In his later years he governed Canada wisely, guiding it well through its first years, when settlers were few, and danger and hardship their common lot. On the 16th of June they entered Digby Basin, which Champlain says is "one of the finest harbors I have seen along all these coasts, in which two thousand vessels might lie in security . . . which I have named Port Royal.".

On Navy Island, at the mouth of the river, Champlain found an Indian long house, which he describes as a "Cabin where the Savages fortify themselves." This was called in their language" Ouigoudy," and Champlain thought this name was given to the river. But the Indians, both Micmacs and Maliseets, called it Woolastook, meaning the goodly river.

The Indians of New Brunswick
See Fig 7 for an illustration of the moose at the beginning of this chapter.

The accounts left us by Cartier and Champlain of the Indians of this country show that, if treated well, they were a harmless people. They lived by fishing and the chase, and clothed themselves in the skins of animals which they killed. Although the two tribes who lived here, the Micmacs and Maliseets, closely
resembled each other in appearance, having the same copper-colored skin, straight, coarse black hair, thin beard, high cheek bones, and strong, sinewy frames, the one could not speak or understand the language of the other.

The Micmacs were found along the shores of the head of the Bay of Fundy, the Gulf of St. Lawrence,
and throughout Nova Scotia, their camp sites and villages being in sheltered coves and near the
mouths of tidal rivers. The sites were well chosen, where a wide view of the coast and the country around could be obtained, to guard against enemies. They were near both to the sea and forest, making
use of the outgoing and incoming tides, as do the fishermen of our own times, to aid them in getting
their supplies of food and driftwood for fuel. But there were few places that could yield enough for their wants in summer and winter for any length of time, so that they moved about from place to place, seeking the forests in winter for the greater shelter they gave and for the pursuit of game.

They know well the beasts of the forest; the trees, shrubs, useful plants, roots and their nature and uses; the birds, the time of their coming and going; the fish of the sea and the rivers, and their food qualities. Their language is soft and pleasing in sound, simple and expressive in meaning. They have legends which go far back into the past, and which, though mixed with fable, tell us much of their life and longings. They made rude pictures (see Fig 8) to mark events of their past history. They had figures cut upon rocks and trees to make known some fact to secure the safety of themselves or fellow-travellers through the forest or along rivers.

Dr. Gesner tells that while making a geological survey of the province many years ago, he could not find his way along an old Indian portage between the headwaters of the St. Croix and Eel River Lake. After some search the figure of an Indian carrying a canoe was found marked on an old cedar tree, and, following the direction, the path was found, hidden by grass and fallen leaves. On another occasion, while nearing a fall on Eel River, he saw a rude picture, fixed on a post, of two Indians with their heels uppermost and their canoe upset. The warning was observed and understood in time to prevent a
plunge over the fall beyond.

The Indians liked the French, who called them brothers, and were always ready to hunt or dance
with them, and were quick to learn their language. Their gay, light-hearted manners fitted into the graver moods of the savages. Their priests lived in the rude wigwams. The French also pleased the
Indian's vanity by making presents of dress and trinkets with which the warriors adorned themselves.
They made no claims upon the lands of the savages, and were at all times ready to share with them the hardships as well as the joys of the wilderness. But it was not so with the English, who often slighted and did not trust them. The latter were less ready to offer presents, and treated lightly their rights as the owners of the lands.

The Micmacs and Maliseets have always lived quietly together in New Brunswick. The Micmacs were no doubt the first to come to the province, and probably had possession at one time of the whole, including the River St. John. The Maliseets were the more warlike. It is not known when they came upon the scene, or whether they drove by force the Micmacs to their present haunts on the North Shore, or agreed to share the country in peace between them. The Mohawks were the dreaded enemies of both tribes.

.. both Micmacs and Maliseets are settled upon lands reserved for them by the government; or they
ply their trade of basket and canoe making near some village or town where they can sell their wares. They are honest and harmless; and there are very few examples of Indians committing crimes. The change from a free, roving life of the forest to a half-civilized condition has not improved them. In a few cases they have become successful farmers and traders, but the condition of the larger portion of them is not a happy one.

Acadia and it’s fortunes

In 1621 James I. of England granted to Sir William Alexander, a Scottish knight, a great tract of laud which comprised the peninsula of Gaspe and Acadia. This territory was to be known as Nova Scotia, and the part of it north of the Bay of Fundy was called Alexandria, in honor of the man to whom the grant
was made. He was to have all the powers of a ruler to govern and make laws for his state, bestow titles and offices to his followers, and maintain fleets and fortresses. The curious old map (see Fig 9), which bears the date of 1624, shows that an attempt was made to replace the Indian and French names by those of Scotland, but they took no hold. Sir William Alexander made great preparations to found his colony, but before he could carry them out, Acadia was again given up to France, and only a small Scotch settlement at Port Royal was the result of all the efforts put forth.

A force under Major Robert Sedgewick of Massachusetts came on the scene, and Acadia once more fell into the hands of the English, although France and England were then (1654) at peace.

Fort Beausejour surrendered on the 15th of June, 1755, its garrison marching out on following day, drums beating, with the honors of war. It was re-named Fort Cumberland, in honor of the soldier prince who had won the battle of Culloden. Fort Gaspereau became Fort Monckton ; and English garrisons were kept in the three forts, Cumberland, Monckton, and Lawrence, for several years later. After that tragic event the exile of the Acadians which closed the year 1755, hundreds of these unfortunate people found their way to the River St. John, the marshes of Westmorland and the North Shore and their history is merged afterwards with that of the British colonists who came to those places (in a previous piece that I did called “Acadians and the Miramichi” explains the Acadians in depth). This ends the section from Gage’s 20th Century Series - A HISTORY OF NEW BRUNSWICK, for use in public schools in the year 1903, By George U.HAY, D.Sc, found at electriccanadian.com).

See Fig 10 for the Millerton N.B. School .....1890's.

See Fig 11 for the Wayerton school,1877 /78.

See Fig 12 for the Chatham Head School (date not known).

See Fig 12.5 for the Alnwick School in 1955.

See Fig 12.6 for the Boiestown School 1945.

See Fig 12.7 for the Sillikers School (date unknown).

See Fig 12.7.1 for teachers who taught at the Sillikers School. Back row (L-R): Mary (Travis) Hamilton, Inez (Murphy) Somers, Mary (Lahey) Tozer, Gladys (Langan) Jardine, Agnes Chambers, Pat (Johnston) Hubbard, Rosalie (Mutch) Holmes, Lois (Somers) Travis. Front row: Lilla (Carter) Somers, Claire (McKenzie) Devan, Edith (Munroe) Somers, Jean (Taylor) McKnight, Annie (Sinclair) Taylor, Travis Mersereau.

See Fig 12.8 for the Oak Point School.

See Fig 12.9 for the Millerton N.B. 1890'S Schoolhouse.

See Fig 12.910 for the Middle Island School, circa 1900.

See Fig 12.91 for the Mackinleyville school built in 1909.

See Fig 12.9.2 Miramichi Rural High School(Miramichi Bay)/students/ bus 1941.

Many other pictures can be found on the Miramichi Heritage FB site www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=oa.688154614551617&type=3

The following is from "Nelson and its Neighbors: 300 years on the Miramichi" by Earl J. English. The information was provided to Earl by John N. Dolan. The section in the book has several student lists, but in the interest of space, I won't provide them here. They can viewed from that book. Much of the text that I will provide will give the reader a feel of how things were, regardless of the community. My comments are enclosed in []
Nelson Parish District No. 1
The first school in the Nelson Parish was situated in the village of Nelson-Miramichi on the property now owned and occupied by William Russell. It was likely built about 1820. It was listed as Nelson Parish School No. 1 one by the Province of New Brunswick.
The teacher was John Jameson. It was locally known as a Monahan school. It closed in 1902. Students who lived at Beaubear’s went to school on the island. The teacher was Alexander Mitchell.
From school records dated March 1845, Alex Mitchell teacher District No. 5 states that Elizabeth Clouston went to school at Beaubear’s Island. Also, an account book of Burchill’s - Beaubear’s Island 1850-57 lists Michael Flinne as teacher. From Nelson No. 1 school (the Monahan school) 1877-78 [also] lists Michael Flinne as school teacher there.
The Monahan school was replaced by the Nelson school situated on the Sutton road – it is now the senior citizens building. It had three classrooms and taught grades 1-8 inclusive. Mr. H. M. McDonald, father of Mrs. John Burchill, was the architect and probably the builder. The total cost of the land, building and Furniture was $2,850. A photo taken at the opening in a 1903 lists the teachers as Miss Hudson and Miss McAntosh. J. P. Burchill, grandfather of John Burchill, was the first secretary.
See Fig 13 for The Sutton road school (date unknown, but from the age of the cars I would say 1960s.

This is a list of teachers who taught over the years at the school (not a complete listing):
Miss Hudson, Mis McAntosh, McCombs, W. Flett, Miss C. Fitzpatrick, Miss N. Power, Mr. Ager, Norman Case, Miss Harrington, Mr. W.F. Daly, Mr. J. Gallager, Miss L. Fitzpatrick, Miss L. Powers, Mr. Fullerton, Miss Mary Ronan, Miss S. Noonan, Miss H. Noonan, Miss R. Blackmore, Miss K. Doyle, N. Holt, S. Dolan, Mr. Connell, Mr. Burgess, Miss Anna McCarthy, Miss Josephine Sullivan, Mrs. Doug Stewart, Mrs. John King. The secretaries were J.P. Burchill, Michael Fletcher, Patrick Gorman, W. Bert Coughlan.
From the time they were organized in about 1820 until about 1947 local school districts were independent corporate organizations. They operated within the N.B. Schools Act and were responsible for collecting taxes necessary to pay salaries and other expenses. They also hired the necessary personnel, reviewed the curriculum, etc. They were unpaid; however the secretary received a small percentage of the taxes collected.
The water from the well in the cellar wasn't fit to drink, occasionally someone will bring a pail of water from Kerr’s or Sullivan's. There were 2 outdoor toilets called the “sheds”. They were located at the end of the school lot next to O'Brien’s field. The boys never went beyond the door of the outhouse [I think this means that the boys would open the outhouse door and pee on the floor!]. A sheet of ice 4 inches or more thick formed on the floor. About the middle of May, before these outhouses were cleaned, the smell was overpowering.
At this school the discipline was never lax. Pupils going from the school to Newcastle or Chatham Schools were as advanced in their subjects as other pupils [coming directly from a Newcastle or Chatham school]. About 1947 all public schools in the county came under the County School Finance Board and in doing so surrendered a big measure of their independence such as having the authority to collect and dispense taxes. The office of the County Superintendent of Schools (Mr. J.E. Carton) was set up in Chatham. The facility was a benefit to teachers and school boards.
In 1948 a major repair job was done to the Nelson School. A heating system, well, toilet facilities were all installed. No doubt these were much appreciated by all concerned. There were no other major changes until 1953.
South Nelson Road District No. 2 (also known as Vye Settlement)
The first school in South Nelson Road was located on property owned and occupied by Mrs. Earl Flett. As it was designated District No. 2, it was probably open sometime after the Monahan School.
From the 1948 annual meeting – the board borrowed $4,000 to repair the school building. The 1953 annual meeting – discussion regarding enlarging the school. A feasibility study was made. A special ratepayers meeting was held November 1953 resolved that District No. 2 join Nelson Consolidated School District. The last annual meeting with held July 1956. The school was closed in 1964.

See Fig 14 for the Old South Nelson Road School in about 1979.

Nowlanville School District
The first school in Nowlanville was about where Boyd Fitzpatrick's home now is. The first teacher was John Flannigan. The present school building, now property of the Nolanville Woman's Institute was built in 1866. It was closed as a school in 1960. Possibly there was another school building opposite to where the present building is, built before the present one.

Craigville School District
Craigsville School District number 1.5. This school was built in 1925. Previous to this the students attended Nelson School. It was built on property owned by the Hayes family. The school was closed in 1960. The building and property are now owned and occupied by Miss Margaret and Anna Hayes.
The Upper Barnaby School District
A property map of 1876 shows a school building located where the most recent school was located until 1960. When this school was torn down, the property was returned to the Burnaby River Catholic Church.
Lower Barnaby School District
There are no records before 1878. The school was closed in 1963. The building is now owned and occupied by Harry Gordon.
Semiwagan Ridge School District
Teacher James Dunn. The school closed in 1960.
Nelson Consolidated School District
An annual meeting of Nelson School for 1953 reported that Father John Ryan spoke on the dire need for high school education in the parish of Nelson. From this meeting a committee of A.D. English, James McDonald and John Dolan were appointed to study the means of consolidation of the parish schools and to report back. In the next year meetings were held in South Nelson Road, Craigville and Nowlanville and consolidation was approved in principle.
This was not the first attempt to get high school education in the district. Father Wallace appealed to the people at an annual school meeting in Nelson in the 1930s. This motion was defeated - those against his motions were claiming victory that they had saved the district from a great tax increase. As well, at a meeting in the 1940s Miss Polly Shannan (Clark) explained school consolidation to an audience in the community hall.
There were many difficulties in obtaining a high school education in Nelson before consolidation. Those students going to school in Newcastle walked, hitchhiking was unknown (of the few cars that were operating, their owners were not in the habit of sharing them). The walk to Newcastle morning and night was a hardship from Nelson - Ethel Masterson walked from her home at South Nelson Road to Newcastle. There was one more inconvenience: the roads were not always plowed. The Frank Dolan family traveled by horse and sleigh from Nowlanville to Newcastle. Those going to St. Thomas in Chatham traveled by the train called “The Gitney” - they usually arrived late for class. Another detriment to continuing education was finances through the 30s. There was as high as 90% unemployment. Tuition (about $30 a year) was often impossible to come by.
Probably one has to look at the reason why a high school was so long in coming to Nelson. What is acceptable at one time in history will not be acceptable at another - maybe at the time Father Ryan talked to the people it was no longer acceptable to have to send students outside the parish for education. Another reason why the building of the school occurred when it did could have to do with the offer of land valued in excess of $10,000 plus $14,000 in cash.
The intern board was in place by April, 1954 for the Nelson Consolidated School District: David Daigle (chairman), Clayton Doyle, Harry Brown, Earl Fleet, James Wallace, John N. Dolan, Warren power.
All of these men had a desire to see a better school district - and men like Harry Brown possibly had only one reason for being involved in this sometimes-controversial matter - a want to help his fellow man.
By February they were studying places for an 8 classroom building. Earl Foley replaced James Wallace after his death as a trustee. In July 1955 the board accepted the tender of Abby Landry for $195,000 to build Nelson Rural High School. On July 25th, 1955 a special meeting of the ratepayers of school districts 1, 1.5, 2, and 3 was held in Beaubear Hall. Trustees were given authority to build and equip, supply necessary transportation, and arrange necessary financing for the amount of $226,000. A gentleman's agreement between St. Patrick's Church and Nelson Consolidated School District was presented for approval. By this agreement the church was to give the school district land and cash for a total of $24,000.
In exchange, the school auditorium was to be available free of charge to the people of all districts concerned. Religious instruction was to be in accordance with the N.B. School Act. While there were a sufficient number of students of the Catholic religion to hold classes, this was not the case for other denominations. The teachers from the Order of Notre Dame were the first nuns teaching in public schools in this area. The hiring of the sisters proved to be a very satisfactory agreement for this district. Their dedication to the teaching profession was appreciated by both parents and pupils of all faiths. The Nelson school district was fortunate in being able to conduct its affairs with no religious friction. This was due to the tolerant spirit of people of the South Nelson Road - in particular board members Harry Brown, Earl Fleet, Ray Bateman and Sammy Matchett.
The location of the school was somewhat controversial with nearness to what was then a busy highway and unsuitable soil that had to be corrected with $4,000 worth of wider footing paid by Father Ryan. As a result, there was some anxious waiting after the construction of the building and watching for the corners to crack. This building has never moved even the accepted amount.
There were still two school districts that were part of the Parish of Nelson that had not signified their wish to be part of the Nelson Consolidated School District. J. E. Carton, Superintendent of schools met with the ratepayers of McKinleyville in July, 1956. They decided to become part of the Millerton Consolidation. While consolidation was being discussed in the Nelson District, Father Ryan met with the leaders of the Barnaby River District to ascertain their interests. No interest was expressed. As time was running short before the opening of another school year, John Dolan met with Eddie Foley and John Murphy to outline the procedure needed to join the consolidation in Nelson. The result was that Upper and Lower Barnaby River and Semiwagan Ridge held meetings among themselves and with the county superintendent of schools. They made application for entry and was accepted in time for the opening of school in September, 1956. Warren Casey became trustee for the Barnaby District.

Nelson Rural High School
September 1956
Principal: W.M. Nugent, Vice-Principal Joseph Roach
Teachers: Anna McCarthy, Josephine Sullivan, Hanna Stewart, Elanor Creamer, Miss Harris, Miss Hubbard, Miss Coughlan, Sister Elizabeth Fitzpatrick, Sister Margaret Massey, Sister Joan McKenzie.
South Nelson Road - Miss Betty Murphy
Nowlanville - Miss Nellie Wallace
Craigville - Mis Eleanor Lawlor
Upper Barnaby River - Miss Shirley Bohan
Lower Barnaby River - Miss Mary McDonald
Semiwagan Ridge - Miss Myrna Blaquier
The trustees made arrangement with the Newcastle School Board to provide vocational education to Nelson Rural High School pupils. Transportation was provided by the board and tuition paid. This proved to be a very satisfactory arrangement.
In 1959 the trustees anticipated a shortage of classrooms in the near future. School planning conducted a survey of the district and their findings were forwarded to the board. The recommendations were found to be beyond the financial means of the district. From the minutes of the annual meeting July 13th, 1959: “Moved by B.M. Broderick and seconded by W.B. Coughlin that the chair declare a 15 minute recess to restore order”. The year was not uneventful.
In 1960 a decision had to be made about more classrooms. The school planning branch had recommended another eight classroom school plus a four classroom school in Barnaby River with the District’s share in the vicinity of $200,000. These were very difficult decisions as this could add $180 to some people's tax bill who may be getting $60 a month old age pension. Architect engineer George Robinson of the Department of Education came through with the plan for an 8 classroom school, no auditorium, with water and heat supplied from the high school - projected District cost $61,000. Land came from the Citizens Committee who had brought it from Mrs. Veriker and had erected an outdoor rink there.
A word about the Citizens Committee fundraising. There was no means of paying for anything that was not covered by the ordinary budget as this budget was for standard educational costs only. The board tried public dances but they would have required policing. A committee of John Dolan, A.D. English and Vince McCarthy borrowed money from the credit union on their personal notes and started weekly bingos in the auditorium. By the time they had lost more than $2,000 , the game caught on. Until it's termination this endeavor supported Boy Scouts, built ball diamonds, outdoor rinks, sports equipment, assisted the library, paid the music teacher salary, etc. An audited financial statement was given to the public each year. Willis Kelly, Benny Doyle and Billy English were willing workers in this organization[this speaks volumes of the dedication of the citizens to the community, and dedication like this by dozens of other citizens is what made the Nelson community so great].
In 1962 the South Nelson Road Company Pulp Mill construction was under way. Despite hopes of increased tax revenues from this company, the school board and the County of Northumberland negotiated for the same tax rate that had been received from the former owners of the land - the O’Brien Company.
Suitable housing was required to attract high school teachers to Nelson. Susie Dolan's property was purchased by the board and three apartments were renovated at a total cost of $24,000. These were then owned by the village of Nelson-Miramichi.
The staff in 1965 was:
J. Pat McCluskey, Principal
Anna McCarthy, Vice-principal
Maureen English, Sister Ann Carmel, Connie Cavonaugh, Sister Ann Marie, Sister St. Gertrude, Alice Lynch, Zondra Jardine, Carolyn Gunn, Bernard Keating, Hannah Stewart, Sister Loretta, Margaret Dawson, Sister St. Catherine, Ann Doyle, Sister Mary Raymand, Carmel Gill, Josephine Sullivan, David Wood, Josephine King.
Trustees: A.D. English, Harry Brown, Sam Matchett, Bert Kelly, Gerald McGrath, Clayton Doyle, Warren Power, John Dolan.
Bus drivers: Hubert Esson, Vince Kirk, Jed Blackmore
In 1965 all elementary schools other than Nelson Elementary were closed. That year the total enrollment was 590 in the district, vocational at Harkins 31. Graduates of Nelson Rural High School were 18, Vocational 3.
As a result of the Provincial Government's Equal Opportunity action on the Byrne Commission's recommendations, sweeping changes were made. Nelson School District was dissolved and became part of District No. 10, Chatham with two trustees on that school board. Trustees of the Nelson School District opposed this move to the extent of their ability. As a board they had proven that they were a competent board capable of expanding if numbers dictated. The school board's recommendation was that the district became[become] part of the Newcastle District. All recommendations were defeated.
The final meeting of Nelson Consolidated School District was June 5th, 1967. Harry Brown requested the first minutes of the school board be read as recorded. This was done. Mr. Brown asked to record that it was his conviction that the board left this district, as far as education was concerned, in a better place than it was found.
Nelson Rural High School continued under District 10 School Board. The last graduation was grade 12, June 1969. In September 1969 grades 10, 11, and 12 transferred to Chatham. Nelson Junior High held Grades 6-9, Nelson Intermediate Grades 2-5. In June 1978 the old Nelson School closed on Sutton road (today Senior Citizen Hall).
The program of equal opportunity has accomplished what its promoters had intended - to supply equal education opportunities to those people of the province, who, for economic reasons, could not take advantage of then existing legislation. Has it improved education? This writer knows only what is read in the newspapers and there seems to be a great deal of dissatisfaction in the quality of education.
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September 23rd, 6:00 am

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Very informative and great old pics !