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CUMBERLAND TOWNSHIP: A FOCAL POINT OF EARLY SETTLEMENT ON THE BAY OF FUNDY I T isthedestiny ofcertain places tobeingathering and distributing centresfor a time, and then, becauseof changesin means of transportation or becauseof the opening up of new regions,to lose their focal importance. During the eighteenth century, Philadelphia was the principal receiving and distributing centre of population for the Atlantic seaboard,and it was only slowly, and with much difficulty, that New York forgedahead to supremacy in the nineteenth century. For the Bay of Fundy region, Cumberland Township on ChignectoIsthmus was sucha centre from 1750 to 1783--the dates can be assignedquite definitely-and the story of how it becamesuch a centre, of its functioning during the periodof its supremacy,and of the way in which it lost its focal importance, is here set forth. Port Royal--Annapolis--had been the first Bay of Fundy centre. It was from Port Royal that the various French settlements around the Bay of Fundy and its inlets were established, including the one at the head of the middle passagewhich the French called Beaubassin, and the English Cumberland Basin. This settlement was begun by Jacques Bourgeois shortly after 1õ71/and granted asthe Seigneuryof Chignitou or Beaubassinto Michel le Neuf, Ecuyer, Sieur de la Valli•re, on October 24, 1õ7õ.•' Thanks to Valli•re's energyand the fertility of the marshlands,this wasthe mostsuccessful seigneury in Acadie,and from 1788to 1748 showedan annual increaseof eleven per hundred inhabitants? The richness of the area was, however, only one factor in accountingfor the stubbornness of the Englishattempt to capture the district, and of the French to retain it. The isthmus was a longusedrouteof travel from the Gulf of St. Lawrenceto the Bay of Fundy, familiar both to the Indians and the French. Furthermore , the area had a strategicvalue as offeringthe shortestpossiblefront line for the opposingforces. In 1750,both sidesmoved to the isthmus--La Come with the French forces,early in the year, to the hill of Beaus•jour, west of the Misseguash, and Major Charles Lawrence, in September, to the ridge on the east--and both began fortifications. With the capture of Fort Beausgjour •Rameaude Saint-Pi•re,Une Colonief•odale(2 vols., Paris, 1889), I, 1t38. •W. F. Ganong,"Historic Sites in New Brunswick" (Transactionsof the Royal Society of Canada, 1899, SectionII, 315). SRameau,Une Colonief•odale,II, 77. 27 28 THE CANADIAN HISTORICAL REVIEW by the Englishin 1755,controlof the regionpassed to the English, and when Louisbourgwas taken in 1758, their possession was confirmed. The capturedfort was renamedFort Cumberland; the other forts on the isthmus,the EnglishFort Lawrenceand the fort on BaieVerte, calledGaspereau by the Frenchand Moncktonby the Englishafter its surrender,weredestroyedby orderof the Council at Halifax. 4 A considerable force was maintained at Fort Cumberland until 1768,when the soldierswerewithdrawn from this and other forts in Nova Scotiato Halifax, and a smallgarrisonthereafter .5 The existence of a large garrisonat the fort from 1755 to 1768meantthat therewerevessels plying to and from the region with troopsdestined for the garrison, with troopsbeingrelieved of duty, andwith supplies. It meantalsothe existence of a commissariat forprovisioning thegarrison, andtheappearance of the traditionalcampfollowers, a sortof irregularcommissariat, who supplied thesoldiers withservices andgoods, notalways ofa desirablekind . The dangerof raidsby the Frenchand Indiansheld. backfor threeor fouryearsany attempt at buildingor farming, exceptin the immediate vicinityof the fort. It may have been this danger,but it wasprobablythe unaccustomedness and the menaceof the tideswhich led to there beingno desireon the part oftheNewEnglanders whotookpartin thecapture andtheearly garrisoning of the fort to take up landin the region. The first manifestation of desireto settle is found in the grant oftheTownship ofCumberland, in 1759, toninety-one individuals, with a supplementary grantthe nextyear,in whichnineother names wereincluded. Two groups hadjoinedin the application, oneof persons connected with the fort but mostlywith the commissariat ,and a committeefrom Connecticutwho came up to NovaScotiain July,1759. 6 Thetwogroups addedthenames, if not of theirsisters, theircousins, and theiraunts,at leastof their brothers, theiruncles, andtheirbrothers-in-law.In addition, there wereseveralnamesfromHalifax, notablythoseof JohnBurbidge and William Best. The Connecticut settlers were deflected to Cornwallis,forthemostpart, apparentlyby thedeliberatepurpose of the administration at Halifax to have settlers in a more accessible region. 7 4j. C. Webster, TheForts of Chignecto (SaintJohn...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-1093
Print ISSN
0008-3755
Pages
pp. 27-32
Launched on MUSE
2017-04-05
Open Access
No
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