Seventy Years of New Brunswick Life
by William T. Baird (1890)

I was not certain if I was crying from being hurt or from seeing the big tear in the red wool coat that had been my favourite Christmas present.

The crusty snow made for a great ride down the hill, in front of Gramp’s house but we couldn’t stop the toboggan. It slid into the barbed wire fence. I ducked, but my coat caught in the sharp barb and now there was a big rip.

Gramp came hurrying down the hill, but when he saw we weren’t hurt, he grumbled, “I am glad your parents don’t have a dozen kids like you to try to keep decent clothes on their back!”

I wonder how over in the old country in the late 1500s, Gilbert and Lillian Baird kept clothes on the back and food on the table for their thirty-two children. Their grandson John Baird was born in Graffa, Ireland in 1795 and studied to become a School Master. About 1816, the commander of the 74th Regiment visited the Seminary seeking a young man to join the Regiment and go to America to serve as a teacher for seven years. Then he would be entitled to a grant of land from the crown of 200 acres. John Baird volunteered and was stationed at Fredericton. At the completion of his term of service he took possession of his land on the west bank of the River St. John about one hundred miles above Fredericton.

Two years later, he returned to Fredericton, as Principal of the National School for the next twenty years. He then removed with his family near to the Tobique Village and died there in 1858. His wife Annie Diggin was born in the city of Dublin, Ireland in 1798, the daughter of a clerk in the Dublin Post Office who lived to be ninety-four years old. Annie and two of her children died in the winter of 1836-37.

In 1890, their son Lieutenant Colonel William T. Baird wrote the book, “Seventy Years of New Brunswick Life” - Autobiographical Sketches.

Some of the information included concerns:
    The Duel at New Maryland, near Fredericton.
    Early Settlers of Woodstock and Vicinity.
    Orange Riot of 1847.
    An Otter Hunt.
    Woodstock Musical Club 1840-41
    Cholera in Woodstock
    Duties as Paymaster in Military District No. 8

The personal reminiscences of life in New Brunswick, starting in the early 1800's  by Lieutenant Colonel William T. Baird in his 1890, 358 page publication “Seventy Years of New Brunswick Life” - ‘Autobiographical Sketches’ gives us the opportunity to put our finger on the pulse of life in that era.

You will find this book in several research institutions in New Brunswick.

R. Wallace Hale has placed the above mentioned book along with other material on a CD. Visit his website at for more information. His e-mail address is

Ruby Cusack is a genealogy buff living in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. Readers are invited to send their New Brunswick genealogical queries to her at When E-Mailing please put Yesteryear Families in the Subject line. Please include in the query, your name and postal address as someone reading the newspaper, may have information to share with you but not have access to E-mail. Queries should be no more than 45 words in length.

New and Used Genealogical and Historical books of New Brunswick for sale.

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