It all began
with a silver spoon . .
Cleaning the silverware, was not my idea
of a great way to spend a Saturday morning. To make matters worse, Mum had
counted the spoons that bore the initial "R" and there were only eleven.
One had gone missing. Cliff pulled out the drawer in hopes it was hiding
in the back, but no luck. I got down on my hands and knees and searched behind
the flower barrel while Mum wrung her hands in dismay.
J.S.S. Armour's Search for Ancestors
and Descendants of
Ewen A. Cameron and Anne Paylor of
Dr. René Villeneuve, a curator at the National Gallery in Ottawa
and the foremost authority on Canadian silver, was visiting the Reverend
J.S.S. Armour last summer when he noticed a spoon with the initial "EAC".
Dr. Villeneuve, recognized the spoons as being the work of a Loyalist silversmith
named William Norris Venning (1795-1877) of Saint John, New Brunswick and
were probably made in the rather flowery American manner to match spoons
which the family had brought with them from America after the Revolution.
This spoon sent Dr. Armour on a search. He was able to determine that
his great-great-grandfather, Ewen A. Cameron, carpenter or architect, lived
at the corner of Main and Carmarthen Streets in Lower Cove, Saint John from
which he was buried in 1859 to Fern Hill Cemetery at age 65 years. On July
29, 1819, he had married Anne Paylor. In the 1840s, he had been a councillor
representing Sydney Ward. Could the spoons have belonged to him?
Ewen's father, Donald Cameron, a ship owner in Shelburne, Nova Scotia,
drowned in 1813, when his ship foundered on a trip to Halifax. One of Ewen's
brothers, Donald A. Cameron, was the editor of the Saint John Weekly Observer.
Two sisters married Robertsons and one a Ewing.
Ewen and Ann Cameron had three sons: Donald, Thomas, a sea captain and
Ewen as well as four daughters, Elizabeth, Alice Kirk - married Duncan Robertson,
Mary Anne - married James MacFarlane and Dr. Armour's great grandmother,
Margaret who married The Reverend Alexander McLeod Stavely, minister of the
Reformed Presbyterian (Covenanting) church in Saint John for 39 years. The
Stavelys went to Ireland in the late 1870s
Dr. Armour is hoping that readers can assist him in finding information
on his Cameron, Paylor ancestors and their descendants - the search that
began with a silver spoon. E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
William Norris Venning who made the spoons for the Cameron
Family was one of many silversmiths in New Brunswick.
According to Donald C. Mackay's book, "Silversmiths and Related Craftsmen
of the Atlantic Provinces", there were three goldsmiths, two silversmiths
and a clockmaker admitted Freemen of Saint John in 1785.
"Alexander Munro was an outstanding silversmith in Saint John from
"In Fredericton, John Wolhaupter, a Loyalist, and his son Benjamin
are the earliest silversmiths recorded.
"Justin Spahnn was born at Canton Neuchatel, Switzerland in 1803
and following his Swiss apprenticeship went to Philadelphia to work as journeyman.
He opened a shop in Fredericton in 1823."
"Benjamin Tibbetts was born in Banning, Grand Lake in 1813. He
was orphaned by 1824 and apprenticed to a Watchmaker in Woodstock. He was
also a portrait painter and invented the first compound steam engine."
More information on the silversmiths in New Brunswick can be found in
"Silversmiths and Related Craftsmen of the Atlantic Provinces" by
Donald C. Mackay.
An interesting article titled, "The Work of Some New Brunswick Silversmiths"
by Marilyn Payne
was published in the "Journal of the New Brunswick Museum 1978"
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