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At the Crossroads - A History of Sackville

I wondered what Dad and Gramp were watching so I squeezed in front of them. It appeared someone was trying to lead a horse through the bridge but no way was the horse going to go.

Without a word the two of them headed down the driveway and along the road.

Dad took the horse by the bridle, turned him around and backed him through the bridge without a problem.

William Hamilton knows the benefit of going backwards into history which has made his research, findings and writings very popular and beneficial to many.

His book, “At the Crossroads” - A History of Sackville is filled with more than 300 pages of information on the history of settlement on the Isthmus of Chignecto and the place that would become the town of Sackville.

The nearby marshlands were a great influence on Sackville. They provided food and nesting ground for the waterfowl which in turn provided food for the Mi’kmaq. The French dyked and cultivated the marsh. Cattle grazed there and hay was cut and stored in the marsh barns.

The first recorded European settlers were Jacques Bourgeois, a former surgeon in France, his two sons, two daughters and their families.

The next group to call this area “home” were the New England Planters who were followed in the early 1770s, by the Yorkshire migration group. Next came about 25 to 30 Loyalist families in the mid 1780s. Although he did not choose to reside in Sackville, Amos Botsford was the most influential of the group.

Farmers soon found a new and ready market in Saint John. In 1789, the first beef cattle were driven overland through a blazed trail which later led to the construction of the Westmorland Road linking Sackville to the port city.

Charles Frederick Allison was the man with the money behind the establishing of Mount Allison in the 1830s. As he admitted during a Methodist meeting in Saint John: ''The Lord hath put it in my heart to give a sum toward building a Wesleyan Academy . . . " I  know the impression is from the Lord, [then following a dramatic pause] for I am naturally fond of money."

The story of Shipbuilding in Sackville began with the launch of the brig Charlotte in 1824 and ended with the schooner Three Links’s launch in 1898 - with approximately 160 vessels having made their way to the sea.

Charles Pickard owned the Freestone Company and due to his shrewd business talents, major building projects in New Brunswick and Ontario used Sackville stone. Precut stones for fireplaces were shipped as far west as Vancouver.

I have just touched the tip of the iceberg as to the information that was drawn from material from newspapers, journals, letters, interviews, maps, other sources and most importantly the personal experience of the author with his “working backward into history” technique that can be found on Sackville’s history in William Hamilton’s 2004 book titled  “At the Crossroads - A History of Sackville.” It will appeal to anyone with family ties on the Isthmus of Chignecto or who have had an association with Mount Allison University.

The book is available for viewing in several New Brunswick libraries. It can be ordered from Gaspereau Press, 47 Church Street, Kentville, NS,  B4N 2M7. They also have a toll free number for book orders: 1 877 230  8232.

More than one hundred articles of Bill Hamilton’s Tantramar Flashback, which take an informative and entertaining look at the history and people of the region, are on his website at .

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Ruby M. Cusack is a genealogy buff living in New Brunswick, Canada. Send your New Brunswick genealogical queries to her at:  I suggest you include your name and mailing address for the benefit of the readers of the newspaper who do not have access to E-mail but could have information to share with you. Please put "Query" followed by the surnames in your query. For more information on submitting queries, visit
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