Whittling away the winter
When Dad returned from a visit to Barnesville, he
described in detail
young Harold's project, whittling the missing parts of a windmill
shaped like a man buck-sawing wood that Billy Donnelly gave him.
Dad thought it so innovative, he brought in chunks of dry cedar from
the woodshed and got us started on our own windmill. Although he didn't
have any drawn plans, he knew exactly how it should be made.
First, he used a coping saw to make a rough shape of the man's body
parts. Then he handed us jack knives.
We worked at the whittling for many evenings. Mum was quite concerned
we would cut off our fingers, but we had only a few minor accidents
when the knife slipped.
I had all kinds of problems trying to get the shape of the legs right,
and had to start over more than once.
At last, the various body parts were almost completed. Soon they'd be
painted then assembled.
Gramp and Gram made a surprise visit and watched us at work. With great
pride, I told them about the windmill, how the wind power would make
the man appear to be sawing wood.
One by one, we passed each piece over for their careful examination.
Gram admired the hands Cliff had carved. She told him about Alfie Riggs
from Fairfield, who not only make carvings for St. Peter's Church in
the Saint John's North End in the 1880s, but went to Halifax and became
an artificial limb-maker in the early 1900s.
Gram comments had been so positive I was certain Gramp would likewise
sing our praises. Instead, he related to Dad an old tale told by Joe
from Primrose about Tommy Moran accidentally decapitating the wooden
sheep in front of Davidson's Wool Store on Union Street one night when
he'd had too much too drink.
If the story told by Gramp is true, the sheep had his head reattached,
as I remember it standing on guard in front of Davidson's as a "trade
sign". Carved by Robert Graham in or around 1875, it is now part
New Brunswick Museum collection.
Three generations of Grahams - John, Robert and Robert Jr. - of East
Saint John, which used to be called Crouchville, were prominent
carvers. According to an article in the Feb. 25, 1853 issue of the
Weekly Chronicle newspaper, John Graham was the first woodcarver to
establish himself in Saint John. His shop on Union Street was about
midway between Dock and Germain Streets.
In Three Saint John Woodcarvers,
published in the Journal of the New
Brunswick Museum 1979, Marily Payne wrote, "As early as 1827
Graham, working in Crouchville, advertised in the British Colonist
newspaper that he carved ships figureheads." He did many other
carvings, including the City of Saint John's large coat of arms.
Huia G. Ryder's book Antique
Furniture by New Brunswick Craftsmen has
information about them, too. She wrote: "In 1880, Robert Graham, Jr.
made a large figure of a Scot in kilt to stand before a Saint John
tobacconist's shop on Charlotte Street."
This Scotsman, who stood in front of Nathan Green's tobacco shop at the
Charlotte Street entrance to the City Market, is also now displayed at
the New Brunswick Museum.
As well as the Grahams, Ryder listed Joseph Allen, Edward Charters,
John Cochrane, Amos Fales, Thomas Howard, Francis McDermott, Peter
Mitchell, Charles Edward Potter, Alfred Riggs and John Rogerson as
Saint John woodcarvers.
It's interesting to note that Edward Charters was the uncle and mentor
of John Rogerson, whose figurehead for the Lady of Edinburgh sailing
ship recently fetched more than $300, 000 on the Christie's auction
block in New York.
Charters's stern carving for the Marco Polo is on display at the New
Brunswick Museum along with some works by Rogerson like the 'pine lady'
or figurehead from the Tikoma and a grotesque head from the Saint John
Query 1532: Frith - Arnold - Edmiston:
Frederick C. Frith, born 1829 in
Saint John, N.B., married Charlotte Arnold, daughter of Horatio Nelson
Arnold, Sussex. He apparently moved to Boston as bank manager and died
in 1869. His wife and daughter moved to Edmonton and the daughter, my
grandmother, married William Edmiston. I am looking for more
information on Frederick Frith.
14341 Harris St.
Canada, H9H 1L6
E-mail email@example.com (This e-mail
address keeps bouncing - could William Edmiston contact me -
firstname.lastname@example.org so I can change the address)
Query 1533: Kendle
- Kendall: I am seeking information on black
loyalist George Kendle and his possible connection to Solomon Kendall
of Queensbury, and MaryAnn Kendle also of Queensbury who married John
Peters on 25 Dec 1816.
Query 1534: Thain: Anna Maria Thain
who was born in 1838 in Saint John,
N.B. is descended from John Thain. Does anyone have any information on
the Thain family, particularly any connection with the United Empire
8595 144A St.
Canada, V3S 2Y1
Query 1535: Barry - Lyons: The
descendants of Peter Barry and Ellen
Lyons of Miramichi are planning a reunion for July 2007 to celebrate
the bicentennial of Peter's arrival on the Miramichi in 1807.
Barry R. MacKenzie
P.O. Box 416
St Francis Xavier University
Published Saturday February 17th, 2007 in the ESCAPADE Section of the