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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 of a 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 John 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 Opera House.

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.
William Edmiston
14341 Harris St.
Pierrefonds, QC
Canada, H9H 1L6
E-mail (This e-mail address keeps bouncing - could William Edmiston contact me - 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 Loyalists?
Alan Langley
8595 144A St.
Surrey, BC
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
Antigonish, N.S.
B2G 2X1
Telephone: 902-735-5026

Published Saturday February 17th, 2007 in the ESCAPADE Section of the Telegraph Journal
New and Used Genealogical and Historical books of
New Brunswick for sale.

Ruby M. Cusack is a genealogy buff living in New Brunswick, Canada. Send your New Brunswick genealogical queries to her at:  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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