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Where and why do we call home 'home?'

by Ruby Cusack

Jack Frost had decorated the windows with beautiful patterns of fern leaves while we were sleeping. Earlier this morning, I heard him kicking the walls as the house snapped in the cold.

Mum had a good fire going in the kitchen stove so I sat by the oven door while eating my breakfast.

With the way the wind was howling, and the thermometer showing -40 F, I knew the walk to the one-room school was going to be cold. Cliff and I went out the door wrapped with scarves around our faces and extra mittens on our hands.

The inside on the school seemed colder than outside but that did not prevent the teacher from getting us started on the math while huddling around the stove.

By the afternoon, the room was warm and time was dragging as I worked on drawing a map of Kings County. It looked so simple on the big New Brunswick map on the wall but my copy had lots of flaws. Problems came when I started drawing in the parishes and tried to squeeze in the names of the rivers and the villages.

As I copied the names, I wondered why and how were they chosen.

Today, I have the answer with a click of the mouse - simply by going to the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick website at and accessing "Where is Home? New Brunswick Communities Past and Present."

It seems I am not alone in my curiosity. Many people find fascination in community place names, and in New Brunswick there are more than 4,600 for people to ponder. These are the communities, from the merest wayside clusters to our energetic little cities, where New Brunswickers have lived. They are the places where dreams are born and hopes are sometimes dashed - where people engage in the great human drama of living their lives.

"The word for the study of place names is toponomy and, in New Brunswick, there is a rich story. It tells of the Aboriginal roots of names, of names brought from the Old Country by a host of immigrant groups that, proud of new surroundings and perhaps not a little lonesome, invoked the ancient towns and regions from which they came. It tells of the influence of religion on the province's community nomenclature, as evidenced by our 159 variations on the theme of Saint, and also of the occasional influence of nearby areas, as revealed by the 32 places in Madawaska County that have the French prefix "Rang des," meaning "range of," followed by a family name, as in Rang des Bourgoin. The practice comes from adjacent Quebec, where it was used to designate land grant settlements.

The post office had a major role in naming communities (it needed official names to deliver the mail), and so did the railways, which needed names for train stops. Some names celebrated the feats of men and others their follies. Most poignant of all are the names of communities that have utterly disappeared.

This database will interest determined researchers and the curious. It is comprehensive and inviting. For each of the 4,710 names, geographical locations in relation to nearby communities are given, as are specific co-ordinates, derivations of the names, and highlights of the communities' histories. Links are provided to 4,784 land grant and other maps, photographs of 489 of the communities (a total of 960 photos), and about 600 documents about the founding, incorporation or development of 144 of the communities. Place names, like language, are constantly evolving.

Researchers have been investigating the toponomy of New Brunswick for a long time, and their collective efforts are represented in the database. They include W.F. Ganong, scientist and historian, Alan Rayburn, whose 1975 publication, Geographical Names of New Brunswick, was a landmark achievement, and William B. Hamilton, who brought the subject to the popular market in 1996 with his Place Names of Atlantic Canada. Robert Fellows, a long-time employee of the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, undertook the project of compiling material for the database, to which several other archivists have contributed. Valuable additional sources were The Post Offices of New Brunswick, 1783-1930 by George MacManus, the Canadian census of 1911, Hutchinson's New Brunswick Directory for 1865-66, Lovell's Province of New Brunswick Directory for 1871, and McAlpine's Newfoundland and Maritime Gazetteer for 1898 and 1904."

You can search by place name or get a list of all the communities in a county.

Calamingo Settlement is located at the head of Calamingo Brook, 7.42 km N of Upper Sussex, Cardwell Parish, Kings County, named for a métis hunter in the area: Also known as Russiantown or Little Russia. 

Blair Athol was located 4.97 km E of Maltais, Balmoral Parish, Restigouche County. Post Office there from 1875 to 1955. In 1898 Blair Athol was a farming and lumbering community with 1 post office, 1 church and a population of 60. It became part of Balmoral.

Piskahegan is near Elmcroft, Saint George Parish, Charlotte County. William Francis Ganong identified Peskeehaygan as a Passamaquoddy name for "branch of the river", and as the origin of the name Piskahegan. In 1911 there were 2 families living here.

Allan Cot was a railway point located 2.27 km SW of Colpitts and 14.5 km SW of the Saint John city centre, Musquash Parish, St. John County. Allan Cot is now within the city of Saint John.

Sillikers is on the Little South West Miramichi River, 3.14 km NE of Lyttleton, on the road to Red Bank, Southesk Parish, Northumberland County. It was settled in 1830 and had a Post Office from 1900 to1954 with Daniel Silliker as the first postmaster. In 1904 Sillikers was a farming, fishing and lumbering settlement with 1 post office, 1 church and a population of 200 and included Whitney Landing.

Tweedside is on Oromocto Lake, 5.71 km SSE of Manners Sutton, on the road to Brockway, Manners Sutton Parish, York County. It was named by settlers from the River Tweed region in Scotland. Post Office was there from 1860 until1913. In 1866 Tweedside was a farming community with about 40 families. In 1871 it had a population of 150 and in 1898 Tweedside had 1 post office, 1 church and a population of 200. It was formerly called Ensor Settlement for Charles Ensor, who had a land grant there in 1834 but abandoned it by 1841.

Stewarton is 6.14 km NNW of Springfield, on the road to Cambridge-Narrows in Springfield Parish, Kings County. William Cromwell settled here about 1820. Included Cromwell. Post Office from1859 to1876 with George Cromwell as postmaster. In 1866 Cromwell was a farming settlement with about 30 families while in 1871 it had a population of 100. In 1866 Stewarton included Waterloo Settlement which had 3 families, also included the community of Ogilvie's. Post Office in  Stewarton circa 1875-1958 with Alex Stewart as the first postmaster. In 1898 Stewarton was a farming settlement with 1 post office, 1 store, 1 grist and carding mill, 1 church and a population of 110. By the way, take a look at threshing time in Stewarton at  and click on IMAGES.

On a cold winter's day, pull up a chair to a computer and browse the toponomy of New Brunswick Communities - Past and Present. It is a great way to forget about the blowing snow, the howling wind and the shovelling that will probably follow.

On your next trip to the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick in Fredericton, you will be impressed with the way you can now download microfilm images and take them home to view on your computer.


Query 1655: Kennedy - Bailey: James Kennedy married Mary Bailey. They lived and are buried at Newcastle Bridge, N.B. I am interested in finding out the cemetery information for them and their children who are buried in the Newcastle Bridge Baptist Cemetery.

Stephen Kennedy, R.R. # 2, Brookfield, Colchester County, N.S., BON 1C0. E-mail

Query 1656: Scovil - Johnston: Who were the parents of William Scovil and Margaret Johnston? William Scovil was born in 1800. He died before 1884 (presumably between 1867-1871). He married Margaret Johnston on 30th July, 1821 by banns by James Cookson, Rector, Anglican. Both William and Margaret were from the parish of Kingston at that time. Margaret was born 1801 and died 18 May 1884. Her death announcement was in the Saint John paper, with notation for Boston and Irish papers to copy. William, Margaret, and daughters Phoebe and Margaret are buried in the Acadian Cemetery, French Village, Kings County, New Brunswick. William and Margaret's children were: Elizabeth (James William Smith), William Johnston (Sarah Jane Burns), Jane (George Saunders), Barbara (Thomas Stackhouse), Mary (Joshua Ryder), John Bancroft (Rebecca Jane Moran), Margaret (single), Phoebe (single), and Henry Whitfield (Maria Ann (Annie) McInnis). E-mail

Ruby M. Cusack is a genealogy buff living in New Brunswick, Canada. Send your New Brunswick genealogical queries to her at:  Please put "Query" followed by the surnames in your query as the subject. For more information on submitting queries, visit

Ruby contributes a "Family History" column to the Telegraph-Journal on the third Saturday of the month.

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