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Winter Reading

Christmas was over and the presents had been carefully tucked into the dresser drawers with the exception of the gifts of books.

Somehow Aunt Ethel knew what the family wanted and chose our gifts carefully. I was delighted to find “Rainbow Valley” and “Emily of New Moon” under the wrapping paper.  Cliff was very pleased with his new organ book. Dad had been spending every evening trying to solve the mysteries in his Western series. Ken had just about worn off the covers of the “Dick Tracy” comics.  Mum even found time to read an H. A. Cody title.

The years come and go but some things change very little. My love of reading has continued and I still find books to be my favourite gifts.

This year, my eight-year-old granddaughter, Carrie Pearle, attended the launching in Hampton of “The Boy Who Was Bullied” John Peters Humphrey - Drafter of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights by Anne Huestis Scott.

As Christmas approached, she suggested buying me a copy as a Christmas surprise.

Last summer we had stood together on the Court House lawn in Hampton and admired the sculpture on the park bench of the little boy, John Peters Humphrey.

At that time, she told me her version of the story of how this little boy was playing with matches with friends when his clothing caught on fire. Due to the severe burns, he had to have his arm amputated at age six. By the time he was eleven, both parents had died of cancer.

As a result of having only one arm, he experienced many acts of bullying while growing up in Hampton and attending Boarding School after his mother’s death. He often fought back.  All this bullying and having only one arm did not hinder him in his desire to succeed. He did all the things boys his age did. He went on to university and a brilliant career. 

He drafted the Universal Dedication of Human Rights that was adopted by the United Nations in 1948 which was a list of rules stating how individual human beings should be protected and respected. He used his pen instead of his fists to try to stop bullying.

As I read, I was fascinated with a look through the window of this publication to catch a glimpse of John’s relatives and the folk living in Hampton. I watched the carriage of  Dr. Wetmore drive along Railway Avenue, the boys setting the Eaton’s catalogue on fire in the outhouse, the suffering from this incident, the sadness of the hand of death, John’s difficulties at RCS, the triumphs of the one-armed boy who used ingenious methods to enjoy life with his friends and as an adult met with success.  

Several other books came to our house this year. “Historic Sussex” Images of our Past compiled by Elaine Ingallis Hogg which holds many pictures of Sussex was one of them.  Robert Keltie built a cheese factory in 1867 on the Old Post Road. Keltie constructed an impressive house on Church Avenue and named it “Keltie Cottage”. One of the articles that interested me was the story of the ice-cream cone being invented by Walter Donelly, a baker by trade, who was born in Sussex Corner. He made a bad batch of dough and turned this mistake into the discovery of an ice cream cone.

My Aunt Ethel would be very pleased to know her picture as a teacher at the Boys Industrial Home is in the book “East Saint John” by David Goss and Harold Wright along with many other photos.

Dan Soucoup’s “Logging in New Brunswick - Lumber - Mills & River Drives” is filled with information of an industry that provided many a man with the cash to feed his family but is now a long forgotten occupation.

In 2008, the Town of Quispamsis gathered information to preserve and make known its history. Since Laughing Louie was a well known axe handle maker in the area I called home, this chapter caught my attention.

The New Brunswick Phrase Book - Old Sayings, Expressions & Odd Names of New Brunswick by Dan Soucoup brought to mind lots of expressions used by the older generation in my family  in years gone by.

Books open the door to the lives of the past and in so doing give us a better understanding of the days of yesteryear.


Query 1821
Johnson - Peters: Frank Johnson married Mabel Peters in Quebec in 1934 and then moved to McLean Settlement, New Brunswick.  He was born in England circa 1912. We are interested in any information about his whereabouts after the 1940s.
Contact Rita MacAllister by email at

Query 1822
Lester - A Lester came to the Millstream, New Brunswick area as a Loyalist and established a farm there.  From a family bible, my oldest known ancestor is Benjamin Lester born 6 June 1790 and died 29 October 1855.  Who was his Loyalist father?  Was it Mordecal Lester who received 200 acres of land on 2 Jan 1786 on the Long Reach River which is very near to the Lester farm?  By the way, there is a book by Sladen titled "Lester the Loyalist" published in 1880.  Is "Lester" a surname?  Is the story true?  Where was the Sherwood/Lester homestead in the story?
Contact James N. Lester by email at

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