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Ruby M. Cusack

Dictionary of Miramichi Biography
by W. D. Hamilton 
A searchable database on the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick  website

Poor old Dan was just a sweating as he pulled the hiller along row after row hilling up the potatoes. Actually this horse had spent so much time in the garden, he probably didn’t need Dad holding the reins.

When he finished this job, he would be hooked to the cultivator and go up and down the rows loosening up the earth and getting rid of the weeds as the wet weather had made them grow really fast.

We were down on our hands and knees doing the weeding of the carrots being warned to be careful not to pull out the tiny plants.

The sun shone brighter by the moment and the heat was terrible but that was no excuse to quit getting the garden in shape. Once the carrots were done, there were long rows of other vegetables to be weeded.

I heard a voice and looked up to see Mum calling us to take a rest and come sit under the trees by the brook. She was carrying a picnic basket filled with sandwiches, molasses cookies and a jug of oatmeal drink.
Dan also got a break. Dad took him to the brook and let him drink, then attached the nose feeder of oats.

Cliff and I enjoyed the welcome change of pace and ran through the brook, splashing water and getting cooled off.

All breaks must come to an end and it was soon time to get back to weeding.

Mum heard me grumbling that there was no need for so many rows as she was going to give most of the vegetables away to her city friends and relatives who came to visit.

She looked at me and said, “I get pleasure from giving from our garden to friends who don’t have a garden”.

Although Willis D. Hamilton never met my mother, he thinks like her and too, gets pleasure from sharing his hours of labour. He is a native of the Miramichi, where he was born in 1936, and where his parents and all of his grandparents and great-grandparents were also born.  He spent many years researching while on the faculty at UNB, and in retirement has concentrated on writing, editing, and publishing. One of his main works is the Dictionary of Miramichi Biography (1997) which profiles men and women from many walks of life who were born before 1900 and spent at least part of their lives on the Miramichi. They include business people, politicians, military men, sports figures, clergymen, doctors, lawyers, teachers and hundreds of others whose lives were notable or interesting. Now the 1,109 sketches from this large book are on a searchable database on the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick website, available to all.

The search engine for this addition to the website is beyond imagination to us who searched the old-fashioned way in years gone by. Not only is there a name index but an occupation index, an organization index, and a full text search. Professor Hamilton himself says he is able to use the book in ways he never could before, now that it is so conveniently indexed online.

Patrick Carroll, a man of "great mechanical genius and skill," was the designer or master builder of at least a dozen sailing vessels between 1857 and 1875.  In 1875 he was awarded the contract to build a lighthouse on Sable Island, 170 miles off the coast of Nova Scotia. In 1878 he erected new fog alarm buildings on Partridge Island in Saint John harbor, "of brick with cut stone trimmings."

John McKane wore many hats: banker, businessman, adventurer, sportsman, benefactor and "wild Irishman." Although of Irish origin, he was a native of Kettle, Fife, Scotland, and came to the Miramichi in 1890 as acting manager of the Newcastle branch of the Mercantile Bank of Halifax. Banking proved too slow a business for Mr. McKane, however, and he headed west, eventually becoming a Nevada "Gold King." Upon his triumphant return to the Miramichi in 1905, he left people agog when he withdrew a crumpled thousand-dollar bill from his vest pocket and handed it to a member of the building committee to help in the erection of St. Michael's Cathedral.

In 1907 McKane acquired the controlling interest in The Daily Telegraph and The Evening Times, of Saint John. It was speculated that he had unfulfilled political ambitions and wished to use the papers to build a base of support for the future. Among his many personal acquisitions that year was a pair of fine horses said to have been worth $4,000, which were shipped by rail from New York accompanied by a hostler who slept in the car. Also coming by rail was a five-passenger Darracq touring car with a canopy top.

Lemuel John Tweedie was a lawyer, MLA; premier and lieutenant governor of New Brunswick. He was born in Chatham in 1849. His father, Joseph Tweedy, a native of Co. Leitrim, Ireland, sometimes worked as a laborer and sometimes as a colporteur, or Bible salesman. His mother was a former schoolteacher.

By the way, Professor Hamilton  was the director for many years of UNB’s Mi’kmaq-Maliseet Institute. In this period, he published extensively on First Nations’ topics including, the book The Julian Tribe, on the Mi’kmaq people of the North West Miramichi in the 18th and 19th centuries.

If you have Miramichi roots, hours will slip by as you read about those who are included in the Miramichi Dictionary at

Query 1899
Cunningham - Watters - Estey - Golding: Looking for information on John Cunningham born circa 1750, in American Colonies or Canada, married Mary possibly surname was Watters.  Bradford Gilbert Cunningham, born 25 August 1803, Fredericton, New Brunswick, married Eliza Estey. William Dell Cunningham, born 8 June 1835, Fredericton, New Brunswick, died 1903 Colorado, USA was married to Phoebe Ann Golding.
Email Tamara L. Cunningham Crouse at

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