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Ruby M. Cusack

STEPPING INTO NEW BRUNSWICK'S HISTORICAL IRISH PORTAL

I felt really guilty that I had spent all afternoon swimming down in the Fallen Tree pond, instead of going to the garden to pick the peas, pull the beets and carrots and dig some potatoes. This meant Mum had to go to the garden which put her in contact with a weed that caused her eyes to swell and run water plus it gave her a splitting headache.

By the next morning she could hardly see and was not able to get out of bed.

I was able to make the pancakes and fry some eggs and cook the bread in the wire rack, over the fire, to make toast for breakfast. But then my luck ran out when Dad said to make two jugs of oatmeal drink for him to take to the upper meadow to quench his thirst as he used the hand scythe around the rock piles. I didn’t have a clue about the recipe.

Cliff started looking through Mum’s recipe books without any luck. We thought maybe someone had borrowed some of those treasured books or maybe Mum had cleaned off the shelf and packed some of them away.

Although my mother has been gone for more than fifty years, possibly somewhere in somebody’s possessions are some of her cookbooks and probably some that belonged to her relatives, really just scribblers. Hopefully someone will stumble upon them and give me the opportunity to copy them.

The New Brunswick Irish Portal on the Provincial Archives at https://archives.gnb.ca/Irish/databases_en.html has gathered together precious documents that can be read by many people with no concern that someone will either be a borrower or a finder and that will be the end of the line.

The Admission Records of the Saint John Almshouse,
https://archives.gnb.ca/Irish/Databases/Almshouse/?culture=en-CA opens our eyes to the problems suffered by the poor. Many a sad tale can be found while browsing the name index. 

Since due to no fault of their own in many cases, except for being poor, being taken advantage of and a run of bad luck, people were given labels such as Imbecile, Destitute, Deranged Mind, Simple and Unsound Mind. Many were pregnant with no place to call home except to the Almshouse. Information given is Surname, Given Names, Date of Admission, Age, Condition, Nativity, Vessel, Religion, Departure and where Landed.

Immigrant Letters -
https://archives.gnb.ca/Irish/Databases/Letters/?culture=en-CA   Reading the letters to home and to friends and relatives reveals the true story as told in their own words. These twenty-four letters that are now available for online viewing, reflect the role of the Irish in shaping the development of New Brunswick. Take time to read these most interesting letters.

The 1901 to 1960 records of Brenan Funeral Home
https://archives.gnb.ca/Irish/Databases/Brenan/?culture=en-CA   tells much of the descendants of many of the immigrant families that arrived in Saint John and the surrounding area in the mid nineteenth century.

Teachers Petition Database -
https://archives.gnb.ca/Irish/Databases/TeachersPetition/?culture=en-CA        Irish immigrants in New Brunswick taught in one-third of New Brunswick schools by the mid nineteenth century, the majority quickly becoming licensed teachers shortly after their arrival and remaining in the profession.

In 1837 county school boards were established and made responsible for recommending applicants for parish school licenses to the Lieutenant Governor in Council. Government approved or denied applicants salaries based on a petition provided by local officials.

Teachers’ petitions requesting a license or payment for teaching services contain biographical information including names, country of birth, education, teaching experience, church affiliation, samples of handwriting and certificates from local school trustees or clergymen verifying the character and abilities of the petitioner.
   
https://archives.gnb.ca/Irish/Databases/Fitzwilliam/?culture=en-CA  In reaction to the Potato Famine many landlords in Ireland evicted impoverished tenants, enabling them to be rid of the encumbrance these people could become on their already struggling estates. Some landlords, hoping for a more humane way to ease the burden looked to assisted emigration, sending surplus tenants overseas with incentives.

In the years between 1847 and 1856 nearly 6000 “surplus” or unviable tenants from the Fitzwilliam Estate, County Wicklow, Ireland were sent across the Atlantic to Canada. The estate was over 85,000 acres, covering one-fifth of the entire county of Wicklow and had more than 20,000 tenants. 383 of these tenants were sent to St. Andrews, New Brunswick on the Star, their voyage funded by their landlord. They had been promised three months’ work on railroad construction in New Brunswick, after which they might be kept on.

Yet, despite these issues a large number of Star immigrants remained in and contributed to St. Andrews and the surrounding area with lasting results. This database contains the records of those families who left the Fitzwilliam Estate on the Star during these clearances.

Provincial Secretary: Immigration Administration Records
https://archives.gnb.ca/Irish/Databases/ImmigrationRecords/?culture=en-CA provides a wealth of resources to those interested in examining the impact of immigration to New Brunswick.

Saint John Almshouse Records, Immigrant Letters, Brenan Funeral Home Records, Fitzwilliam Estate Emigration, Immigration Administration Records and other Data Bases will keep you lost in a time long gone as you sit in the shade of the old apple tree, visualizing what life was like for others - thanks to the New Brunswick Irish Portal.


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