Maliseet & Micmac Vital Statistics
New Brunswick Church Records

Pans rattling in the old back pantry and Dad's grumbling signaled that things weren't going well this morning. Dad had broken his axe handle while splitting wood!

As he strode into the kitchen, he carried the lard pail and an old baking pan that cradled the injured chopping tool. I watched as he smeared lard over the axe. He then placed the pan in the hot oven of the kitchen stove. The lard and heat would cause the wood to shrink, and Dad would be able to remove the broken piece of the handle.

Dad looked at Ken and said, "If you see Laughing Louie walking down the road, run out and tell him to come in. I need a couple of axe handles."

Laughing Louie was a native, who was well known for his craftsmanship in making axe handles from the ash tree. He probably whittled away many a winter hour with the draw knife making handles. Business would be good in the spring due to the wear and tear of all the chopping and splitting during the winter.

Sure enough, within a day or two, I saw this big man approaching our house with a knapsack full of handles slung over his back. He dropped the sack to the ground and after careful examination, Dad chose two of them.

Laughing Louie peddled his axe handles over a large territory of Kings County and, one might say, he made his home wherever he hung his hat. When I was a kid, he lived for a time in a cabin near the Back Settlement Road. My husband  remembers him occasionally attending mass at St. Anthony's Catholic Church in Upham.

I was never quite certain if the name "Laughing Louie" was due to his boisterous laugh or if it came from his possible surname Laugherty.

In 1998, the Micmac-Maliseet Institute of the University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, published "Maliseet & Micmac Vital Statistics from New Brunswick Church Records."

This 346-page book has brought together church records from many parishes and has made genealogical research in this field much easier. This volume contains records of baptisms, marriages and deaths of Maliseet and Micmac people living in New Brunswick. It includes records dating from the 1700s up to 1919.

This publication can be viewed at the Provincial Archives in Fredericton or purchased from Micmac-Maliseet Institute, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, N.B., Canada, E3B 6E3.

Ruby Cusack is a genealogy buff living in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. Readers are invited to send their New Brunswick genealogical queries to Ruby at When E-Mailing please put Yesteryear Families in the Subject line. Please include in the query, your name and postal address as someone reading the newspaper, may have information to share with you but not have access to E-mail. Queries should be no more than 45 words in length.

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