MF – 1867.10.17 – Pastoral Visit to Johnville – #161 – F12252

The Bishop of St. John returned last week from the visitation of that portion is his Diocese which lies above Woodstock on the River St. John, and on Sunday he told the Congregation at the Cathedral what the results of his visit were. He gave Confirmation to over sixteen hundred children, and, assisted by the Rev. Mr. Lefebre, of Memramcook College, he gave a “Mission” in two of the Parishes, in which over three thousand persons went to Confession and received the “Holy Eucharist.” He described the flourishing condition of this magnificent district, in which the population is increasing rapidly, and evidences of comfort and independence abound on all sides. It was nothing unusual to see 150 waggons standing around one of the Churches at early Mass, to which the people flocked from the most distant parts of the Parish. Forty years ago there was not a road in all that County, even as far down as the mouth of the Tobique. Now fine roads run in all directions, and the settlements are constantly and steadily extending.

He also gave Confirmation to a large number of children in the new settlement at Johnville, where, since his visit a year ago, he saw the most marked improvement. The number of settlers is constantly increasing, and there are now about two hundred families, actually living in comfort and almost in opulence, where, five years ago, there was an unbroken wilderness. They have a Church and resident Priest, two Post Offices, School Houses, fine roads, and all the advantages and conveniences enjoyed by the most flourishing of the old settlements, a d they are all prosperous, contented, and happy. A few short years ago not one of all these thriving, independent farmers was better off than the labouring men who still cling to the town, and find themselves to-day poorer than they were when first they were invited to take their share of those fertile lands, and shrank from the difficulties which their cowardice exaggerated. The men who were ambitious, industrious and resolute went in, and to-day they need envy no people in all America, for none are happier.

The Carleton Sentinel last month gave a description of this settlement, which we copy for the benefit of those who ought to be glad to have such an opportunity of escaping from the drudgery and the miseries of the life of a labourer in the mills or in the sewers of the City:

“We made our first visit to Johnville on Thursday and yet we penetrated such a short distance into the settlement, a visit to which we had long desired, that we cannot, and shall not attempt, until after more extended observation, an opportunity for which we have promised ourselves very soon, to do it justice. We only went in as far as Mr. Boyd’s, who was the first settler, in 1862.
“At Mr. Boyd’s place begin the principal clearings. Just before reaching his very comfortable residence the Chapel, a neat and prettily situated one, embosomed in trees, meets the eye. This Chapel, we learn, is quite too small for the numbers who attend divine service, and is to take the place of vestry to a large building in a short time. The evidence of industry and thrift, as well as of the land being of the most favorable description for farming are very marked.

“Five years is a short time, and still here is a settlement of some 200 families, all comfortably situated and having good farms under very successful cultivation, where five years ago the first tree, preparatory to settlement, was cut. One can scarcely realize the fact. Standing on the eminence above Mr. Boyd’s below our feet lay one immense clearing five, six, or perhaps seven, hundred acres in extent, with nothing but the stumps occasionally showing themselves above the heavy headed grain to tell of the original state of the land. A beautiful sight it is, especially associated with the circumstance that so short a time has passed since the place was covered by the primeval forest, to look down upon this vast cultivated field, here and there relieved by the white farm houses, the extensive barns, or the sheep and cattle. While, as if sternly attesting to the greatness of the work accomplished, in the back ground the giant trees of this most rich soil stand encircling in close and luxuriant phalanx.

But this is only a small portion of Johnville. Look right or left, or beyond, and breaks in the forest tell of other clearings and of other habitations.

“The men who here to-day are ‘lords of the soil:’ who here breathe their adopted, if not native air, on their own land; who with their families at eventide can look out upon broad acres of golden grain: whose barns are filled with hay for their cattle; whose flocks and herds are multiplying fast; who feel a sense of independence which few in other branches of business can feel. These man, many of them three or four years ago were laborers in the cities, plodding wearily their daily round of uncertain work for an uncertain living.

“But we did not intend to say as much at this time. To the Rev. Mr. Connolly, whose interest in these settlers has been unceasing and deep, and whose labors for their social and moral well-being have been incessant, all thanks are due, and he has the thanks, as he has the love and respect, as we know, of the settlers. Until recently Rev. Mr. Connolly’s field of labor included Johnville, but now they have a resident Priest, Rev. Mr. M’Kenney.”

The Sentinel then gives the extract from the speech made by Mr. Maguire in the House of Commons, which we published some time since. Our readers will not object to our publishing it again:

“He had been in the other house of Parliament in March last year with a Catholic Bishop from New Brunswick. A noble lord was addressing the house and expressing his deep regret that emigration was draining the life blood of Ireland – Earl Grey used some such expression, when a gentleman standing near said to the bishop, ‘I don’t agree with Early Grey, for unless Irishmen leave the country – unless Ireland be repeopled with Englishmen and Scotchmen, there is no chance of her prosperity.’ The bishop knew he (Mr. Maguire) was about to go to America, and asked him to come and see with his own eyes a living refutation of the implied slander. In company with the same bishop in his late visit to New Brunswick he went two or three hundred miles up the St. John River and into the heart of an essentially Celtic settlement. What did he see? In 1861 the first man and woman went into the living forest; the second year another man and woman went there; the third year the settlers began to pour in in large numbers. He was there in October, 1866, when he saw 600 human beings in the settlement. They passed through a long avenue of the forest, and from a moderate eminence saw a vast plain – miles of it cleared and dotted all over with human habitations. He was in fifty of these farms houses. He scarcely saw one shanty – in most instances they were large, roomy, log cabins. There were cows, horses, hogs, and barns bursting with produce. Not only were there large and commodious log cabins such as settlers in the Untied States and British colonies were content with for years, but he saw 14 or 15 large framed houses, as good as any he saw in the United States, occupied by these people, who had scarcely £600 among them when they first entered the forest. That was what the Irish people could do when the opportunity was afforded them, and he had known it done in a hundred other instances. Among the people who dwelt in that clearing was a family, who having been robbed, stripped and plundered by a landlord in Galway, had been driven by sheer disgust and destitution across the ocean, and was now rising every day in wealth and independence.”