HOME

Saint Croix Courier, St. Stephen, NB
February 4, 1892

GLIMPSES OF THE PAST

Contributions to the History of Charlotte County and the Border Towns.

III –THE SCULPTURED STONE OF LAKE UTOPIA.

[Extracts (by permission) from the paper by I. Allen Jack, D. C. L., referred to in last chapter.]1

In the autumn of 1863 or winter of 1864, a remarkable sculptured stone, representing a human face and head in profile, was discovered in the neighborhood of St. George.  This curiosity was found by a man who was searching for stone for building purposes, and was lying about one hundred feet from the shore of Lake Utopia.

The stone, irrespective of the cutting, which is in relief, has a flat surface, and is of the uniform thickness of 2 inches.  Its form is rounded elliptical, and it measures 21 inches longitudinally, and 18 inches across the shorter diameter.  The stone is granulite, being distinguished from granite proper by the absence of mica.

I believe that the founder, who, as I have stated, was searching for stone for building purposes, was attracted by the shape of the stone in question; that it was lying on the surface and covered with moss, and that it was not until the removal of the moss that the true character of the object appeared.  An examination of its surface must, I think, convince the observer that the stone has been subjected to long-continued action of water, and from its situation it seems fairly certain that the water which has produced the wasted appearance was rain, and rain only.

I hesitate to speak of the precise period when the stone showed no marks or [sic] rain.  I feel, however, that I am safe in expressing the belief that it would require a length of time commencing at a date before a Frenchman is known to have set foot in the country to produce from the action of rain so worn a surface as this stone exhibits.  If this proposition is correct, there can be no reasonable ground to doubt that the carving is the work of an Indian.

A very obvious question presents itself to the mind of the investigator which may here very properly be considered.  What purpose would an Indian have in view in producing this curious work of art?  I think that I can suggest an answer.

Upon one occasion, while in conversation with an old resident of St. George, he gave me an account of a somewhat singular monument which, many years before this period, stood on the summit of a high hill near the Canal,2 and about one-half mile distant from the place where the carved stone was found.  It consisted of a large oval, or rounded stone, weighing, as my informant roughly estimates, seventy-five hundred weight, lying on three vertical stone columns, from ten inches to one foot in height, and firmly sunk in the ground thus
    

     
(The above weight, I should imagine, is an over-estimate, but I give it as stated to me.)  My informant stated that the boys and other visitors were in the habit of throwing stones at the columns, and that eventually the monument was tumbled over, by the combined efforts of a number of ship carpenters, and fell crashing into the valley.3

Some years afterwards I read, for the first time, Francis Parkman’s ‘Pioneers of France in the New World,’ when my attention was at once arrested.

Champlain, the writer states, had journeyed up the Ottawa River beyond Lake Coulange.  I quote what the historian writes of what the explorer sees: ‘Here, too, was a cemetery, which excited the wonder of Champlain, for the dead were better cared for than the living.  Over each grave a flat tablet of wood was supported on posts, and at one end stood an upright tablet, carved with an intended representation of the features of the deceased.’

Now, it may be that there is no connection whatever between the Indian custom described by Champlain, as existing at the place described, and the finding of the sculpture and the appearance of a large stone, supported on stone columns, at a place in New Brunswick.  The points are certainly far apart, and while in one place there is clear evidence of the common custom, there is in the other barely sufficient evidence to justify the supposition that there may be a single instance of the adoption of the custom.  Two conjectures may be made, however, either of which if correct might account for the supposed existence of an Ottawa custom in New Brunswick.  An Indian might have been captured, or might have been expelled by his brethren, and been carried, or have found his way, to the maritime provinces.  Or a young Milicete might have been carried away by the Ottawas, and have escaped to his old home.  The use of a large stone instead of a wooden tablet scarcely deserves comment, for the change of material would in no sense interfere with the object in view.

I think that a careful or even a superficial examination of the carving must impress the observer with the idea that it is intended to represent the face of an Indian, and the head, although viewed only laterally, certainly presents many of the peculiarities of the North American type.


1First published in ‘Miscellaneous Papers Relating to Anthropology,’ in report of Smithsonian Institution for 1881, (now out of print.)

2The name is applied to a natural waterway which connects Lake Utopia with the Magaguadavic river.

3The original paper was accompanied by a map of the locality, on which was marked the position of the stone.  The existence of this stone may have given rise to the stories of a stone altar and a ruined temple which were mentioned in the last number.