Saint Croix Courier, St. Stephen, NB
July 28, 1892


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


[W. F. Ganong, M. A.]

1.-An Indian Tradition.

The departure of de Monts and his company from St. Croix Island, in the spring of 1605, left our county again without European inhabitants.  How long it remained deserted, whence or why the new settlers came, or who they were, are questions that no historian can at present answer.  The records for the next century of our history are of the most meagre sort, consisting chiefly in titles of old land grants, legends on maps, barest mention in some early census, or scanty references in scattered manuscripts.  Scarce and disappointing as they are, these fragments are yet sufficient to show that the horrors of that first dreadful winter did not for long deter the French, ever a brave and hopeful race, from planning new attempts at settlement.  The evidence is ample to show that about 1632 grand schemes were afloat in men’s minds for the colonization of the country, and that later in the century small colonies of Acadians, traders and fishermen, rather than farmers or miners, planted themselves upon our shores, and flourished with occasional reverses until about 1713, when Acadia passed for the last time into the keeping of the English.  Perhaps the archives of France, so rich in material concerning our early history, may yet yield to some student the full account of this interesting period.

Before beginning our study of documentary history, we should refer to an Indian tradition which is worthy of more than passing notice.  The Passamaquoddies have, or had nearly a century ago, a story of the coming of the French, which may, though it probably does not, refer simply to de Monts’ expedition.  In one account,1 it is given as follows:

‘Captain Nicholas Awanwas, aged 67 years, gave evidence at St. Andrews October 7th, 1796, in which he says, “that the Indians called the Megagwadavy, Saint Croix;-that he has heard no other name for the Megagwedavy than Saint Croix since he was a boy-that there is but one cross, by which he means that the French put up but one cross-that the French gave it that name-that the Indians call the waters from Brewer’s (opposite Joe’s Point) upwards Shootuck, because they go up the rapids-that there was a cross put up at Saint Andrews Point and it was standing until about fourteen years ago, and was put up by Saint Andre, a Priest-that the first cross was at Megagwadavy, and that two days later a cross was put up at St. Andrews Point.”’

By another Indian, Francis Joseph, on Nov. 9, 1797, it was told to the boundary commissioners, as follows:

‘That the French about four hundred years ago came to this part of the country with one vessel.  That they first came to Head Harbor and harbor Le Tang and from thence went up the river Magaguadavic in a boat where they saw some Indians.  That not liking the land they came down the river and erected a cross at its mouth and then returned to France.  That the next time the French came here in four vessels and sat down at an island near Devil’s Head,’ etc.

A third form also of this story has been published.2  Eliminating the variations, it would appear to be probable that another French expedition had visited Passamaquoddy either after or (more probably) before that of de Monts, and that its members had indulged their well-known passion for erecting crosses as a sign of possession and of the religion they carried, be erecting two at least in this region, from which, in itself trivial circumstance, much confusion afterwards arose in more important matters.3

1MS. in possession of Rev. W. O. Raymond, of St. John-one of a series of papers containing evidence taken by the Boundary Commissioners in 1796-97.

2In Kilby’s ‘Eastport and Passamaquoddy,’ pp. 113 et seq.

3The determination of the River St. Croix established as the boundary by the Treaty of 1783.