Buried History.

On our way back down the hill from the Sawpit camping area yesterday, we stopped at the Narrawong Cemetery, where there are some beautiful historic graves.

The rural setting is beautiful and tranquil, and I can’t help thinking it is a lovely spot to be laid to rest. 

It’s easy to see who were the founding and/or prominent families of the area, simply by observing the number of very old headstones bearing the same surname.

Separate from the other graves and marked by an obelisk rather than a headstone is the grave of William Dutton, who built the first house in Portland in 1828. Portland, now only about fifteen minutes’ drive away from Narrawong and the main city in the region, is the oldest European permanent settlement in Victoria.

Dutton died in Narrawong in 1878 at the age of 67, having made a name for himself as a master mariner, sealer, whaler and farmer. 

References:

William Dutton: Australian Dictionary of Biography
http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/dutton-william-2011

Portland: A Short History
http://www.visitportland.com.au/portland-a-short-history/

The Philipsburg Pier. 

The Philipsburg Pier originated as a wooden jetty in the 1780s which enabled trade with the USA via Lake Champlain ports. 

The most common good exported via the Philipsburg pier were racehorses, marble, carriages, logs and milled timber. 

When the Champlain Canal opened in 1823, linking Lake Champlain to the Hudson River, trade with New York and the greater New England area of the US opened up. The jetty was upgraded and enlarged by 1836 so that supply, particularly of milled timber, could meet the demand. 

Despite competition from rail transport later in the 1800s, Lake Champlain trade continued unabated. By 1872, Philipsburg had a population of 271 and a very lucrative trade turnover of $20000 per annum. 

The pier was upgraded again in 1895, and was only downgraded due to lack of commercial demand in 1937. 

  
Today, the pier is used for recreation, largely fishing and pleasure boating. It’s also a really lovely place to sit and enjoy the beautiful scenery. 

  
   

Philipsburg.

The village of Philipsburg was established in 1784 by Empire Loyalists who moved to Canada from New York after the USA won her independence from the British. 

Two earlier attempts by the French to settle the area had been unsuccessful. The region was named St Armand by the French in 1748.

The Iroquois had villages here in the northernmost part of their territory, and they lived a settled and peaceful way of life. Across the lake were the Algonquians and some Abenakis, living in the southernmost reaches of their lands. 

  
The village was named after Philip Ruiter, a pioneer in the area.

The Canadian authorities were not keen to see settlement here because they felt it was too close to the American border. It’s easy to see why the settlers chose this place, though. 

  
Located on the shore of Lake Champlain among woods on rolling hills and rich earth for farming, Philipsburg offered plenty of opportunities for farming, hunting, fishing, and enjoying a pretty view of the lake from one’s front porch. 

  

Today, Philipsburg is still a pretty lakeshore village with those same opportunities, within easy reach of the Eastern Townships and the cities of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Montreal, as well as convenient access to the US state of Vermont via the border crossing at the Highgate Centre. 

I’ve had the privilege of calling Philipsburg home for only a short time, but I will always love this place. My mornings spent by the lake have been precious times of reflection and serenity, and part of my heart will always remain here. 

Accidentally shot…

A stone marker commemorating Margaret Vincent’s death is hidden on a back country road at Eccles Hill, near Frelighsburg, in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. 

   

It reads “Margaret Vincent Accidentally shot by the Royal Fusiliers June 10, 1866.”

This dates to the time of the Fenian raids into Canada over the American border, which occurred throughout the 1860s. 

The Fenians were Irishmen who hated England and resented British domination over the Irish and their negligence during the Irish potato famine in the 1840s. Groups such as the Irish Republican Brotherhood and the Fenian Brotherhood were formed in the 1850s, and it was these groups who surged over the border into Canada into areas such as Frelighsburg and St Armand. 

On June 7, 1866, hundreds of Fenian men crossed into Canada.

The only Canadian forces in the St Armand area were three companies of infantry, comprised largely of non-commissioned men and volunteers, under the command of Captain W Carter of HM 16th Regiment.

The alarm was raised: “The Fenians are coming!” Fearful farmers near the border tore up roads and railway lines, and abandoned homes and farms. 

Carter panicked and ordered his troops to withdraw. His troops never did forgive him for what they perceived as an act of impulsive cowardice. 

The Fenians held Pigeon Hill, Frelighsburg and St Armand. 

Mistaken for a Fenian, Margaret was a 71 year old deaf-mute who was shot when she failed to respond to an officer’s order.  Given her disability,  it’s no wonder she didn’t follow the Fusiliers’ orders.  Even so, she probably didn’t look much like an angry, armed man with authority issues. 

The marker is really quite diplomatically phrased, given that Margaret was hardly a threat to anyone. She was shot in error, but not accidentally. 

 
Margaret Vincent’s grave is located up the hilly road at Pigeon Hill Cemetery.  The marker at Eccles Hill is maintained by the local community in honour of the elderly woman who died there so long ago.

The Islands of Lake Champlain, Vermont. 

Lake Champlain is North Anerica’s sixth-biggest lake. Within  the lake, on the Vermont/New York side of the Canadian border, lie a number of islands that were first seen by European eyes in 1609 when Samuel de Champlain led an exploratory expedition through the area. 

   
   
The islands are joined by bridges and a causeway which make touring the islands very easy.  The scenery is gorgeous, and there are lots of interesting places to explore. Tourists can explore military history, gourmet food and wine, walking or cycling paths, and number of towns seeking to attract tourists with different places to stay and things to do. 

On the Causeway to Grand Isle is an American flag and a monument to the victims of 9/11 and to the American veterans of foreign wars. 

   
   
From this point, you can look west and see the shoreline of New York State and the Adirondack Mountains, and you can look east and see the Vermont shoreline and mountains in the distance. Further north, the lake crosses the Canadian border into Quebec. 

 

It’s no surprise, then, that Isle La Motte, South Hero, Grand Isle, North Hero, Valcour and the remaining islands all served as important vantage points in battles between American and Canadian/British forces during the War of 1812. 

If for no other reason, the Islands are well worth a visit just because it’s a really pretty drive along the lake shore. 

   
   

Postcards from the past #1

Last weekend I found myself in an antique store in Summerside, PEI. 

I commented to my friends that it was a very good thing that I had to fly home, so that I could not buy all the lovely things there. I did pick up some old postcards, including a couple that depicted places that I had recently visited. 

The first card I chose was an old black and white picture from Port Dalhousie, Ontario. It clearly depicts the part of the beach where Sean and I sat and ate our picnic dinner a couple of weeks ago, and the carousel which we rode. 
   
I was so excited to find this lovely memento from the history of a place that I so enjoyed. 

There is no date on the card, and the postmark is incomplete, so at first I thought there was no way to know when it was written. 

 
Then I had a thought: the stamp! Surely that would give me a time frame, at the very least.

   

This is a George V Scroll stamp issued between October 1928 and April 1930. This places my Port Dalhousie beach card as most likely dating from somewhere between those dates. 

Of course, it’s possible that someone might have posted it with an older stamp, but given that these were the years of the Great Depression, it does not seem likely that one would spend money on a stamp that was not going to be used right away. The handwriting certainly does not suggest someone with an expensive education, given that penmanship was still highly valued back then. 

It may just be an old postcard to most other people, but for me this is part of the real history of a beautiful place, and it’s very exciting to have it among my souvenirs. 

Lucy Maud Montgomery.

Lucy Maud Montgomery is famous as the author of “Anne of Green Gables” and many other books. She was also a poet – something I did not know until today! 

In addition to visiting Green Gables, I also visited he site of the home in which Montgomery lived with her grandparents at Cavendish and her birthplace at New London, on Prince Edward Island.

Both of these experiences were lovely. The home of Montgomery’s grandparents is no longer standing, but the site is commemorated by a rustic bookstore which specialises in book by, and about, Montgomery.   

  

  

 

Walking through the house in which Montgomery was born was both fascinating and quite moving.

   

To see letters handwritten by her, clothes and shoes that she wore, and to walk on the very same floorboards and stairs that she walked on as a child had a very profound effect on me.  I have always felt connected to her characters, but to feel a sense of connection to the author is another thing again.  

  

  

 

The rooms do not have the original furnishings owned by Montgomery’s family, as the house was sold when her mother died from tuberculosis at the age of 23, when Lucy Maud was only 21 months old. 

It was during her mother’s illness that Lucy went to live with her maternal grandparents at Cavendish. Here, she frequently visited relatives who lived in the house nearby that inspired her to write the story of Green Gables and the red-haired orphan girl, Anne Shirley, who went to live there. 

The house is furnished with authentic items from the time period, according to the way in which such a house would typically have been furnished. Close attention has been paid to every detail.  

  


  
 

I’m so glad we found these places and decided to visit. As well as fulfilling a life-long hope and dream of mine, I discovered some new places and learned new things about this wonderful writer whom I have admired for so long. I really have had an absolutely marvellous day.