Late ice disrupts transportation in the spring of 1864

Jim Hornby
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The Islander, April 29

The Steamer Heather Belle, with the Mails and passengers, left this Port on Tuesday last, and after having been absent some nine or ten hours, returned to Port, having found it impossible to land either Mails or Passengers on the shore of Nova Scotia, owing to the immense quantity of floating ice in the gulf. The Heather Belle ran up to the westward as far as DeSable, before she could get round the ice, and then crossed over to Pugwash, where she found three miles of ice on the shore. Since Tuesday the wind has blown from the Eastward, and the Bay and Gulf is now blocked up worse than it was some days previous.


The Islander, April 29

THE TENANT MEETINGS. Let no man be deceived in this matter. The law will be enforced, even should it require the presence of a company of troops in every county in the Island. The tenantry are in the position of the man who has his head in the lion’s mouth. They must not talk of resistance or coercion in this little Island. Resistance to the law is folly, unless those who resist are strong enough to defend themselves against any force that those whose authority they resist can bring against them. The officer who goes with an execution [order] against a tenant, goes with the Queen’s writ in his pocket--resistance to such officer is not resistance to the landlord, but to the Sovereign. Let your friends, who talk of opposition to the collection of rent, bear this in mind. If they do, we believe they will have nothing further to do with the “tenant organization.”

Jim Hornby: Newspaper editor and Colonial Secretary William Henry Pope sets out the government’s reaction to the rising tide of tenant discontent.


The Protestant, April 30

By an advertisement we perceive that a meeting of Delegates for the purpose of forming a “Federal Tenant Organization” is to be held in this city about the middle of May. Having passed the greater portion of our life among the tenants, our sympathies are altogether enlisted in their behalf, and against the proprietors, but we fear the present agitation is not going to do good. We have no doubt that some of the leaders in it honestly think they are helping to rid the Island of the incubus of proprietory “bondage,” while we believe that not a few of them are availing themselves of the present excited state of the public mind either to gain a little popularity, serve party interests, or serve their own selfish ends.

We are most anxious for an equitable settlement of this very troubling Land question, and would willingly give our support to any practicable plan for the accomplishment of that object, but we must confess that we do not expect that any great benefit to the tenantry of this Island will result from the adoption of any measure that may be decided in a Tavern. We are sorry to see the tenantry so ready to waste their time and money in carrying on agrarian agitation, which promises to end, as all such agitations generally end, in benefiting none and ruining many.

J.H.: While Tenant League meetings were typically held in the Island’s numerous small public schoolhouses, the delegates chosen at those meetings met in Charlottetown on May 19 for their founding conference at the North American Hotel – the city’s finest, hardly a “tavern.” Editor David Laird was no supporter of the movement.


The Examiner, May 2

DIED. At Lot 44, on the 25th inst., aged 51 years, Mr. Joseph McGilvray, great grandson of John Moore McGilvray, that lead the gallant Clan MacIntosh into action at the memorable battle of Culloden.

J.H.: In an extreme example of Highland heritage, the deceased is not recognized for anything beyond his birth into a clan ennobled by the hopeless cause of the Battle of Culloden (Blar Chuil Lodair) - where, near Inverness, Scotland, on April 27, 1746, (per current dating), the gallant supporters of “Bonnie Prince Charlie” Stuart charged the Duke of Cumberland’s army and were decisively routed. Front and centre of the Highlanders’ charge was Lady Mackintosh’s Regiment, led by Alexander MacGillivray of Dunmaglass; a stone marks where his body was found on the battlefield.


The Examiner, May 2.

Launched at Mount Stewart on the 26th ult. from the ship yard of Mr. Edwin Coffin, a very handsome 7 years, copper fastened, Brigantine, of 198 tons register, called the “Surline,” built for the Estate of the late Mr. [James] Peake.


Royal Gazette, May 4

COURT OF DIVORCE. A Court of the Lieutenant Governor and Council, for the trial of cases of Divorce and Alimony, will be held, pursuant to the Statute, on Monday next, the Ninth day of May. Charles DesBrisay, C.[lerk of] C.[ouncil]

J.H.: This infrequent and unusual court’s most notable case, Capell v Capell, arose in 1864. After committing Henry Capell to custody for refusing to pay alimony to Anne Capell, it did not meet again until 1945. As John A. Mathieson wrote, “In this effort, the court appears to have exhausted its energies.”


Ross’s Weekly, May 5.

Sometime about New Year’s last, Mr. Adam Leard, of Bedeque, lost a flock of 11 sheep, and throughout the winter could obtain no tidings of them. About a fortnight since, however, he was agreeably astonished at seeing the flock return safe to his yard, in good condition. Where they had wintered, he was unable to tell.


Jim Hornby’s column, “1864: The Way We Were: gleanings from Charlottetown’s newspapers,” will be presented in The Guardian every Monday throughout 2014 (on holiday Mondays when there is no paper, it will appear on Tuesdays). It contains excerpts from various newspapers of that era, as well as Hornby’s comments on what he has found. To give feedback on this feature, which is presented in celebration of the sesquicentennial of the Charlottetown Conference, contact the author at

Organizations: Tenant Organization, While Tenant League, North American Hotel

Geographic location: Iceland, Nova Scotia, Pugwash Charlottetown Culloden Inverness Scotland Mount Stewart

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Recent comments

  • lawrence maclean
    May 05, 2014 - 14:37

    very very interesting love reading history