Sackville, New Brunswick

Sackville, New Brunswick

Infobox Settlement
official_name = Sackville
nickname =
motto =
settlement_type = Town

imagesize = 265px
image_caption = Sackville Waterfowl Park



subdivision_type = Country
subdivision_name = Canada
subdivision_type1 = Province
subdivision_name1 = New Brunswick
subdivision_type2 = County
subdivision_name2 = Westmorland County
government_type = Town Council
leader_title = Mayor
leader_name = Jamie Smith
established_title = Incorporated
established_date = January 1903
area_magnitude =
area_total_km2 = 74.32
area_total_sq_mi =
population_as_of = 2006
population_footnotes =
population_note =
population_total = 5,411
population_density_km2 = 72.8
population_density_sq_mi =
timezone = Atlantic (AST)
utc_offset = -4
timezone_DST = ADT
utc_offset_DST = -3
latd= 45.89792
elevation_m = Sea level to 32
elevation_ft = 0 to 105
website =
postal_code_type = Canadian Postal code
postal_code = E4L
area_code = 506
blank_name = Telephone Exchange
blank_info = 364
blank1_name = NTS Map
blank1_info = 021H16
blank2_name = GNBC Code
blank2_info = DAEAM
website =
footnotes =

Sackville (2006 population: 5,411) is a Canadian town in Westmorland County, New Brunswick.

Mount Allison University is located in the town. Historically home to two foundries manufacturing stoves and furnaces, the economy is now driven by the university and tourism.


The town is located on the western fringe of the Tantramar Marshes, 8 kilometres west of the interprovincial boundary with Nova Scotia and 45 km from the city of Moncton.

The marshes were once tidal wetlands that have been partially transformed to farmland by dykes first built by the original Acadians settlers of the region in the 17th century. The marshes remain one of the largest tidal wetlands in the world. In the centre of the town, an area of the wetlands has been developed and designated as the Sackville Waterfowl Park. The park has many walking trails and boardwalks for wildlife observation.

Small-scale agriculture is carried out in the surrounding area, including dairy farming supported by haying on the marshes.

The town is located on CN's Halifax-Montreal main railway line and is also on the Trans-Canada Highway connecting New Brunswick with Nova Scotia. The Greater Moncton International Airport (YQM) is located about 37 km northwest of the town.

Sackville includes the amalgamated communities of Middle Sackville and Upper Sackville. It was originally part of the Colony of Nova Scotia's "Sackville Township" which was established following the Seven Years' War in 1762–1763, alongside neighbouring Amherst Township and Cumberland Township. The name "Sackville" honours British military commander George Germain, 1st Viscount Sackville. The original town of Sackville was situated around several mills at Silver Lake in present-day Middle Sackville; the town's central business district moved to the present location after the Intercolonial Railway of Canada built the Truro-Moncton mainline south of town along the edge of the Tantramar Marshes.


Sackville history (and that of the Tantramar Region) can be divided into a number of periods reflecting settlement patterns in the area, and then the evolution of the community: Mi'kmaq or pre-European, Acadian, Planter and Yorkshire, and United Empire Loyalists, followed by the so-called Age of Sail, the foundry period and finally contemporary Sackville.

Mi'kmaq era

The Isthmus of Chignecto, the narrow strip of land connecting Nova Scotia to the rest of Canada, was long-used by native groups in the region, principally the Mi'kmaq, for over 3000 years. A natural crossroads between present-day New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, the Tantramar was a natural meeting place. The Missiguash and Baie Verte Rivers are also believed to have served as a principal portage route from the Bay of Fundy to the Northumberland Strait.

Acadian era

French settlement first began in the Maritimes in 1604, but it was not until the early eighteenth century that Acadian settlement reached the Tantramar. Acadian communities had spread slowly from Port Royal up the Nova Scotian Fundy Coast via Grand Pré, and finally on to the Maccan area. Much of the area already settled by Acadians was similar to the Tantramar's highly fertile salt marshes.

The Acadians built a system of dykes and sluices (known as "les aboiteaux") that allowed them to cultivate the very fertile marshlands. A number of communities grew, including Pré de Bourque (thought by some to be closest to present-day downtown Sackville), Tintamarre (present-day Middle or Upper Sackville), and Beaubassin (present-day Fort Lawrence, roughly where the Nova Scotia visitor's centre is located). Despite great prosperity, the Acadian period ended tragically in 1755 with the deportation of the Acadians. The seeds of the deportation, however, had been sown much earlier.

In 1713 the Treaty of Utrecht ended the War of the Spanish Succession (or Queen Ann's War) and granted control of Nova Scotia to the British. Unfortunately the treaty was very vague on where Nova Scotia stopped and French Acadia began. The British interpreted the boundary to be close to the present-day boundary between New Brunswick and Quebec. The French interpreted the boundary as the Isthmus of Chignecto, which agreed with a larger policy of French containment of British settlement in North America. The Tantramar, and the Acadian settlements there, became ground zero for the nine-year conflict that became the Seven Years' War (or the French and Indian War).

In the intervening peace both the British and the French constructed forts on the Isthmus of Chignecto. The French built Fort Beauséjour on a ridge overlooking the Cumberland Basin and the Tantramar marshes on what is today Aulac Ridge. The British built Fort Lawrence on the next ridge (just over the Missiguash River, the present-day border between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia).

Although the French had ceded Nova Scotia to the British, the Acadians continued to live and prosper. For the most part, the Acadians seem to have been free of imperial allegiance, either to the French or to the British. Between the signing of the Treaty of Utrecht and the outbreak of hostilities in the 1750s, numerous attempts were made by the British authorities to secure oaths of allegiance from the Acadians. Although most Acadians were willing to swear oaths of allegiance to the British Crown, it was always on the condition of neutrality in the event of any conflict between Britain and France. The Acadians also refused overtures by the French to aid in military action against the British.

Fort Beauséjour was captured by the British in June, 1755. Several Acadians were found among the French soldiers at the fort. The British claimed this proved that the Acadians had not only violated their neutrality, but that they were openly on the side of the French. Soon after, Lieutenant Governor Charles Lawrence ordered the deportation of the Acadians and the destruction of their homes and property. Many were scattered across North America, although some returned at the conclusion of hostilities. It is believed that a number of Acadians hid in the woods of south-eastern New Brunswick with the aid of the Mi’kmaq. The diaspora of the Acadians has become known as le Grand Dérangement. (See more at Great Upheaval).


:See also "New England Planters" With much of the population of Nova Scotia deported, British authorities looked to other sources of settlers. In 1758 Governor Lawrence issued a proclamation calling for New England planters, or settlers. Enlisted men finishing their military service at Fort Cumberland, as Fort Beauséjour had been renamed, were also offered land grants in the area. Waves of New Englanders arrived throughout the 1760s.

As part of the settlement campaign, New England-style townships were surveyed in the area from the early 1760s. Sackville Township was named for George Germain, 1st Viscount Sackville (1716–1785), a member of parliament as well as a military commander. Many Planters were ultimately unhappy with the area however, and returned to New England.

Yorkshire immigration

:See also "Yorkshire Emigration to Nova Scotia" Hoping for more settlers, Lieutenant Governor Michael Franklin made a visit to Yorkshire in 1769-'70. Over a thousand settlers emigrated from Yorkshire to settle in Nova Scotia throughout the 1770s. Largely tenant farmers, the "Yorkshiremen" bought much of their land from departing New England Planters. Although immigrants of the "Yorkshire Immigration" settled across Nova Scotia, they had the largest impact on the Tantramar area.

Both the Planters and the Yorkshire settlers brought the non-conformist denominations to the Tantramar. A group of Planters from Swansea, Massachusetts formed the first Baptist congregation in the colonies that later joined Canada in what is now Middle Sackville when they arrived in 1763. The first Methodist congregation in the colonies that later joined Canada was formed in the Tantramar from Yorkshire immigrants in 1772. They constructed the earliest Methodist church in the colonies that later joined Canada at Point de Bute on the Aulac Ridge, a few kilometers from Sackville, in 1788.

With the outbreak of the Revolutionary War in 1775, some in the Tantramar desired to join forces with the patriots and make Nova Scotia the fourteenth state of a new republic. Led by Jonathan Eddy, a group of rebels laid siege to Fort Cumberland. Despite attempts to raise assistance from the Continental Army, the rebels went unassisted. Their siege was somewhat disorganized, and British soldiers were able to slip through the lines and send word of the attack to Halifax. The rebels hung on until British reinforcements finally arrived from Halifax following a harrowing journey. The loyalty of the Yorkshire settlers was of tremendous aid in defeating the Eddy Rebellion. The rebels were punished and many of their homes and possessions seized. "See more at Eddy Rebellion and the Battle of Fort Cumberland."

United Empire Loyalists

Following the war, large numbers of refugees, the United Empire Loyalists, moved north into British North America, some to the Sackville area. Over 32,000 of them settled in the colony of Nova Scotia. Many Loyalists settled in mainland Nova Scotia and soon requested the creation of their own colony. The Colony of New Brunswick was created in August 1784. Fearing the sort of fierce and republican dedication to democracy that had developed in the Thirteen Colonies to the south, the New England-style townships, including Sackville, were quickly abolished.

The "Age of Sail"

Until about 1840, the Sackville economy was largely focused on subsistence agriculture. A sawmill and gristmill were located on a tributary of the Tantramar River at what is now Silver Lake in Middle Sackville. Settlers and various services moved to the surrounding area. In the early 1840s, a public wharf was constructed on the lower Tantramar River that fostered the emergence of Sackville as a notable centre of wooden ship trade and construction.

There were three major shipyards in the district, which thrived to about 1870, though the last vessel was launched around the end of the century. In all, 160 vessels were launched including one steamship, called the "Westmorland". The largest ship was the "Sarah Dixon" launched in 1856 at 1,465 tons. [Dale Alward, "Down Sackville Ways: Shipbuilding in a Nineteenth Century Outpost", (May 1978, reprinted 2003) Tantramar Heritage Society.]

The railway era

In 1872 the Intercolonial Railway project changed the Sackville area forever. This line was to follow the shortest route between Truro and Moncton, however political interference by Edward Barron Chandler and other politicians in nearby Dorchester saw the route for the railway altered to run through their community. It had been intended that the original route for the line would run north across the Tantramar Marshes from Fort Beauséjour to what is currently Middle Sackville and then on through the lowlands to Scoudouc and Moncton. The Dorchester diversion had the railway skirt the western edge of the marsh to the area near the public wharf and shipyards on the lower Tantramar River before continuing on to Frosty Hollow, Dorchester and the Memramcook Valley.

The new location of the Intercolonial Railway resulted in the commercial and business centre of Sackville being relocated from the mill district at Silver Lake to the current town centre, closer to the railway line. The New Brunswick & Prince Edward Island Railway was constructed a decade later to connect Cape Tormentine, the closest point of mainland North America to Prince Edward Island, with the Intercolonial's main line. Sackville had been vying with nearby Amherst to be the junction point for the line to Cape Tormentine, however local shipbuilder and industrialist entrepreneur Josiah Wood ensured that Sackville was chosen as the junction.

The National Policy of Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald's administration in the 1870s-1880s saw various industries cluster along the Intercolonial Railway in Amherst and Sackville. Sackville became home to two independent foundries; the Enterprise Foundry, and the Fawcett Foundry. Both produced stoves and related products with both businesses operating for more than a century. These competitors eventually merged and the Fawcett Foundry was closed and the foundry demolished in the 1980s; this brownfield site at the corner of Main and King streets was eventually purchased by Mount Allison University for campus expansion. The remaining Enterprise-Fawcett Foundry is still operational near the town's railway station and is one of the few remaining stove foundries in the world. []

Sackville grew in importance as a railway junction after Canadian National Railways established a dedicated railcar ferry service at Cape Tormentine in 1917. The Sackville railway yard and station were constantly busy until the opening of publicly-funded highways following World War II started a slow decline. The abandonment of rail service on Prince Edward Island in 1989 saw the line to Cape Tormentine removed at the same time as the Trans-Canada Highway was being expanded to a 4-lane freeway. As the railway consolidated to a single mainline running through town, various industrial businesses left, including the headquarters of Atlantic Wholesalers and the Fawcett Foundry, among others.

Contemporary Sackville

August 11, 2006

On Friday, August 11, 2006, downtown Sackville fell victim to a severe fire on the corner of York and Main streets. Many businesses housed in the Dixon block, including the Aliant shop and the Wine Rack, were burnt beyond salvation. Many other businesses sustained severe smoke, fire, and/or water damage, such as Joey's, a popular restaurant. Although Ducky's, a popular bar, was initially closed after the incident, it was able to reopen the following weekend. Apartments which were on the second story of all the local shops were quickly evacuated, and no injuries were reported. Mount Allison University launched "Project Rebuild" shortly after the fire, hoping to fundraise enough money to give the town of Sackville a head start in reconstruction and cleanup.

Cultural Honor

On June 26th, 2007 Sackville was designated a cultural capital of Canada for 2008. []

Sackville landmarks

*Cranewood is an imposing Georgian-style stone house in the centre of Sackville. It was built around 1836 by William Crane (1785–1883) as a family residence. Crane was the business partner of Charles Frederick Allison (founder of Mount Allison University). They co-owned a nearby general store at the site of today's town hall. In 1867 the house was bought by Josiah Wood as a private residence. The name Cranewood is an amalgamation of the owners' names. Following the death of Josiah Wood's son, Herbert, the house was purchased in 1975 by Mount Allison University, since when it has been the university president's residence.

*Mel's Tea Room is a "diner-style" restaurant also located in the downtown area. The front third of the restaurant resembles a general store, with a variety of confectionary, tobacco, and other sundry goods for sale. To the right of the front door there is also an old-fashioned soda fountain. The middle third is divided into booths in four rows, labelled A, B, C and D from left to right. The rear booths are separated by a small screen partition, behind which one may order beer. The rear third is occupied by kitchen, office and storage space. The menu consists of common diner fare. Popular dishes include the hot sandwich dinners, home-made hamburgers, and the club sandwich. There are also several off-menu items which the insider can order, including home-made soup. The onion rings are also very popular, as are the sundaes and banana splits. Mel's Tea Room was opened in 1919 by Mel Goodwin following the First World War. Subsequently it was owned and operated by his son. Today the business remains in the Goodwin family, presently owned and operated by Roger Goodwin, Mel Goodwin's grandson. It has operated in three positions, all of them on the south side of Bridge Street in downtown Sackville. Mel's is considered one of the key fixtures of downtown Sackville, its neon sign an icon of the community. It has long been a popular hang out and study location for students from both the local high school and Mount Allison University. Some items on the menu even pay tribute to Sackville's past, such as the S.H.S. (Sackville High School, long-since closed) special sundae. The interior remains authentic, as the well-worn but well-loved formica tables indicate. Another unique feature of Mel's is the so-called Mel's Ladies. The women who work at Mel's, in addition to waiting on customers, also serve as cooks, cashiers, and even stoke the coal-fired boiler in the basement. They have also helped make countless Mount Allison students from "away" feel at home in Sackville.

* Captain George Anderson House, also known as the Octagonal House is an 1855 octagon house at 6 King Street.

* Sackville Harness Shop

Built in the 1800s, and holding the title of oldest building in town, the rustic wooden shop at 39 Main Street is now home to the Sackville Harness Limited, a supplier of custom-designed, handmade leather products.

The shop was opened in 1920 by a group of local businessmen. The craft of leatherworking and straw horse collar making was highly sought after in the day of horse-run farming. Fifty-eight years later, in 1978, Bill Long walked into Sackville Harness Limited looking for a job, and today he and his wife, Diane, own the shop. While demand for his craft has waned since the introduction of fuel-fired farm equipment, Long says his harnesses and collars still make up 50% of his business. Their clients range from as close as Sackville to clear across the county in British Columbia. The business is rounded out by sales domestic leather goods such as wallets, belts, bags and jackets.

"There aren't many handlers of leather these days." says Long. "From what I hear, we're the only ones upholding the tradition of long straw collar making in Canada". By all accounts, he's right. Not only are they Canada's oldest handcrafted decorative horse leather manufacturer, they are the only manufacturer of hand-made horse collars in all of North America. The shop has become a well respected part of Sackville's history. Tourists and visitors in search of historical attractions make sure their trip includes a stop at the harness shop, which has been featured on "On the Road Again", with Wayne Rostad, on MITV, and in the Times & Transcript. Their craftsmanship has even made it into a major advertising campaign. The team of horses featured in the old Budweiser TV commercials was fully decked out in Sackville Harness Shop leather.


* The warship and Canada's living memorial to the Battle of the Atlantic, HMCS "Sackville", is named after the town.

* One of the world's most powerful short-wave radio transmitting stations, operated by Radio Canada International, is located on the Tantramar Marshes to the east of the town.


Selected bibliography

*Hamilton, William B. "At The Crossroads: A History of Sackville, New Brunswick", Gaspereau Press, Kentville, 2004.

See also

*Mount Allison University
*Tantramar Heritage Trust
*George F.G. Stanley

External links

* [ Sackville's tourism and information website] .
* [ Mount Allison University's website.]
* [ New Brunswick Covered Bridges]
* [ Environment Canada weather forecast for Sackville.]
* [ map for Sackville]
* [ The Argosy, Independent Student Jounal of Mount Allison University]
* [ Live Bait Theatre]

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