is a Canadian
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...
rural community in Queens County
Queens County is located in central New Brunswick, Canada.-Geography:The county's geography is dominated by the Saint John River and Grand Lake. Coal mining is a major industry in the Minto area. Forestry and mixed farming dominate the rest of the county...
, New Brunswick
New Brunswick is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the only province in the federation that is constitutionally bilingual . The provincial capital is Fredericton and Saint John is the most populous city. Greater Moncton is the largest Census Metropolitan Area...
. It is located on the east bank of the Jemseg River
The Jemseg River is a short river in the Canadian province of New Brunswick which drains Grand Lake into the Saint John River.The river is fairly slow-flowing, with approximately 5 kilometres of meander length. It passes through a savannah-type environment and is augmented by the Grand Lake Meadows...
along its short run from Grand Lake
Grand Lake is a lake in central New Brunswick, Canada, approximately 40 kilometres east of Fredericton; and the province's largest freshwater lake...
to the Saint John River. The village briefly served as the Capital of Acadia (1690–91).
Prior to European contact in the 16th century the Wolastoqiyik (also called the Maliseet or Malecites) lived along the banks of the Wolastoock (the "good or "beautiful river", named the "St. John River "by the first Europeans) for thousands of years. Trading and travel were widespread due to the confluence of rivers and lakes that occurs in this area. The expanse of Grand Lake moderated the local climate and resources were abundant. Spring runs of gaspereau and salmon, winter herds of caribou, other game and, of course a good variety of wild plants from fiddleheads in spring to butternuts in fall were available to hunters and gatherers.
Most "Jemsegers" live along the banks of the short, deep Jemseg River that flows from Grand Lake to the St. John River. Locals speak of two villages, "Upper" and "Lower" Jemseg. Jemseg is probably the oldest name in Queens County. The name Jemseg is said to come from a Malecite word Ah-jem-sik
, meaning "picking up place", a reference to the trade that traditionally took place here during the pre-contact period and through both the English and French occupation of the area. The name is applied to what initially were two villages, Lower Jemseg and Upper Jemseg.
The history of Jemseg is a microcosm of the whole story of Acadia
Acadia was the name given to lands in a portion of the French colonial empire of New France, in northeastern North America that included parts of eastern Quebec, the Maritime provinces, and modern-day Maine. At the end of the 16th century, France claimed territory stretching as far south as...
, the eastern provinces of Canada that passed back and forth between the French and English after 1604.
Governor of Acadia
/ Nova Scotia Col. Thomas Temple
Sir Thomas Temple, 1st Baronet was a British proprietor, governor of Acadia/ Nova Scotia...
established the first trading post
A trading post was a place or establishment in historic Northern America where the trading of goods took place. The preferred travel route to a trading post or between trading posts, was known as a trade route....
at Jemseg near the mouth of the river (1659). This was a fortified post convenient for trade with the Maliseet. However Temple's prosperity was short-lived for Acadia was restored to the French in 1667.
A flood in 1696 caused late planting and crop failures.
Raid on Jemseg (1674)
Sieur Pierre de Joybert de Soulanges et de Marson
Pierre de Joybert de Soulanges et de Marson was the administrator of Acadia in 1677-1678.Born at Saint-Hilaire de Soulanges, Marne in Champagne, France, son of Claude de Joybert, Seigneur de Soulanges. As a young man he served in Portugal before coming to Quebec in 1665 as a Lieutenant in the...
lived here when the fort was attacked by Jurriaen Aernoutsz
Jurriaen Aernoutsz was a Dutch colonial navy captain, who briefly captured a section of the French colony of Acadia in 1674 AD, establishing the brief Dutch Occupation of Acadia....
, a Dutch privateer, in 1674 and held by the Dutch for several months during the Dutch Occupation of Acadia
The Dutch Occupation of Acadia began when the Dutch naval captain Jurriaen Aernoutsz seized several settlements of Acadia, a part of the French colonial empire in northeastern North America, in 1674. Areas briefly occupied included coastal towns along the shores of Maine and New Brunswick, two...
After the death of Soulanges in 1678 it was occupied by the d'Amours brothers, Louis and Mathieu, who are recognized as the first farmers at Jemseg. So farming in this area has a 300 year history although nowadays strawberries, potatoes and market vegetables are the chief crops grown while beef cattle and light horses are the only stock traded commercially.
Governor of Acadia Joseph Robineau de Villebon
Joseph Robineau de Villebon , a governor of Acadia, was born in New France and received much of his education and military experience in France....
established the village as the Capital of Acadia (1690–91). Around 1700, Fort Jemseg was abandoned for military purposes although it was still used as a trading post. A flood in 1701 caused losses to crops and cattle. The settlement was relocated to Port Royal, Nova Scotia
Port Royal was the capital of Acadia from 1605 to 1710 and is now a town called Annapolis Royal in the western part of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. Initially Port Royal was located on the north shore of the Annapolis Basin, Nova Scotia, at the site of the present reconstruction of the...
Raid on Jemseg (1758)
By the Treaty of Utrecht
The Treaty of Utrecht, which established the Peace of Utrecht, comprises a series of individual peace treaties, rather than a single document, signed by the belligerents in the War of Spanish Succession, in the Dutch city of Utrecht in March and April 1713...
in 1713, Acadia was ceded to the English for the final time. Ownership of present-day New Brunswick, however, remained in dispute until the conclusion of the French and Indian War
The French and Indian War is the common American name for the war between Great Britain and France in North America from 1754 to 1763. In 1756, the war erupted into the world-wide conflict known as the Seven Years' War and thus came to be regarded as the North American theater of that war...
. It seems likely that Acadians lived and farmed in the area until 1758 when General Monckton
Robert Monckton was an officer of the British army and a colonial administrator in British North America. He had a distinguished military and political career, being second in command to General Wolfe at the battle of Quebec and subsequently being the Governor of New York State...
razed the settlement during the St. John River Campaign
The St. John River Campaign occurred during the French and Indian War when Colonel Robert Monckton led a force of 1150 British soldiers to destroy the Acadian settlements along the banks of the Saint John River until they reached the largest village of Sainte-Anne des Pays-Bas in February 1759...
Between then and 1783, a handful of English-speaking pre-Loyalist families settled on the Jemseg (the Nevers, Garrisons and Estabrooks for example), but it was the United Empire Loyalists
The name United Empire Loyalists is an honorific given after the fact to those American Loyalists who resettled in British North America and other British Colonies as an act of fealty to King George III after the British defeat in the American Revolutionary War and prior to the Treaty of Paris...
after the American Revolution
The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...
(1783) who really caused the village to grow. Loyalist names like Dykeman, Ferris, Gunter and Currie and, until recently Colwell, are still represented in the community and these people often live on the same land granted to their ancestors in the 18th century.
As the communities grew, churches and schools were begun for the support of the inhabitants. Initially itinerant clergy from the Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...
, and a bit later those of a Baptist persuasion traveled from place to place. The Anglican rector of Gagetown
Gagetown is a Canadian village in Queens County, New Brunswick. It is situated on the west bank of the Saint John River and is the county's shire town.-Acadians:...
at Gagetown began work in 1785 and for several decades performed the rituals of baptism, marriages and burials. By the early 1820s the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel had sent Rev. Abraham Wood to the Grand Lake pastorate, and by the mid-twenties the Baptist Church, the so-called "Canning Church" was serving the Baptists of the area. Schools appear to have begun very early in the 19th century; certainly there were at least three schools in the area when the first school inspection was done in 1844. One school was in the vicinity of the corner and the Stone Church at Lower Jemseg, a second was somewhere near the supposed division between Upper and Lower just below Stuart and Lori Appt's farm, and the third was on the banks of a little brook that runs into Grand Lake between the Walter Gunter and Turner farms.
During the two plus centuries since the Loyalists came, the population has remained relatively stable with new arrivals mixing with the older settlers. Schools, stores and businesses have come and gone. Churches have been built. St. James (Anglican) built in 1887 at Lower Jemseg is an architectural gem, and the Jemseg Baptist Church which dates from the mid-19th century is typical of rural churches throughout the country.
Concurrently with the development of churches and schools, tradesmen started to appear. Besides teachers and clergymen, blacksmiths, carpenters, mariners, tanners, student, shoemakers, weavers, and, of course, merchants appeared as necessity dictated. Also by mid-century the age of wooden ships was a reality, and men began to build wooden boats, and even sea-going vessels along the banks of Jemseg Creek. At this point the riverboats were well established and throughout the navigation season there were boats coming from St. John two or even three times a week, and returning on the following day - a good way to get farm produce to city markets and manufactured goods to people up river.
As time went on mixed farming, and forestry in the off-season, were the primary occupations of the inhabitants with a few tradespeople as required. The population with Loyalist roots was supplemented from time to time by immigrants mainly from Scotland and Ireland but generally the population neither increased or decreased in numbers for two centuries. The reliance on agriculture and some forestry lasted until after World War II but then with mechanization, (changing from horses to tractors) and with a system of roads for transporting produce to markets, things changed rather quickly. The river boats ceased to operate in the 1940s, and now in the 21st century farms are very few indeed. Over fifty years, Jemseg, like many other rural communities, changed from a thriving self-sufficient place to a community of retired people or those who travel each day to employment elsewhere. The village school has been gone since 1978, and while the churches still exist they are somewhat diminished as centers of community activity. But change is inevitable.
In Jemseg in 2006 there are two stores, one of which has existed in the same family for over 100 years. The local Lions organization is a going concern, as is the Farmers' Market which flourishes at the Lions' Hall on Saturday mornings in summer. There are two Women's Institute Halls that serve as important community meeting places, and both W.I.'s are active. There is a motel dating from the 1950s (Jemseg LakeView Motel) which is still in operation, and a green house operation has just begun. Community Days are celebrated in August. At the crossrods at "Upper" Jemseg a beautiful community garden has been developed. New people are coming to Jemseg, and many of them have become involved in community life, where they join the long-time residents in celebrating the charm and natural beauty of the community.
Early settlers were attracted to this place by several things. Firstly the system of rivers and lakes meant transportation was relatively easy through most of the year. Then there was an extensive old-growth forest which was used almost from the beginning for domestic building, and very profitably for masts and spars for the King's Navy. Thirdly, the river and Grand Lake, which is about 5 miles (8 km) wide and 25 miles (40.2 km) long, moderated the climate, giving an extended growing season. The land was fertile and quite flat, and quantities of marsh hay were there for the cutting. Most of the land grant
A land grant is a gift of real estate – land or its privileges – made by a government or other authority as a reward for services to an individual, especially in return for military service...
s were for 200 acre (0.809372 km²), and the majority of the settlers over the first decade or two established thriving farms.
Over the years farming methods have changed and transportation has changed too. The river boats that called at the wharves for passengers and produce are only a dim memory, and the same highways that take our products to market enable many Jemsegers to work outside the community. Now, the best place to see produce and capture the camaraderie of the old wharves is at the Jemseg Farmers' Market in the summertime.