Fifty Years Ago.
A Glance at the Party Legislation at New Brunswick. The Trials and Labors of the Political Grandeurs of the Province.
As had been said before, Nova Scotia was divided and New Brunswick created a separate province in 1786. A new Government had to be formed, the details of which we have no room for here. Hon. Mr. Botsford, Dr. Smith and others, the first legislators of Westmorland and their coadjutors from other parts of the Province may be called the political grandfathers of our present assemblyman; the Hons, Crane, Chandler, Hannington senr. and others of Westmorland with such men as Hons. Wilmot, the Fishers, Simonds, &c. From other parts of the Province, the fathers, and our present assemblymen the sons. Each generation has had its work to do. The first had all the hardships of a new country to contend with; the formation of a Government, the establishment of courts, the main arteries of highway to open up, schools to provide for, &c., &c. All this to be done with little or so legislative experience, an empty exchequer, no means of transit except the snow-shoe, the Indian trail or the leg or bark canoe. These men travelled to head quarters with their packs on their backs, or rode on the frozen rivers wrapped in blankets of homespun, and many of them dressed in coats and pantaloons of the same material as did the pioneers of the New England States more than one hundred years before. One cannot but admire the Spartan heroism and indomitable perseverance of these men, and the men and women too who wrested a scanty living out of the burned lands of the times.
The names of the Rev. William Black and the Rev. Joseph Crandall, Christian pioneers of the times are worthy of special mention in history. They too carried their packs, waded the rivers and streams or paddled their canoes in the discharge of their sacred duties.
One can scarce realize that such was the state of New Brunswick just one hundred years ago. There are doubtless persons living in the Province new who can say they were living here at the time. Mr. John Palmer of Dorchester wants but a year or two of it, and recollects the time of these three generations of politicians; and yet we have men amongst us disloyal sad thankless enough to disparage and to do dishonor to their homes and their new country.
Our political grandfathers did their work faithfully and successfully, cramped as they were by English precedent and English statesmen who knew nothing of the wants of a new country.
After these pioneer statesmen came the Hon'bles Crane, Chandler, Hannington senr. and their co workers. These gentlemen had a fair field lo work in. They could travel to Frederic ton along the main roads on comfortable coaches wrapped in warm skins and furs of the animals of the forest, they had comfortable hotels or houses of cell on their way, they had a full exchequer and were not without experience in legislation as were their predecessors; but they had a great work in hand.
The Government under the old Legislation was entirely in the hands of the Governor and Council; heads of departments held office for life, not amenable to the people's representatives. The Governor was in fact the ruler. All the high offices remained in two or three families; no road open to preferment except to the favoured few; the people revolted in spirit and demanded responsible Government, that is, that the Executive Council and heads of departments should hold office subject to a vote of the Assembly. This with its associate reforms, which we have no room to mention here, was demanded by the united provinces and obtained through much tribulation. There were several necessary delegations lo unwilling England but their importunities finally succeeded in gaining a free constitutional Government and an open read to preferment to all.
We owe much to the wisdom of our political fathers. The completion of the great bye road system; the authority to clergymen of all denominations to solemnize marriage, and many other reforms we have not space for here we owe to them.
One very important demand they failed to meet; they left the miserable old school law on the statue books at least fifty years too long, and that, with the example of the New England States before their eyes. They were also guilty of creating useless offices, and by that means and others wasted the public money. They also left that terrible surrogate court unlimited in its capacity for evil. It is wonderful that our legislators do not take some steps to reform this court at least to the County of Westmorland.
About the present legislation in in some other letter.
The Registrar of Probated noticed the evils attending the conducting of this court sometime ago. It is a pity he does not keep it before the people.
Sept., 1887. XX