1922 W. L. Duncan Letter to Local Newspaper

W. L Duncan penned this letter to the Presque Isle based newspaper in the spring of 1922 when he was 66 years old. William Linton Duncan (1856 Banchory, Scotland-1941 Washburn, ME) immigrated with his parents and siblings in May 1873 to the Scotch Colony of New Brunswick. In 1885 he married Catherine Cocker (1864 Banchory, Scotland-1939 Washburn, ME) who had immigrated with her family at the same time aboard the same ship Castalia. About 1891 William and Catherine and four children (Alex, Agnes, William, and Florence) moved to Washburn where four more children were born (Jennie, Kenneth, Isabelle, and Stuart.)

Star Herald, May 11, 1922



Washburn, ME., May 1922

Editor Star Herald,

Dear Sir:

I was somewhat surprised and also pleased on opening my Star Herald last week to see the insert at the top of the front page entitled “Clean-up Week,” by the Mayor of Somerville, Mass.

Now I make a yearly pilgrimage to “Burns Night” over to the old home at Kincardine, New Brunswick. As usual I found myself in the ranks of the pilgrims Jan. 25th last. When I got there the first news that greeted me was: “Another one heard from.” (a common expression there when a good word comes.) Jack Webster is Mayor of Somerville.” Of course I rejoiced with the few that are left there at Jack’s good fortune, and we innocently thought no one else was interested. And now comes the Star Herald, along with its other marked improvements, and scoops the doings and sayings of a humble Scot, who is only doing his duty in his adopted country.

Some twenty-eight years ago Jack Webster, then a boy of seventeen, footed it from Kincardine through Presque Isle on his way to the woods up-river. On his return from the woods he made a sojourn of a few weeks with us in Washburn. He did not like woods work. The next I heard of him he was fireman in the meat packing plant, where today he is chief manager. He had been a city alderman for a number of years before his election as mayor. He is an elder in the Presbyterian Church, so he is strictly in line with Chief Justice Cornish, as to what kind of man makes a true American citizen—not necessarily, of course, because he is a Presbyterian—but because of his many other civic virtues.

I take notice the canny Scot shines through when he says, “untidy yards depreciate property.” He also goes more than skin deep. He is thorough in his cleaning when he advises looking after the cellars. No half way work will do. He is surely looking after his pre-election promises, and working for a safe, healthy and beautiful city.

Although the Scotch Colony is fast going back to forest, and its once cultivated fields are now gradually becoming covered with a thrifty growth of birch and maple, and the people have dwindled to a mere handful, still I take great pride in the old place. The Scot is a wanderer, and during the last fifty years they have trekked over Canada and the United States from there, but I have yet to hear of one who is not paying his way. In fact, a good many of them, like Webster, are prominent citizens in the communities of their adoption.

It makes me sick when I go there now, their numbers are so few. The Germans got the most of the last bunch of young fellows, and now they “lie in Flanders Fields.” They did their duty, and have also been heard from.

Next year will be the fiftieth anniversary of our landing on this side the water, and we are already making plans for a “gathering of the clans.”

W. L. Duncan

 Note: “Jack Webster, ” the mayor, was born John M. Webster about 1878, son of John and Jessie (Milne) Webster who were also among the first group of Scotch Colonists aboard the Castalia in 1873.



Published in: on April 16, 2014 at 3:44 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Brothers and In-laws

Left to right: David Duncan, William Duncan, William Cumming, Thomas Cumming, Alec Cumming; Duncan-Cumming Clan Reunion at Aroostook Valley Park;

This has to be a classic! David and William Duncan, two of the Duncan “boys,” and three of the Cumming brothers are caught resting at the reunion of extended family. All five men immigrated from Scotland in 1873-74 with their parents and grew up in Stonehaven and Upper Kintore in the Scotch Colony in Victoria County in New Brunswick, Canada. In the Duncan family, David married Catherine Chapman in 1886 in Kincardine, NB, William married Catherine Coker in 1885 in Kincardine, and Annie Rae married William Cumming in 1884 in Stonehaven, all girls from the Colony. Alec Cumming found his wife Mary Maud Jordan in 1891 Quebec. Thomas was married to Nettie Sisson, Jennie Lloyd, and lastly Jane Elizabeth Hollis in 1924.

The picture was taken prior to 1938. The reunion, or the “picnic” as it is called (perhaps as a reference to the annual summer Sunday School picnic gatherings in the old days that were favorite memories that the Colonists held dear?) is still on-going. Years later, it is often a question as to why “Duncan” and “Cumming” names are used for the reunion. Perhaps this photograph can help explain.

Published in: on August 9, 2012 at 12:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Rev. Gordon C. Pringle, Minister at Kincardine, New Brunswick

Rev. Gordon Campbell Pringle

Obituary (part one) and (part two) transcription:

(Newspaper Headline:)

Rev. G. C. Pringle dies in Moncton, Had Served as minister at Kincardine for 56 years Kincardine

May 22 [1952] (Special) -The death of Rev. Gordon Campbell Pringle, Kincardine, occurred at the Moncton City Hospital at midnight Wednesday, on the 60th anniversary of his arrival in Canada. Mr. Pringle was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, Feb. 14, 1865, son of Rev. John and Mary (Montgomery) Pringle. He was educated at George Watson College, University of Edinburgh and the Church of Scotland Divinity Hall.

He spent three years at sheep ranching in Australia and New Zealand before being licensed to preach April 27, 1892, at Ellon, Aberdeenshire. In 1933 he received the honorary degree of doctor of divinity from Pine Hill Divinity Hall, Halifax.

He arrived in Canada May 21, 1892, and the next day preached in the First Presbyterian Church, Truro. For three months he did pastoral work in Hampton, and then spent three months at Lorneville. He was ordained Sept. 7, 1892, in the Old Calvin Presbyterian Church, Saint John. After serving at Lorneville for three years, Mr. Pringle was inducted as minister of Kincardine Presbyterian Church and remained as pastor of this church up to the time of his death–a 56-year period without a break.

In 1898 he married Hattie LePage who died in 1909. Mrs. Pringle was the daughter of the late Rev. and Mrs. A. E. LePage. Mr. Pringle visited his home in Scotland in 1903 and again in 1910. He kept detailed records of his congregation and of the happenings in the community.

Surviving are one son, Rev. Gordon C. Pringle, pastor of the Berwick, N. S., United Church; four daughters, Mrs. C. M. Robinson, Montreal; Mrs. R. Harris Chapman, Moncton; Mrs. Harold V. Colpitts, Lewisville, and Miss Hattie Pringle, Moncton.

The funeral service, under the direction of the Woodstock Presbytery, will be held Saturday afternoon at 2p’clock . . . Interment will be in . . . church cemetery at Kincardine.(a corner is cut off from the photograph)

Published in: on May 2, 2012 at 1:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Burns Night 2012

The Scotch Colony in Kincardine, New Brunswick held its annual Burns Night Concert at Burns Hall this past weekend. Two performances were held. A snow storm forced the postponement of Friday evening’s show to Saturday night at 8 PM and concluded with a dance. A matinee was held on Sunday afternoon at 2:00 PM, followed by a tea which included oatcakes, cheese, sandwiches, and shortbread. Both events were well attended and a grand time was had by all.

"Friends and Family Choir" performing at the Burns concert on Sunday afternoon at Burns Hall

Burns Night has been a tradition in the Scotch Colony since it was settled in 1873. Some of the earliest celebrations were held in the Kincardine one-room school. In 1911 the current Burns Hall was built by John McBeath Ellis after a fire destroyed the previous hall. Ellis arrived in the Colony as a child with his parents in 1873 aboard the Castalia.

1911 John Ellis, builder of Burns Hall, Kincardine, New Brunswick

Burns Hall has recently been refurbished by the people of the Colony. Much hard work has been lovingly done to update the building and its furnishings. Even the sign on the outside of the hall has been repainted by the original builder’s daughter, Kathleen Ellis Morton, now age 93 and the painter of the original sign when she was a young girl.

Watch for a new CD of the talented musicians that perform on Burns Night in the Colony. A live recording was made this weekend and will be followed by a second recording in January 2013 at the next Burns Night. The new CD will be available in time for the 140th anniversary celebration in the summer 2013.

Published in: on January 30, 2012 at 1:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Fraser Story: The Early Days

This PDF includes Chapters 3 and 4, describing the Scotch Colonists arrival in St. John, their trip upriver, and difficulties in the early days of the Colony. Download the PDF to read about it. The description includes the following:

The Fraser Story

Date: April 29th, 1949
Creator: Mary B. Reinmuth in collab. with Donald Fraser
Source: CDEM Fraser Companies, Limited Collection

Description: Mrs. Mary B. Reinmuth wrote a history of Fraser Companies Limited. She relates the families’ arrival on the Castalia in Saint John, New Brunswick, in 1873. She describes the hardships encountered by the first settlers in Kincardine, New Brunswick, among whom were the Fraser and the Matheson families.

Subject: New Brunswick,Forests, Logging

Published in: on July 23, 2011 at 1:43 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Fraser Story : Log of the Castalia

The events of the 14-day Atlantic crossing on the boat Castalia, from Glasgow, Scotland, to Saint John, New Brunswick, in 1873 are remembered by the Fraser family in this account. Download the PDF  of Chapter 2 to read about it. The description follows:

The Fraser Story : Log of the Castalia

Date: April 29th, 1949
Creator: Mary B. Reinmuth in collab. with Donald A. Fraser
Source: CDEM Fraser Companies, Limited Collection

Description: Mrs. Mary B. Reinmuth wrote the history of Fraser Companies Limited. She relates the events of the 14-day Atlantic crossing on the boat Castalia, from Glasgow, Scotland, to Saint John, New Brunswick, in 1873.

Subject: New Brunswick,Forests, Logging

Published in: on July 22, 2011 at 1:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

David Duncan 18/4/73 Stonehaven Notebook A Voyage from Glasgow to St. John’s on board the screw-steam ship Castalia

David Duncan




A Voyage from Glasgow to St. John’s on board the screw-steam ship Castalia

Friday, April 25th. Started from Stonehaven about nine o’clock forenoon, and after a capital journey to Glasgow we arrived in Glasgow, about 2 o’clock at Buchannon Street Station, and then went down to Mavisbank Quay, where the Castalia was lying. She had only arrived at Glasgow the night before and was getting her cargo aboard, we then got aboard and into our berths, and got dinner. They got the bell for the Church, and the press and type for  “The New Kincardineshire.”

Bell was present of the Anchor Line Company. The Rev. Mr. Adams delivered and

impressive address to colonists. We then started down the river and I went to bed.

Saturday- When I wakened in the morning we were lying at the Sail of the Bank opposite Greenock. The Government Inspector came on board in the morning, and after he left, we started down the river for St. John’s. I greatly admired the beautiful scenery going down the Clyde. It was a very fine day, and we passed a lot of vessels going up and down the river.

Sunday- I did not rise at all because I was sick but I did not vomit much but we were out of sight of land, we passed a large bargue in the afternoon. I did not eat any all day.

Monday- I rose up in the morning all right but a little light-headed with the rolling of the ship, saw to large ships in the forenoon, went to bed early.

Tuesday- It was a little rough, and I was sometimes amused to see the men on deck when a big wave came, rolling and tumbling about. They were playing at skittle and quoits,

Wednesday- Still rough and rainy and the wind right against her ship rolling terribly and when taking our meal if the ship gave a heave everything went rolling about. There was a girl born in the afternoon and it is to be baptized Castalia Brown, after the name of the ship and Captain Brown who is to be godfather to her. The ship stopped in afternoon to sort some of her machinery about half an hour, there was a terrible screaming of the children when she stopped and everybody ran on deck to see what was the matter.

[The next part appears upside down to the rest of the page.]

Atlantic. But still the winds were against us, a fine sunshiny day in the afternoon there was

hardly any wind  filling the sails which made the ship roll fearfully just about supper- time. You would I thought she would tumble over for everything went rolling about – the water pails which were newly filled were all emptied on the floor, the seats were tumbling over and men and women were lying on the floor and holding on by anything they could get hold off. But Captain Brown and the carpenter came down and got everything sorted up and got the children quieted with apples.

Friday- Rough and terrible rainy, but a fine fair wind, the ship going at a fearful rate, the waves about 30 or 40 feet high, saw a large whale in the afternoon.

Saturday- When I wakened in the morning, the first thing I heard was the seats and tin dishes rolling about, and when I got up to the deck the waves were like the Bervie Braes, saw two ships in the afternoon.

Sunday- This morning saw a large iceberg and three ships, The wind turned by noon in our favour and the ship was going at a good speed. I attended divine service in the saloon in the evening.

Monday- Terrible misty and we have to sound the fog signals frequently, signaled to a bargue in the afternoon. We had capital dancing and singing in the evening in the fore part of the ship.

Tuesday- Ship going fine, but terrible cold, passed some ships in the forenoon and a schooner with a little boat behind her. We spoke to a lot of fishing [? smacks] from St. John’s in the evening.

Wednesday- We passed a large Anchor Line steamer bound for Glasgow in the morning.

Diary of the Voyage

from Glasgow to

St. John, N. B.


David Duncan

[The diary of David Linton Duncan was shared by Sandra Everett Duncan in July 2011. She is his granddaughter.]

Published in: on July 21, 2011 at 1:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

Inducement for Emigrants

Published online from the newspaper article originally in the Star in 1873, this short excerpt is from the National Library of New Zealand.

Star , Issue 1708, 18 August 1873, Page 2

Inducement for Emigrants.- By this mail we (Bruce Herald) have a letter from an old colonist from Laurencekirk, in which he says:- “Great inducement is at present held out here by agents from North America for emigrants to proceed to that country. On 25th April I saw a special train pass with 800 emigrants, bound for New Brunswick, there to establish a new colony, to be named New Kincardineshire. Each party of five is given (free) 200 acres of land, with four acres cleared, and a log-house 25 ft long x 15 ft erected thereon. Their passage from St. John’s to New Kincardineshire- 160 miles- is also paid for them. Several of the party had been over to examine the district, and upon their return reported most favourably; hence the large number who are leaving.”

Published in: on July 19, 2011 at 1:17 pm  Leave a Comment  


The following newspaper account of the 1873 emigration of the Scotch Colony to New Brunswick, Canada is published online by the National Library of New Zealand.



(Otago Witness, Issue 1129, 19 July 1873, page 5)


The Scotsman [newspaper] of a recent date says :- “A special train left Aberdeen on Friday for Glasgow, with 200 emigrants from the north-east coast and intended settlers in the ’New Kincardineshire Colony,’ New Brunswick. Another large party of emigrants joined the train at Stonehaven, and other bodies of intending colonists were taken up along the route, till the company numbered between 700 and 750, the largest number of emigrants that have ever left Scotland at one time for one place. As the train left the various stations hearty cheers were given for the emigrants, who appeared in good spirits, by the friends left behind. Information just received per the Atlantic Telegraph [newspaper], by the secretary, states that the New Brunswick Government have kept faith with the colonists, and that the promised log house and four acres of cleared land are ready for occupation.”

The Pall Mall Gazette [newspaper], in noticing the above facts, remarks:- “This is the first attempt, it is stated, that has been made to take out so large a number of persons to one particular place, and to settle them down there, but from the liberal concessions of the Government of New Brunsiwck little fears are entertained of the scheme being a failure. Each of the emigrants bears a good character, and three teachers accompany them to their new home. Arrangements are also being made to send out a probationer of the Free Church ‘to superintend the Colony from a spiritual point of view.’ Farms have been allotted to each of the families going out, varying in extent from 100 to 200 acres, the land being given free, while the Government also build the log houses on the farms, clear from two to four acres per farm, according to size, and form the roads to a greater or less extent.”

Published in: on July 18, 2011 at 1:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Settling of the Scotch Colony

The Tobique Valley Genealogy and Local History Group of Plaster Rock, New Brunswick, Canada has much of interest to folks with connections to the Scotch Colony.  Dedicated individuals have done the hard work of recording cemetary records and making the data available on their website.

Another nugget on the Tobique Valley website is a newspaper clipping which describes the beginnings of the Scotch Colony. The photograph of the article is very valuable and interesting reading. Here is the transcription which readers may find easier to read.

The Settling of the Scotch Colony

By Chris Allen


The settling of the Scotch Colony in Victoria County by families from Aberdeenshire and Kindardineshire, Scotland, was in large part an exercise in faith and personal fortitude. Most of those who emigrated to New Brunswick were fairly well educated and had skills and trades which provided the families with a decent livelihood, although by no means were they well off. The Scots people had cultural and family ties that went back hundreds of years, they were proud of their heritage and strongly united in religious beliefs.

At that time, in the late 19th century, life in Kincardineshire, as elsewhere, was lived at a much slower pace than in our modern day. People were secure in their social positions, and they knew what to expect from life. However, the aristocratic “lairds” (lords) in each parish owned all the property and most people had to work under the laird’s directions.

Working for the lairds also meant that people would never change their situation. But that was not a concern for people—it was just how life was—until the Scots became inspired by the idea of owning their own land and obtaining it for free in far away New Brunswick.

There was a lot to lose by their emigration to Canada, but they figured they could bring the good qualities of their Scottish culture and transplant it to a Scotch colony provided only people of good character partook in the emigration to New Brunswick.

Their way had been organized and prepared by a Captain William Brown of the Anchor Line of steamers from Stonehaven, Scotland. Capt. Brown had negotiated with the New Brunswick government for a block of land large enough for 50 families with provisions made to build roads, clear two acres of land and erect a cabin for each family who wanted one.

In April 1873, 545 Scots sailed from Glasgow, Scotland, on the steamer S. S. Castalia for Saint John. It was a difficult farewell for the people as they left family member, friends, and their secure way of life behind in Scotland. All they had to carry them into the unknown was their dreams of being masters of their own domain and their religious faith. By these, they would be guided safely through whatever was encountered.

The S. S. Castalia landed in Saint John in May after a rough voyage. The colonists embarked aboard smaller boats to sail up the St. John River to Kilburn. The colonists discovered that there were no roads built or cabins prepared on the lots as has been negotiated by Capt. Brown with the provincial government. The woods were thick and still had more than a foot of snow on the ground, which made it difficult to move their baggage and supplies out to their new properties.

Most of the families tented in Kilburn or slept in granaries for the first three or four weeks, until paths were cleared and small cabins constructed on the lots.

The settlers were not used to the hard physical work such as chopping trees and dragging heavy logs for land clearing and construction projects.

The settlers were not used to the hard physical work such as chopping trees and dragging heavy logs for land clearing and construction projects. After six weeks of exhausting work, 30 of the settlers gave up and went to work in Woodstock, Fredericton, or Saint John.

The next three years was a trying time for the Scottish settlers. The climate was much harsher than what they were used to and consequently they lost much of their planted crops to bad weather. Their living conditions were primitive and there was much work to be done just to survive.

Many families were going into debt, were often hungry, and their clothes were down to rags. There were no jobs in the area for earning more money, and they had no doctor or minister to tend to their physical and spiritual needs.

At the time Rev. Peter Melville arrived in the Scotch colony in 1875, he found the settlers in a sorry state. People were depressed and apathetic, social tensions among groups threatened to break up the colony. Most families kept only to themselves and held private religious services at home, and taught only their own children. There was no longer the high idealism as before or the social cohesiveness they knew in Scotland when life was easier and their church was foremost in their culture.

However, Melville was a great leader and organizer. He quickly brought people out of their depression and apathy by encouraging them to organize schools, prayer meetings, Bible classes, and elect Elders and Deacons to the church. He got the settlers to actively participate in their community again. This, in conjunction with his religious services, helped revive the positive attitudes the settlers had enjoyed before in Scotland.

The Scottish colonists were remarkably strong to so quickly shed their apathy, forget about personal grievances, and come together again as a colony of Scotsmen. Life was still physically hard, but it improved each year through much hard work.

Under the guidance of Melville the settlers built four schools and their first “Kirk” (church). Schools were built in Bon Accord, Kincardine, Upper Kintore, and Kintore. The first kirk was built in Kincardine from lumber supplied from each district.

Melville left the Scotch colony in 1878, and various ministers periodically resided in the colony, supported by the Mission Board of the Presbyterian Church, as the colonists had no cash to pay the stipend for a regular minister.

Nearly 20 years of hard work passed before the colonists were established enough to provide the money for a permanent minister. In 1896, Rev. Gordon Pringle became the minister and his stipend was set at $500 per year.

Pringle served as minister for the Scotch colony for 58 years. He was well loved and respected for his untiring work for the settlers. Under his direction and energy the colony grew and prospered. Churches were built in the other districts, and people grew well enough off to have an active community life with Scottish dances, poetry and music sessions, Burn’s Night, St. Andrew’s Day, and more.

Their dreams of starting a Scotch colony in New Brunswick where people could enjoy the rewards of their labours on their own places eventually came true. Through continuous labour and despite desperate times, the settlers persevered to at last build a comfortable life style with their Scottish heritage and church foremost again in their lives.

Published in: on May 4, 2011 at 8:59 pm  Leave a Comment  
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