"New" Information has been updated as of March
7, 2009 on Camp Whisong
HISTORY OF CAMPWHISONG
The original land
grant given to George Miller, on March 10, 1825, was for two hundred acres and was shared with Robert Colpitts, Jr. In his petition, Miller requested an additional
one hundred acres, which was not granted.The property had originally been petitioned
by a Henry Jones many years before and had passed through many hands.We have
obtained copies of George Miller’s original petition for the land grant and of the grant itself.
George Miller, originally
from Upper Canada, was born
on 24 August 1790, death
unknown, was a Mennonite Brethren and a shoe-maker by trade.He came to New Brunswick in April 1813, settling in Coverdale in Salisbury
Parish. He married Eleanor Geldart (25 August 1799 – 14 February 1866) in 1819. They had 13 children between 1821 and 1843.
Miller served for
two years and nine months in the “New Brunswick Fencible Infantry” in the Captain Gibbons Company under the command
of General Coffin.This company was formed for the defense of New Brunswick, at the time a British colony, during the American/British
War of 1812-1814.Miller was discharged in 1816 when the corps was disbanded.Land grants were awarded to individuals with military service after a successful petition
to the Lieutenant Governor of the province.The petition for the land grant was
made before William Scott, Justice of the Peace, stating that Miller was a married man “with means and ability to cultivate
the land”, and that he had previously cleared two acres of land.It is interesting
to note that on the copy of the original land grant, the PollettRiver, which is the
present boundary line for northeast side of the property, is written as “Paulette’s River”.
The original house
consisted of the present “back porch”, most likely the kitchen; the campfire/activity room upstairs was presumably
the sleeping quarters.Two of the panes of glass in the porch side window and
some of the panes in the upstairs windows are originals. Looking through these panes, the landscape appears wavy, rather than
a clear view as through today’s glass.
The main part of
the house as it stands today was added between 1854 and 1859.To attest to the
affluence of the Miller family, all five bedrooms had built-in closets, whereas most settlers in the area did not have sufficient
funds to build rooms large enough to contain closets.Gingerbread decorated the
roof peaks, high quality wood was used in the diamond-shaped siding, and the uniqueness of the interior wood is evident throughout
the house.A half-spiral stairwell is constructed of oak and walnut; the walnut
was shipped from Philadelphia,
the oak from near HopewellCape. The decorative plasterwork at the ceiling level was not
duplicated in area homes and required a specialized tradesman to complete.All
the original floors have “graining” done to them.Graining was a
specialized trade in 1855, and the craftsman most likely was brought in from another community to do the work.
The property has
had the following owners:
George Miller –
1825 - 1898
Charles L. Blakeney – 1898 - unknown
Otto L. Blakeney- unknown - 1931
Karl V. Olsen –
Canadian Farm Board –
Arthur Harrison –
1936 - 1947
Ian Colpitts – 1947
Albert Area Girl Guides
The property presently
occupies 103 of the original land grant of 200 acres.
BLAKENEY* FAMILY – 1898 - 1931
Blakeney, born 17 October 1839,
his wife Annie, and their six children acquired the house and land in 1898.They
were very affluent and Mrs. Blakeney wanted to have the finest house in the area.Furnishings
were brought in from England and many renovations were made to the interior.
To help with the
farming and maintenance of the property, Carl V. Olsen, called “the Dane” was employed.The Blakeney’s youngest son, Otto L., (1880- 14 May 1939),was never married
and inherited the property upon the death of his parents (date unknown).Otto
experienced financial difficulty in maintaining payment on the property and with paying Olsen’s salary, thus on February
2, 1931, Olsen took possession of the land and house in lieu of default of payments. Olsen subsequently sold the property
on May 12, 1931 to the
Canadian Farm Loan Board for defaulting on his mortgage of $1500. Olsen’swhereabouts
after this sale and the date of his death are unknown.
Records show that
Otto Blakeney from Elgin was a
committee member for the fifth annual Colpitts family reunion held on September 2, 1915 at the farm of Ralph Colpitts in Forest Glen.His paternal grandmother was Sarah Anne Colpitts.
Otto moved to Moncton in 1931, and resided at the Salvation Army Eventide Home
on Church Street at the
time of his death in 1939.He had his fifteen minutes of fame on January 6, 1936.While cutting wood on the Lake family
property in Pacific Junction, on the outskirts of Moncton, he discovered three bodies in the snow.The entire Lake family, except for an infant daughter, has been murdered in a successful
attempt to kidnap the four-month-old baby.The crime was called the Pacific Junction
Murders. Suspects May Bannister and her two sons Arthur and Daniel were eventually arrested and convicted. May Bannister was
sentenced to two years imprisonment; the sons were hanged on September
* Note: there are various
spelling of this family name:Blakeney, Bleakney, Blakney. We used the one most
prevalent from our research.
CANADIAN FARM LOAN BOARD – 1931 - 1936
The Canadian Farm
Loan Board held the property from 1931 to 1936. How this property was used during that time period has not been accounted
for as yet. The Board advertised the sale of the property and held a public auction in front of the Post Office in Petitcodiac
on April 9, 1935.There were no sufficient bids therefore the property was withdrawn from the auction
to be sold by private contract without further notice being given.
ARTHUR HARRISON FAMILY – 1936 - 1947
Arthur Roy Harrison,
born 25 April 1897, at
RowlandMountain, father James William Harrison, mother Esther “Abigail”
Douthwright, purchased the property from the Canadian Farm Loan Board for in 1936 for $1800.Arthur
and his wife Pearle raised seven children. They were married on 5
July 1922.The eldest child, Marion, inherited
the property and lived there with her husband Ian Colpitts and their family until about 1959. Guiding members from AlbertCounty were invited to camp on the property as they wished.
IAN AND MARION COLPITTS – 1947 - 1960
Marion and Ian were
married at the farm house on 7 December 1945.A bride at 17, Marion descended the spiral staircase in her wedding gown.They raised a
family of five children and farmed the land until farming began to prove unprofitable.Ian
left for work in Ontario (date
unknown).Marion missed him so much that when a cousin dropped in for a visit on his way to Ontario, Marion and the children quickly packed up their suitcases and went with him.They
never returned to live there again.Guiding members continued to use the property
with the Colpitts’ permission.The Colpitts’ and their daughter Anna
Staples vacation nearby and often visit the Camp.
BECOMING CAMPWHISONG - 1960
a Guider from Elgin and who had
once lived at the farm, suggested that Albert Area (as it was known at the time) Girl Guides investigate purchase of the property
from the Colpitts, to be used as a Camp.On 28 December 1960, Albert Area became the proud owners of “CampWhisong”.In order to raise sufficient funds for the necessary renovations,
Girl Guides held hay-box and bean hole suppers, among other things, as fundraisers.
Elizabeth Post from
Lakewood, Colorado visited CampWhisong in 1995.She
told us that she owns about 20 acres of land on the northeast side of the PollettRiver. Her parents
owned the property and turned it into a girls’camp in the 19-teens. She is the daughter and niece of campers from the
U.S. who camped
there circa 1920.
Girl Scouts from
New York camped at Hermit Thrush
in the summers prior to the 1950’s when the property was sold to an American couple who used the solitude to compose
music.The camp had a few cabins with metal bunks and soft mattresses but no
windows, and was accessed via the long walk down CampWhisong’s lane,
across the lower interval (approx. 10 acres) and then crossing the PollettRiver, and climbing
the cliff on the other side. The girls arrived in the area via the Elgin Prong railway, getting off at Bleakney Station (near
Whisong).Stone steps leading up the cliff and a stone fireplace chimney are all
that remain today.
On 25 August 1930, many hundreds of descendents
of the Colpitts Family gathered for a Family Reunion at Little River, Albert Co. at the original homestead.During one afternoon of the reunion, the Girl Scouts from New
York who were camping for the summer at CampHermit Thrush musically entertained the family.Later that evening, they returned
to provide a rousing campfire with songs and skits.
THE ELGIN PRONG
The train that ran
from Petitcodiac to Elgin from
1876 to 1955 was called the “Elgin Prong”.According to David Nason,
“the Petitcodiac and Elgin Branch was a more modest project that the Albert Railway, really just a spur 14 miles in
length running southward from Petitcodiac to the market town of Elgin.The local inhabitants, who were frugal in the extreme, built it.
…the line was opened on July 1, 1876.However, the conductor was not paid and he operated the line in hopes
that it would earn him enough to pay his costs.….Though the line showed
a modest surplus these first years, it was closed each winter. In 1890, it was placed into receivership, reorganized and renamed
the Elgin and Havelock Railway
Company. The line was never a money maker and was sold to the Dominion Government in 1918 and CN assumed operation.On March 15, 1955, the original 14 mile section from Petitcodiac to Elgin Corner was abandoned, and has subsequently become a hiking/ATV
Blakney Station was built
in 1920 but listed as a flag-stop. Station really only a platform.
It was a fun tradition
to have a friendly ghost to watch over the old house when the Guides were not in residence and to play tricks on them when
there were camping there.CampWhisong had a ghost
and it is up to you to decide just how much is true and how much has been added to over the years.
Many years ago CampWhisong was a thriving farmstead owned by the hardworking Blakeney family.Their
youngest son Otto lived on at the farm after the death of his patents. The Blakneys employed a hired hand named Karl Olsen,
nicknamed “the Dane”.He lived in a small house a distance from the
main farmhouse. The Dane was rather mean and not much liked in the community, and did not get along with Otto. About a year
after the parents’ death, the Dane told Otto that since he hadn’t been paid and he did all the work, he was going
to take ownership of the property and was kicking Otto out.
As the story goes, apparently
Otto died a short time later.He so missed his old hone that he started coming
back to visit, entering through a bricked-up door in the basement. Otto came back to visit for a long time, even after the
Girl Guides took over the property.If things were missing and suddenly reappeared,
Otto did it.If the stove plugged up and house filled with smoke, Otto plugged
the flue. If you put on a stew to simmer overnight, Otto put out the fire.
One night a group of Guiders
were sleeping in the house.They were all settled down for the night when all
of sudden there was a tinkling noise in the bathroom.One Guider shouted “Otto,
at least close the door”, and the bathroom door suddenly slammed shut and the toilet flushed!No Guider had left her sleeping bag for the rest of the night!
And then there was the
time the Rangers were staying at the camp to do some repair jobs before closing up for the winter.They were all down in the basement installing a couple of support beams.They
were using a shovel to hammer with and making a lot of noise.When they heard
someone in the driveway, they dropped the shovel and ran upstairs to see who had arrived.There was no one outside!Puzzled, they went back down to the basement,
but the shovel was missing and nowhere to be found.They closed up camp for the
winter and went home.The first thing the Guiders found in the spring was the
shovel standing upright in the earthen basement floor. Otto had returned it!
Otto liked to hide
toilet paper, camp hats, potato peelers, etc.He liked to rattle windows at night,
walk around in the attic when people were sleeping in the house, and loosen guy lines on tents.He made leaves shake on the trees when there was no wind and move shadows around the campsite after .
heard a sound from Otto since we had the house raised and a new concrete basement installed a few years ago.Perhaps he doesn’t like all the renovations we’ve done to his old house.He should be pleased, thought, we’ve named a little beach on the PolletRiver after him – Otto’s Beach.
If it is ever your pleasure to pass through Pleasant
Vale on your way to Meadow in Albert County, turn to the right after you have passed the home of Frank Shaffer, and cast your
gaze westward up the valley of Workman Brook. There, a little to the right, like the rump of a prize hog, is what we used
to call the Boar's Back, and a little to the right of that, somewhat like the depression made by a giant meteor, is the "Goosemeat"
and far up on its rim can be discerned the cleared fields of the Harrison Homestead. On your left, it's rugged cliffs covered with timber of spruce and fir,
stands ZaccyMountain, like some wired monster
Sphinx from the land of the Nile, guarding the beautiful valley beyond, it's fore-paws clutching the same roadway on which
you stand. If you
inquired, someone would tell you it was named for Zachariah Jonah who cleared a farm on its western heights, which again is
forest land. To its last settler, the last Luther Goodall, and to Agnes (Harrisson) I dedicate this poem.
And my world
had just begun Luther lived on ZaccyMountain Over toward the rising sun.
He was tall
and dark and handsome And he lived up there alone And spent his time a-whistling When he wasn't picking stone.
valley to the westward Just a mile or so away Came Aunt Aggie to the homestead For to see our folks one day. Never did a sweeter
singer, Ever try to reach old Zack For she sang across at Luther
And he tried
to whistle back
Now I'm hunting
men of science Who are very seldom wrong, Just to figure out what happens When a whistle meets a song. As I stood there
in the dooryard With a slightly open mouth I could see a little whirlwind In the valley
to the south.
With a twisting song and whistle It went crashing up the hill!
(If you look
you´ll see the bushes
up there still). Like the breathing of a blizzard
And the groaning
of a gale
hear it mixing music
With a whistle
and a wail.
ever up the valley
On a peaceful
day in June
You will hear
the wind above you
Play the queerest
kind of tune
Half a song
and half a whistling
waves upon the beach, And I´ve christened it the “Whis-Song” For it is a
part of each.
If the mind is prone to wonder
When the outer
man is old,
I will climb
old Zaccy Mountain
search for inner gold;
For the memory´s
Shall be always
I shall hear
old Luther whistle
And I´ll hear
Aunt Aggie´s tune.
by Arthur R. Harrisson
Please note that research
is on-going. This site will be updated as necessary.
Much research has been
done on the families who occupied the property since 1825.Much is also missing
and we would appreciate it that if anyone has any information, to please contact me.
If you have something to share or post or ask
a question please contact: