Backward Glance at Sunbury and Queen's


Travellers who went from place to place in state-sleighs during the winter, or those who traveled in the own horse drawn sleighs, enjoyed what comfort was possible in that period. Those who made their way on foot during the winder on the Great Roads where roadhouses were few would suffer from frostbite and exposure if not properly clothed. In a day when the news media was poor it was impossible to tell how many fatalities occurred. It is almost certain that one man lost both his legs from exposure while traveling the Great Road from Miramichi to Chipman in the dead of winter. This story may have something to do with “Jerome”, the mystery many of Nova Scotia who was found on the south shore near Weymouth in 1850, with both legs amputated near the hip, and who remained for sixty-four years a ward of the province until his death in 1912. During that long period his identity was never revealed.

An engineer, while engaged in the building of the Transcontinental through Chipman, investigated the stories of a stranger who was found nearly dead from exposure by the Conroy brothers who were lumbering on the Gaspereau River in the winter of 1848. While on their way to work one morning, after a bitterly cold night, they found an unconscious stranger lying on one of their lumber brows with both legs frozen. Recognizing his desperate condition, they revived his (sic) as well as they could and took him to Gagetown where Dr. Peters amputated both legs above the knees. For some two years thereafter he was cared for by a family named Galliger at the expense of the parish. He was sullen, gloomy and never uttered a word. It was the opinion of those who looked after him that he was a seaman from a foreign ship at Chatham, who had been trying to reach the open winter port of Saint John by way of the Great Road between the Miramichi and Grand Lake. About the time he disappeared from Queens County a ship was seen one evening off Weymouth, Nova Scotia. The following morning the ship was gone and on the beach sat a legless man with a jug of water and a box of sea biscuits beside him. He was taken to the home of a local fisherman and during the sixty-four years he is said to have lived there, he never spoke nor revealed any clue to his identity. There was of course much speculation as to his origin and the reason he was cast upon the beach. The fact that he did not wear seaman’s clothes and that his hands were soft and showed no evidence of hard work, and that he would not or could not speak, made him the subject of fantastic tales. He could not, or would not, answer questions, made no effort to express thanks to his benefactors, and uttered only a grumbling sound when ill-tempered which sounded like “Jerome”, and so Jerome he was named. When the local Poor Commissioners complained to the provincial authorities that they should not be responsible for his keep, as he was not of their parish poor, the provincial government assumed this expense and each year thereafter when the estimates where passed, they contained an item reading “Jerome--$104.00”.


Source: Frederic Addison McGrand, "Backward Glance at Sunbury and Queen's" in Backward Glance at Sunbury and Queen's, (Fredericton: New Brunswick Historical Society, 1967), 146-147. Notes: Excerpt from chapter

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