History of Campobello Island
Campobello is best known as the island where Franklin Roosevelt did part of his growing up. But before, during , and after the summer colony shown in the photo a lot more history happened.
The First Peoples were here before the rest of the world dreamt of North America – and they remain.
French settlement: In 1604 Samuel de Champlain and Pierre du Gua de Monts wintered with their men at St. Croix Island, upriver from St. Andrews. The hard winter took many lives, and next year the pioneering settlement relocated to what is now Nova Scotia. Still the Quoddy site was the seed of sustained French presence in North America. See https://bit.ly/2HMZH79
The Owen family took over Campobello in 1767 and controlled what they could for roughly a century. The original grantee, Captain William Owen of Wales, lost an eye in an election brawl and an arm fighting the French in India. It was he who named Campobello. http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/owen_william_4E.html
But the island’s favourite was Rear Admiral William Fitzwilliam Owen, who freed slaves in Africa and seemed to survey half the world before settling down at Welshpool in the 1830s. He’d been “self-willed and boisterous” as a young man but was now gentler. “An authoritative, ageing man who was essentially benevolent in his intentions, he was not, like many of his peers, addicted to alcohol but rather to women,” says the Dictionary of Canadian Biography. “His ambition was to play the role of an English landed proprietor in a colonial island setting.”
There’s more on the Owens, Campobello, and neighbouring islands at this link: https://bit.ly/2qIo0Mu
Fenian Raid helps create Canada: In 1866, “Canada” was only a geographical name for a few British-ruled provinces, neighbouring but disunited. Campobello helped change that. The Fenian Brotherhood, an Irish-American group, tried to support Ireland’s struggle for independence from Britain by taking over Campobello as a world headquarters. Their raid failed, but so alarmed New Brunswick and even Nova Scotia that in 1867 they joined Quebec and Ontario to form the political union of Canada.
For details, The Last Invasion of Canada: The Fenian Raids, 1866–1870, by Hereward Senior.)
Summer colonies: By the end of the 19th century, the Quoddy Region attracted large numbers of well-off summer visitors, generally well off. St. Andrews in particular pulled in merchant royalty. (See http://standrewsbythesea.ca/heritage/) Grand Manan combined its strong fishing industry with tourism, attracting the likes of famed American novelist Willa Cather. (See http://www.grandmananmuseum.ca/MUSEUM_Mandate_History.html
First sardine canning: By the mid-1800s, a vigorous fishery grew up on both sides of the border. In particular, fishermen of European descent adapted Native fish weirs to catch herring. The North American canned-sardine industry began in Eastport, Maine, around 1875 and spread to the Canadian side.
(See images at http://www.tidesinstitute.org/place/browseArt.php?collection=12; Eastport information https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastport,_Maine.)
Sweet times at St. Stephen: Eastport pioneered sardine canning, but hey,what about candy chicken bones?
First produced in 1885, the cinnamon-flavoured “bones” filled with chocolate were one of many innovations from the Ganong chocolate company.
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Summer colonies: By the end of the 19th century, the Quoddy Region attracted large numbers of well-off summer visitors, generally well off. St. Andrews in particular pulled in merchant royalty. See http://standrewsbythesea.ca/heritage/
Grand Manan combined its strong fishing industry with tourism, attracting the likes of famed American novelist Willa Cather.
Campobello’s summer colony had its heyday from the early 1880s to the late 1920s, along the shores of Friars Bay.
Friars Bay and FDR: It is often pointed out that when Franklin Roosevelt’s polio became apparent at Campobello, it called forth great courage. It’s less often realized that the island shaped his character before that. Where else would the young aristocrat learn to mix with working people and master boat-handling skills? Not at Hyde Park.
It wasn’t just islanders, either. Tomah Joseph of the Passamaquoddy people taught young Franklin how to canoe. See http://www.newenglandhistoricalsociety.com/19589-2/
As for debating: it is recorded that FDR in his youth couldn’t match the locals debating in Welshpool stores. But he must have picked up pointers that served him well later on. And it’s reasonable to think his time on the Canadian side helped foster the great partnership with Britain and the Commonwealth in the Second World War.
Fishing and aquaculture: Campobello fishermen and those from neighbouring islands adapted anti-submarine sonar for seining herring, a technique that spread around the world. They also pioneered an increasingly popular system of individual quotas for fishing boats. Deer Island, with help from scientists at the St. Andrews Biological Station, saw the beginning of commercial salmon farming in North America.