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History of Church of England in New Brunswick


From An historical sketch of the first fifty years of the Church of England in the province of New Brunswick (1783-1833) by G. Herbert Lee, page 97.


WOODSTOCK was settled by Loyalists in 1783. After some time they prevailed upon Mr. Frederick Dibblee, of Stamford, Conn., one of their number, to become their clergyman. Accordingly Mr. Dibblee proceeded to Fredericton, and thence to St. John, N. B., by canoe, there being no roads at that early period. At St John he took passage in a schooner for Halifax, N. S., where he was ordained Deacon by the Bishop of Nova Scotia,in the year 1791. Three months were occupied by Mr. Dibblee in his Journey to and from Halifax, during which time his family never heard a word from him. Mr. Dibblee was appointed first missionary "to all the settlers living on the River St. John above St. Mary's and Kingsclear." The great extent of his mission - embracing the four Parishes of Prince William, Queensbury, Woodstock and Northampton made Mr. Dibblee's work arduous and difficult. The people were few in number, and scattered over an area of 150 miles. Travelling was ditficult and wearisome. No well-beaten roads, no steamboats, no railways assisted the toiling missionary. Bark canoes and riding on horseback were his chief means of conveyance in summer; snowshoes in winter. From December 1st, 1791, to January 1st, 1792, Mr. Dibblee performed two marriages and four baptisms. During the year 1792 there were four marriages and thirty baptisms. In the summer of 1792 the Bishop of Nova Scotia visited Woodstock, as well as other Missions in New Brunswick. Mr. Dibblee had taken great pains to educate the Indians, and the Bishop found no less than 250 families in and about Woodstock who were seriously thinking of devoting themselves to agriculture and giving up their wandering mode of life. They were led to do this from the failure of game, as the country was being settled. The Indians appeared to have learned as fast as the whites, and to have been fond of associating with them. Everything betokened order and regularity in the school; the Whites and Indians getting on most harmoniously. On 1st April, 1793, the first regular Easter Monday meeting was held for appointing Church Wardens and Vestrymen, according to law. No Church, however, was yet built; services being held in private houses. Mr. Dibblee continued Rector of Woodstock, with the additional charge of the Parishes of Northampton, Prince William and Queensbury, until the day of his death, May 16 1826. He lived to the age of 73 years. His salary from the S. P. G. was 50 stg. a year.

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It is worthy of note that it was originally intended that the centre of the Mission of Woodstock should be near the Meductic Falls. But it so happened when Mr. Dibblee, the newly appointed missionary, was being paddled up the River St. John to his new sphere of labour that he fell asleep, and the Indian, who was guiding the canoe, passed the place before he was aware of it. Consequently he pursued his way until Woodstock was reached, which place he found in every way suited to his purpose. A change in "the order" given him was accordingly procured from Fredericton, and Woodstock became the centre of the Mission.