Settlers’ Homes on the Nashwaak

The Settlers’ Homes along the Nashwaak River, New Brunswick
Excerpts (edited) from “Memories of Yesteryear“, by Marilyn J. Evans (self-published)

The Log Cabins
The first log homes built by the Highland settlers were very crude; the only tool the settler had to work with was an axe. The cabin was made of round logs, from five to twenty feet in length, notched near the ends, then laid horizontally over each other, crossing and binding each other at the corners until it reached a height of seven or eight feet, the spaces between were filled with moss and clay; three or four rafters were raised to support a roof made of hewed boards and bark from birch or spruce trees. Some made their roof from rinds of birch or spruce trees, bound over with small poles. A hole for a door and a window would then be cut in, the door hung and if possible glass installed in a sash. Glass was one of the items that was supposed to be supplied according to the articles of Settlement, but few if any actually received it. In place of glass, thinly scraped, greased hides, were used; they let in light but were not transparent. The sash was then placed in the window hole. Flooring consisted of packed earth; later when boards were available, the cabin had a rough board floor.

The building was small usually only one room. They had to make the best use possible with their limited space. One way was to roll the children’s bed under that of their parents; it was called a ” trundle – bed” , hidden during the day and brought out at night. The only other furniture, a table and two benches, all hewed by the settlers hand. Clothes were hung on hooks by the master bed. At one end of the cabin was a fireplace, made of stone laid in yellow clay. It was used for cooking the meals as well as heating the room; on one side of the fireplace was a long piece of iron called a crane, it was on a hinge and would swing out, for easy access to kettles, pots of meat and vegetables cooking over the fire. For baking they used a dutch oven made of iron; the sides were straight, and it had a removable cover, or they used tin reflectors on the hearth. Some settlers had brick ovens built in the chimney. The bread dough was put in the dutch ovens, the top put on, then buried in the ashes of the fireplace, and left overnight to cook. A persons hands, and face, would roast from the intense heat of the open fire, while they prepared a meal.

Plumbing in some cases consisted of the whole outdoors, but some did take the time to build the outdoors toilet. Water was carried in a pail from the nearest stream, or in winter they melted snow. A hole was dug for a root cellar; the entrance covered with a wooden door. This was the place they stored their fall harvest.

The Old Farm House
The log cabins were still in use in 1851, although most of the Nashwaak residents were living in frame houses by 1814, as seen in drawings in a book of sermons dated 1814-1829, held in the possession of the Munroe family. These drawings pictured houses made of sawed lumber, with huge fireplaces taking up one whole outside end of the house. The outside of the frame house was boarded in with rough boards, 1 1/4 inch thick, then shingled, or had pine clapboards for the outside siding. The roof was covered with cedar shingles. The inside walls were studded, then Lath was applied horizontally, with only an 8th of an inch between each length, then, the whole works was covered with plaster. These houses normally contained a cellar, and on the first floor was : 1 bedroom, parlour, dining roon, kitchen, pantry, storage or wood shed off the kitchen. The second floor contained anywhere from two to four bedrooms, and each home generally had an attic. The kitchen was often the largest room in the house. Wood stoves did not appear in kitchens until 1845; before then, cooking was done as in the log cabins.