The Connell Family of Woodstock has been in Carleton County since the late 18th century when Charles, at the age of twelve, arrived in Northampton with his mother and step-father around 1789. He later had twelve children including the Hon. Charles Connell whose papers are contained in this collection.
The Hon. Charles Connell (1810-1873) was born on the family farm in Northampton and in 1835 married Ann Fisher, a sister of L. P. Fisher and Charles Fisher, New Brunswick’s first Liberal Premier, under whom he was later to serve. Charles Connell was active in the lumber industry, at one time supplying poles for the building of the telegraph line. He was also instrumental in opening up new tracts of land, especially in the Glassville area and around the mouth of the Presquile River.
Elected to the Legislative Assembly in 1846, be soon became a member of the Legislative Council. He was appointed Postmaster General of New Brunswick by the then Premier Charles Fisher. It is as Postmaster General that he is best remembered. When a new issue of 5 cent New Brunswick stamps was required in 1860, it appeared, not with the familiar head of Queen Victoria, but with his own. It was the Connell Stamp Scandal. At the time that the stamp was printed, it nearly brought the Fisher Government down. Connell resigned when the Executive Council advised the Lieutenant Governor, J. H. T. Manners-Sutton, to disapprove the design in favor of one bearing the Queen’s portrait.
Charles Connell was returned to the Legislature in 1864, where he took a pro-Confederation stand. In 1867, he ran as a candidate in the first federal election and won by acclamation. He was re-elected in 1872. After his death, he was followed to Ottawa by one of his sons, George Heber Connell.
He left an estate that played an important role in the history of Woodstock. In 1852, he had purchased Judith Morehouse’s lands. These, she had acquired from her first husband, Richard Smith. They consisted of the former Loyalist grants on which downtown Woodstock was being built, as well as the residential neighborhood on the north side of the Creek. The estate formed a triangle made by the river, the Meduxnekeag and Elm Street, imagining extensions of Elm Street at each end to meet the water. The estate had already been subdivided by Richard Smith and Judith Smith-Morehouse into lots bearing 999 year leases. Most occupants preferred to remain tenants with nominal rents (2 shillings in the residential area) even though they could purchase the freehold on very reasonable terms. A very small number of these household lots still exist and the records of the Charles Connell estate are still kept.
However, after the death of Charles Connell’s widow, Ann, in 1895, his brother-in-law, L. P. Fisher, began the process of purchasing the shares of Charles Connell’s surviving children. Eventually the Charles Connell estate was totally amalgamated into the L. P. Fisher estate.
William M. Connell is the other Connell Family member whose papers are contained in this collection. He was one of Charles’ sons, and like his father, he was a prominent lawyer and businessman in Woodstock from the 1870s through to the early 1900s.
Source: The Buqle, “The Connell Family in Woodstock,” by Allison Connell, March 14,1984.
Volume: 2.8 linear meters of textual documents, 4 oversized folders and 51.37 linear meters of law books.
Content: This collection contains legal documents pertaining to Charles Connell’s activities as lawyer and politician. William Connell’s work as a justice of the peace is also illustrated by documents. Business correspondence contains information on Charles and William’s interests, including lumbering, property rental, and real estate ventures in Alberta. Personal papers include correspondence for both Charles and William with family members.