There being many societies and clubs in which Douglastown residents played an important role, it was a matter of having the meetings or headquarters of the society in the larger centers of Chatham or Newcastle which centered it apart from Douglastown.
At the time of the founding of the Highland Society, it was its principal objective to relieve the distress of Scotsmen and their descendants in the Miramichi Community. However, like so many other organizations, by 1830 the Society had become defunct.
This situation was turned around when, on November 30,1838, about 30 Scotsmen with William Simpson as chairman. met at Wyse’s Hotel. Their purpose was to form a North British Society. Their efforts bore fruit when, on November 19, 1840, with people in attendance from Tabusintac, Napan, Black River, and Bay du Vin, as well as from the immediate area, it was unanimously agreed to start a Highland Society of New Brunswick.
Later, at a January 13th, 1841 meeting, it was decided that an annual meeting would be held alternately at Chatham and Newcastle. Application was made to become a branch of the Highland Society of London. The first executive consisted of: James Gilmore, president: Alexander Fraser Jr., Dr Alexander Key and R.C. McDonald as vice-presidents; Robert Cassels, treasurer; James Caie and Neil McLean as secretaries.
Thus it was that on June 13, 1842, the parent Society, the Highland Society of London, granted a commission to the Miramichi Society which would be known as the "Highland Society of New Brunswick at Miramichi". It was incorporated on April 11, 1846. Following the presidency of James Gilmore, Dr. Alexander Key assumed that position from 1843 until his death in 1851. Next in line was Alexander Rankin in 1852 followed by Richard Hutchison who held office until his death in 1891. The Society continues today and is a truly Canadian organization clinging to a proud Scottish heritage.
The constitution of the Highland Society of New Brunswick at Miramichi states that "All persons eligible for membership in the society shall be of Scottish desend. "
Highlights in History
Charter was granted James Gilmore and Alexander Rankin under the patronage of Sir William Colebrooke, Lieut-Governor of the Province of New Brunswick, to found a branch of the Highland Society of London at Miramichi. At this time, the society had a membership of 151 with funds to the amount of L41 12s. 6d.
The society became incorporated under the name of ”The Highland Society of New Brunswick at Miramichi” on April 11th
The society decided to build a school at Chatham. This school became know as the Presbyterian Academy and was erected and equipped at a cost of L815 17s. 5d.
The society suffered loss of its records, seals and other property when the secretary’s office was destroyed by fire. A scholarship of $50.00 was established open to daughters of members and $70.00 to sons of members.
Curling cup purchased at a cost of $65.00. First played for in 1884.
A new brick school was erected on the site of the old one at a cost of $5,200.00. This building was sold some years later to the Dominion Government for $6,000.00 and used as an armoury. It was used by the Town of Chatham as a recreational center until 1980 when it was demolished.
The society granted $500.00 towards the erection of the Burns Memorial in Fredericton.
The University of New Brunswick was paid $1,500.00 to establish a scholarship in the name of the society. This scholarship amounted to $75.00 per year.
The society purchased 23 shares of Bank of Nova Scotia stock. Annual grants were made to the Miramichi Hospital. Over the years total grants to that institution amounted $18,000.00.
A generous donation was made to War Relief Funds
A contribution was made to the erection of a monument to be erected at or near Pictou to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the landing of Scottish settlers on the ship "Hector".
Scholarship at U.N.B. increased by $75.00 to $150.00 per year.
Scholarships were established of $100.00 each to two students entering the nursing profession, and to two students entering the teaching profession.
Educational grants of $150.00 were made to students of Scottish descent; these grants have now been increased to $300.00 (1980). The society sponsored a Pipe and Drum Band, supplied them with uniforms and instruments and engaged an instructor. This band took and active part in many public functions and was a credit to the society. It became increasingly difficult to recruit members for the band and regretfully in1975 we were forced to discontinue and the instruments were sold-the society retained the mace.
The society purchased special pins to be presented to members with 30 years of service and to those with 40 years of service.
Scholarship at U.N.B. increased to $300.00.
The society decided to support the annual celebrations of the Towns of Chatham and Newcastle by underwriting the cost of having a Pipe Band take part in these celebrations. Since then we have had the Heatherbelle Pipe Band of Pictou participate: in Chatham on the odd years and in Newcastle on the even years.
An annual grant was established to the Miramichi Association for the Help of Retarded Children. The scholarship at U.N.B. increased to $500.00. Annual prizes awarded to the graduate of Grade 12 with the highest standing in English, at each of the High Schools in the area.
A fund was set up and a committee appointed to help handicapped persons. The society had the Curling Cup, purchased in 1883, appraised by Birks & son, value $1,775.00.
A scholarship was established open to the sons or daughters of members for the first year only at any Maritime University. Value $600.00.
New Brunswick’s Bicentennial Year: The society erected a polished granite Memorial Fountain in Elm Park dedicated to the Scottish pioneers of the Miramichi area and presented it to the Town of Chatham. This project was entirely financed by the Society.
Enrolled as a member of the Friends of the Loggie Cultural Centre.
John Ullock appointed historian. Dr James Keays presented the Society with thirty-one tartans, suitably mounted and named.
Members of the Scholarship Committee to serve a five-year term.
The ladies were our guests at St. Andrew’s Banquet. The first Miramichi Highland Week-end entertainment proved to be a highly successful venture. The Society purchased two units of the life Line program assisting in supplying a vital service to the seniors in the area.
Constitution revised. Scotswomen and wives of Scotsmen become eligible for membership.
First N.B. Tartan Day celebrated with displays and Flag raising at Town Hall.
Donation to CT Scan project.
Charter copied and placed at Rankin House. The original Charted placed in NB Archives, Fredericton.
$2000.00 Donation to Rotary Fund.
$35,000.00 given to Regional Hospital Corporation to fund Highland Theatre in the new Hospital.
Ladies included in Robert Burns “Challenge Cup” curling for first time.
Initiated Membership pins for 30, 40 and 50 year members.
The Scottish Heritage Committee to Promote and Preserve Wilson’s Point and Beaubears Island formed.
Web site established.
Whereas, The Highland Society of London was instituted in the year 1778, and incorporated in the year 1816, to associate together in the British Metropolis, the Nobility, Landed Proprietors, and other Natives of the Highlands, together with their descendants and the Officers of Highland Corps and Gentlemen connected by family alliance, or who have rendered some sigald service to that part of
"For the preservation of the Language, Martial Spirit, Dress, Music and Antiquities of
the ancient Caledonians.
For rescuing from oblivion the valuable remains of Celtic Literature
For the establishment and support of Gaelic Schools
For relieving distressed Highlanders at a distance from their native homes and
For promoting the improvements and general welfare of the northern parts of the Island"
And Whereas the said Society, to extend the benefits of their institution and to unite together in a central union their Countrymen, wherever situated, have resolved to issue Commissions for the establishment of Branches thereof in the British Colonies abroad, as well as in other places, abroad and at home where Highlanders are residents, and being extremely desirous that a Branch should be established in Miramichi, New Brunswick: You are herby authorized and empowered in pursuance of this Resolution, to found a Branch of the Highland Society of London at Miramichi, New Brunswick, accordingly, with authority to make by-laws as may be necessary for the management thereof, in conformity to the principles and rules of the said Society.
Given at London under the Seal of the Society, this 13th day of June, 1842.
To His Excellency Sir William McBean G Colebrooke, K. H. Lieut. Governor; James Gilmore and Alexander Rankin Esquires.