For the past eight years, Bill West at West in New England has hosted the Annual Great Genealogy Poetry Challenge. I first came across it last year. Although I don’t remember what I was trying to find, I wasn’t very successful.
I decided that this year, for Challenge #9, I needed to work a bit harder or choose a family or location that has had poetry or a song composed about it.
No problem – My Loyalist James Astle left Schenectady, New York at the close of the American Revolution. He first landed on the Gaspe in Quebec, but eventually settled on the Miramichi River in Northumberland County, New Brunswick, Canada, where he died in 1815.
James lived in the parish of Ludlow, which later became Nelson.
I have been to New Brunswick, but not as far north as Northumberland County. It looks like the Miramichi River might have its challenges:
Source: Public Domain
However, it can look quite serene and quite beautiful, but definitely cold:
Source: Wikimedia Commons
It was here that James and his descendants lived for three generations, until my 3X great grandmother married and moved to Calais, Maine.
My family were farmers and fishermen on the river. I imagine that many days were spent navigating it. By the way, one important thing to know about the name of this river is that it is pronounced Mir – a – mi- SHEE with the accent on the SHEE, not Mir- a – ME – chee, with the accent on the ME.
When I looked for a poem about the Miramichi, I discovered one by an author I knew (I am a retired elementary and junior high school language arts teacher) – Robert Munsch. He is probably best known for his book Love You Forever, published in 1986.
I commented on how to pronounce the river name because of his poem, which is short, but to the point. Note that in the poem Miramichi is rhymed with peachy and preachy! Nonetheless, I love it and also love the fact that the class likely wrote to him and he was not only gracious enough to respond, he even wrote them a poem about their home. It was written in 2005 for Miss Anderson’s third grade class at Gretna Green Elementary School, located right in Miramichi.
Things are peachy
Until the Winter Comes,
And freezes your nose
And also your toes
And maybe even your thumbs.
So why are they preachy
About how it’s so nice?
Don’t they know
It’s 40 below
And everything’s turning to ice?
Well, something is there
That makes them not care
That winter’s really at home;
And since that is so
It’s where I will go
As soon as I finish this poem.
And I bet it is very cold there in the winter!