From The Scrapbook By Rev. Bill Randall


February, 1996

By Dr. Bill Randall

Lake George In The Beginning

Franklin Luke Lawson was born 11 April 1939 at Grafton, N.B. and married Judith Ann Middlemiss of Fredericton. After the birth of their first child in 1964 Frank began researching his family background and preserved his findings in a book entitled “BEFORE MY TIME: Alexander and Deborah (Kelly) Lawson of Lake George, New Brunswick and their descendants”. A copy of the book was loaned me by Ruth Cleghorn and I contacted Mr. Lawson who has given me permission “to publish any or all of it, as you see fit in the Lionews.” Thanks.

According to the Memorial of John McGeorge and Alexander Lawson, written on 2 October 1818, they claimed to be “… natives of North Britain …” and that they “… emigrated to this Province In the year 1817 …” They were petitioning His Excellency Major General George Stacey-Smyth, Lieutenant Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the Province for three hundred acres of land each,” … at or near a certain Lake situate in the rear of the Prince William Grant, commonly called the seven mile Lake.”

As a matter of interest, they each received a grant of two hundred acres as shown on the map of the original grantees. Lot number 1 of the survey was granted to John McGeorge and, adjacent to it, Lot number 2 was granted to Alexander Lawson.

in 1817 the land around Lake George would have been, for the most part, uninhabited and heavily forested. The parish of Prince William had been established in 1786 and the river lots surveyed and granted to the officers and men of the King’s American Dragoons. (1) Sometime later the rear lots were surveyed and when Alexander1 applied for a grant in 1818 the land was “… altogether in a wild and uncultivated state”.

On 10 October 1818 Adam Wyse Sr. and seventeen others applied for land in the same area. Their purposes was “… forming a settlement in rear of second tier of lots in the parish of Prince William at a Lake called the seven mile Lake.” More specifically they requested the land in the rear of lots #61 and #62 and to front on the Lake on the N W side. The note made by the authorities at the end of the petition was “Recommended so as not to interfere with the application made by John McGeorge and Alex Lawson.”(2)

In 1956 Ernest Ross Irvine, who was then 76 years old, wrote of the early settlement.

“’When the early settlers first came to Lake George all supplies had to come up river from Fredericton by towboat, then hauled four miles by oxen over a trail blazed on trees.”

“The homes were built first near the shore of logs chinked with moss but as they cut the lumber and cleared the land they built new homes of logs chinked with lime and covered with homemade shingles or shooks.”

“’The lumber which was cut being very fine pine was used for ships’ masts along with Tamarac knees and roots. These was shipped to Saint John for shipbuilding.43)’

The name of the lake apparently was changed from Seven Mile Lake to Nine-Mile Lake to Lake George – all within a few years. The memorial of John McGeorge and Alexander Lawson and the Memorial of Adam Wyse Dr. et. al. both identify the lake as Seven Mile Lake. Two years later in the Journal of the Legislature of New Brunswick it is identified as Nine Mile Lake.

“#40 towards opening a road from the settlement of Emigrants on the nine-mile lake (Prince William) to the river (4)

Two years later in the Obituary section of a Fredericton newspaper it is referred to as Lake George.

DIED] On the morning of the 21st, Mr. John McGeorge of Prince William, in consequence of being shot by an Indian, on the 9th inst. Mr. McGeorge was a native of Scotland, and came to the Province about five years ago, and was one of the first settlers of Lake George, which took its name from him. He was a man of genuine piety and exemplary morals, and bore his melancholy fate with great patience and resignation.(5)

Apparently the community was also known as Scotch Settlement for a period of time.(6)

The settlement at Lake George quickly grew due to Scottish and Irish immigration and expansion from neighboring communities(7)

“Among the early settlers were the Irvine’s, McMurray’s, 

Nicholson’s, Lawson’s and McLean’s. Later came the Moody’s, 

Hoyt’s, Clancey’s, Donnelly’s and Trainors.1(8)

Alexander Lawson married Deborah Kelly 23 March 1824

Fredericton, New Brunswick            23 March 1824

These are to certify that Alexander Lawson of the parish 

of Prince William and Deborah Kelly of the parish

were married by me this twenty-third of March, 1824.

George Best

This marriage was solemized between us

In the presence of Alexander Lawson

Thomas Stewart James Carter Deborah Kelly

Filed and Reg’d  20 Sept. 1824

During their marriage Alexander) and Deborah Lawson had a total of six sons and one daughter. (13) In order of birth they were:

James Lawson2, b. Lake George, 2 February, 1825 Mary Lawson2, b. Lake George, c. 1827 Robert Lawson2, b. Lake George, 22 April 1829 Isaac Lawson2, b. Lake George, c. 1831 Alexander Lawson2, b. Lake George, e. 1833 William Lawson2, b. Lake George, 1836 Luke Lawson2, b. Lake George, 11 May 1839

Unfortunately there is no record of the life together of Alexander1 and Deborah. No letters remain although some were written(13) There are no photographs or paintings of this couple or of their home. One can only speculate that, as with almost all settlers in New Brunswick at that time, life was filled with back breaking physical work and few comforts. Exhaustion, crude housing and clothing, improper nutrition, primitive sanitation and health practices, and little or no recreation was the lot of most settlers.

On 5 October 1844 Alexander2 died. In the older Lake George cemetery is a gravestone with the following inscription:

In memory of / ALEXANDER/ son of Alexander &

Deborah Lawson /Died/ 5 Oct. 1844/ Aged 11 years 

On 27 May 1848, Alexander purchased Lot # 21 from John Deblois. It contained 100 acres more or less and it was obtained for 70.(1°)

On 29 October 1850, James2, the eldest son of Alexander) and Deborah Lawson, married Sarah Kelly. 

Unfortunately the census of 1851 for the Parish of Prince William is unavailable. Therefore, it is not possible to identify the residents of Lake George at that time, the extent of their farming operations, name and ages of children, etc.

On 31 July 1851, Mary2, the only daughter of Alexander and Deborah Lawson, married Benjamin Jones. (18)

On 15 April 1852, Robert2, their second oldest son married Jane Frances Hoyt.(19)

On 7 September 1854, their third eldest son, Isaac2, married Patience Ballentyne. (20)

On 26 October 1854, Alexander) and Deborah sold 1/4 acre of Lot #2 to be used as a lot on which to build a church. They received 5 shillings for this property. As a matter of interest, the trustees of the church were Alexander Moody, Alexander Lawson, James McMurray, John Scott, Colin McLean, John Nicholson and John Irving, senior. (21)

In the election of 1856, Alexander, James2, Robert2, Isaac2 and William2 Lawson all exercised their franchise. At that time electors were obliged to publically declare their choice of candidate. Of the six candidates, each of the Lawsons declared for Mr. C. MacPherson and Mr. C. Fisher. (22) it is interesting to note that some ten years later one of the Fathers of Confederation was the same Charles Fisher, a Liberal member of the New Brunswick Legislature.

On 18 November 1862, Alexander1 leased the mining rights on the William McDermot property (SE half Lot #14) to Smith, Frye, Hibbard et. al. for 1 year at 80 cents per ton. (29) Ernest Ross Irving described the mining of antimony at Lake George.

“The antimony mines was discovered and operated on a

large scale employing most of the men of the community.

Cordwood for mines was cut and sold for around $1.00 per

cord landed at the mines. A wood kiln was made for burning

charcoal to be used for the smelting of the ore. This was

smelted and boxed and hauled to Harvey for shipment. This ore

was mixed several feet below the surface sometimes going down a

number of feet following the vein. I remember one drift was over

600 feet long and as deep. These pits were all propped. Tracks was

laid and cars for the ore was let down by a long wire line wrapped

around a large drum with a pole fastened to it and a horse attached

who walked one way in a circle to let the empty cars down and reverse

to haul them up loaded. This was called a gin.’ (3)

On 9 December 1863, William Lawson2 died. In the older Lake George Cemetery there is a stone with the following inscription:

“In memory of /WILLIAM LAWSON/ Died Dec. 9th 1863/ in the 27th year/ of his age.

A short time before his death William2 married someone named Hannah. After William2 died, Hannah married John Nicholson. This Nicholson family remained close friends of the Lawsons, especially of the James Lawson2 branch. (32)

Had Alexanderl time for reminiscence he might have reflected upon his life in Canada. He had arrived here as a young man full of ambition and visions of youth. He found a mate-for-life and together they cleared and cultivated the land, raised livestock and crops and a large family. They saw their daughter married and likewise five of their sons. They buried two of their boys. During these years they had become grand-parents many times. There were five little ones at James’2 and four at Mary’s2. There were four at Robert’s2, one at Isaac’s2 and two at Luke’s2. Alexander and Deborah had seen Lake George Settlement develop from virgin forest to a bustling community of many homes, a school, a church, mills and the mines. On these things Alexanderl might have reflected and been truly proud.

Mr. Lawson reminds us their family research is an on-going process and if you would like to share this task with him, here is his address:

WRA West River Associates

Judy & Frank Lawson

Professional Services Contractors

R.R. # 2 Cornwall, P.E.I. COA 1H0

(902) 566-4615


I heard the call of Canada across the windy sea,

I took the road to Canada, and others went with me;

We toiled upon the logging-trails; we wrought upon the farms; 

‘Twas Scotland in its braw day’s work with all of Scotland’s charms.

Source: Rev. Bill Randall’s “From The Scrapbook Vol. One.”

Recommended Reading

Interested in learning more about the rich history and heritage of the Harvey region? Here are a few blog posts that might pique your interest: