Sunday, June 17, 2018

Remembering the Military History of New Brunswick

Fort Howe, protection from the American War of Independence.

In researching my novel set in New Brunswick, Canada, in the eighteenth century, I needed a fort for my heroine’s father to be stationed. Several forts had been built around the Bay of Fundy coast. Unfortunately, none have survived. The French constructed forts during the seventeenth century when France occupied the area they’d named New France.

England took possession in 1763 after the Seven Years War (also called the French and Indian War) and built their own forts.

 I traveled to the port city of Saint John in New Brunswick in May 2017, and discovered a lone block house on a hill behind the town. Thus, I ferreted out the history.

 In 1777, Brigade-Major Gilfred Studholme was sent to Parr Town (future Saint John) to ensure the settlement’s security. Two years before the American colonies to the south had erupted in rebellion against Britain. American privateers were raiding the harbor and encampments up the St John River.

On the limestone knoll that overlooked the harbor, Studholme’s detachment along with local inhabitants built Fort Howe, named for General William Howe, commander of the North American British forces.

The fort was surrounded by a palisade of massive, pointed wooden logs. A blockhouse sat on the west side with a barracks and residences in the center. The Royal Fencible Americans, Studholme’s regiment, manned the blockhouse on the eastern side. The coastal end of the Appalachian Mountains formed a part of the fortifications. Fort Howe provided security, and doled out food during starvation conditions, for the area.

 Even the famous—or infamous—Benedict Arnold, traitor to some, hero to others, lived at the fort in the later 1780s. General Arnold had started out on the American side, but then, feeling underappreciated, and underpaid, he joined the British forces.

 A fire destroyed Fort Howe in 1819. Two hundred years later I stood on the isolated hill where a plaque commemorates the fort. A reconstructed Block House is the only evidence a great fort once existed here.

 I incorporate life at the fort in my novel, On a Stormy Primeval Shore:

In 1784, Englishwoman Amelia Latimer sails to the new colony of New Brunswick in faraway Canada. She’s to marry a man chosen by her soldier father. Amelia is repulsed by her betrothed, and refuses to marry him. She is attracted to a handsome Acadian trader, Gilbert, a man beneath her in status. Gilbert must fight the incursion of English Loyalists from the American war to hold onto his land and heritage. Will he and Amelia find peace when events seek to destroy their love and lives.

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Diane Scott Lewis grew up in California, traveled the world with the navy, edited for magazines and an on-line publisher. She lives with her husband in Pennsylvania.



  1. Nicely done. My mom once said she had a couple of aunts who researched their name, their heritage. They stopped when they came to Benedict Arnold. Now, not sure if this is true or not. My mom loved to make up stories. She told them so well, they were very convincing. Wicked Mummy.

  2. Great a behind the scenes, or behind the history, behind the novel. Always interesting to see how author's manipulate the facts of history to tell a great story aka On A Stormy Primeval Shore.

  3. Interesting article Diane, Arnold was certainly a divisive figure in history.