vendredi 28 janvier 2011

19th Century Libraries in Stanstead Part 3 : Silas Dickerson’s Stanstead Circulating Library

Silas Horton Dickerson (1799-1857) established himself as a printer in Stanstead in 1823. As such, he was the first printer in the Eastern Townships, and issued from 1823 to 1834 the very first newspaper in the area : the British Colonist and St. Francis Gazette [1]. He also printed a few books [2] ; and, as was common practice among printers of the time, he also doubled as a bookseller at his shop in Stanstead Plain. The British Colonist published advertisements for both his own publications, and for books issued by other publishers. Silas H. Dickerson experienced more than his share of financial and judicial problems during his career as printer and publisher, which brought him to close down his business by 1834 [3].

Silas Horton Dickerson and his wife, Mary Price.
Ambrotype, circa 1855 (Courtesy Mrs. Lisa Morrison, Ottawa)

Another widespread activity for printers and booksellers of the period, was to set up "circulating libraries", where patrons of the shop could rent books for a small fee, or for varied term subscriptions (yearly, quarterly, monthly). This type of library, contrary to the so-called "social" libraries, was privately owned by a single proprietor, and was primarily a commercial activity. At the turn of the 19th century, there were libraries of this sort in Montreal and Quebec City – where, for instance, printer and bookseller Thomas Cary operated a circulating library from his premises on St. Louis street. 

A true pioneer of  the Canadian book trade – as the first printer, publisher and bookseller to set up outside of the larger cities of Canada East (as the province of Québec was called at the time) –, Dickerson also appears to be the first to operate such a library in a rural area.

The advent of circulating libraries was still a novelty in Dickerson’s era. The earliest known circulating library in America was initiated by William Rind in Annapolis (Maryland) in 1762, but was short lived. However, by the early 19th century, circulating libraries had become a trend of sorts, as more and more book and print shops were caught up in the movement. Multiple copies of selected books were kept in stock for renting out to customers. Over time, "circulating libraries were often criticized for the shallowness and moral laxity of their book stock and customers, and it is clear that they often catered to the frivolous and the less educated. Some books, it was alleged, were ‘written solely for the use of the circulating library, and very proper to debauch all young women who are still un-debauched’.[4] "

This was obviously not the case for Silas Dickerson’s stock of books, as all the offerings of the Stanstead Circulating Library were predominantly of a religious character – and certainly not the usual fare of popular novels and adventure stories that were found in many circulating libraries in 19th century American cities [5]. In a small brochure printed in 1830 by S. H. Dickerson, "The Rules and Catalogue of the Stanstead Circulating Library, instituted in 1830" [6], some 158 books available at the library are listed, along with detailed indications on its rules and modes of operation (see illustrations). This private library most likely acted as open competition to the social libraries, and possibly added to the difficulty they faced in securing a steady flow of active users – slowly contributing to their demise. Yet Dickerson’s stock cannot be viewed as undermining the social libraries’ inventories, seeing that these mainly held books of quite another, non-religious, nature.

The religious bent of Dickerson’s circulating library comes as no surprise, since much of the content of his paper, the British Colonist, was initially oriented towards religious subjects. Having been apprenticed for six years to a Kingston printer, Stephen Miles [7], and later employed by Nahum Mower in Montreal – both of them known for their religious proselytism –, Dickerson was certainly influenced in his devotions by his former masters, and it is not unlikely that he settled in Stanstead in 1823 because of the strong presence of the Methodist church in the area. It is also known that Silas Dickerson was one of the "proprietors" of the Stanstead Wesleyan Seminary in the early 1840’s [8], along with the most influencial Stanstead citizens of the time.

Pages from 
The Rules and Catalogue of the Stanstead Circulating Library, 1830.
Collection Haskell Free Public Library, Rock Island, Qeébec, & Derby Line, Vermont.

Though the Stanstead Circulating Library catalogue speaks for itself as to its religious emphasis, Silas Horton Dickerson’s "credo" towards books and reading is of a more secular nature:

As reading is a source of the highest personal improvement, and the most exquisite pleasure, accessible to men of every rank ; those who neglect books inadvertently injure themselves ; for a life destitute of knowledge is worse than death. [9]

[1] See Jean-Pierre Kesteman, "Les premiers journaux du district de Saint-François (1823-1845)", in Revue d'histoire de l'Amérique française, vol. 31, n° 2, 1977, p. 240-233 ; available  on Internet at
[2] Books printed by Dickerson include Elmer Cushing’s "An Appeal…", issued in 1826. See Pierre Rastoul, "Early Book Trades in Stanstead, circa 1820-1850", in Stanstead Historical Society Journal, vol. 23, 2009 ; pp. 93-120
[3] However, he remained active in Stanstead afterwards, namely as an organizer for the Reformist party, supporting the election of their candidates John Grannis and Marcus Child in 1836. During the Patriot Rebellion (1837-1838), he was forced into exile to the U.S., but returned shortly after to Stanstead, where he held positions as public officer – namely as Customs Agent for the "port" of Stanstead (1853 on), and later, in 1857, as the first Mayor of Stanstead Plain. Dickerson passed away three months later, and is buried in the Cristal Lake cemetery in Stanstead. A biography of Silas H. Dickerson, by Jean-Pierre Kesteman, in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. VIII (1851-1860), available online at
[4] Richard Wendorf, as quoted by Rick Ring in "Notes for Bibliophiles", the Providence Public Library Special Collections blog, November 4, 2008 ; at
[5] See David Kaser, A Book for a Sixpence. The Circulating Library in America ; Pittsburgh, Beta Phi Mu, 1980.
[6] The only known copy of this brochure is preserved at the Haskell Free Public Library.
[7] Stephen Miles eventually sold his print shop in Kingston to become a Methodist pastor, in 1819, at which time Dickerson moved to Montreal to work with Nahum Mower. On Stephen Miles, see Aegidius Fauteux, The Introduction of Printing in Canada, Montréal : Rolland Paper Company, 1930; p. 137.
[8] A Catalogue of the Officers and Students of Stanstead Seminary in Canada East, for the years 1841 & 1842, Sherbrooke, Printed by J. S. Walton, 1842. (Courtesy of James Farfan, Ogden)
[9] The Rules and Catalogue of the Stanstead Circulating Library…, Stanstead, Printed by S. H. Dickerson, 1830 ; cover page.

mardi 25 janvier 2011

19th Century Libraries in Stanstead Part 2 : The Stanstead South-West Quarter Social Library (1823-1846)

We don’t have a clue as to what kinds of books the Stanstead and Barnston Union Library held, within the 90 volumes or so that were sold off at an auction in 1827. Our knowledge of this first library holds entirely in the few notices that were published in the British Colonist, between 1823 (when the Colonist started publishing) and 1827, when the library folded up -- see our blog for Jan. 19, 2011. The situation is quite different for the second local library, the Stanstead South-West Quarter Social Library : there is no mention of this library in the period’s newspapers, except for one in the very last days of its existence (1846). But, fortunately, part of the stock of books of the S.W. Quarter Library has been preserved, and now lies in the collections of the Stanstead Historical Society.

These books, totalling some 35 titles, hold a wealth of information on the library, as each one has retained its original sequential numbering, as well as a handwritten ex-libris page on the front endpapers of all the books (see illustrations). From the numbers, we learn that the library’s holdings were of over 118 titles – many of which have however been lost over time. There may well have been more. 

Indeed, after a long jump in numbers, books numbered from 306 onwards (to # 370 or more), are identified to the Stanstead Social Library – some with a printed label --, which we think might be a continuation of the S.W. Quarter Library, as the few books preserved from the S. S. L. bear publication dates that link to the last dates for those of the S.W. Quarter’s. If so, the S.W. Quarter Library would connect to at least one other library of the area (Stanstead Social) – yet not to the Stanstead and Barnston Union Library, which was still in place for some years after the S. W. Quarter Social Library was initiated.

This is another information we hold from the handwritten inscriptions on the endpages of the preserved books, confirming without doubt that the S.W. Quarter Library was set up in the Spring of 1823. As a matter of fact, the library ex-libris state the date each book was bought, the price paid, and the place it was purchased : we thus know that the library’s first purchases of books (matching the sequence of numbers from 1 to 18) were made in March 1823 in Windsor and Coventry, Vermont, and that later books (# 21-34) were bought in Stanstead from local merchants, in January and July 1824. Later purchases go up to 1839, some from Stanstead and Boston, but most from unspecified locations.

The ex-libris pages also bear the fixed meeting dates and time (annual and quarterly meetings), with a mention of fines incurred for late returns : "Fine of 12 ½ cents if not returned at the stated meetings", later expanded "with an additional cent for each exceeding day till returned". Meetings were held in March, June, September and December. It so appears that books were lent for months at a time, to be returned at the quarterly meetings, which was quite an unusual system. Some books also state a "Fine for lending Linrary book, 25 cents", or "Penalty for lending to non proprietors, 25 cents" – pointing to the fact that the library was only accessible to shareholders, i.e. "proprietors".

What members read can also be made out. Surprisingly, the most popular categories were documentaries : History, Travels, Manners & Customs, Biographies, personal Memoirs and Natural History. There were very few Novels (Cooper’s ‘The Pioneers’) or Poetry (Walter Scott), and even fewer Religious or Moral subjects. While fiction literature was often considered more or less "frivolous", many Social libraries, as a rule, excluded religious works, knowing that a choice of such books might cause dissent between members of different local congregations, and that churches, Sunday School libraries and Bible Societies would serve the community very well for such reading material. All the books we examined from the Stanstead South-West Quarter Social Library were titles issued by New England publishers (Vermont, New-Hampshire, Boston, etc.), but none from England or Canada – this was likely due to existing commercial networks from the U.S. at the time, and the difficulty of supplying Stanstead from Montreal, Quebec City or other places in British North America, in the absence of practical roads and railways.

The Stanstead South-West Quarter Social Library was brought to an end, without any prior public notice, in June of 1846, when the library’s holdings were dispersed at auction :

 Books at auction : a valuable collection of books, belonging to the Social Library in the south-west part of Stanstead, will be sold at Public Auction at the Marlow School House, on Saturday June 20th, at 1 o’clock, P. M. – Many of said books are standard works, and they will be sold singly or in lots to suit purchasers. By order of the committee.
[Signed :] Joseph Ward / Griffin Corner, June 6th, 1846 [1]

This, and a few other clues, give a clear indication as to where the so-called South-West Quarter was located. Griffin Corner, as well as Marlow Corners (the Marlow School), were hamlets north of Beebe Plain, close to Lake Memphremagog : very close to each other, these locations are now part of the Town of Ogden. The Marlow "settlement" as it was initially called, was later renamed Marlington. Not too surprisingly, some (if not all ?) of the books from Stanstead S.-W. Quarter Library were donated to the Stanstead Historical Society by the Hawes family, stating that they were "Books from the old Marlington Library" ; it all likeliness, the books from this Marlington Library were bought as a lot at the Marlow School auction in 1846.

[1] The Stanstead Journal, June 11, 1846 ; reprinted June 18, 1846.

jeudi 20 janvier 2011

Nouveaux liens / New Links

Veuillez noter que de nouveaux liens ont été ajoutés sur notre blogue (voir colonne de droite). Il s'agit d'articles parus dans le magazine Histoire Québec, et qui portent sur des sujets intéressant Stanstead et les Cantons-de-l'Est, tels que reproduits sur le site Internet académique Érudit. Voir la liste ci-dessous.

Please note that new links have been added on this blog (see column at right). These are articles from the magazine Histoire Québec, pertaining to Stanstead and the Eastern Townships, as reproduced on the academic website Érudit. See the listing below.

"The impact of railways on Stanstead: 1850 to 1950"
J. Derek Booth Histoire Québec, vol. 14, n° 3, 2009, p. 10-18.

« Les répercussions des chemins de fer sur la région de Stanstead, de 1850 à 1950 »
Monique Nadeau-Saumier Histoire Québec, vol. 14, n° 3, 2009, p. 9.

"The majestic Abbey of Saint-Benoît-du-Lac"
Maurice Langlois Histoire Québec, vol. 13, n° 3, 2008, p. 33-37.

« L’Abbaye de Saint-Benoît-du-Lac »
Maurice Langlois Histoire Québec, vol. 13, n° 3, 2008, p. 27-32.

« Caractéristiques historiques et culturelles des Cantons-de-l’Est »
Monique Nadeau-Saumier Histoire Québec, vol. 14, n° 2, 2008, p. 43-45.

"The Impact of Immigration on Art, History and Architecture"
Monique Nadeau-Saumier Histoire Québec, vol. 14, n° 2, 2008, p. 34-42.

mercredi 19 janvier 2011

19th Century Libraries in Stanstead Part 1 : Stanstead and Barnston Union Library

Reading books, in a pioneer’s world, does not appear at first glance as an absolute priority. However, there actually was an eager appetite for reading material among the settlers’ population of Stanstead county, as the history of local libraries tends to confirm. Schools had been set up, different religious congregations were convening all over the county, and individual settler families had brought books along with plows and axes : many thought that reading, and literacy in general, was a very desirable necessity. As Benjamin Franklin Hubbard put it in his 1874 book, Forest and Clearings : "Reading in those days was, like study, conducted under difficulties, but it was thorough. Books were read and re-read with attention and profit." [1]

So it was that, along with schoolbooks made available by local traders, "social" libraries sprung up in places from a very early time, all through the 19th century. In this blog series, several of these libraries will be reviewed, starting in the early 1820’s with the Stanstead and Barnston Union Library (ca 1820-1827). Here’s Hubbard again :

Social libraries were started in some of the towns, and were a great benefit. Some of the families of the early settlers had been favored with the advantages of a good English education, and these, in general, furnished teachers for the pioneer schools. Some of these families had brought in a few books, and these were read and re-read throughout the different neighbourhoods. For many years, the Bible, Bunyan’s Pilgrim (etc. …) or Wesley’s Hymns, formed the the entire library of many of the most wealthy families. The old-fashioned toy books, with coarse wood cuts, such as the New England Primer, Jack the Giant Killer (etc. …), were sought for and prized by children and youth of that age… [2]

The notion of a "social" library started off in the first half of the 18th century, when Benjamin Franklin – who held a sizeable personal library of some 4,000 books – started sharing his books with the literate members of his community. Set up as a "subscription" library in 1831, Franklin’s library was incorporated as the Library Company of Philadelphia in 1742. The Library Company, as were later social libraries, based its membership on shareholders, who would contribute money towards the privilege of sharing a collection of books, as well as for the purchase of new holdings. Though all members of this type of social library were required to begin by buying shares, annual fees (and late fees…) were usually charged to members – yet there were quite a number of variants as to what was meant as "social". Indeed, while some libraries focused on making books affordable, others like the "Athenaeum" category were restricted to upper-class readers through prohibitive shares and fees [3].

The first mention of the Stanstead and Barnston Union Library appears as a notice in the British Colonist on December 4th, 1823 : "The Proprietors of the Stanstead and Barnston Union Library, are notified that the next annual meeting will take place at the School House on the Plain, on Saturday the 27th inst. A general attendance is requested. (A. Hibbard, Chairman of Committee)". It is not known when this library was created, but it is likely to have been in place for some years when this notice was published. In the early days of 1824, Librarian S. Brook Jr. calls to "All persons having books belonging to the [Stanstead and Barnston Union] Library, (…) to return them to the Subscriber without delay. Pr order of the Committee" (British Colonist, January 8, 1824).

However, the S & B Union Library appears to be in trouble at the time, since several later notices will lead to the eventual dissolution of the membership. On December 22nd 1825, notice is given that "The Annual Meeting of the proprietors of the Stanstead and Barnston Union Library, will be held at the house of Mr. Amos Ainsden, on Saturday the 31st of Dec. Inst. At 3 o’clock P.M.. The situation of the Library is suche, that it appears indispensable, that the Books are all returned, and a general attendance of the Proprietors is sollicited by the Pro’rs Committee" (British Colonist, December 22, 1825).

Almost a year later, shareholders are again called to attend : « The Stanstead and Barnston Union Library, having for sometime, lain dormant, it is requested that a meeting of the Proprietors be held at the house of Mr. P. Hubbard, on Monday the 14th day of December instant, at 2 o’clock P. M. to adopt such measures as may then and there be thought proper. By order of the committee." (British Colonist, December 7, 1826). Soon after, a new notice : "The Proprietors of Stanstead and Barnston Union Library, are hereby notified that their annual meeting will be held on the last Saturday of this month, at the house of Mr. P. V. Hubbard, at one o’clock P. M., at which it is proposed to dissolve the union, and adopt measures to dispose of the books, and it is further ordered that all who do not attend, may consider their shares forfeited. By order of the Committee." (British Colonist, December 21, 1826).

Clearly, the Library has become more or less inactive, with shareholders neglecting meetings and most likely, shunning the books available. We actually learn, from a last notice in the British Colonist (February 1, 1827), that the S & B Union Library held a total of about 90 books, that the library patrons had probably finished reading by then : "On Monday, the 12th of February next, will be sold at Auction, at the house of Mr. P. V. Hubbard, at 3 o’clock P. M., the whole of the Books, belonging to Stanstead and Barnston Union Library, containing about ninety volumes, the proprietors are hereby notified to attend. By order of the Proprietors. Phineas Hubbard, clerk."

The demise of this first social library in Stanstead would not leave the settlers without books. Other libraries had been developed, such as the Hatley (Charleston) Library – active in 1824 --, but also Sunday School libraries in various churches and Bible Society libraries (including a "Stanstead and Barnston Branch"). Books were prized possessions, and the staple of schools, libraries and churches. Demand was such in the first half of the 19th century, that a printer like Silas Horton Dickerson (publisher of the British Colonist) offered books for sale at his shop as early as 1823 ; and most general merchants of the era, such as James Baxter, John Gillman, Spalding & Foster, Phineas Hubbard, Albert Knight and many others, would compete to offer a ready supply of schoolbooks, as well as Bibles, hymnals and the like — but also a sampling of travel literature, history and classics —, to a steadily growing clientele.

Before the S & B Union Library folded up, other local libraries were initiated. Among these, the Stanstead South-West Quarter Social Library was set up around Griffin Corner, in the Spring of 1823 : the library would last until 1846. This will be the subject of a further posting on this blog.

[1] B. F. Hubbard, Forest and Clearings, 1874, p. 9
[2] B. F. Hubbard, ibid.
[3] See : "How did public libraries get started ?", a staff report from the Straight Dope Science Advisory Board, January 17, 2006; available on the Internet at the following address :

dimanche 2 janvier 2011

Une carte de 1823 redécouverte / Newly uncovered map by Lemira Strong

(English follows)

Les cartes manuscrites sont des documents rares, dans la mesure où la grande majorité des cartes géographiques anciennes qu’on rencontre habituellement sont des documents imprimés, souvent réalisés à partir d’un original disparu. Quelle ne fut pas notre surprise, lorsque Geneviève Thibodeau, adjointe aux collections à notre musée, a découvert dans nos réserves une longue pochette de toile que personne auparavant n’avait encore remarquée – ni répertoriée dans l’inventaire de nos collections et archives. Le sac de toile contenait quatre cartes enroulées, dont trois étaient des exemplaires gravement endommagés de la célèbre carte imprimée de Putnam & Grey, représentant les Cantons-de-l’Est en 1863. (Le mauvais état de ces trois cartes est malheureusement irrémédiable – cependant, nos archives en possèdent un autre exemplaire en bon état, exposé en permanence dans le local des Archives).

Par contre, la quatrième carte, montrant l’est des États-Unis, l’ensemble des Grands Lacs et le sud du Québec, apporte une surprise de taille, sans compter que son état de conservation est assez sartisfaisant. Cette découverte est surprenante à plus d’un titre : d’une part, le document est une carte manuscrite – entièrement dessinée et colorée à la main; et, d’autre part, son auteur est Lemira Strong, celle-là même qui deviendra en 1826 l’épouse de Moses French Colby, qui installa sa famille à Stanstead en 1832. Chose plus étonnante encore, la carte porte la date de 1823, alors que la jeune Lemira n’avait encore que 17 ans. Or il s’agit d’une carte extrêmement détaillée, particulièrement bien exécutée à la plume à l’encre noire, avec des rehauts peints en bleu, vert et rouge.

Réalisée sur six feuilles de papier, contrecollées sur une pièce de toile qui s’enroule sur une baguette de bois, la carte présente des dimensions de 101 cm x 118,5 cm. Elle comporte en sa partie inférieure droite un large cartouche peint portant le titre « A Map of the United States of America », avec la signature et la date : « Lemira Strong 1823 ». Il semble possible que les informations détaillées qui figurent sur cette carte reposent sur plusieurs sources cartographiques différentes, avec des indications de frontières marquées en rouge qui délimitent les états américains selon des tracés qui se sont transformés depuis. En outre, le tracé de la frontière entre le Québec et les états du Vermont et du New-Hampshire suit un parcours inusité, du fait que la frontière canado-américaine était encore contestée à l’époque, car ce n’est qu’en 1842 que le Traité Ashburton allait mettre fin au débat (en partie sur la base d’arpentages effectués par Joseph Bouchette en 1827). Lemira Strong inscrit du reste un commentaire le long du tracé frontalier, que nous n’avons pas encore réussi à déchiffrer étant donnée la finesse de l’inscription sous l’enduit foncé qui le recouvre.

Lemira Strong (Colby) naquit en 1806 à Pawlet au Vermont. Nous savons peu de choses sur elle avant 1826, l’année où elle épouse le docteur Moses French Colby qui habite alors à Derby Line. En 1827, elle donnera naissance à son fils ainé, Charles Carroll Colby, et plus tard à d’autres enfants. Ce n’est qu’en 1831 que Moses Colby établissait son cabinet de médecin à Stanstead Plain, suivi l’année suivante par Lemira et toute la famille. Il semble bien qu’en 1823, Lemira Strong était déjà enseignante, malgré son jeune âge, car la carte manuscrite que nous avons retrouvée (apparemment inconnue de la famille elle-même jusqu’à présent) est précisément le genre de carte déroulante qu’on utilisait autrefois pour l’enseignement, affichée contre le mur ou suspendue devant le tableau noir.

L’état de conservation de la carte de Lemira Strong, bien que très satisfaisant, imposera tout de même un travail de restauration important avant que d’être exposée au public. Quelques déchirures marginales, ainsi qu’un décollement et des plis dans les bords de certaines feuilles, devront être réparés professionnellement – sans compter une mise à plat de l’ensemble, au terme de plus de 185 ans à rester roulée sur elle-même ! La carte a également reçu un vernis protecteur (possiblement un « shellac ») qui a sévèrement bruni au fil des ans, et qui s’est craquelé et écaillé en maints endroits, laissant apparaître la surface blanche du papier, mais aussi... le tracé presque intact des indications à l’encre et des couleurs peintes. Il est ainsi possible que les experts en restauration de papiers puissent retirer le vernis brun sans endommager davantage le contenu de cette carte. Une histoire à suivre...

Artiste inconnu / Unknown artist, Portrait de/of Lemira Strong Colby, ca 1840
Huile sur toile / Oil on canvas
Collection Musée Colby-Curtis Museum

Manuscript maps are rather scarce documents, as most of the geographical maps that one encounters are usually printed copies, often drawn from a lost original. Consequently, we were quite surprised when Geneviève Thibodeau, assistant curator to the museum’s collections, uncovered a long canvas pouch in our reserves which no one had previously noticed – nor listed in the inventory of our collections and archives. The pouch held four four large maps rolled upon wooden holders, three of which were severely damaged copies of the famous printed map by Putnam & Grey, showing the Eastern Townships in 1863. (The poor condition of these maps is unfortunately irreversible – however, our archives hold another copy of the map in rather good condition, displayed permanently in our Archive center).

The fourth map, showing the United States, with the full extent of the Great Lakes and southern parts of Quebec, brought us a really pleasant shock, not to to speak of its very satisfying state of preservation. This discovery was surprising for many other reasons : first, the document is a manuscript map – entirely hand-drawn and painted; second, the author of the map is none other than Lemira Strong, who became in 1826 the wife of Moses French Colby, which settled his family in Stanstead in 1832. Moreover, the map bears a date, 1823, when young Lemira was at the time only 17 years old. Quite surprisingly, the map is extremely detailed, and very handsomely drawn and inscribed in black ink, with painted highlights in blue, green and red.

Combining six sheets of paper mounted on a piece of canvas, itself rolled on a piece of wood, the map measures 101 cm x 118,5 cm. In the lower right, a large painted "cartouche" bears the title A Map of the United States of America, with a signature and date : Lemira Strong 1823. It seems possible that the detailed information found on this map could have been compiled from various cartographic sources, along with red painted indications for borders that show boundaries between American states that have since changed. As well, the boundary line between Quebec and the States of Vermont and New Hamphire follows an unusual tracing, since the Canada-United States border was still the object of debate at the time. Indeed, the border line was finally agreed upon in 1842, when the Ashburton Treaty brought an end to the border contest (a treaty based in part on surveys done by Joseph Bouchette in 1827). As a matter of fact, Lemira Strong inscribed a written comment along the border line, which we haven’t yet managed to decipher, owing to its delicate writing under the dark-brownish coating that covers the map.

Lemira Strong (Colby) was born in 1806 in Pawlet,Vermont. Not much is known about her before 1826, the year she wed Dr Moses French Colby, then living in Derby Line. In 1827, she would give birth to her elder son, Charles Carroll Colby, and later to more children. However, it was only 1831 when Moses Colby removed his physician’s office to Stanstead Plain, followed a year later by Lemira and the family. It appears that in 1823, Lemira Strong was at the time a teacher, already at such a young age, since the manuscript map we have uncovered (apparently unknown to the family itself until now) precisely belongs to the type of scrolled maps which were used years ago as teaching aids, up against the schoolroom wall or hung against the blackboard.

The condition of this map, however satisfying, will anyhow require important restoration work before being shown to the public. Some marginal tears and losses, and folds in the edges of certain paper parts, will need to be repaired professionally – but the map will also require some degree of overall flattening, after more than 185 years of being rolled up ! As well, the map has received a protective coating a good while back (possibly a "shellac" or some other type of varnish) which has darkened severely over time, and which has cracked and flaked off in many places, uncovering the white surface of the paper, but also... the apparently intact ink tracings and painted colours. Thus, it may be possible that paper restoration experts can remove the old brownish coating without damaging any further the contents of this map. We’ll soon see...