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From the History of Burnt Church and New Jersey, 2010

Burnt Church: The Summer Resort

Tom Creaghan in front of his cottage. The cottage was built by Mona Snowball in 1905. The property was bought by Bob Milligan in the 1950s. Tom and Nan Creaghan purchased it in 1990.
By Tom Creaghan

The Early days

In the late 1800s, Chatham and Newcastle were prosperous towns, each was connected to the opposite shore of the river by a paddle-wheel steam ferry and there was direct steamboat connection between the two towns as well. The paddle-wheel steamer, S.S. New Era, made five trips per day, each way between the towns. The New Era, built in 1871, was owned and operated by R.R. Call of Newcastle and John C. Miller of Millerton. It had a dining room and cabins and was used on weekends and special occasions for pleasure trips downriver, also for celebrations and picnics stopping at such places as Bartibogue, Portage Island, and Escuminac. Later, steamers plying the same routes were the S.S. Maid of the Mist, the S.S. Alexandra, the S.S. Miramichi, and the S.S Max Aitken. The last three, when in operation, made daily trips downriver from Newcastle and Chatham, with stops at Black Brook (Loggieville), Oak Point, Burnt Church, and Neguac and several times a week to Bay du Vin as well. Passengers on these trips sometimes elected to stay overnight or for the weekend at the Prospect Hotel in Burnt Church.

The Prospect Hotel was originally owned and operated by Sandy Davidson of Burnt Church who held forty acres of land adjacent to the Indian Reservation, but Sandy was unable to make a success of it, declared bankruptcy and moved on to the States. The hotel was then operated by Thomas Foley of Pokeshaw on behalf of the bank that held the mortgage on the property. Foley was the proprietor until 1899 when he left to take over management of the Commercial Hotel in Newcastle. James Nicol became proprietor of the hotel after Foley’s departure. Nicol was originally from Scotland and came to Miramichi at age 18 and in a short time acquired and operated a shoe store in Chatham having previously been a clerk at J.B. Snowball Co. He later became mayor of Chatham. Nicol, like Foley, probably managed the hotel on behalf of the bank. During Nicol’s tenure he was instrumental in attracting Chatham and Newcastle steamboat vacationers to holiday at the hotel and many of his clientele, Snowball, Ritchie, Tweedie, Creaghan, and Armstrong, later purchased or built summer cottages in the village. In 1906, William Anderson purchased the hotel, which included several outbuildings and two cottages at the front facing the Bay, and in 1910, it was sold to his son, W.S. Anderson. The hotel was closed down on August 1, 1916, not to be revived again until 1995 when W.S. Anderson’s grandson Stafford set it up again as a bed and breakfast.

Pre-World War One

In 1904, Newcastle sportsman and grocery vendor Robert H. Armstrong purchased bayfront property from Peter Davidson and constructed the cottage which still stands today and is now owned by his granddaughter Barbara, Mrs. Ronald Stevenson of Fredericton.

About the same time, Newcastle merchant John D. Creaghan leased the old Alexander Loggie Sr. house from Mrs. Alexander Loggie Jr. and daughter Mary Loggie. Ellen Creaghan, wife of J.D. Creaghan, purchased the home and property from Mary (Loggie) and Andrew Burr in 1916. This house is probably the oldest standing structure in the village. The Creaghan property also had a small cottage located on the NE corner, on land purchased from Peter Davidson in 1931, which Mrs. Creaghan gave to her eldest daughter Molly, Mrs. D. King Hazen of Saint John. This later became the property of her daughters, Priscilla and Rose, and is today owned by Priscilla’s son Malcolm McConnell of Toronto.

ln the early 1900s, Newcastle lumberman and wealthy mill owner Hubert Sinclair constructed a summer home on a lot of land to the east of the Peter Davidson house. Circa 1920, the Fred Tweedie family of Chatham purchased this cottage from the Sinclairs. It remained in the Tweedie family until the present owners, Barbara and Wilson Macintosh purchased it in 1970. Their children Robin, Malcolm, and John spent their summers there. Barbara is the granddaughter of W.S. Anderson.

Hubert’s brother, William Sinclair, built the adjacent cottage, later occupied by the Ritchie family of Newcastle and in the 1940s it was bought by Mrs. Vince McLaughlin, the proprietor of the Newcastle Opera House. Bill Richards, Mrs. Mclaughlin’s son, and his wife Margaret occupied and later owned this cottage. Their children are Bill, Susan, David, Mary Jane, John, and Paul. (David is the author David Adams Richards). It is now owned by the Frank Creaghan family of Toronto. Frank and Sheelagh purchased it in 1968. Sheelagh and Frank’s children Peter, Claire, Paul, and Ruth spent their “growing up” summers there. Sheelagh, a great fan of Burnt Church, summered there until her death in 2009.

Mona Snowball of Chatham and Montreal built the summer home called “Blink Bonnie” around 1905, on land purchased from John Murray. Mona also built a second small cottage on the property and called it, “Bide-a-Wee.” The property was purchased by Bob Milligan in the 1950s and Blink Bonnie was converted to a permanent winterized residence and the Bide-a-Wee cottage was demolished. After Bob Milligan’s death in 1990, the property was purchased by Tom and Nan Creaghan and is currently owned by Nan who has been a permanent year-round resident for a number of years.

The Shields family had a cottage on their property next to the Indian Reserve since the early 1900s called “The End Cottage,” which was rented for many years by Dr. Desmond’s family of Chatham (Moira and Bud). Other renters over the years included the Bensons, Willard, Dodie and Willard’s children, Don and Elizabeth, the Browns, John and Marie, and children Betsy and Ann, and then later by Margie and Alec Whyte of Montreal. It is now owned by W.S. Anderson’s grandson, Eric Anderson and his wife Hope of Newcastle.
This article is from the History of Burnt Church and New Jersey published by The Historical Society of Church River. The 200-page hard-cover book (8.75 x 11.25 inches) includes hundreds of photos. Copies are available for $25 each plus postage. To order yours, please email Charles Savoy today at

The other cottage on the hotel property which was located at the SE comer was moved a few yards east as it was obstructing the view of the hotel guests. This cottage is the oldest surviving structure built in Burnt Church. W.S. Loggie was born there in August of 1850. In 1902 it was occupied by Fred Neale and family who can now be credited with the honour of being the first documented full-time summer residents of Burnt Church. Fred was a shipping broker and consular agent at Chatham and a member of the firm of Neale, Harrison & Co., timber brokers of Liverpool England. The Neale family descendants now live in Toronto. Circa 1910 the cottage was rented by the Fred Tweedie family of Chatham prior to their purchase of the Sinclair property in the 1920s. W.S. Anderson gave this cottage to his son Royce and his wife Millicent (Nint) sometime during World War Two. Royce and Nint’s children are Bill and Barbara. The cottage is now owned by their son Bill Anderson and his wife Penny of Moncton.

The cottage across the lane on the west side of the hotel is believed to have been built by Francis W. Russell of Loggieville who purchased the property in 1904. It was occupied by Mrs. Elizabeth Irving, (widow of Francis Russell) and her nephew Ned Russell in the 1920s and early 30s. This cottage was later purchased by W.S. Anderson’s sister May and her husband, the Rev. Lewis King in 1936. They had two children, William and Douglas. The cottage remains in the King family today.

The Interwar Years

In the late 1920s, a clay tennis court, enclosed by a high wire mesh fence, was constructed at the front of the Creaghan property, adjacent to the shore road. It was maintained through the 1920s and early 30s and then fell into disuse. It was restored for a brief time during the Second World War and then abandoned.

Around 1938, Andrew Simpson of Douglastown built a summer home between the J.D. Creaghan cottage and the Burr mansion. Andrew later moved the cottage to Douglastown and converted it into a fully winterized residence for the elderly Burrs. It still exists in Douglastown and is inhabited today by Andrew’s son Jim Simpson. Andrew Simpson demolished the third-storey attic and other sections of the Burr mansion in the 1950s and converted it into a summer cottage for his family. It is now occupied each summer by his daughter Elaine Vye and her daughters Leianne and Nancy.

The J.D. Creaghan cottage was converted to two units in 1938 with one side occupied by sisters Neen and Nan Creaghan and nephew John McManus, and the other half by the family of Donald S. Creaghan (John, Mark, Nonie, Dick, Tom, and Alan). At the same time, the old carriage shed at the back of the property was converted into a cottage. It was occupied from 1939 to 1948 by the family of G.F. Creaghan, Mrs. Creaghan (Nan), daughters Ellen and Mary and sons Frank and Michael. In 1950, D.S. Creaghan gave the cottage to his son Richard (Dick), whose family included wife Pauline and children Patrick, Cathy, Joe, and Deborah. The cottage is now owned an occupied by Pauline.

The War Years

During the war, homesick airmen stationed at Chatham from as far away as Australia and New Zealand were invited to the Creaghan cottage on weekends for a little R & R whenever possible. D.S. Creaghan was Vice-President of the Chatham Air Base an G.P. Burchill of Nelson was President. The base trained pilots from all over the Empire under the Commonwealth Air Training Plan and also housed planes and pilots of the North Atlantic Ferry Command. The Creaghan cottage during this time was also occupied for a month each summer by Kay Lloyd and Jean McClintock of London, England, (both née Aitken and nieces of Lord Beaverbrook) and their children. They were living in the Traven Aitken house in Newcastle during the war as a haven from the Blitz.

During the war years, the Armstrong cottage was occupied by Mrs. Armstrong and her daughter Cannie Bell and Cannie’s family, Kathleen, John, and Barbara. Their father, Dr. Alex Bell, arrived on weekends, usually with a gallon of ice cream with which he would treat all the kids on the shore. Needless to say, Burnt Church youngsters of that era, awaited Dr. Bell’s arrival, with anticipation throughout the summer.

Blink Bonnie was occupied by Walter Snowball of Chatham his wife Frances and sons Bill (Billy the boxer) and Peter.

Jack A. Creaghan’s family summered in Molly Hazen’s cottage during the war years – namely Mrs. Creaghan (Alice), Don, Marven, Clare, and Carol.

The Postwar Years

No further cottages were built until after the Second World War, the first one being in the late 1950s. Mrs. Edith Dwyer from the States, a cousin of Mrs. Will Shields built a cottage across the lane from the hotel south of Lawson (Arthur) McKnight’s home and occupied it for several years. It was purchased by George Irlam of Newcastle. The cottage accidentally burned to the ground shortly after George purchased it and it was rebuilt as a modern structure of B.C. timber. It is now used by his daughter Zondra Biggs and her family.

The next one was that of Dr. Mark Creaghan built in the late 1960s. Mark and his wife Sally and children Lexie and Gordon spent many happy years there. This cottage was unfortunately burned to the ground in 2000.

In 1972, Victoria Napke Chenier of Newcastle built a modern cottage with a swimming pool, across the lane from the Len Murray’s house. It is now owned by Shirley Wilson Alexander’s grandchildren Brad, Lynn, and Rob Wilson.

In the 1970s, Lawrence Morrison, son of Melvin and Violet (Anderson) Morrison, built the winterized vacation home on bayfront property located east of the wharf. The land that Lawrence purchased from Walter MacKnight, was the former site of the Sewell store. It is now owned by his son Gary and wife Dianne of Fredericton.

Alec and Margie Whyte, longtime renters of the Shields cottage, loved Burnt Church so much that they built an impressive two-storey winterized vacation home in 1980 on land purchased from Pat Young, south of Curwin Murray’s property. It is today used by their daughters Heather and Valerie.

Finally, in 2002, Mark Creaghan’s daughter Lexie, Mrs. Scott Sage of Mississauga, Ontario, built a new cottage on a lot given to her by Senator Margaret Anderson, located behind Mary and Bob Sage’s cottage “The Barn.”

Along the Way

Along the way, some prime Burnt Church residences were purchased as summer vacation homes.

The Peter Davidson house had been rented to many families over the years. One of these families were the Irlams: George, his wife Elizabeth, and children, Zondra, Richard, and Lynn.

In 1954, Mrs. G.F. (Nan) Creaghan of Montreal purchased the Peter Davidson house, owned by Mrs. Wm. Shields, and since 1974 it has been jointly owned by her daughter Mary, Mrs. Peter Hersey of Montreal, and by her son Michael of Hamilton, Ontario.

In 1968, D.S. Creaghan passed away and left his cottage for the use of all his children with oldest son John as trustee. John and his wife Marion and Alan Creaghan and his family occupied it in the 70s and early 80s and John and Marion thereafter. Tom and wife Nan, sons Jonathan and Geoffrey and Nonie and daughter Sandra also vacationed at the cottage in the 60s and 70s. Recently Tom and his son Jonathan, niece Charlotte and nephew Sean undertook restoration of the historic building. It is now owned by Charlotte Creaghan Happy and her family of Petaluma, California.

Willard Benson and sister Dodie bought part of the Walter Thompson property from Gordon Anderson in 1958. Shortly before Mr. Thompson passed away, his house burned to the ground. After the fire, his barn was set up on the foundation of the burned-out house, as a temporary residence. Willard Benson converted the barn to a cottage, now owned by Willard’s son, Don Benson and his wife Debbie of Chatham.

In 1957 Murray and Gordon Anderson moved the old defunct lighthouse from Grand Downs, down the frozen bay to Burnt Church and set it up on bayfront property formerly owned by Walter Thompson. The lighthouse was purchased by Mrs. Ellen (Fleiger) Kilbride of Chatham as a summer cottage in the 1960s and is today owned by Terry and Ferne Kilbride of Fredericton.

Don Creaghan of Moncton and Rex Freeze of Newcastle jointly bought the Frank McKnight house behind the Snowball cottage for a summer residence in 1962. This property was purchased by Reta Kelly of Toronto (Mrs. Warren Kazor) in 1986. Reta was born and brought up in Burnt Church. She also purchased Curwin Murray’s property and house in 2003, where she and Warren are currently residing year-round. The former Frank McKnight house was destroyed by fire in 2005.

In the 1960s, Mary Anderson (Mrs. Bob Sage) of Mississauga moved the large barn on her father’s hotel property back a bit and converted it into a beautiful summer residence with rustic barn board interior. This cottage, called “The Barn,” has since been used by Bob and Mary and sons Scott and David.

The Len Murray home was purchased by W.S. Anderson’s daughter Shirley and her husband H.E.P. Wilson as a summer cottage in 1972. It eventually became their permanent home. After H.E.P. died in 1989, Shirley wintered with her sister Senator Margaret Anderson in Newcastle. Shirley married Don Alexander of Wellington, Ontario, in 1997. Shirley and Don and Shirley’s son Keith Wilson and his family of Montreal now enjoy the home during the summer. Shirley’s property has a one-bedroom cottage, fronting the bay which is used by Shirley’s daughter Wendy and her husband Sandy Burnett of Sackville. Note: In the 1940s there were two other small cabins on the property. The three cabins were owned by Joyce Anderson and were rented out mainly to handle the overflow visitors from the various cottages on the beach.

The large Sewell house near the wharf was purchased as a summer residence in the 1980s by Shirley Anderson’s daughter, Dawn Wilson of Toronto. Dawn is the wife of Malcolm McConnell and they share their stays in Burnt Church with daughters Meghan, Chelsea, and Chloe Rose.

The historic Donald Loggie house was occupied until the 60s by Rachel (Rae) and Ruth Loggie and later by Joyce and Audrey Anderson. It was purchased by Peter and Sara Creaghan of Toronto from Bob Young in 1997 and has been restored and modernized.

In 2006, Sandra Bunting Garvey of Galway, Ireland, the daughter of Nonie Creaghan Bunting, purchased the Melvin Morrison home on Burnt Church Road from Douglas and Lynda Murdock, to have a summer residence. Ireland is a long way, but to Sande, Burnt Church is worth the journey.

Cathy Creaghan Grey and husband Brian purchased a cottage on Burnt Church Road formally owned by Jack Morrison, in 2009.

Joe Creaghan of Calgary, Alberta purchased Len Palmer’s house on Bayview Drive in 2008. This house was built by Louise McQuaid in 1962 and was purchased by Leonard Palmer in 1967.

Bill Anderson, son of Walter and Hazel, and his wife Joan purchased the former Joe MacKnight home on the corner in 1977. They spent many summer vacations there with sons Doug, Bruce, and families. The cottage was sold in 2008 to Scott Macdonald.

Morrison’s Point Burnt Church Shore West

There have been new cottages constructed at Morrison’s Point west of the village adjacent to Leigh Morrison’s property. Some Creaghan, Anderson, and Morrison descendants among others, have established summer homes there – Bruce and Jeanne Morrison, Terry and Elizabeth Comeau, Murray and Nan Cassidy, Gabriel and Donna Savoie, Deborah Creaghan – Pauline’s daughter – and husband Glen Hicks of Saint John, Patrick Creaghan – Pauline’s son – and wife Kelly from Calgary. Others, mainly from the Neguac area, are Fernand and Louise Breault, Philippe Robichaud, Clarence and Dianna Breau, and Reginald and Jeannette Savoie. Also Dr. Brian Matchett of Newcastle, and George Irlam’s son Dick, have cottages here.


Gordon Anderson’s daughters Lois (Mrs. Elmer Mackenzie), Marion (Mrs. Norman Skillen), and Elizabeth (Mrs. Robert Shaffelburg) and their families are also summer residents of Burnt Church. They reside at their father’s large house on Burnt Church Road.

Jan Morrison and late husband Bill Hutton have been long time summer residents. Jan and her children Martha, Pat, Sandy, and Mark still occupy the house of Jan’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Morrison, as their summer residence.

Melissa Anderson, her daughters Paula, Stephanie, and family, vacation in the original home built by John Anderson, father of J.W. & J. Anderson.

Heather Anderson, daughter of Wally Anderson, and her husband Grant Wood, of Florida, spend time during the summer in the family home built by her great-grandfather, James Anderson.

Jean Anderson, daughter of Walter Anderson, and husband Ken Sinclair spent some of their summers in the William Shields home after it was no longer used by the Shields family. Their children are Colin, lain, and Ellen.

Keith Anderson inherited the Prospect Hotel from his parents and spent his summers there with his wife June and family, Stafford, Eric, and Lynn.

Ernest Anderson’s Memoir – “Burnt Church as I Remember It”

In 1998 Ernest Anderson wrote a memoir called “Burnt Church as I Remember It” in which he lists the occupants of the summer cottages between 1911 and 1945 as follows:

Desmond’s – owned by Mrs. William Shields – Occupants: Dr. and Mrs. Desmond and family – Moira and Bud

Fish cottage – owned by W.S. Anderson – Occupants: Charles Fish of Newcastle and daughter Francis (Frank)

Tweedie’s – owned by W.S. Anderson – Occupants: Mr. and Mrs. Fred Tweedie of Chatham and family – Ibis, Helen, Margaret, Ted, and Weenie (Catherine)

Russell Cottage – owner: Mrs. Francis (Russel) Irving of Loggieville – Occupants: Mrs. Irving and nephew Ned Russell

Sinclairs – owned by Mr. and Mrs. Hubert Sinclair of Newcastle – Occupants: Mr. and Mrs. Sinclair and family – Ned, Mary, and Bill

Davidsons – owned by Mrs. Wm. Shields – Occupants: Mr. and Mrs. Herb MacDonald of Chatham and family – Jack and Jean. (This property was also rented by Mr. and Mrs. William Parks of Newcastle with son Frank.)

Sinclairs – Owned by Mr. and Mrs. William Sinclair of Newcastle – Occupants: Mr. and Mrs. Sinclair

Armstrong cottage – owned by Mr. and Mrs. Robert Armstrong of Newcastle – Occupants: Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong and family – Cannie and Kathleen

Hazen cottage – owned by Mrs. J.D. Creaghan – Occupants: Mr. and Mrs. King Hazen of Saint John and family – Priscilla, John, Rose, and Frank

Creaghan cottage – owned by Mrs. J.D. Creaghan of Newcastle – Occupants: Family – Molly, Neen, Don, Bun (Tom), Jack, Dewey (Gerald), Nan, and Bill – later the cottage was occupied by son Don’s family – John, Mark, Nonie (Honora), Dick, Tom, and Alan

Blink Bonnie (Snowball cottage) – owned by Mona Snowball of Montreal – Occupants: Mr. and Mrs. W.B. Snowball of Chatham and family – sons Walter, Bunting, and Mac

Bide-A Wee – owned by Mona Snowball – Occupants: Mr. and Mrs. Laurie Snowball and family from the USA – later the cottage was occupied by Betsy Crawford and children