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Attributed to Captain John Hewett, 52nd Regiment of Foot, Oxfordshire Light Infantry (fl.1824)
Attributed to Captain John Hewett, 52nd Regiment of Foot, Oxfordshire Light Infantry (fl.1824)

Meeting of the Officers of the Garrisons of St John and Frederictown, on Long Island, in the River St John, New Brunswick

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Attributed to Captain John Hewett, 52nd Regiment of Foot, Oxfordshire Light Infantry (fl.1824)
Meeting of the Officers of the Garrisons of St John and Frederictown, on Long Island, in the River St John, New Brunswick
pen and ink and watercolour on paper
36 x 54in. (91.4 x 137.2cm.)

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Lot Essay

This remarkable large watercolour is presumably the model for Dighton’s rare lithograph (for which see the following lot), the latter identifying both the artist and subject. Hewett, a Captain in the 52nd Regiment which sent six companies to New Brunswick in 1823, is recorded in St John and Fredericton in 1824. He is otherwise only known for the smaller (54.3 x 72.1cm.) watercolour signed and dated July 9 1824 on the mount, sold Sotheby’s, London, 20 Oct. 1993, lot 9, now in the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Fredericton, for which see I.G. Lumsden, Early Views of British North America from the collection of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Fredericton 1994, pp.34-5 and illustrated in colour on the cover. The 52nd Regiment “The Oxfordshire” (Light Infantry) was garrisoned at Fredericton 1823-26 (and in 1842-43).

The artist depicts the ‘Blizzard’ or ‘Blizzards’ inn (just the BL of the sign legible here) in the centre background. To the left of the barn, the tower of St Stephen’s, the Anglican church, built at the head of Church Creek on Long Island, Queens County, in 1790, and operated by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. In the right foreground a ship, barely recognisable, half sunk in the flooded river, is encased in ice and snow. There is a flurry of activity in the figures, as officers drive onto the quayside in their sleighs. The catalogue entry for the lithograph in the Webster collection records that the ‘Two ladies in sleigh are Jane & Frances Peters, daughters of Hon. Charles Jeffery Peters, Atty-Gen. In another sleigh, saluting them is Col. O’Dell, engaged to Jane Peters.’ (James Clarence Webster Canadiana Collection, p.160, no.847). Apart from the officers and ladies, wrapped up in their heavy coats, cloaks and furs, sporting winter hats, caps and shakos, the figures include four Mi’kmaqs in the right foreground (the lithograph replaces the three on the right with three habitants), a couple of habitants, probably trappers, in their distinctive red tuques, here and there unfortunate locals who, as if in a Breughel, have tumbled on the ice, and there are two men fighting by the barn.

There are just a handful of lithographs that survive: amongst which the present uncoloured example (lot 269), another uncoloured example is in the Toronto Public Library, Peter Winkworth’s handcoloured example is now in the Peter Winkworth Collection, Library & Archives Canada, Ottawa (Acc. No. R9266-1332), and another handcoloured example is in The Webster Canadiana Collection, The New Brunswick Museum, Saint John (P.A. Hachey, The New Brunswick Landscape Print, Saint John, 1980, p.27). This print varies in some details from the watercolour and compresses and slightly crops the subject.

The subject itself, the meeting of officers of the two garrisons on Long Island, where they would take refreshments at the inn, has been written up in some detail by Marke Slipp, a descendant of Johann Leonhard Slip (the Blizzard innkeeper, a German immigrant of Dutch extraction who moved up to New Brunswick from Long Island, New York in 1783):

‘ 'Blizzard’ was the establishment of our United Empire Loyalist ancestor Leonard Slip (aka Johann Leonhard Schlöpp). … It is supposed that ‘Blizzard’ was built in the late 1700s. The enterprise is also known to some as ‘Blizzard House’, ‘The Blizzard’, or even ‘Blizzard Inn’, … . During the majority of the year on the River St. John, late spring to late autumn, ships and boats would come to ‘Blizzard’ with their passengers to rest and refresh on their journey from the capital of the newly formed province of New Brunswick, Fredrictown (as it was spelled at the time), to the port city of Saint John. ‘Blizzard’ was approximately at the midpoint of the voyage. In the winter horse-drawn sleighs, sleds and even ice skates would bring people here. However, in the spring, freshets, or floods caused by the melting snow, would come and flood the Saint John River. These waters would rise up and flood the buildings on Long Island. But ‘Blizzard’ was built such … that the boats would be able to moor themselves to the building, using the facilities even at the most inclement of times.

‘The people who built the communities in this part of the River St. John were largely ‘Deutsch’ people who had lived in the Long Island area of New York. They chose to remain loyal to King George III either by fighting, or at least by not helping the Revolutionary soldiers in their struggle. ... Once the Revolutionary War (or ‘War of Independence’) was over the British evacuated the United Empire Loyalists as quickly as possible to the other British North American colonies, many of them going to what was then called Nova Scotia, landing in the ports of either Saint John or Shelburne. Leonard Slipp and his wife, Elizabeth Ryson (Reisner) and their two young children, are thought to have arrived in Saint John on August 14, 1783, aboard the Spencer, a ship that plied the waters between New York and Saint John numerous times in the two years the Loyalists were making their exodus from the newly formed United States. Leonard Slipp (sometimes spelled with one ‘p’, ‘Slip’) was initially given a grant on the Salmon River near Grand Lake, but found it unsuitable for agriculture and was able to procure a lot … near Queenstown, south of Gagetown on the St. John River. He also received a grant on Long Island, and eventually the property in Hampstead (which is still in the Slipp family). Leonard & Elizabeth had ten children, and they lived their lives out in this area.

‘After several decades the Long Island community was abandoned due to impractical living conditions around the spring freshets and poor winter ice conditions. St. Stephen’s Church was moved to Wickham by sixteen oxen over the ice and was used until its destruction the Saxby Gale of 1869. The Blizzard building was apparently cut in half and one part was towed across the ice to Hampstead and the other to Wickham where it sits near the Wickham wharf today. Long Island has been used mainly for grazing livestock ever since.’

Extracts from http://www.leonardslipp.info/2010/01/meeting-of-the-officers-of-the-garrision/

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