Tolbooth Museum, Stonehaven Harbour, Aberdeenshire AB39 2JU 07512 466329
Stonehaven Tolbooth

New Kincardineshire Colony 150th Anniversary 1873—2023

In April 1873, several hundred brave adventurers set off by train from their homes in Stonehaven and the N.E. Scotland and set sail from Glasgow, bound for New Brunswick in Canada – a journey of almost 3000 miles. They were leaving behind a way of life that was familiar, a life surrounded by friends and family.

This adventure was different however from other such migrations, in that a lot of people from the same area, including neighbours, friends and family were all undertaking this journey together. They would settle in the same area of Canada and would have round about them, people, language, religion, education, music and song that were familiar to them. Even the land name would be familiar – New Kincardineshire Colony.

This display, to mark the 150th anniversary of their journey, gives a small snapshot of the reasons why so many undertook this journey, names some of the people who travelled, gives details of their sea journey, and what life was like in Canada upon their arrival and in the early years – and finally we catch up with some of the named travelers and see what happened to them.

If you think you may have ancestors who made this trip and settled in Canada, we recommend you get in touch with The Scotch Colony , a Canadian group, which has a large following on Facebook and can perhaps provide you with helpful information.

Why would you leave your home in Kincardineshire?
Home of William and Elizabeth Duncan and their 9 children at 11 Carron Terrace

If you were a tenant farmer or a farm labourer, then the prospect of working your own 100-200 acres in Canada would be very appealing. Something that would not be possible in Scotland.


If a lot of your friends and neighbours were also thinking of emigrating to the same place, then that would make the move easier.


The organisers were emphasising that this would be just like Kincardineshire — but set in Canada—same types of shops, same people, same religion, and same education. Assistance would be given with their passage to Canada.

Some of those who left Kincardineshire for Canada in 1873

Robert Stewart – Tenant farmer at Newlands Farm – just south of Stonehaven. Widower with 8 sons – would be able to provide land for all his sons in Canada. He married his housekeeper Julia Grubb 4 months before they emigrated.


David Taylor – Editor of the local weekly newspaper – Stonehaven Journal. Married with 3 young children. Took his printing press with him and wanted to set up a newspaper in the new colony.


Catherine (Kate) Chapman (age 5) – Kate’s father was a Crofter in Drumoak who had been put off his land so that the landowner could get more rent money for it. She had 8 brothers.


David Duncan (age 14) – David’s father was a wool spinner who probably worked at the Carron Woollen Mill. They lived at 11 Carron Terrace, and it was his mother who wanted to go to New Kincardineshire to escape the poverty in Stonehaven. David kept a diary of the journey to Canada.


William Fletcher - Lived at 16 Allardice Street and worked in the Tannery. He was married and had 3 children. His younger brother, Benjamin emigrated with them. He was a Tinsmith in Arbroath.

Charles and Catherine Chapman (Kate Chapman’s parents) 
Captain William Brown (1834-1899)
Captain William Brown

Captain William Brown

• Born Stonehaven in 1834
• Employed by the Anchor Line, initially sailing ships between Glasgow and New York, and later as a business promoter travelling world-wide for the company
• Died in San Francisco in 1899

He had the idea for a large group emigration and he chose his native Kincardineshire as the source for this project, organising land for them in New Brunswick, and establishing “The Scotch Colony” in 1873.

Having set himself up as Manager of the New Kincardineshire Colony, he was assisted by two well known Stonehaven residents in organising the emigration project:

- Robert Stewart, Tenant Farmer at Newlands, Dunnottar, acted as Director
- David Taylor, Editor of the Stonehaven Journal, acted as Secretary

New Kincardineshire Colony Prospectus
New Kincardineshire Colony Prospectus
  • Free land grants – 100 or 200 acres
  • Families or friends could have plots next to each other if they wished
  • 2 acres of land cleared and log cabins erected before arrival
  • Assisted passages available for the poorest families
  • Employment arranged for those wishing it – in service, or building roads and railways
Leaving Kincardineshire
Leaving Kincardineshire

• A special train left Kintore at 6am on Friday 25 April 1873
• It picked up passengers at Bucksburn and Aberdeen, and then at stations throughout Kincardineshire but most at Stonehaven

“Farewell signals hung out at or were waved from the remote farm houses visible in the line. Field labourers paused in their work to telegraph their good speed to the wanderers ….. while many partings were sad to see, sadder to feel, yet the public evidently believed that old acquaintances and friends were parting from them, and old associations for new scenes, but for their good.” [Quote from The Scotch Colony: The Story of 1873]

David Duncan’s Diary
David Duncan’s Diary 


“A Voyage from Glasgow
to St. John’s on board the screw-steam ship Castalia.”
~ ~
Friday, April 25th


Started from Stonehaven about nine o’clock forenoon, and after a capital journey we arrived in Glasgow about 2 o’clock at Buchannan Street.”



The crossing from Scotland to Canada could be dangerous. Only 3 weeks earlier the White Line ship ‘Atlantic’ was lost off the coast of Nova Scotia with the loss of over 500 lives.

Castalia Butler Ferguson Brown Morrison

Castalia was born half way across the Atlantic on 30 April 1873.

She was named:
Castalia – after the ship
Butler – after the Captain
Ferguson - after the ship’s doctor
Brown after Captain Brown
Morrison – family name


“Wednesday – Still rough and rainy and the wind right against her. ship rolling terribly and when taking our meal if the ship gave a heave everything went rolling about. There was a girl born in the afternoon and it is to be baptised Castalia Brown, after the name of the ship and Captain Brown who is to be godfather.”


“No other ship since the arrival of the ‘Mayflower’ has brought to America an emigration so completely of a family character; and no vessel has ever conveyed so many young children to a port of America – for the ‘Castalia’ sailed with 198 children under the age of 12 and has arrived with 199.”  [Quote from The Scotch Colony: The Story of 1873]

David Duncan’s Diary 
Arrival in Canada
Arrival in Canada

The Castalia arrived at St Johns, New Brunswick on 10th May 1873 and received a warm welcome from locals.


From there, 200 of them travelled immediately by smaller boat 75 miles up the St. Johns River to Fredericton stopping there for 2 nights before continuing their journey toth eir final destination Kilburn’s Landing (KL).


The remainder of the Castalia passengers followed on the same journey 2 days later.


Locals had gathered at the quayside to greet them with pipes playing and a warm welcome, but....
there were signs that there had been a bad winter in New Brunswick with snow still lying around in places and where were their promised new cabins?

The New Brunswick authorities had negotiated the land grant with Cptn. Brown in good faith BUT they did not sincerely believe that he would succeed in his endeavors to attract several hundred emigrants to come to Canada.

Therefore in the autumn and winter of 1872 they did not put much effort in to keeping their promise to clear land and build roads and cabins.

In January 1873 however, the authorities were alarmed to find out that not only had Cptn. Brown succeeded in finding approx. 600 willing emigrants, but they had all paid their monies and would be arriving in 4 months!!

Early 1873 saw a lot more urgency by the authorities to try and fulfil their commitment but the winter was fierce and snow lay deep for many months and hampered their efforts. Of the 78 cabins contracted for, only 40 had been started by the time of their arrival in May and more alarmingly only 2 had been completed!!

Arrival in Canada
Arrival in Canada

David Taylor, editor of the Stonehaven Journal had set sail 2 months earlier with a storekeeper, a baker and a mason. Their plan was to ensure all was ready for those arriving in May. They would purchase stoves, axes and basic provisions and their idea was that

Everyone would have hot rolls from their own bakery on their first morning on their own land.

Things didn't quite go to plan!!

With only 2 cabins ready, the authorities had to improvise temporary accommodation with families having to share rooms and tents. By July, things had improved and most cabins had been completed.

The axes would have been useful in cutting down trees and clearing land BUT they came without handles!

And then there were the flies to deal with!

During that first summer in the new colony, the settlers had to deal with plagues of mosquitoes, black flies and sand flies.


A pharmacist who had travelled with them was kept busy concocting remedies to deal with bites and stings.

First priority however was to clear enough land to plant a crop - mostly potatoes, oats and buckwheat—and to ensure they had food to survive the next winter.

Some trees had been felled prior to arrival but their stumps often remained and so it became necessary to plant in between these obstacles. The effort to remove a large tree stump could involve a whole family ( husband, wife and children) and take more than a day.

Arrival in Canada
What happened next?
What happened next?

For the first few years it was hard work clearing the land to grow potatoes and buckwheat, and keeping a cow or pig to trade butter and meat for necessities.

Some moved away to find employment for part of the year leaving wives and children to keep the farms going.

BUT - In the Mearns where they had come from - ‘Brose & Bree’ was the diet of the poor (Brose – oatmeal & boiling water, bree – the liquid in which meat and vegetables are cooked). In New Kincardineshire, however, the settlers soon managed better and were able to sit down to a good table.

Thirty years later

By 1900:

  • Log cabins had been replaced by neatly painted framed houses with barns, gardens & orchards
  • Most farms had 60-100 acres in cultivation or pasture
  • Fields were fenced off and free of stumps, and farms adequately stocked with animals & equipment



  • The town of New Stonehaven was never built which prevented a lot of businesses being created and tradesmen worked from their own farms.
  • The main industries were sawmilling & lumbering – making use of the raw materials around them.
  • There was no easy access to markets and as the next generation took over many decided to move to where there were better markets.

The names Stonehaven and New Kincardineshire fell out of use and the whole settlement became known far and wide as



What happened to those who left Stonehaven in 1873?

William Fletcher and his wife obviously decided that New Brunswick wasn’t for them as they had returned to Stonehaven before the birth of their fourth child the following year, and had 6 more children in Stonehaven and Aberdeen. The 1881 Census records that his brother Benjamin was back living in Arbroath with his parents so it is very likely that they all returned together.


Castalia Morrison (the baby born on the voyage) returned to Scotland with her parents in 1876. She married and lived out the rest of her life in Kintore. She died in 1966, at the age of 93, and is buried in Kintore Churchyard.


Robert Stewart bought a farm slightly outside the main Kincardine settlement, and had three more children with Julia. Julia was still living on the farm with her son Thomas and his family in 1911.
With two others, Robert set up and managed the Kincardine Agricultural Society in the first few years, and was President of the Society when he died in 1880. Stewart road can be seen there on maps today.

What happened to those who left Stonehaven in 1873
 What happened to those who left Stonehaven in 1873

David Taylor set up the colony store, and issued government loans to assist people through to 1st harvest. Subsequent demands for repayment were not welcomed by the colonists and after 3 years David and his family (and his printing press) slipped away one night.
They settled in Montreal where David became a successful printer.


Kate Chapman’s father was badly injured in an explosion a few months after they arrived in New Brunswick and died the following year. Her mother died 10 years later when Kate was 15 years old. In 1882, just before her death, her mother was granted a land grant for the 200 acres she was farming.
Some of Kate’s brothers married Colony girls and their descendants still live in the Colony, others moved to Maine and became American citizens.

David and Kate   

David Duncan the diary writer, moved across the United States border to Washburn in Maine to work in the mill. Later his parents also moved to Washburn. He was Manager of the Mill in Washburn for 31 years, then Postmaster for 15 years.

He married Kate Chapman in 1886. They were married for over 60 years and had 6 children.

David and Kate
The Scotch Colony 2023

As time went on, as with many rural places, people migrated away from the Colony:

  • Tradesmen started working further away from home
  • Some settlers moved to farms outwith the Colony where they could get easier access to markets
  • Some moved into nearby towns to establish businesses

But many maintained their links with the Colony – kept homes in the community or came back to visit relatives and friends, and for special events (eg: Burns Nights & Special Commemorations).

The Scotch Colony 2023

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Stonehaven Tolbooth
Stonehaven Tolbooth Association
Old Pier, Stonehaven Harbour,
Scotland. United Kingdom
AB39 2JU
Phone: (mob) 07512 466329 (Opening hours only)
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