A DOCUMENT FROM 1874 (April 18/03)

John Borden was among the original Planter grantees who received land in Cornwallis in 1764. Eaton’s Kings County history mentions John as possibly being an uncle of another Horton grantee; this was Perry Borden, from whom Sir Frederick Borden and the Hon. Robert Laird Borden are descended.

Since John Borden received his grant, six generations of his descendants have farmed in the Canard area. In 1874, John’s great-grandson, Charles Henry Borden, 1825-1913, entered into an agreement with the Parish of St. John to lease a 14-acre lot on the Wellington Dyke for five years. A document spelling out the leasing terms was duly drawn up. The document has been preserved by the Borden family and is currently held by Charles’ great-grandson, James (Jim) E. Borden, Lower Canard.

This is a unique document and is historically valuable for its insight into farming techniques in the 19th century. Normally a legal document makes dry, boring reading and is of little interest, especially if it is over a century old. However, when Charles Henry Borden leased “all that well known lot of dyke land on the Wellington Dyke called the School Lot,” he agreed to certain conditions on maintaining the land; these conditions are spelled out in detail, and these details tell us a bit about dykeland farming practices generations ago.

The agreement bound Borden to “plough and ditch all the unimproved portion of the lot, being the eastern side thereof and comprising five ricks or dales.” Borden was required to plough the lot “three years consecutively” and to “cart the ditch banks into the low spots and center of the ricks and level off the same.”

Why this maintenance and improvements should be part of a leasing agreement is puzzling but this isn’t the interesting part. Borden was also required to “provide and sow Timothy and Clover seed… at the rate of not less than one peck of Timothy and six pounds of clover per acre,” the same to be applied “in workmanlike manner.”

Some of us may think of lime application to the land as a modern agricultural practice, but this is not so! The agreement spells out that Borden is to lime the land he’s leasing, the lime to be supplied by the Church, and to “haul and apply (it) to such parts of the lot as shall need it the most.”

Interestingly, the agreement goes on to spell out exactly how much lime is to be applied to the acreage: “The first mentioned part of the lot is to have in all ten casks per acre… and the remaining portions requiring lime to have from five to ten casks per acre according to the quality of the land.”

I also find it interesting that the lessors built in some business by stipulating that they must be the sole providers of the said lime. Inserted in the agreement is a clause reading that the lessors are to furnish the lime from shipping ports in Kings County. (Mention of one of these ports in the document solves a mini-mystery of which I’ll have more next week).

Charles Henry Borden eventually purchased the 14-acre lot on Wellington Dyke and it has been in the Borden family now for four generations.

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