New book examines life of Seaman
Minudie - When it comes to historical figures of Cumberland County, perhaps none have left behind a more compelling story and legacy than Amos King Seaman.
But who was the man? What was he about? How did he rise from poverty to become one of the wealthiest men in Canada, living in the now tiny village of Minudie? And how did that empire fall?
Author Jamie Heap aims to answer these questions and more in his new book, Lord of the Land: The Reign of Amos King Seaman.
He was a real rags to riches story, said Heap, a River Hebert resident. He first visited Minudie when he was eight years old, and came across the river from Maccan in a boat with a hole in it, and nothing but the clothes on his back.
He left the seaside community to make some money, but returned as an adult, becoming, by modern day standards, the Minudie millionaire. He lived in Minudie from 1796 until his death in 1864, becoming a well-known merchant, landowner, business person and philanthropist.
Heap, a teacher, first became interested in Seamans story about 10 years ago, when he was working as a summer student at the Amos Seaman School Museum in Minudie.
I took a lot of notes about Amos Seaman and the area, and sort of filed them away while I was finishing my education degree up and doing some teaching, he explained. A few years ago I had the inkling to start writing about it.
In 2005 he approached his Mount Allison University professor, Dr. Bill Godfrey, with the idea of writing an honours thesis about Seaman. He agreed, and it was that thesis that Heap expanded into a book. He is dedicating the book to Godfrey, who passed away in March of 2008.
The book will not be the first writings about Seaman - Roger Brown dedicated a chapter to Minudie in his book, Historic Cumberland County South, and other writers such as Charles Bruce Ferguson, Stanley T. Spicer and Will R. Bird have also written about him - but this will be the first book focusing entirely on the man.
Research consisted mainly on files found in the Mount Allison archives, along with the original notes Heap took at the museum. Over the years, the project became a labour of love and a learning experience for him, he explained.
The biggest surprise to me was, working at the museum, I really didnt know a lot about how the empire crumbled, he said. I knew there was a feud over money, but I had the impression it was between (Seamans sons) Gilbert and Rufus.
In fact, the feud developed between Seaman and his two sons, and carried over even after his death, becoming the costliest court case in Nova Scotia history up to that time in 1866.
As Seamans history goes back to his birth in Wood Point, N.B., near Sackville, Heaps book is being published by the non-profit Tantramar Heritage Trust.
A book launch is being planned as part of the annual Tantramar Heritage Days celebrations at Live Bait Theatre in Sackville on Saturday, Feb. 14. It will also be available online at www.heritage.tantramar.com.