The Edge of Vision: Miramichi’s Father of Confederation Peter Mitchell
Start date: 1 March, 2017
End date: 30 November, 2015
In honoring Mitchell, the Friends of Beaubears Island would work closely with Parks Canada, the Provincial Heritage Branch, and other like-minded partners. Events for this commemoration would include, but are not limited to:
A re-creation of the 1872 celebratory picnic on the Island with guests in both 19th and 21st century dress. Using period accounts, we will reproduce the gathering which celebrated Mitchell’s victory in the 1872 election. Entertainment will include sack races, dancing, and a brass band. Our restored trail network on the Island will also allow guests to see the Island’s natural beauty. Our characters will also be on hand to duplicate the speeches made on the day by Mitchell and his associates.
The production and distribution of written materials highlighting Mitchell's local/provincial/national significance. Peter Mitchell belongs not to the Miramichi Region alone, but to the province and nation at large. Over the course of his career Mitchell became involved in a number of business enterprises, including shipbuilding and lumbering. In the fight for an Inter-colonial Railway, he was New Brunswick’s champion. A strong supporter of confederation, he was present at the Quebec conference in 1864, and attended the London conference in May 1867. When John A. MacDonald formed his first federal cabinet, Mitchell was offered a post as minister of marine and fisheries. His efforts toward the Treaty of Washington marked the first successful attempt by Canada to protect its own sovereignty, and his efforts, regionally, provincially and nationally, are deserving of attention.
A partnership with the City of Miramichi for NB Tall Ship Festival on the Miramichi. Having Peter Mitchell at the forefront of the Festival, especially considering that Mitchell`s early shipbuilding operations were located at Ritchie’s Wharf, helps FOB and provides the city with an added layer to an already lucrative festival. We plan to have our Peter Mitchell character present throughout the festival and stage several of our theatrical re-creations to coincide with it.
Aside from these more singular and fixed experiences, we propose to craft a theatrical presentation chronicling the unique episodes of Mitchell's life, and the figures he shared the local and national stage with. Chief among these would be Miramichi`s second Father of Confederation, John Mercer Johnson, Mitchell`s legal partner and political ally. The feature would begin at Windsor Hotel in Montreal, where a retired Peter Mitchell recalls his illustrious past and acts as the audience’s guide through the next four decades. The first act would look at the 1852 and 1856 election campaigns, introducing a young Mitchell, his parents, Peter Sr. & Barbara, his legal partner, and friend, John Mercer Johnson, and his wife, Isabella Mitchell.
Confederation would be the focus of the second act which would explore themes such as federal and legislative options for union, the Confederation Conferences, anti-confederation sentiment, the Inter-colonial Railway, and the first federal cabinet. Act Three would look at Mitchell’s political decline, and address his ownership of Beaubears Island, his step-son Jacob Gough, the Pacific Scandal, the general election of 1878, Mitchell’s final years, and his death in 1899.
Nature of the Project Reach
We would travel throughout New Brunswick presenting our theatre production at select feature performances. This would include travel by train, to salute Mitchell's role in promoting the railway in New Brunswick.
To increase community engagement, interaction, & awareness.
One need only look at the $10 bill to see the face of Confederation for many Canadians. Taking nothing away from the contributions made by Sir. John A. MacDonald, the Friends of Beaubears look to broaden the historical scope, and spread awareness of New Brunswick’s prominent role in Confederation, by exploring a hometown hero who was instrumental in the creation of the Dominion of Canada and integral in the early governance of our great nation.
MacDonald was a leader and an indomitable personality, so was Peter Mitchell, and through our interactive interpretation we can vividly demonstrate his determination and charm. Moreover, his diligence and personal appeal, despite the powerful positions he held, are in keeping with the quintessential Maritime spirit of grace and humility.
On the Miramichi, our strength has always been our people, and Peter Mitchell knew this all too well. In recreating the gatherings on Beaubears Island, where thousands greeted his political triumphs, we will engage the regional community and offer them a chief role in this celebration. Mitchell himself said in 1872 that the support of his fellows on the Miramichi encouraged him to persevere in service to the nation, and was fair compensation for any work he had done. We hope to recapture that spirit of community support and celebratory revelry in 2017.
Recently, we have also begun a dialogue with the Calithumpians and the Saint John River Society that would see complimentary productions chronicling the Fredericton and Saint John Fathers respectively. The ultimate aim of these discussions would be to have three plays, collectively telling the story of all eight New Brunswick Fathers of Confederation, touring the province simultaneously.