Energy on the Angus Fisher Russell Farm and Glenelg, Northumberland County, New Brunswick

Figure 1a.  David MacFadyen, Francis MacNaughton, and Frank (or Francis) “Grampie” Russell putting hay in the 1850s-built barn on the Russell farm, Glenelg, Northumberland County, New Brunswick, Canada, ca. 1969.
This photograph and those that follow are used with permission of Russell and MacFadyen family members.
Figure 1b.  Angus Fisher Russell

The Russell Farm in New Brunswick’s Northumberland County is an example of a farmer-fisher energy strategy in a plurioccupational coastal agroecosystem. Angus Fisher Russell (b.1821/d.1896) was both a farmer and a fisher living and working in Glenelg, Northumberland, New Brunswick, in 1871.[1] His 120 acre, or 48.6 ha, farm was situated on the Miramichi River close to Napan. He married Jane Urquhart of Rose Bank, New Brunswick, in 1850.[2] Jane, however, had been born in Prince Edward Island.[3] The couple had seven children.[4] Angus fished with his younger brother Robert who, in 1871, lived on a neighbouring farm with their widowed and aging father Francis.

Figure 1c.  Angus Fisher Russell’s farm located near Napan Bay, New Brunswick.
Clip of Crown Grant Reference Map (1964) provided by Service New Brunswick.
Note: this map contains information licensed under the Open Government License–New Brunswick[1], https://www.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=14033cda76c64f558e64a18ee3d388fb 

Farm Energy Funds*

In 1871, only 10.1 ha (21%) of Angus Russell’s 48.6 ha were improved, with 1.2 ha in pasture, 1.6 in hay, and .8 ha in salt or dyked marshland. The ratios of these different aspects of his farm–improved land, pasture, hay, and salt or dyked marsh–were similar to the greater Glenelg census subdivision (CSD) which totalled 12,123 ha of farmland of which 2,064.3 ha (17%) were improved, 656.2 ha were in hay, 361.8 ha  were in pasture, and 53.2 ha were in salt or dyked marshland. The average amount of improved land for each farm in the Glenelg CSD was 10.02 ha, almost the exact same as what Russell had. However, the size of the average farm in Glenelg was 58.85 ha, 10.25 ha larger than Russell’s. Russell had 15 cords of firewood on hand, whereas the Glenelg CSD had 4,586, averaging 22 cords per farm.

Figure 2a. Area Visualization of Angus Fisher Russell’s farm in 1871 showing 79 percent in woodland or unimproved land. Of his improved land, Angus Fisher Russell had more emphasis on crops than he did on hay and pasture.
Figure 2b. Area Visualization of the Glenelg CSD, Northumberland, New Brunswick. The land use is similar to Angus Fisher Russell’s farm, with 83 percent in woodland or unimproved land. A marked difference, however, is that the improved land of the Glenelg CSD was balanced between crops on the one hand and hay and pasture on the other.

Russell reported having one colt or filly, two milchers, three other horned cattle, nine sheep, and three swine. These were similar to the types of livestock reported by all farmers in the Glenelg CSD. The farm’s livestock intensity was 11.1 livestock units per km2, and his grazing intensity was also high at 3.22 ruminants per square ha of pasture. For the Glenelg CSD it was 1.0 and .61 respectively. Russell’s livestock created deficits in both feed and litter. To address this, we assume that his animals consumed all of his fodder crops and pasture, a large amount of the crop residues, as well as purchased feed and litter. In contrast, the average farm in the Glenelg CSD had feed to spare, including about 15% of their hay and pasture (Fig. 3b). Russell most likely purchased some of this hay from neighbours to meet his livestock’s feed and litter demand.

Farm Energy Flows*

That same year, 1871, the Russell farm produced four crops–five bushels of barley, 110 bushels of oats, 270 bushels of potatoes, plus four tons of hay–which was a simplified approach to feeding his animals and his family compared to the the possibilities of crops recorded by others in the 1871 Census for the Glenelg CSD. In addition to the crops reported by Russell, other farmers reported peas, beans, corn, turnips, mangel-wurtzel, carrots, rye, wheat, and buckwheat. The largest energy output on the Russell farm was oats at 25 percent, followed by potatoes at 7 percent, and finally barley at 2 percent. It was 21 percent, 7 percent, and 1 percent respectively for these same productions in the Glenelg CSD. The Russell farm reinvested 89.7 percent of its grain and root crop biomass as feed and litter, which was 47.4 percent more than the Glenelg CSD’s 42.3 percent.

In 1871, Russell butchered two cattle, two sheep, and two swine, and his farm produced 100 pounds of butter. Russell’s farm produced less milk and butter than the average farm in the Glenelg region, and he slaughtered more animals. This suggests that Russell, a self-proclaimed fisher and farmer, in addition to having less hay and other crops for animal feed than the average Glenelg farmer, also slaughtered more animals, rather than taking them through winter. This strategy, plus keeping more of his improved land in pasture than in hay and making up the feed deficit from his neighbours’ surplus, suggests that Russell was primarily a fisher, and that his farm supported his maritime work.


Conclusion

A fisher first, it appears that Russell was using more of the funds available to him–the Miramichi River–than the average farmer enumerated in the 1871 Census for Glenelg. In fact, his father Francis Russell reported in Schedule 8–Shipping and Fisheries–of the 1871 Census that he had two boats, 300 fathoms of nets and seines, six barrels of Gaspareaux, and eight barrels of salmon on hand. Although Angus Russell did not report on Schedule 8 for himself, his share of the Russell fishery was very likely included in what his father reported. In 2021, the farm is owned by two of Angus Russell’s direct descendants, first cousins to David MacFadyen who appears in Figure 1a, and Gary MacFadyen who appears with his brother David in Figures 6a and 6b. The 1850s barn still stands, there are outbuildings, and there are three houses, with the most recent being built in 2020. The original house, lived in by Angus Fisher Russell and his family, is gone.

Figure 6a. David MacFadyen, Gary MacFadyen, Frank (or Francis) “Grampie” Russell, and Molly in front of the 1850s-built barn on the Russell farm, Glenelg, Northumberland County, New Brunswick, Canada, ca. 1959.
Figure 6b. Gary MacFadyen with his grandfather Francis Russell’s (b. 1899/d. 1970) scythe. It may be that the scythe was passed down to Francis by a member of a previous generation.

* For an explanation of terms in this profile, see the farm energy profiles project home page.

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[1] “Angus Rufsell,” 1871 Census of Canada, RG31, C-10390, Library and Archives Canada (LAC), Ottawa.

[2] “R. A. Russell,” New Brunswick, Canada, Deaths, 1888-1938, Volume No. 23, 423075, Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, Fredericton.

[3] Angus Russell,” 1891 Census of Canada, T-6302, LAC.

[4] “Angus Rufsell,” 1871, LAC.