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New Jerusalem November 11


Hundreds to remember former home on New Brunswick base

Chris Morris
Canadian Press
As published on page A11(Saint John Telegraph Journal) on November 11, 2006

CFB GAGETOWN - Remembrance Day in a place once called New Jerusalem is a painful mix of memories of home, war and loss for the hundreds of people who used to live there.
New Jerusalem was a farming community set in the rolling hills of
southern New Brunswick until it, along with several other villages, was
swallowed up in the early 1950s in the massive federal expropriation
that created Canadian Forces Base Gagetown.
Today, all that is left of the village of New Jerusalem and its 19
neighbouring communities are the carefully tended graveyards and a
cenotaph in the midst of Gagetown's sprawling grounds.
Every year, former residents of the communities and their descendants
travel by the hundreds to the cenotaph to honour the dead of past wars and to remember their own personal sacrifice for today's military.
Enid Inch, 85, of the village of Gagetown, said her ancestors first
settled in New Jerusalem in the 1820s.
"Even though it has been over 50 years since the expropriation and there
isn't a building left in the village, it's still home," she said.
Many of the people who used to live in the lost communities still feel
bitterness about the expropriation, which was executed quickly and
without a great deal of sympathy for the families that were uprooted.
Allison Inch, 69, one of Enid's cousins, said people were ``bullied" out
of their homes.
"We were one of the last families to leave," Inch said of his forced
departure from New Jerusalem in 1954.
"When my parents were trying to move out, the tanks were coming across the property.
"My mother had to go out and stop them because they were going to tear everything to pieces before we could get things moved out."
Ottawa decided in 1952 to expropriate 600-square-miles of land in
southern New Brunswick to create the base, even though it meant simply wiping out 20 communities and forcing the relocation of close to 1,000 families.
Allison Inch said it was such a drastic move, he doubts any government would attempt anything so massive today.
"We were told we were going and this is how much we would get for our properties," he said.
"That was it." Perhaps to make amends, the Canadian military has maintained the tradition of holding Remembrance Day services at the New Jerusalem cenotaph since 1953.
Tents are erected for people and soup and sandwiches are served after the services.
Enid Inch said upwards of 200 former residents and their descendants
attend the annual event.
Franklin Johnson, 77, of Fredericton, a former resident of New
Jerusalem, said the tightly knit bonds that united the small farming
communities never have been completely severed.
"People were scattered all over the province after the expropriation but whenever there's an occasion to get together, they come back," Johnson said.
"We might be considered kind of clanish but there was a community spirit and it still carries on."