Friday, October 23, 2009

Monument to the Canadian Exiles

Moving on from Cabarita Park, which stands at the entrance to Hen and Chicken Bay, the search was on to find the monument to the fifty-eight French Canadian convicts who were sent to New South Wales for their part in the 1837-1838 uprising against the British administration in the Canadian provence of Quebec.

We did a short walk in the midday sun along Exile Bay to Prince Edward Park and then drove around to Bayview Park at the head of Canada Bay. It was here that we finally located the monument.

It had previously been at Cabarita Park where on 18 May 1970, the Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau unveiled the plaque to mark the 130th Anniversary of the landing of the Canadian exiles in Sydney.

Following the reclamation of Bayview Park, Concord Council moved the monument there in February 1984. This is closer to the historical roots of the story of the exiles.

Arriving in Sydney Harbour on 25 February 1840 on the Buffalo, the fifty-eight convicts were transported to the Longbottom Stockade on the site of the present day Concord Oval. Bayview Park is the actual landing spot from where they would have disembarked en route to the Stockade along Wharf Road (Burwood Road).

Circumstances saw these prisoners treated somewhat more humanely than most other convicts. They were industrious and hard working and were generally accepted by the early colonists. Archbishop John Bede Polding lobbied the Administration on their behalf.

In 1841, Governor Gipps gave permission for the convicts to be granted Tickets of Leave and by 1842 many had found employment. Finally between November 1843 and February 1844 free pardons were awarded to all. All eventually returned to Canada except for two who died and one, Joseph Marceau who married a nineteen-year-old Englishwoman and settled in Dapto on the South Coast of NSW.

Although this story is not popularly known, the convicts of the Buffalo have been well researched.

History Services NSW holds records on all the fifty-eight convicts, in a handy summary format giving dates and details in particular of their Tickets of Leave and Absolute Pardons

If you would like to research any of this information go to:

The story of the Canadian exiles in the Concord area has been commemorated in the naming of the inlets of Hen and Chicken Bay viz France Bay, Exile Bay and Canada Bay. These areas have been much transformed in recent years with new residential developments.

Our excursion today has been very interesting, greatly enhancing both our historical and geographical knowledge of the Parramatta River.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Federation Pavilion at Cabarita Park

The Federation Pavilion at Cabarita Park, Sydney 2009.

Transporting history!

On a visit to Cabarita Park on the shores of the Parramatta River yesterday, we located the original Federation Pavilion which was used at Centennial Park in Sydney on the occasion of the inauguration of the Commonwealth of Australia on 1 January 1901.

It was in this Pavilion that the Oath of Office was adminstered to the Governor General, Lord Hopetoun by Sir Frederick Darley, the Lieutenant Governor and Chief Justice of NSW.

Centennial Park, Sydney, 1 January 1901

In 1903 the Council of Concord bought the Pavilion and moved it to its current location at Cabarita.

And so a piece of Australia's History was transported!

It is believed that the wooden framework of the current pavilion at Cabarita would have formed the wooden superstructure of the Centennial Park model. This supported decorative layers of plaster of Paris which formed the ornate rotunda used for the ceremonies on the day of Federation. The plaster of Paris however quickly disintegrated.

The major events in the History of New South Wales leading up to Federation on 1 January 1901 are featured in an extensive Chronology on the History Services NSW website at:

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Finding Bennelong

On Tuesday, while on our way to have lunch by the Parramatta River, our "Nav Lady" took us via the route of Watson Street, Putney where we spotted Cleves Park which is the location of Bennelong's grave. I had tried to find the grave site on a previous occasion in the nearby Bennelong Park.

Cleves Park was originally part of the Kissing Point property of James Squire, the First Fleet convict who established the first commercial brewery in the colony at Kissing Point in 1798. It was here in James Squire's orchard, that Bennelong was buried when he died on 3 January 1813.

It was reported that Bennelong often wandered onto the Squire's property and was befriended by James. He erected a plaque to commenorate his dear friend. The current monument was funded by the Australian Bicentennial Authority.

Interesting name, Cleves Park. My wife had an Uncle Cleve. I have not been able to trace the origin of the name?

Bennelong is the best known of our Aboriginal people at the time of the arrival of the First Fleet. Befriended by Governor Phillip, after his "capture" in November 1789, he straddled two cultures, attempting to build bridges between them. This of course took a terrible toll on him.

The following is an extract from the Historical Records of New South Wales, Volume 2, page 711 [correspondance of Daniel Southwell dated 27/7/1790, on the escape of the Aborigine, named Bennalong, from Sydney Town] which illustrates his dual role.

"We have had little or no intercourse with the natives for a long time past, and Woolaraveray Bennalon [Bennilong], from whom we hoped so much, effected his escape on 3 May 1790, at a time when he was supposed to be well reconciled to his situation.

He laterally slept in the same room with the Governor’s steward, and before it was light he pretended suddenly to be disordered, upon which the other opened the door, not doubting but he would soon return; at last, tired with waiting, he thought proper to go and see how and where Woolaraveray Bennalon was. Not finding him, and after calling repeatedly, soon concluded what had happened, and accordingly went to the Governor’s room with the unwelcome news".

For a portrait of Bennelong go to the History Services NSW website at