SHORE, GEORGE, army officer, militia officer, office holder, politician, and landowner; b. c. 1787 in England; m. 8 Feb. 1815 Ariana Margaretta Jekyll Saunders in Fredericton, and they had two sons and three daughters; d. there 18 May 1851.
Appointed ensign in the New Brunswick Fencibles on 9 July 1803, George Shore left England immediately to join the regiment, then stationed in Fredericton. He was promoted lieutenant on 25 March 1804 and in 1810 was made captain and put in command of the light company, succeeding Dugald Campbell*. That September the regiment became the 104th Foot and the following year Shore assumed command of one of its companies, which was stationed in Charlottetown. As senior officer of the garrison, he appears to have assumed that he was in complete charge of the military in the colony. This belief led to a dispute with Lieutenant Governor Joseph Frederick Wallet DesBarres* and to Shore’s being tried by court martial on a variety of charges, including those of making false reports to his commanding officer and of disseminating and nurturing the seeds of insubordination and mutiny. He was cleared on all counts at a trial in Halifax that lasted from 27 May to 8 June 1812. Under the command of Alexander Halkett, Shore led one of the six companies of the regiment on the famous winter march from Fredericton to Upper Canada in 1813; leaving on 21 February, they covered the 700-mile journey to Kingston in 52 days.
Slightly wounded at Sackets Harbor on 29 May 1813, Shore served on the Niagara frontier the following year. While in command of the 104th light company at Lundy’s Lane in July, he used his knowledge of local geography, gained while stationed there that spring, to bring his troops quickly into position and was thus able to provide reinforcements at a critical point in the battle. In August he was in the vanguard of the unsuccessful attack on Fort Erie led by Gordon Drummond. When the 104th Foot disbanded on 24 May 1817 Shore was placed on half pay.
His wife, whom he married while on leave from service in Upper Canada, was a woman of intelligence and spirit, with an interest in politics. At the end of the war they returned to Fredericton where Shore became a confidant of the lieutenant governor, Major-General George Stracey Smyth*; beginning in 1819 he served as aide-de-camp, acting also as private secretary, and he was one of the executors of the estate when Smyth died in March 1823.
Smyth, who was old-fashioned and conservative in his politics, did his utmost to place Shore in a highly paid permanent position. He failed in efforts to make him surveyor general and receiver general, though Shore twice held both offices concurrently for several months on a temporary basis. In 1819 he became auditor general, in 1821 a member of the Council, and in 1822 clerk of the pleas of the Supreme Court, a position that provided about £600 annually. In order to make the last office available, Smyth dismissed Henry Bliss*, a member of the local “family compact” whose influence Smyth was attempting to counter. Bliss appealed successfully to the Colonial Office for reinstatement in 1824 but did not return to New Brunswick; Shore therefore continued in the position and, on Bliss’s resignation two years later, was confirmed in the appointment. In 1827 he resigned as auditor general.
Smyth had also named him adjutant general of the provincial militia with the rank of major. Shore’s first orders, issued early in 1821, made it clear that he intended to make the force more effective. He promulgated the place and time of musters for each of the 14 units and proceeded to make an inspection of the force. His appointment was resented by some senior officers because of his lack of seniority and his political affiliation. One of them, Major John Allen, commanding officer of the 1st Battalion of the York County Militia, refused to drill his men for inspection. Shore put Allen on charge and ordered a court of inquiry, which arrived at a Solomonic verdict on 21 May 1822: Allen was found guilty of disobeying a lawful command but his appeal of seniority to Shore was upheld. Smyth then defined the status of adjutant general more clearly, stating that, in performing the duties of inspecting field officer, he need not be of a rank senior to that of the commander of the troops. Shore diligently carried out regulations, reprimanding commanding officers for not fining offenders, insisting on the prompt and regular submission of returns and reports, and bringing unit finances under his surveillance. When he was appointed clerk of the Supreme Court in 1822, he offered to resign his militia appointment as being inconsistent with his new duties, but there is no evidence that his resignation was accepted. In 1823, in a move designed to balance Shore’s authority, John Allen was named inspecting field officer of militia. The two men were active in organizing the force in the following years, and during the régime of Lieutenant Governor Sir Howard Douglas* it achieved its greatest popularity, and probably its highest level of efficiency. The reduction of tension on the New Brunswick–Maine boundary in the early 1830s lowered interest in the militia; it revived again in the crisis period later in the decade, but then died out with the settling of the boundary question in 1842.
As a member of Douglas’s Council, Shore was called upon to undertake many time-consuming tasks, such as acting as a commissioner for the rebuilding of Government House after it was destroyed by fire in 1825 and as a member of the central relief committee for the victims of the Miramichi fire which also occurred that year. He served on several ad hoc committees concerned with the administration of crown lands and the improvement of public roads. Shore was not, however, in the front rank of politicians and, when the Council was abolished at the end of 1832 during the term of Sir Archibald Campbell*, he was not named to the new Executive Council, though he did become a life member of the Legislative Council.
Next to the lieutenant governor, the central figure on the provincial scene under the new arrangements was the commissioner of crown lands, Thomas Baillie*. When Baillie arrived in New Brunswick in 1824, the Shores had cultivated his acquaintance, hoping to benefit from his influence at the Colonial Office. However, for reasons that are not clear, Shore and Baillie parted ways and their names almost always appear on opposite sides in recorded votes in the Legislative Council. In 1837 the group in the assembly opposed to Baillie’s policies succeeded in destroying his political power: the Colonial Office was persuaded to transfer control of public lands to the province. To carry out its new liberal program, in May of that year the Colonial Office appointed Sir John Harvey as lieutenant governor, with instructions to make the Executive Council more responsive to local political opinion. He dismissed two councillors, one of whom was Baillie, and appointed three new members, Charles Simonds, Hugh Johnston*, and Shore. Shore thus became identified with the reform administration that governed the province during what historian William Stewart MacNutt* has named “the Age of Harmony.” It seems likely that he owed his appointment mainly to the fact that he and Harvey had been comrades-in-arms. The contrast, both in political ideas and in style, between the Council to which he was appointed in 1821 and that of 1837 was remarkable. In 1821 he had been the protégé of the austere Smyth, the last lieutenant governor to be dedicated to ultra-tory principles; in 1837 he joined a government which reflected the ideas and manners of the new liberal era. Shore must have been extremely adaptable to move from the piety and narrowness of Smyth’s time to the expansiveness of Harvey’s, which was once described by journalist Thomas Hill as “an age of boisterous mirth and lavish expenditure,” when amusements were “Balls, Billiards, and Brandy” and it was “fashionable to feast, revel, and swear.”
Shore did not hold a portfolio but his duties as adjutant general of the militia saw him involved in events on the Maine border during the crisis that led up to the “Aroostook war” of 1839. In 1837 he played a confidential role in the release of the American agent Ebenezer Greeley. Later Harvey asked Shore and Charles Jeffery Peters*, the attorney general, to inquire into alleged partiality shown to Sir John Caldwell*; the lieutenant governor also consulted him in arranging for relief supplies to be sent to Acadians in the Madawaska settlement. Shore resigned from the Executive Council following the election of 1843, but was reappointed on 5 Feb. 1846 by Lieutenant Governor Sir William MacBean George Colebrooke* and served until May 1848, when the principles of responsible government were adopted.
Shore’s father-in-law, John Saunders*, was one of the largest landowners in New Brunswick and Shore and his wife acquired a considerable amount of property by gift, inheritance, and purchase. Their homes were Rose Hall in Fredericton and Shore’s Folly on an island in the Saint John River, nine miles above the city. Both Shores had some skill in drawing and painting, and he prepared a map of the province in 1822 which was considered “the most correct extant.” In public life, he appears to have performed his duties competently, without either earning particular distinction or being subject to serious criticism. In private, he was known for his charity, for his kindness to friends, and as a family man who gave pleasant parties. On his passing, a friend noted that “as all his daughters had married the family suddenly disappeared like ice in July.” His style of life represented the ideal to which the Fredericton bureaucracy came to aspire. He had grown to maturity in a section of society dominated by ideas of gentility and he continued to represent those values when he came to terms with the liberal and democratic age.
Shore did not exercise any extensive personal authority in his administrative positions but they were a source of influence, for through them he had regular access to the lieutenant governor and the chief justice, and could be of service to two influential groups, the lawyers and the notables who led the county militia units. As a devoted churchman and a large holder of landed property, he was a quiet and effective spokesman for those particular interests. His wife’s family, the Saunders, had no marriage ties with members of the Hazen, Odell, and Simonds extended families which dominated the colony’s politics, but this may not always have been a disadvantage, for it is likely that, at times, the community’s recognition of his independent position helped his career.
It is for his military career and his connection with the militia that Shore is chiefly remembered. “Through his efforts, which were perhaps greater than any other man, the militia system had improved and survived. Only in his later years, did age deprive him of the energy to be of further service.”
N.B. Museum, Epitaphs, York County, N.B., cb doc., Shore; Marriages, cb doc., Shore–Saunders. PAC, MG 24, A3, 3: 58; A17, ser.i, 1: ff.116–18 (transcripts); ser.ii, 3: ff.249–50; L6, 1. PANB, “N.B. political biog.” (J. C. and H. B. Graves); RG 1, RS558, A1a, especially p.380; RG 2, RS6, A1–3, 1785–1825; RS8, Appointments and commissions, 1785–1825; RG 7, RS75A, 1851, George Shore; 1868, A. M. Jekyll Shore, W. H. Shore. PANS, MG 12, HQ, 9, 10 June 1812. PRO, CO 188/25; 188/29: 295–97, 299–300; 188/52: 12–51 (mfm. at PANB); CO 189/12, Bathurst to Smyth, 30 April 1823; Bathurst to Chipman, 10 Sept. 1823 (mfm. at PANB). Southampton City Record Office (Southampton, Eng.), List of J. G. Smyth papers in private possession (typescript, 1968; copy at National Reg. of Arch., London). UNBL, MG H1, “Old Fredericton and the college: town and gown as described in the letters of James and Ellen Robb,” ed. A. G. Bailey (typescript, 1973); MG H11, Shore corr. N.B., Legislative Council, Journal [1786–1830], vol.2, 1821–30; 1831–42. Robb and Coster, Letters (Bailey). Carleton Sentinel (Woodstock, N.B.), 1851, especially 27 May. Head Quarters (Fredericton), 21 May 1851. Morning News (Saint John, N.B.), 21 May 1851. New-Brunswick Courier, 24 May 1851. New Brunswick Reporter and Fredericton Advertiser, 23 May 1851. Royal Gazette (Fredericton), 1814–34. G.B., WO, Army list, 1805, 1817. D. R. Facey-Crowther, “The New Brunswick militia: 1784–1871” (ma thesis, Univ. of N.B., Fredericton, 1965), 87–171. I. L. Hill, Fredericton, New Brunswick, British North America ([Fredericton?, 1968?]). Lawrence, Judges of N.B. (Stockton and Raymond). MacNutt, New Brunswick. D. R. Moore, “John Saunders, 1754–1834: consummate loyalist” (ma thesis, Univ. of N.B., 1980), 108–9, 126–27. W. A. Squires, The 104th Regiment of Foot (the New Brunswick Regiment), 1803–1817 (Fredericton, 1962).
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Cite This Article
D. Murray Young, “SHORE, GEORGE,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 8, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed March 25, 2023, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/shore_george_8E.html.
The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:
|Author of Article:||D. Murray Young|
|Title of Article:||SHORE, GEORGE|
|Publication Name:||Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 8|
|Publisher:||University of Toronto/Université Laval|
|Year of publication:||1985|
|Year of revision:||1985|
|Access Date:||March 25, 2023|