Who was Hanna Dow and why was a hill on Deer Island named after her?

The Devil’s Hand, Tom Cat Hill, Hanna Dow’s Hill … Deer Island, New Brunswick has more than it’s share of strange place names that never make it to an official map. The story about Hanna Dow was included in The Fogs Inn … an interesting book that I did the drawings for and which my company typeset and printed. Here’s the story modified slightly from that source. The original author is unknown.

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Hanna Dow’s Hill  is about a mile from Leonardville, overlooking Leonard's Lake. It got its name on a winter's night in the mid 1800's. At the base of the hill lived a quiet, aging widow who, like many islanders, tended her garden and her animals in order to survive. The villagers had fenced in the majority of the hill as a common pasture, and Hanna's only cow grazed there along with several others.

The widow visited her cow daily, both for milking and to see that it was staying within the safety of the fence. She had grown attached to the animal over the years because of its nutritious bounty and its unswerving faithfulness to her. Hanna only had to call "Co Bossie"

One winter afternoon, when barn chores and milking were over for the day, Hanna noticed the sky looked like a snow storm was on its way. She wondered if she should fetch the cow to the shelter of the lean-to bam. She decided to wait and see. By bedtime, she realized she had made the wrong decision and her cow was in danger of being frozen in the storm. She had to go out and find the poor beast.

It snowed a blizzard for four solid days and it was that many more days before villagers could make their way again to their neighbours. A friend went to Hanna's house to see how she had passed the storm. No smoke came from the chimney and the few window panes were thick with frost; he could learn nothing there. He made his way to the lean-to barn, where the few chickens Hanna owned were frozen in their nests. The man found a shovel against a wall and began clearing a path to the house. When he opened the door, Hanna was nowhere to be seen.

They didn't find Hanna until a thaw in February made it possible to search the hill. Several villagers found Hanna and her cow huddled together on top of the hill, frozen and still. Some folks said she was foolish to go out in such a storm after the cow, but everyone had to admire the devotion she showed her old friend.

Islanders still hold friendship highly, and that is why they remember the mountain as Hanna Dow's Hill.

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Were you in school when The Fogs Inn was produced in 1990? Did you write this article about Deer Island, New Brunswick? Let us know and we'll make sure you get credit as the author.

Art MacKay … art @ bayoffundy.ca