Dean is a tiny community at the headwaters of the Musquodoboit River about 60 miles northeast of Halifax. We drove to Musquodoboit Harbour and saw that a harbour in Nova Scotia terms is sometimes just a large bay suitable for docking ships. There were only a few private piers and a few boats to be seen.
Then we drove up a road that followed the Musquodoboit River. There were several miles of rapids, and after that the river was relatively peaceful. We stopped at Middle Musquodoboit for a picnic lunch on the banks of the river and discovered another reason Nova Scotians call the place “Mosquito Bite!”
By the time we got to Upper Musquodoboit, we could not see the river any more. When we stopped at a store to ascertain where it was, the shopkeeper did not know what we were talking about. It is little more than a stream at this point and perhaps the Deans would have needed to portage to get to the settlement. It is quite certain that Dean could not have taken a boat from Upper M. to the lands further up the hill where the M. River originates.
We took the Dean Back Road, a dirt road that loops up the hill and back into the town. En route we (almost literally) ran into the Dean Pioneer Cemetery, which juts out so that the road curves around it. In this tiny burial plot, we saw the grave of Willam Dean, third son of John and Susan, and also his son Adam Dunlop Dean, who kept alive his grandparents’ story by passing it on in 1910 to his grandson Arnold Stewart, who copied it verbatim. Later it was cited in the book My Pioneer Ancestors by Matthew Burris in 1948, where I read it and became inspired to write about it.
That was a very moving moment for me.