Sketches of the Restigouche

By Irene Doyle

The Daily Sun, St John, N.B.
Wednesday Morning
February 7, 1883

Rev. J. C. Herdman, B.D., of Campbellton, N.B.

(Written as I have found it, grammatical errors and all)

        Though to a certain extent, the timber and lumber trade was in the hands of "strangers", the settlers of Restigouche have, of course always been more of less interested in and dependent upon it. There was gradually trained up, in special adaptedness to the conditions of the work, a race of men handy and hardy, fearless and free. To this day Restigouche men are greatly sought after in the Minnesota and Wisconsin woods, and more of them are there now, it is said, than remain in their own country. The French in consequence are being largely employed of late years The buisness is a large one: sends many hands to the woods, buys quantities of produce in the place, works several mills and loads a number of vessels. Up in the woods the camps are generally more comfortable than they used to be - for those who prefer stoves at any rate to the old open fires. The diet is necessarily limited in variety, but solid and strengthening. There are no highways to the camps: this has necessitated a great deal either of scowing in the fall or of portaging through the winter over dreary and dangerous ice stretches; oxen were at first employ... in the woods, but horses are used exclusively now; and it is wonderful to see the hills they will ascend and descend with safety as, for example, Grumbler's Landing on the Upsalquitch. It used to be thought nothing to kill a horse or two in the woods, but men are wiser and more careful now. Still, what with snow storms, iceholes and hills, portaging horses and portagers have about as hard time of it as humanity and horseflesh can desire. Crews on the head waters of the Restigouche receive their supplies now via the St. John River. It would be the best of a week's work to get to there from here in other then favorable weather.

        At an early date in the settlement of Restigouche, agriculture received attention, although its progress has been none too rapid. Extensive marshes, dyked once, but covered now with the high tides, have always produced palatable march hay in abundance, but for a long time upland hay was imported from Scotland in pressed bundles. The Agricultural Society, which has done excellent service in the place, was formed in 1840: R. Ferguson, president; H. Montgomery and A. Barbarie, vice-presidents; D. Stewart, secretary and treasurer. Within two years, stock, implements and agricultural produce generally were imported to the amount of upwards of 20,000(Franks?) stg. Restigouche has had many fine breeds of horses, connected with lumbering. Not very long ago it bade fair to be known as a wheat-growing country, but of late years the rust has come early. The intervales at Metapedia, when in private hands, sustained at one time nearly 100 horned cattle, which high authorities, Governor Gordon among the number, have declared to compare favorably with any fed in the pastures of stalls of England. Very large and carefully-kept farms may be seen to-day at Athol House and Cross Point. Taking the coun... as a whole, it is to be remarked that farming has been more or less neglected or hurried over for the sake of fishing and lumbering, and sometimes for work on the railway. The soil for the most part is very good. The hills are, no doubt, a limitation in respect to …arable land, and the long winter is a drawback. But those who have stuck to their farms have done well, of which the lower parts of the county, especially bear witness. Sea-manure is much relied on, and smelts are in great demand, especially for potato fields; other forms of manure are not so highly appreceated as they deserve. Farmers who are near groves of maples do a little sugar-making in the spring, but without many of the modern implements and improvements.

        Store-business was of course a necessity at an early date in the history of the place. All the way from New Mills purchasers would come for their supplies to Athol House, and lumberers, from up the rivers, be constantly back and forth. As the timber and lumber epoch advanced, firms were started, always having a store as one branch of their business. It was the old truck system on which for the most part they worked. Happily it is well past now - with its "due bills", and store goods, and "Cash articles" and "two prices." Some few years before the railway came, lumbering had declined and business in the place was dull. But the pushing through of the line brought men money in abondance. Many seemed to think these good times would never come to an end. Several gave up their farms, or neglected them, to keep boarding houses or obtain employment on the line. To many, in divers ways, the constructing of the line was a mixed benefit. However, times were lively and some did reap a good harvest. Several new shops were then started, of which indeed there is now an oversufficient in the place. There are several saw and grist mills in the country, and a fair number of vessels come to the port every spring and fall for deal. A steamer plies in summer between Restigouche and the Gaspe Coast. The I.C.R. works at Campbellton give employment to a nember of hands, summer and winter. Around the station, which is one of the finest on the whole line, a little village has sprung up. Flour had to be hauled in winter, years ago, at great cost, form the St. Lawrence; but the railway has equalized prices, and added to the prosperity, comforts and commerce of the place.

        To be continued...

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