Sketches of the Restigouche

By Irene Doyle

The Daily Sun, St John, N.B.
Wednesday Morning
February 8, 1883

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

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


        Of these the first to be mentioned are:-

        1. The Rivers themselves.

        These were Nature's highways, and universally used as such before the era of man-made roads. Even now there are in the upper districts of Restigouche houses which can only be reached by canoes in summer and travelling on the ice in winter. It is not well to have hasty business with their inmates just at spring or fall.

        The word "Restigouche" is of Indian origin and of doubtful signification. Some authorities (such as Cooney 1832) define it as meaning "Broad River" or "Big River", to distinguish it from Restigouchesis (now Miramichi), the termination "sis" being a form of dimunitive. (I notice that in a letter in Daily Telegraph of 11th January, "One interested" assigns as its meaning, "Broad at the entrance and gradually narrowing") Others give its meaning as "Hand of five fingers" or "River that divides like the hand". This in the district itself, is the most persistent definition, being uniformly affirmed by the older settlers, most of them practically acquainted with the Indian language. The Indians themselves have very little information to offer that is reliable; and the word is an evident corruption, there being no letter "r" in the Micmac. Hence a counter-definition, Listigouche, "River of the long war", in reference to the long-continued struggle between Mohawks and Micmac. Others that I have seen given are "Finger and thumb" and "River of the land of snow". If the etymology most insisted on in the Restigouche country itself is correct, the allusion is presumably to the five branches which, but without much pretension to anatomical accuracy, combine ultimately to form one river viz,: Restigouche, Metapedia, Upsalquitch, Patapedia, Kedgwick.

        The Restigouche takes its rise among the hills of Victoria County, and is the most northerly river in New Brunswick, between which Province and that of Quebec it serves as a boundary line for nearly 70 miles of its course. Starting from Campbellton, you can, with a portage of three miles from the Waagan to Grand River, drop your canoe into St John waters or explore the Madawaska region. North New Brunswick is a perfect net work of interlacing rivers, with lakes for their birth places. To this day you can get from town to town without seeing much of railways or roads.

        The RESTIGOUCHE has few rapids, but a swift, steady volume of water. Its banks are for a long distance upwards, high and often abrupt. But by natural formation, and very fortunately for the lumbermen a good towing path is generally to be found on one side or the other, with fordable flats at the points of crossing. Of islets it has several, not without beauty, very lovely, that cluster at the Head of Tide, with their overhanging trees and narrow water ways winding in and out - a sample of fairyland I always think and only six miles from a Town. Grand curves and swift sweeps are not lacking to the river during its course. "Big Cross Point", with a literal cross too, fastened with ropes to a stump on its summit, is a conspicuous feature in the landscape ..... ..... ...... ..... .......... up the river nearly 50 miles from Campbellton.

        This bold, prolonged, knife-edged headland imposes a laborious circuit on the hurrying waters. A straight line 200 yards in length right through its base would save 1 1/2 miles of river-way. Far off, on your left, you espy the cross. You come to it, you lose it; you leave it behind; and there a mile or two further on, directly on your left again, is the self same cross once more. You may imagine that the bank is steep; whoever descended it, on the lower side, in winter, let him testify!

        Famous salmon-spawning beds are to be met within this river. Settlers on its banks have now, what was long refused them, the right of fishing; and several since then have sold out their pools and privileges at remunerative rates.


Links of Interest