Sketches of the Restigouche

By Irene Doyle

Campbellton's History According to John T. Reid

        The Beginning of Campbellton

        As mentioned in the foregoing Campbellton was first called “Martin’s Point” after Captain Martin who had established a shipbuilding business just about in front of Andrew St. on the bank of the river. Later the name was changed to Campbellton in honor of Sir Archibald Campbell, who was appointed Governor of New Brunswick in 1832.

        The grants of land to those early settlers referred to by Mrs. Duncan covered properties from Atholville to the lower end of the town. These properties, of course, have since been subdivided among their descendants in most cases or disposed of by sale in some others. In the description of these properties received from the Crown all have the usual wording “a mile and a quarter and half a quarter” in giving the depth of the properties from the river. When it could not have been “a mile and three-eights” is hard to understand but perhaps some of our legal lights could give a satisfactory explanation.

        All these people referred to were fishermen and farmers, and as pioneers labored hard in clearing sufficient land to raise the necessary crops for subsistence. In those day the only means of traveling was by water and supplies had to be purchased in the fall to last throughout the long winter months. This meant long trips down the river and considerable hardship in many instances, but they went steadily forward, stubbornly overcoming the forces of nature, and thus the foundation of a happy and prosperous community was laid.

        All these landowners were of the same mind, apparently, in regard to the fee simple of their properties, as for many years not even a small lot of land could be purchased outright. The consequence is that even to this day there is comparatively little freehold property in the town, nearly all being under lease of 99 or 999 years. Whether this is a good or bad state of affairs. I am not prepared to say, but I do think it very unusual. In nearly all other towns in New Brunswick, at least, the reverse is true.

        Notwithstanding all this the town grew slowly but steadily, even before Confederation, so that when great event came about in 1857 there were nearly a thousand people here. Then about nine years later the first train of the Intercolonial Railway passed through the town, which no doubt, meant a considerable boost in the population. Census figures are not available further back than 1891, and perhaps no good purpose would be served in even venturing a guess as to the population before that date. However, the following are the Dominion Census figures:

1891, 1782
1901, 2652
1911, 3817
1921, 5570
1931, 6505
1941, 6714

        A census was taken by the town early in 1949 which showed a population of 9257.         To be continued...

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