Sketches of the Restigouche

By Irene Doyle

Campbellton's History According to John T. Reid

        Start of Lumber Business

        The first ship built in the country was built by Edward I. Mann and called "The Shark". Robert Ferguson also built several ships. The first was named "Caledonia". Bell and Martin, two Scottish Captains, also built ships over sixty years ago, one being built at Martin's Point, the original name of Campbellton, the other at Duncan's Point.

        With shipbuilding commenced the lumber business. No ship ever left Restigouche empty. Pine was the principal timber exported. Messrs. Boland and Duncan were the first to bring lumber down the river. They lumbered up on the brook now known as Boland's Brook, and experienced lumbermen would now probably smile at their first experiment. In the spring the freshet was very high and they expected to catch the log and raft them at the mouth of the brook. It was impossible. The timber went flying past. Boland was in despair. Duncan proposed following it to see where it should first go ashore. They did so and captured it all just below the mouth of the Upsalquitch. The place has ever since been known as "The Rafting Ground".

        If a ship came from the old country and loaded it was considered quick work, and it was not to be wondered at when one considers that the lumber was entirely sawed by hand.

        Lumbering received a fresh impetus in 1829 when Arthur Ritchie carried on the business for the great firm of Gilmour and Rankine. With the increased lumber business came the necessity for better means of traveling and a road was cut through from Miramichi to Bathurst and from thence to Restigouche. Even after this it was a long time unfit for wheeled vehicles. People rode on horseback. It was no uncommon sight to see a gentlemen on horseback with a lady behind him going to or from church or visiting friends. The ladies were mostly good horsewomen.

        Those who lived in the "good old days" will insist that social life was more cordial then than now. Social gatherings were frequent and most enjoyable. They were more or less ceremonious as occasion demanded. A prominent feature of the old time social life was the "Frolic". The New Englander or Upper Canadian might talk of a husking "bee" or a chopping "bee", but to Restigouche belonged the woodhauling, barn raising or spinning "Frolic"

        "The old order changeth" and already their customs and times have become as quaint as their swallow-tailed coats. But we would not forget how much we owe to their courage and independence; their maintenance of religion and education and of good government.         To be continued...

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