Sketches of the Restigouche

Courtesy The Tribune

        The Restigouche-With Notes Especially On Its Flora
Part Five
By G. U. Hay, 1896

        Nearly opposite mouth of the Patapedia (Pata-pee-jaw, with a strong emphasis on that last syllable, is the local name) is a large farm owned by Mr. Wyer, and there is considerable interval land in the vicinity. Although the salmon season was about over, there was one angler who was paying his second visit to the famous pool at the mouth of the Patapedia--the Rev. Dr. Rainsford of New York, and the next morning we enjoyed salmon fishing--by proxy.

        Cross Point is a romantic spot on this most picturesque part of the river. Climbing to the top of the rocky and dizzy height which is surmounted by a rough wooden cross, we overlook a magnificent stretch of endless hills and gorges. Three hundred feet below us the river flows in a northeast direction, and curving round, forming an oval peninsula, takes a directly opposite course. So closely does the river double on itself that one can sit on the narrow mountain ledge, about the width of a saddle, with a foot dangling over each stream. It is not a spot that would insure peaceful dreams for the following night if one remained very long upon it.

        From the mouth of the Patapedia down we have Quebec province on our left and New Brunswick on our right, for from the mouth of this river to the Bay of Chaleur the Restigouche forms the boundary line between the two provinces.

        Our camping ground on the night of 31st July [1896] was Tom's Island, which we reached just at dark; a clear, cold night with frost or very near approach to it--and no flies! This island, situated at the mouth of Tom Ferguson's Brook, proved so interesting in its variety of plants that we spent the greater part of the next day in investigating them.

        The island--or rather peninsula at low water--forms the apex of a bend in the river. The isthmus connecting it with the right hand bank of the river is Upper Silurian limestone, highly tiled, and no doubt underlies the island. The central portion of the island is about one hundred yards long and twenty wide in the broadest part, covered with alluvial soil, and bearing a dense vegetation, with a margin extending up river about four hundred yards of more stony material bearing shrubs and low herbs. It can readily be seen that an island in this position at a point where the river almost doubles on itself, and with a stream flowing into it from a direction opposite to that of the river would be in a good position to receive plant seed and should have a varied plant growth, and so it proved.

        In this limited area and on the adjoining isthmus we found over one hundred different species of flowering plants. The examination of the island proved so interesting that I must make it the subject of a separate article. I observed here the Huronian Tansy (Tanacetum Huronense), its first station on the river, and further east, I believe, than it has ever been noted on the continent.

        We camped over Sunday on a terrace overlooking the chain of rocks, having passed safely through Hero's Rapids, the most dangerous on the river. Here we found Butterwort (Pinguicula vulgaris), the Shurbby Cinque-foil (Potentilla fruticosa), the Cleft-leaved Anemone (Anemone multifida), the Ground-nut or Wild Bean (Apios tuberosa), the Wild Onion (Allium Schoenoprasum), the Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris), the Primrose or Cowslip (Primula Mistassinica), Pellaea gracilis, Desmondium Canadense, the Milk-vetch (Astragalus oroboides), the Beach Plum (Prunus pumila), Oxytropus campestris var. caerulea, the Bearberry (Arctostaphylos Uva-ursi), the Milkweed (Asclepias Cornuti), the Rattlesnake-root (Nabalus racemosus, the Pale Touch-me-not (Impatiens pallida), and other interesting forms.

        Pinguicula vulgaris, which was discovered by Dr. Cox and Mr. Brittain on their trip down the Restigouche a few years ago, is a most interest addition to our New Brunswick flora. It is probably in this province confined to the Restigouche, and, so far as determined, occupies a narrow strip extending about twenty miles, from the Chain of Rocks to half a mile below Morrisey's Rock. It belongs to the insectivorous plants, and one might wish that it was found in much greater abundance through the whole length of the Restigouche.

        Its area of distribution is wide, extending over the Arctic and subartic regions of North America, Europe, and Asia. On the Restigouche it is found with the primrose, mosses, and other plants loving like situations, on wet rocks over which flow waters from cold springs. It has two-lipped flowers of a violet blue colour borne singly on the top of slender scapes, about six inches high, which spring from the centre of a rosette of leaves of yellowish-green colour, which rest on the rock or ground. The margin of each leaf is turned upward forming a kind of trough and the whole upper surface of the leaves is covered with minute glands, which secrete a kind of mucilage, entrapping midges and other small insects.

        Like our Sundew, (Drosera rotundifolia) these glands are not stimulated to acton by drops of rain or the pressure upon them of minute grains of mineral substance, but when a organic body, such as an insect, is brought in contact with them they are stimulated and pour forth, in addition to the mucilage, an acid secretion which has the power to dissolve animal substances, behaving exactly as does the gastric juice in the animal stomach, digesting the unfortunate insect that alights upon the leaves.

        To be continued.....

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