Sketches of the Restigouche

By Irene Doyle

The Daily Sun, St John, N.B.
Wednesday Morning
February 6, 1883

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

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

        Restigouche made slow progress in settlement for many years, after the time of Mr. Lee. Some of the leading men are said to have been opposed to encouraging emigrants to the place, on the ground that it did not possess sufficient attractions and advantage. So they came in a straggling sort of way, and from Scotland chiefly.

        In 1816 there are said to have been just two houses in Campbellton, occupied respectively by one Gavenick, an Irishman, and a Mr. Fleming, a teacher, who taught school in the neighborhood for some years at this period. Nothing is more gratifying than to find that education, even at this early date, was not forgotten. But certainly the boys and girls of that day must have thought little of a few miles more of less. Since that day to this, education has always received attention. Several eminent teachers have pursued their calling in Restigouche, and to-day the whole district abounds in schools.

        The triangular headland on which Cambellton now stands was, from the Cavenick mentioned above, first known as Cavenick's Point. Then, soon after 1816, from a man Martin, who built two ships there, was named Martin's Point. Just when and why it was called Campbellton is, somewhat oddly, a little uncertain. Most of the old settlers state that it received its present name on the occasion of, or at least as a memorial of, a visit to Restigouche by Sir Archibald Campbellton, Governor of New Brunswick, 1831-37, others maintaining, however, that it was called after a family by the same of Campbell, who resided there and built some ships. Dalhousie began to be settled about 1824. The town plot was laid out in 1826, the settlers at that date being Hacquoil and Bain, Coopers, Cameron, McPherson, Capt, John Hamilton, and Messus. J. & H. Montgomery. The town received its name on occasion of a visit by the Earl of Dalhousie, Governor General of Canada, 1820-28. There live still some members of a French family who occupied the place before any British settlers came, and whose claims to ownership have been partially commuted by Government compensation.

        In 1829 a number of emigrants came out from the Island of Arran, Scotland, to various parts of Restigouche. Their leases had expired, all on the same year, and the Duke of Hamilton would not grant renewal. He was persuaded by his factor, McKillop, to buy at a fair valuation the stocks, boats, fishing gear , &c. of those who were leaving. And so, at different times, but most largely in that year, they crossed the ocean, one body selecting Chaleur, and another the Megantic region. Many of those who settled in this quarter had money to begin with, mostly made by herring fishing. In Restigouche they have done well, through industry and economy. A few are settled up the river, others between Campbellton and Dalhousie, and the majority further down the country, where they have comfortable homesteads and smiling farms.

        In 1831 Dalhousie is spoken of as containing a few houses and two or three mercantile establishments; Campbellton as having just five houses, and a saw and grist mill on a stream in the rear. Very shortly after this date, however, lumbering started briskly, and the whole district rapidly settled, Pictou being specially drawn upon for recruits. Of later accessions to the population may be mentioned the arrival and settling near Metapedia of about 70 Acadian families from P. E. Island in 1861. It was an oppresive feudal law that drove them forth, and in coming to Restigouche, they were but returning to the memories of La Petite Rochelle and, in a sense, to an old ancestral home. Their hardships were considerable at first, and especially for the first winter; but they have cleared away the forest from the high tableland, which they occupy, and the St. Alexis settlement to-day deserves equal mention for its usually good farms and its unusual large families.

        In 1873 about seventy-five families form England arrived at Dalhousie in the month of May, and made their way through the lingering snows of that late spring to a district in the backwoods named Balmoral. They did not succeed well, and most of them are gone from the country, their place being supplied by French. They were mainly of the aritizan and tradesmen class, belonging to large cities, and so not adapted for wilderness life; and Balmoral settlement does not present many attractions at any rate for farming. It was far from being an instance of the right man in the right place.

        The works in connection with the I.C.R. both before and after the completion of the line through the country, have brought several families to Restigouche. On the other hand. several have taken advantage of the railway these last few years to push their fortunes elsewhere. It is astonishing to find how many households there are with more than half the sons and brothers in the States or the great North West.

        It may be added that Restigouche was first a part of the seigniory of Gaspesia under Denys; then was considered a part of Acadie, and equally, after its conquest by the British, of Nova Scotia, until 1784; then, New Brunswick being a separate province, its North Shore was all included in the Country of Northumberland until 1825; Restigouche then formed part of Gloucester Country until parted from it into a separate county on 1st March, 1837.

        To be continued...

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