My Restigouche River Run part Four
by: Irene Doyle
We will see the river environment today under a different sky as there is no sun and they are announcing rain. We are going to a different part of the river and we are doing it in a very unconventional way. We came in through Whites' Brook by truck part ways then had to walk the rest of the way. Along the way, we came across a few trees that had fallen down across the road but my good friend Pat was ready with a small chainsaw in the back of the truck and in no time we were on our way again.
Pat says he learnt that from the clean-up crew, to always be ready and to be a jack-of-all-trade helps, which they have to be. Not only do these guys have to carry and use a chainsaw now and then, they also have to know how to maintain it. To try to cut trees with a dull chainsaw is like trying to cut them with a butter knife.
So we are only going in to take a look at White's Brook Island today, not doing any river run. By the way, on the way up this morning, we saw a deer and a bear cub, the mother couldn't have been too far away but he was alone and ran much faster than I can so I was sort of glad to be in the truck.
Here at White's Brook Island, (seen above) there is a rock that is commonly called Leland's Rock, it got its name from Leland Pollock. According to Pat, Leland use to work on the river and when the river was low he'd hit that rock every time and he'd swear at it so the guys who run the river often, baptised it Leland's Rock. Because the water level is so very low, that whole rock can be seen today.
White's Brook Island as it looks in the spring before the clean up crew works on it.
White's Brook Island after the lawn has been mowed and wood brought in etc.
White's Brook Island is a very nice island, it is in the middle of nowhere, a quiet area, not as many people use it as with Cross Point Island (Another look at it below looking down-river). I see it has about 10 picnic tables, a few little fireplaces and a toilet. Pat tells me there use to be two toilets but the high water in the spring took it for a drive down the river and it probably sits on the bottom of the Bay of Chaleurs now. The view here is fantastic. To the right the waters of White's Brook brook can be seen, and heard, running to join the Mighty Restigouche. Big trees stand majestically against the cloudy skies and the river itself looks so inviting as it babbles along on its way down to about 1 ½ km below here, where it joins the famous Million Dollar Pool. This pool is one of the best on the Restigouche, it is a "holding pool", which means that it is the meeting place for salmon before going a bit further up the river to spawn.
There is an interesting story about the Million-Dollar Pool. In a magazine of the mid 1800's, I found a story about Pheneas Wyers, (who's name shows up in the 1871 Canada Census, he is aged 65 and listed as a farmer in the Parish of Eldon), the story tells of him taking the Governor General hostage in his canoe on the Restigouche at the point of a gun. He had apparently been waiting for that day for a long while as he felt he was being deprived of land that was his, which included the pool. The Governor according to the article, found that pretty funny and then took Pheneas to Fredericton with him and gave him the land and the pool.
The pool also sits at the mouth of the Patapedia River so, another reason for the salmon to be plentiful there, there is also the fact that water is fresh and full of oxygen.
Below the pool is also where the Province of Quebec starts. It is an interesting geographic trait, the east side of the Patapedia is Quebec, and the west side it's N.B. but at the upper end of the Patapedia both sides are N.B. At White's Brook, it is N.B. on both sides of the Restigouche then a little further down from the Million-Dollar Pool, to the right is N.B. and to the left it is Quebec.
Another interesting fact is at the Million-Dollar Pool, the Restigouche Salmon Club insists that there be a warden full time here. It is a very important salmon pool and it could be tempting for poachers but it is not everyone who can stand being alone here at this camp for the whole run. Apparently this year the warden who was assigned this camp had "Cabin Fever" and couldn't take it, he had to leave before it was time but I am told he should be back next year.
Another nice thing about the Million-Dollar Pool is that there are often Bald Eagles seen here. It is the emblem of the USA, a very nice bird, you could call him the Grandpa of all birds, with this white hair, which give him a regal look. When you say to "Soar like an Eagle" it's the way to go, so majestic looking. Pat saw one the other day who was flying away with something that looked like maybe an eel in its talons. Apparently in the 1990's there were no Eagles here to be seen but lately they are appearing here and there more and more. Whole families show up each year even, with the young ones easily recognised by their color. They reach adulthood and get the full white head and tail after 3 years. The first and second year they have a totally different color, mostly brown.
Pat says he remembers chatting with Leland Pollock who would tell him how things have changed on the river in later years. He lived in the Glencoe area and it use to take him a whole day to come to Englands Flats, today you can make it from Englands Flats to Campbellton in about an hour and a half, depending of course how much of a hurry you're in. The cars are better but then again so are the roads.
From here we head back down, on foot to the truck. It was a very nice experience and a superb day even if the weather did not co-operate much.
Next Month part 5...