REMINISCING ON THE
Come and sit by me for awhile
and we will turn back the clock (back some sixty years) and I will reminisce
and you will listen. We will go back to the past which to me seems like the day
before yesterday. I will try and tell you something of the Restigouche River.
Some of its features and its people as they were at that time.
I was born and raised on that grand old river. I have had
many adventures there although I was not a river man as such. The head waters
of the Restigouche begins somewhere at Green River and empty into the Bay
Chaleur some two hundred miles below.
God favoured this
river with some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. In summer when
everything is in bloom, with its mountains, crags and beaches, you will be
spellbound. If this is your first trip down the Restigouche you can hardly wait
to see what is around the next turn.
This is the summer,
a lovely time of year, the leaves will turn from gold to red and the fall is
already here. Most of the birds have gone south and the bears are looking for
their winter home.
It is getting very
cold and gradually the Restigouche River is covered with a shield of ice.
Mother winter spreads a blanket of snow over it as tenderly as a mother covers
her sleeping child, and it goes to sleep without a murmur.
On this river the farmer goes to the flats and islands to
bring over hay that he harvested last summer. The Indian from the mission will
lay away his bark canoe and take his sled-dog and go up the river aways and
build a bough teepee for only he knows where the fish lie in the winter and
will fish with uncanny skill. Up the river the lumbermen portage along its
shores to their lumber camps. Everything is quiet and serene and the
Restigouche slumbers on.
Then comes Spring and Mother
Nature rolls away her blanket of snow.
sleeping beauty throws off it's mantle of ice and wakes with a start as though
to say "Who has dared to let me over-sleep." It leaps forth with a roar that
can be heard from the far reaches of the Restigouche to the Bay of Chaleur.
This gentle beautiful river of last summer has turned into a fiend of
destruction. Who would recognize it now? Its rage is something to behold and
once seen can never be forgotten. Woe betide anything that stands in its path.
It will not be stayed by
boulders, trees, houses or bridges. Nothing can stop this frantic surge to the
sea. In it's arms it carries millions of tons of ice, snow and anything else
that tries to bar it's way. On its way down it gathers its children; the
Upsalquitch, the Millstream, Matapedia and hundreds of smaller streams join in
the rush. If the ice in the smaller streams run at the same time and jams at
Matapedia and the main Restigouche comes down upon this jam, the town will be
flooded - which often happened. This is an awesome sight to see, but it will
not be held there for long. Perhaps a couple of days and it will be on its way
to its final goal, the sea.
After getting rid of its
burden of ice its anger cools and the water starts to fall. Now, and only now,
will men dare to challenge this restless giant. The log drivers will go to the
head of the brooks, (as they were called in those days) to bring down last
winter's log cut. Men at the mouth of the Restigouche will string their booms
to receive millions of feet of lumber.
The scow men of
the Restigouche Salmon Club will get ready to tow provisions and cooks up to
their fishing camps which are already bustling with activity. The Restigouche
river-man is almost a special breed of man. They take the danger of the river
as a matter of course and danger is their constant companion.