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Restigouche River, New Brunswick

REMINISCING ON THE RESTIGOUCHE

   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.
   Suddenly, this 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.

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