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Restigouche River, New Brunswick


    This is a short tale, but a tall one, you take it for what it is worth. This happened somewhere around Berry Brook in 1902, told by an honest man. But he had a terrible temper and when in a rage, quite unpredictable. Most all lumber jacks are bad men to swear but this man beat them all. He could turn the air blue. He was a teamster in a lumber camp.
   One evening he was running late and the roads were not in good condition. He had some distance to go and was anxious to get back to camp, but as luck would have it, somewhere along the way, he went off the road and it was starting to get dark. No matter how he tried he could not move the load. He tried back and forth and from side to side, he talked to the horses kindly, then he used the whip. The team was doing their best but all to no avail. To put it simply, it would not budge. Then he lost his terrible temper and started to swear. He held his hat in his hands and swore until he could swear no more, then he threw his hat on the ground and jumped on it, then he did something no teamster should do, he left the team and walked towards the camp, but he looked back and said "Let the devil take it out." He hadn't gone very far till his temper cooled and he thought of what he had done and he turned back and thought to himself, "I will unhitch and take the team back to camp," something he should have done in the first place. When he got back to the tears, or nearly so, he got the surprise of his life, he could not believe his eyes, the team was standing about one hundred feet from the cut off and when he peered closer he could see that the reins were up on the load and so was his hat.
   He swore later that he had been on the roller holding the reins in his hands and left his hat trampled in the snow. He unhitched the team and went to camp, a shaken man.
   Was this a hoax? If so, why were the marks of a struggle there the next day, so much so that the road had to be repaired. Is it possible that some men came along and managed to get that load out? Would he have heard them? Why did the horses stop? One would think that they would have followed their master, or did the team, when they found they were alone, make a supreme effort and hauled the load out themselves? That is most unlikely because a horse doesn't draw well without a driver, or did this man in his great rage imagine or forget what he had really done or did not do? Possible answers - or we can believe as the teamster did that the answer lies in these six words: "Let the Devil Take it out." Be that as it may, that man never swore again or at least not so much, they say.


    In the year 1906 tragedy struck the Restigouche River. That dreaded killer, Diphtheria, ran rampant up the Restigouche.
   No one knows where it came from but it struck with deadly effect and it was nearly always fatal once it attacked. In about three days the victim was gone. It was a fearful disease and wiped out whole families. I saw one headstone in an old graveyard where it named four children that had died four days apart and I heard of one broken-hearted mother that carried three of her children out in the back shed, they would be buried in the Spring. Nothing could be done except to pray and like Pandora's box it seemed only hope remained. Word was sent to Campbellton asking if it were possible to have a doctor go up the river to help those stricken people. A doctor with two guides left Campbellton in the dead of winter in 20 below weather and blowing snow and snowshoed fifty miles stopping along the way where most needed. A heart breaking trip for the doctor. He was not used to such hardship and he knew he could do little as far as medical help went, but he gave them that wonderful thing - hope and it helped them through their darkest hour. Then they got a new cure, or at least a preventive anti toxin, but the disease had already run its course and was subsiding and the , anti toxin had arrived a little too late. But those brave but broken hearted people carried on and through their tears and sorrow they lived for tomorrow.


    Campbellton was first known as Martins Point, called after Captain Martin who had a ship building yard on the river front. The name was later changed to Campbellton in honour of Sir Archibald Campbell. He was appointed Governor of New Brunswick in 1832. Sixty years ago Campbellton was a thriving town of about four thousand population lying on the south shore of the Restigouche River, the dividing line between New Brunswick and Quebec. The Sugar Loaf Mountain, no doubt thrown up millions of years ago by volcanic action, dominates the landscape on the south side of the town. It is about one thousand feet above sea level, today it is a great tourist attraction.
   Campbellton is a divisional point on the C. N. Railway, also a terminal A branch line. The I. N. R. at that time known as the Malcom Railroad running as far as St. Leonards, New Brunswick and the B. C. R., running as far as Matapedia on the C. N. R. then branching off and going down the Quebec side as far as Gaspe.
   In the year 1760 the battle of the Restigouche was fought between the English and the French. The French fleet was on its way to Quebec with provisions for the garrison there.
    It was intercepted by the English fleet under the command of John Byron, known as 'foul weather Jack', somewhere at the mouth of the Restigouche River where a short engagement took place. The French fled with two frigates up the river. One got as far as Bourdeau and to avoid capture they burned it to the water line. As the story goes, an Indian woman guided the sailors over a trail to Quebec and nearly perished on the way. The other frigate was sunk east of Campbellton and it is possible some day it may be found. The one at Bourdeau lay buried in the sand for a great many years and not till 1939 did the remains lay bare enough for salvage, although it did appear once thirty years before and could be seen at low tide.
   Father Posifique, one of the Capuchin Fathers of St. Anne de Restigouche, had it raised and taken to the Mission Church yard. Although the hull was badly broken the wood was still sound. A friend of mine was helping with the salvage work. Perhaps we did not realize the historical value of the wreck, however he gave me some of the wood and also two four inch cannon balls. Over the years the cannon balls have disappeared and I have made the wood into different things, such as ash trays and things of that nature.
   I still have a model ship I made from a piece of that wood.
    Campbellton was twice destroyed by fire. The first one on 1861. At that time Campbellton was just a village of about one hundred homes. Although heart breaking for the people of that day it was a small blaze compared to the last fire.
   The second fire occurred July 11th, 1910. It started about two o'clock in the afternoon. from a spark from the Richard Co. mill burner. At that time the mill was near where the C. N. R. station is located at the present time. Apparently it was a shingle mill. However the fire was brought under control but a second fire started inside the mill itself and a spark from this fire ignited a shingle pile in the yard. A high wind was blowing at the time and it carried flaming shingles over the town, starting many separate fires. It was said that cinders were carried thirty miles away. So many fires were going at one time, the fire brigade was helpless. The fire spread rapidly and the people realized the town was doomed, although most people were quite calm and they tried to save what belongings they could and look after their families as it was getting quite dangerous. Some managed to haul or carry bedding and clothing to the fields back of town.
   Some threw furniture and dishes out the windows hoping they might be saved, but it was soon burned to ashes. Some people took their families and went to the Government wharf where they were picked up by the ferry boat and taken to Crosspoint. The passenger boat Lady Eileen that was running between Campbellton and Gaspe, picked up many people and took them to safety. In spite of very high winds and rough water, they made as many trips as possible. Many more went to Dalhousie on a branch line train. Some went to Tidehead and Matapedia or whereever they had a friend or relative. Through all this confusion and danger no one was seriously hurt or burned, but if this had happened at night it might have been a different story. The fire burned for nearly twelve hours. Only nine buildings were left standing. Everything except a few chimneys and brick walls were burned flat. Two births occurred that night, one in a coal shed on the wharf and another in a house in the lower end of town. Both buildings escaped the fire. Many looters broke into the stores and carried away what they could but worse still many people hauled or carried their belongings into the back fields and went home for more only to find when they came back that the first load was gone.

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