Tide Head, a
village five miles west of Campbellton, on the Restigouche River. In the old
days, Tide Head was just a stop on the C. N. R. where they loaded or unloaded
freight. It was known as Moffats. Moffats operated a mill there, hence the
name. This mill was located on Christopher Brook and run by water power. Water
supplied by a dam that stretched from what is now the Pollock property on the
west and the Myles property on the east, was constructed of giant cedar logs
with a head of about twenty-four feet, sloped on the water side and faced with
split cedar, then caulked with moss, located about one hundred feet above the
now highway bridge. It was a grist mill and ground grain for the surrounding
country. The huge granite grinding stones were there a few years ago and no
doubt still are if you care to look by the side of the road. About the year
1900 the mill burned, but the dam was still there when I was a boy and we
played around there often. The mill race was opened up to allow the log drive
to go through, fish were plentiful there in those days. It was an ideal place
for them to hide and we spent many happy hours fishing there. The dam is gone
now, hauled away for wood, no doubt.
The tide coming up
the Restigouche River flows up as far as Morrises' Rock, so they changed the
name from Moffats to Head of Tide, later shortened to Tide Head. At that time
Tide Head was a small village. I am speaking now of some sixty years ago. A. K.
Alford ran a general store where what is known as Alford's corner. He was also
a lumberman. There was a Post Office kept by H. Gillis. They built a new
station there, E. Gillis was station agent, and a Presbyterian Church, a short
way back on what is now the Stewart Highway and a little red school house. Let
me say something here about that school. Some twenty-four years ago I
demolished it to make way for a new one. It should have been kept for a museum.
It was a wonderful piece of framing work. Each studding was tenoned and
mortised into the sill and the plate at the top, as were the corner posts. The
window openings were also mortised and tenoned. The corner braces were also
mortised and tenoned but were a masterpiece of joining. The rafters were
lapjoined, corner posts and corner braces were held together with hardwood
pins. The studding had no pins, no nails anywhere in this whole structure,
except the rafters were nailed at the plate with square cut iron nails.
I drove out the pins and everything came apart without
the least bit of trouble. The sills had been made with a broad axe, the rest
sawed with a whip saw. One day a fellow came and looked at it and said: "I will
give you a hundred dollars for it. I want it for a work shop." I said: "Sold".
I met him some time later and he told me he and another man reassembled it in
one day and it went together like clockwork. I suppose this school was one of
the first buildings in Tide Head and framing of this sort was an art. We will
speak of barn framing later on. The people of Tide Head were English, Scotch
and Irish, descendents of the early settlers. They were farmers, industrious,
hard working and honest people. Sometimes they had their little squabbles but
they were soon forgotten and they lived in harmony. They were a God fearing
people. They never missed church if they could help it, either in the morning
or the evening, as there was service every Sunday. They would walk or drive
with horse and buggy and would come for miles. They took great pride in their
choir. When I hear the song, 'The voice in the old village choir', I feel sad.
They are all gone but I can still hear those voices.
school had just one room and an entrance and cloak room. A wood-burning stove
and we were often cold but we would huddle around the stove and we sort of
enjoyed it and thought it was the natural thing to do. Some of the children
walked as far as four miles. There were no plowed roads in those days and not
dressed as they are today - no snowsuits, no leather mitts or long pants but
they trudged through the deep snow and bitter cold. Our family walked one and a
quarter miles. That was not considered a very long walk. One family by the name
of Nellis, our next neighbor, lived a mile further up the road than we did.
Winter and summer they walked that lonely road, rain or snow. They were
sometimes cold, sometimes frightened, as it was all bush, no houses between and
in those days tramps were quite numerous. Most were harmless but some were not.
If it was in this age people would not allow their children to walk such a
lonely road, however at that time it seemed quite natural to do so. Although
people seemed to work harder and longer hours than they do today, they were
just as happy. I suppose happiness is just a state of the mind.
For pastime there would be dances, snowshoeing, coasting,
sing songs, concerts, skating and many other things for entertainment and of
course the Christmas Tree. Whole families turned out for this occasion. Some
families walked miles. People made sure that every child got something from
Santa. Everyone dressed in their Sunday best. An enjoyable evening was had by
all. Closing day was a great day for the school kids, for them the happiest day
of the year. Parents came to see how their children were doing and see their
work, writing, reading and reciting. The trustees would bring a little bag of
candy for each child and they would go home singing: "No more teachers, no more
books," just as they do today.
I suppose in our village
nearly everyone met the trains. The accommodation - a freight train with one
passenger car, going to Campbellton from St. Flavie at five P.M. and one fast
local train between Campbellton and St. Flavie. Then a suburban freight train
that would carry passengers in the caboose, leaving Campbellton, going west,
anytime between ten P.M. and eight A. M. We boys usually rode the top of the
boxcars, the darker the night the better.
would be as many as nine( or ten boys running along the top of the cars or
hanging on the sides. It was a dangerous pastime. Why some of us boys were not
killed was a miracle.
At one time there were two bridges
in the Christopher Brook Valley, below the dam. When the dam was in use an
overflow was built in the east end. This would prevent the water from flowing
over the entire length of the dam. In the Spring this overflow caused quite a
stream, so a bridge had to be built over it, but in the summer when the water
was low this stream was just a pond and a home for frogs, so they called it
frogpond bridge. It has since been filled in, but frogs are still there and in
the summer their songs are lovely to hear.
Of course a
bridge at the west end of the valley spans the brook. The long railway bridge
has been filled in, although nothing was removed. The steel trusses and piers
are still there, buried under the dump, all except at the west end where you
can still see two of the original abutments but the truss has been replaced by
a solid span. Moffats beach, as this area was called, was a popular place on
holidays and many came from Campbellton and other places to spend the day. It
has changed a lot since then.
At that time it was a green
field even under the bridge. The beach was sandy and smooth and at the mouth of
the brook there were plenty of trout. You could fish or swim or just bask in
the sun or lay in the shade and relax and spend a very pleasant day.