Five miles west of
Tide Head is the village of Flat Lands. They were also the descendents of the
early pioneers. Honest, hard working and quite prosperous people, farmers,
lumbermen and guides with the fishing clubs. There were a couple of general
stores, a post office, a blacksmith shop, one Baptist Church and one
Presbyterian. Then too there was the Restigouche Salmon fish hatchery, situated
on McLeod Brook. There were no industries there in the old days and I don't
think there are any now. It is a quiet place and hasn't changed much since I
was a boy and I think the people like it that way and wouldn't want it any
Matapedia - a small
town on the Quebec side of the river, thirteen miles west of Campbellton, New
Brunswick. It is situated at the junction of the Restigouche and the Matapedia
It supported a general store, a Post Office, one
Hotel and a Catholic Church and a Protestant Church. Here too was the
Restigouche Salmon Club, owned by American millionaires. Salmon fishing was the
main industry in Matapedia. They leased parts of the Restigouche and had Club
Houses along the river. It was a boon to the people on the river and the
surrounding country. Let me borrow a few words from history that says 'all
roads lead to Rome,' change it a bit and say, 'all roads lead to Matapedia', or
so it seemed.
It was also the junction of two railroads,
the C. N. Rly and the Bay Chaleur, now owned by the C. id. R. A railroad, a
horse and foot bridge spanned the Restigouche River at the east end of
Matapedia. At the west end the Matapedia River was spanned by a horse and foot
bridge. With no disrespect or reflections on the people of Matapedia it was the
cockpit of the Restigouche and the Matapedia Rivers.
Saturdays everybody came into town to shop or pick up the mail, as there was no
rural delivery to the outlying settlements. Election was a gala time in
Matapedia, three days of festivity or should I say 'fist'ivity.
One day before poling and one day after. When people had
cast their ballots in their own riding, they came into Matapedia to see the fun
or just came in and in they came, from McDavids Mountain, McCullims Mountain,
Manns Mountain, Moors Settlement, Upsalquitch, St. Alexis - from up the river,
down the river, they came by train, by horse and buggy, high wheel and low
wheel farm wagons and by boat and on foot and still they came. Lumber jacks,
farmers and fishermen, small men, big men, old men and young men, for Matapedia
was where the action was.
Whisky was the favorite drink
but gin would do and getting it was no problem. With a flask on the hip and a
drink or two under their belts they were ready for trouble or fun depending on
the way one looked at it.
Some had a grudge to settle or
thought they had and as there were no police that was a good place to do it.
Some of the younger fellows wanted to prove to themselves and their fellow men
that they could take care of themselves and some wanted to find out if they
were any good at the gentle art of self defence - to try their wings, so to
speak. Their attitude was if you want a fight make one for
They were proud of a black eye and carried it as
a badge of courage and besides it was a good conversation piece. I will not
dwell too long on these three days except to say there were lots of fights,
broken ribs and a few black eyes and plenty of swearing. Just a quiet election
day in Matapedia: For the most part the Matapedia people were honest, hard
working and very friendly. The men were expert fishermen and true rivermen. Let
us now leave Matapedia and go elsewhere.
I know very little
about my family tree especially on my father's side except to say that one John
Myles emigrated to Canada with his parents in the year 1846, when as I
mentioned before, the potato crop failed in Ireland and many came to make new
homes in Canada and eastern United States. He was a mere boy at the time. They
made their way up the Restigouche River as far as Brandy Brook. They were the
poorest of the poor and brought with them nothing but courage and
determination. They built a log cabin and by hunting and fishing they managed
to struggle through those first terrible winters.
father had one brother but he went his own separate way and landed in
Saskatchewan, where his offspring can be seen today and that is about the
extent of my knowledge of my family on my father's side.
Now for the other side. My great grandfather, Edward I.
Mann, came from England. He was a ship builder and built the Shark, the first
ship built in New Brunswick. To my knowledge he had three sons, Isaac who was
killed in a brawl at Cross Point, a village opposite Campbellton, John T. who
lived on Mann's Mountain and was a carpenter, sled maker and farmer. But we
will speak here only of that remarkable man, William Mann, my grandfather. As a
young man he journeyed up the river and climbed a mountain to fulfill a dream.
This mountain was later called Mann's Mountain, I suppose because they were the
first ones to settle there. He acquired six hundred acres of virgin timber
land: spruce, pine, fir, cedar, maple and birch. He married Sarah Marshall and
built a little house and started to clear a farm. He was a carpenter by trade
and had learned the trade in Campbellton at an early age. Although his
education was limited, he could cut the most complex rafters and stairs.
He also knew how to cut and erect a barn frame, in fact
he framed his own barn without any trouble, but he was not satisfied with just
a farm, he wanted a mill. lie had the know how as a builder and some factory
experience but not too much about a sawmill or how to season lumber but he knew
the basic principle and he was determined to learn more and here is where his
ingenuity came in. Where he got the money to do all these things I don't know,
but it must have been by hard work because he was a very honest man. Let me say
here something about Mann's Mountain. It is approximately four miles west of
Matapedia and in New Brunswick. By the road it is about one mile high starting
at the base on the south side of the Restigouche River to my grandfather's
home. If you would go there you would find quite a lot of level land. It is
just a small part of a mountain chain that runs for hundreds of miles along the
Restigouche River and I think the name Mann's Mountain is a little misleading.
There were four families made their homes up there: my grandfather William
Mann, John, his brother, William Stewart and John Babcock, that is to say, the
But let us go back to William and his
mill. First he tried a tread mill powered by horse power but when he tried to
saw lumber he found it lacked power.
Now there was a
small stream running between his property and his brother John's, so he built a
water wheel, but when he needed water most there wasn't enough to turn a
grindstone, so both the tread mill and the water mill had to be abandoned, but
he was determined to have a mill at any cost and nothing or no one could change
his mind, so what to do now, you will see. He went to Campbellton, he knew the
town well. He scouted around and came up with just what he wanted: a secondhand
steam boiler and engine also a small planer and everything he would need to get
started in the mill business. He came back home and the next day he took two
teams of horses and went to town for the boiler. That night he arrived back at
the foot of the mountain. He knew he would need more horses to get the boiler
to the top of the hill. Next morning he hired four more pairs. It took them two
days to get that boiler to the site close to the brook and in three weeks he
was ready to saw logs. He still had no buildings to house his planer and other
machinery to manufacture finished lumber, that would come later when he sawed
enough framing lumber and boards. He and his boys worked from dawn till after
dark by lantern light. He seemed like a superman. He never got tired.
His three sons, Jack, Bill and Marcellus were growing
into men and they too worked like beavers. They left school at an early age to
help their father at the mill. In the winter they cut and hauled logs to the
mill. In the summer they sawed, piled and dried this lumber. He took contracts
to build houses sometimes as far away as twenty miles. He manufactured
everything that was necessary for building, windows, doors, trim and flooring.
He burned his lime for plastering, seasoned it in a hole in the ground, then
mixed it with cow hair and did his own plastering. Some of that work can still
be seen today, a little cracked, but still good. Some of his windows and doors
can also be seen today, still in use and in good condition. How he learned all
those skills, I don't know. In the meantime the farm had to be looked after.
More land to clear, crops to put in and harvest. They raised cattle, pigs,
sheep, chickens and turkeys and geese. They sheered the sheep, carded the wool,
spun yarn, knitted underwear, socks and mitts, wove homespun cloth and made
clothing, grew grain and buckwheat, took it to the grist mill, perhaps at
Tidehead, as there was one there and had it ground into flour. There were four
girls in that family, Mary Ann, my Mother, Florence, Elenor and Ruby and they
were put to work when very young.
They too had little
schooling but I think my Mother and the youngest girl Ruby had a little more
than the other two. They worked hard, up at daylight when not in school. They
looked after the stock and did a hundred other chores and in their spare time
they picked stones in the fields and hauled them to a pile in the middle of the
field which you can see to this day. My Mother told us they had seen bears and
moose quite often. They were told to whoop and make a great noise if they saw a
bear and it would go away and it worked. Bill Mann, as he was known, was
getting lots of contracts, sometimes a long way from home. Believe this or not,
three of them would start early in the morning, by horse and buggy, one fellow
sitting on the other fellow's knee and drive fifteen miles or so and arrive at
the building site at daylight and this in July, and leave for home again at
dark. The other fellow would haul material for the building and he too would
arrive at dawn. My Grandfather cared nothing for money, or pleasure he thought
of nothing but work and expected everyone else to do the same. He was never
seen in anything but working clothes. lie never shaved to my knowledge. He only
went to a doctor once. One day in the factory he cut off one of his fingers and
put it in his pocket.