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Touring Campbellton and Dalhousie, Despite the Mosquitoes, 1876

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Touring Campbellton and Dalhousie, Despite the Mosquitoes, 1876

Fred. J. Hamilton was a Special Correspondent for the Montreal Gazette when he travelled on the Intercolonial Railroad from Riviere du Loup to Halifax in 1876. This excerpt includes his impressions of Campbellton and Dalhousie, and is from the book of his newspaper articles, also published by the Gazette.

Snowshed Campbellton

Inside of Snow-Shed at Campbellton, N.B.

a sketch by T. Fenwick, 1876; from Library and Archives Canada



After riding through thirteen miles of charming country Campbellton is reached. It is located almost at the foot of the Sugar Loaf Mountain, 996 feet high, by actual measurement. Between Metapedia station and Campbellton there is a cutting 400 feet long and 25 wide. It is difficult to say which is the more beautiful river, the Restigouche or the Metapedia, which we have left behind us. The line of railway follows the course of the river. The Restigouche river is in the county of Madawaska. It is 220 miles long, and for half that distance it forms the dividing line between the Provinces of Quebec and New .Brunswick. Five rivers empty into it, of which the chief are the Metapediac, the Cascapediac and the Gautawamkedgwick. The Restigouche empties into the Bay Chaleur, and flows through an extensive timber tract. The river gives employment to a number of fishermen, who derive their maintenance from the abundance of salmon, trout, etc., which is to be found in its waters. Large vessels can navigate it to within thirty miles from its mouth. The Bonaventure mountains extend along its narrow shore, and give the eye every variety of landscape it can desire, filling the mind with wonder and admiration for their magnificent and wild beauty.

The town of Campbellton is small, and its population does not exceed 600 persons. The Intercolonial will, however, be the means of adding materially to its prosperity. Already several new stores are in course of erection, and the general business air of the townsfolk strikes you favorably. Many of them are Scotch settlers, thrifty and pushing.

There are several Government buildings in the vicinity of the station. The station is of brick, and is occupied by the railroad cashier, Molson’s Bank agency, offices of the Assistant Superintendent, Chief Engineer’s office, the living apartments of the Station Master, beside the usual ticket office, waiting rooms, &c. A refreshment room has been added to the station. North of the station house is the freight house. On the opposite side of the track is the blacksmith’s shop, the coal shed, the oil house, engine house and car shop.

Campbellton is full of historical and local interest. It has two churches—the Presbyterian and Roman Catholic. The former is the first Protestant church east of Cacouna, 183 miles west. I had the pleasure of meeting two gentlemen who are the sons of the first white woman of British parents born in this section. The gentlemen to whom I refer are A. Ferguson and Robert Ferguson, Esquires, Conservatives of the old school. Their names are so well known along the whole line that I am sure they will be recognized at once by a large number of persons. Both are bachelors and keep open house with that generous hospitality typical of the English squire. Although well advanced in years, they are stout, strong and vigorous.

The Messrs. Ferguson own a large fishery in front of their property.

The farms here are in excellent order. For the sake of comparison I obtained the …

Average Yield Per Acre …

of the various crops, and append a list, so that you may see how it compares with those at Trois Pistoles, where, you will remember, I obtained a similar statement.

Barley gives an average of 10 bushels per acre; rye 10 bushels; wheat 8 bushels; potatoes 24½ barrels to one barrel of seed. The figures with regard to oats and buckwheat I was unable to procure, but I am told they are very satisfactory.

There are two salmon canning establishments here, but they are not in operation at present. The first is owned by Mr. Hoegg, of Portland, Maine just at the back of the station; the second by Mr. Haddow, of Dalhousie, four miles east of Campbellton. To accommodate this trade the Government has constructed six refrigerator cars, which I saw at the station. They are lined with zinc, and filled in with bark, and appear to be excellent for the purpose.

At Cross Point, on the opposite shore, there is …

An Indian Mission …

under the spiritual care of the Roman Catholic Church. The settlement contains about 400 Mic-Macs, the oldest of whom is an old guide named Sam Suke, now about seventy-eight years of age. They are a quiet faithful people. The Government recently gave them 10,000 acres of wooded land; but beside this they have about 200 acres well under cultivation. Their Church is a neat edifice, and the settlement from the New Brunswick side looks like a thriving, picturesque town, very level but well sheltered.

Perhaps the most attractive feature of Campbellton is its …

Historic Interest.

In its immediate vicinity there are the remains of five French vessels of war which were sunk during the year 1760. The first two are at Old Church Point, at the head of the tide, three miles from Campbellton on the Quebec side; there are also two at Bourdon opposite the Ferguson property, and one at Cross Point. Others are reported to be sunk in the channel some ten miles from the mouth of the river. They were sunk and burned by the French themselves in order to impede the progress of the British fleet under Commodore Byron from ascending the river. The remains of a portion of the wreck off Old Church Point can be seen at low water, but time has so firmly fastened its timbers in the river’s bed that it is impossible to investigate its interior. Mr. Adam Ferguson has in his possession two iron 18-pounders from these vessels. One is of twisted iron, apparently hammered, the other is cast. They have the fleur de lys of France stamped upon them, and are covered with, and partly eaten away by rust. The same gentleman has a swivel gun captured from an American privateer during the war of 1812, which bears the broad arrow mark. As the country became cleared, the settlers found cannon balls imbedded in the trees and earth. They account for the fact by supposing that the guns were loaded before the vessels were fired, as no fighting took place at this point.

Mr. Lefebvre, of Carleton, 30 miles from here, has or had …

A Curious Indian Relic …

which merits a description. While the Metapediac military road (already referred to in my last letter) was being built on the Quebec side, six miles from Campbellton, the workmen, in excavating the bank, came across the remains of what was supposed to be an Indian. The head reposed on a clear cut triangle of stone. On the region of the heart of the skeleton was a small marble ornament, suspended by a metal chain, either of copper or brass, very much corroded. The ornament is cut from a piece of greenish-blue marble, perfectly smooth. It is six inches long, and in shape similar to a whip-saw file. By the side of the remains there was also found a metal chisel or axe, something like a ship carpenter’s hawsying iron. These are the only pieces of metal ever found in this part of the country. Their discovery has given rise to much speculation, and some associate the articles with Freemasonry. It may be that this is correct, for I heard from an army officer in Kansas that his life was once saved by a Sioux Indian who appeared familiar with several Masonic signs. The fact however, is one in which antiquaries will find ample scope for conjecture.

It was with regret that I was compelled to leave this charming country, replete with delightful scenery and romantic incident, and proverbially hospitable. Before closing my description, it may surprise your musical readers to learn that young ladies who have never been fifty miles away from it in their lives are familiar with Thalberg’s pianoforte studies. Fancy hearing operatic morceaux in this country of rocks, hills and primitive simplicity! Campbellton will always be gratefully remembered by your correspondent.


Dalhousie station is nine miles east of here. It is seventy feet above sea level. One mile east of Campbellton station you cross another iron bridge of three spans of sixty feet each over Mile Creek. The nature of the country remains the same, so I will not recapitulate the superb scenery to which no person can do justice. The track here is as good as ever; but the ballasting is not yet complete. The rails are as smooth and as even as a billiard-table; the work being substantial and thorough.

The town of Dalhousie is on the beautiful Baie des Chaleur, seven miles distant, over a rocky, uncomfortable road, full of ruts and mire. I remained there with the firm conviction that I had placed the mosquitoes under deep obligation for considerable nutriment. If they hadn’t obtained the traditional ounce of flesh, they certainly had no reason to complain of not getting enough blood. Mosquitoes have that keen sense of perception which enables them to scent a stranger half an hour before the cars arrive, and you find them waiting to receive you. They need no introduction because they introduce themselves. If any one was desirous of ascertaining the nature of this country, he need only look at my swollen features to get a tolerably fair idea of its rugged nature. My lineaments are all hills and valleys. Seriously speaking, the mosquitoes are an unmitigated nuisance.

The railway runs back from Eel River to Shore’s Cove for six miles, nearly in a straight line. The people feel very sore at its omitting to touch the town. But this would have necessitated an additional distance of three miles through costly cuttings, which would have had to be made. The direction which the people desired was as follows:—Crossing Eel River Bay, running around the shore to Dalhousie lighthouse, passing by the Hamilton monument (to which reference will be made directly), through the town and along the bank of the Restigouche to the present station. I understand that offers have been made by contractors to build a branch line for $50,000, but it is questionable whether a good road could be built for this amount. At any rate, if the Dalhousians ever wish to avail themselves of the natural advantages the place possesses, and which would be increased fifty per cent, this line will have to be built, and until it is the Intercolonial will be of but little use to them.

I have said the town is situated at a point on the Baie des Chaleur. It is bounded west and north by the Restigouche, on the east by the Bay, and on the south by the back country. It is naturally and admirably fitted for a deep water terminus.

Its population is about 1,200. The town has an area of five miles. The principal industry is lumber, which yields an average of 15,000,000 per year, and 3,000 tons of square timber, principally spruce and birch. The principal lumber merchant is George Moffatt, Esq., M.P., Conservative. He owns a large saw mill here.

Points of Interest

Hamilton monument: This was erected by the inhabitants in memory of the first merchant of Dalhousie. Indeed, the town was originally named after him. It is said to be the largest monument erected to a private individual in the Dominion. It stands on Dalhousie Hill, from which may be seen the harbor, and the different churches, viz., the Episcopal, the Roman Catholic, and the Presbyterian. Numerous drives and walks can be seen from this elevation. Fossil remains were discovered about two years ago south-east of the town. Along the coast and within a quarter of a mile of Dalhousie, there is abundance of herring, cod, eel and salmon.

Hamilton’s Monument …

is of free stone. It was cut in Glasgow, Scotland, and erected in 1851. It stands 20 feet high, and bears the following inscription:—

In memory of Captain John Hamilton, a native of King’s Cross, Arran, Scotland. He was the first merchant who settled at Dalhousie, and along with many benevolent actions, built St. John’s Presbyterian Church, for which his friends and countrymen here thus record their gratitude. He passed the last 10 years of his life in his native land and died at Irvine, 24th August, 1868. Aged 80 years.

You will be able to form a pretty good idea of the economical tendencies of the people of Dalhousie when I tell you that the Government District Saving’s Bank received deposits in the county last year amounting to $120,000, exclusive of money held in Government bonds. The money order office alone did the largest business of any office within New Brunswick, not excepting St. John, up to last year. This may be accounted for by the absence of any local banking branch in the town. The population in the county is about 5,000.

It is estimated that in 1874 there was probably 400,000 pounds of salmon put up within the county of Restigouche, and about the same quantity of lobsters. (By the way, the shells of the latter are extensively used by some farmers as manure. They say it makes an excellent article.) There are four persons engaged in the lobster and salmon business, viz., Mr. George Haddow, Mr. Hoegg, Mr. Windsor, at Campbellton and New Mills, and Mr. Bain, also at the latter place. New Mills is sixteen miles east of Dalhousie and will be referred to at the proper time. The advantage of Dalhousie, situated as it is, will at once be apparent to the reader if he will only look at its situation on the map. I only regret that my time will not permit of a further description of this lovely point, which from nearly every side is exceedingly beautiful.


Written by johnwood1946

December 19, 2014 at 11:27 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

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