NBR â€“ 1845.05.23 â€“ Reminiscences of New Brunswick – #7
Presque Isle â€“ Great Falls â€“ Durham â€“ Boats â€“
The River at this place forms a curve round a projecting point of highland. The Isthmus joined by this course was cleared by Government shortly after the peace of 1783, and Barrack and other accommodations were constructed in which a considerable Garrison was kept up for a long time.
It may not be amiss here to notice the great improvement in the Navigation of the River St. John, by contrasting the different kind of boats formerly used, and those of the present day. The boats by Government for conveying supplies to the two posts first described were a heavy wall sided batteaux of several tons burthen but of a great draught of water. They were called Durham Boats, and required a dozen men to work them. They were propelled by heavy pike poles and dragged through the shoals and rapids by men with ropes, and it took longer at that time to complete a trip from Fredericton to the Grand Falls with a load, then it does at present to cross the Atlantic â€“ nearly a month was often spent in the voyage up and down.
Those Boats were under the direction of Mr. King and Mr. M. Duperre, and usually consisted of three or four for the trip. Their progress up the River though slow, was anxiously watched by the settlers, for the whole population along the River as well as the troops at the different stations, were interested in their arrival. Indeed those Boats for a long time formed the only mode of communication between the straggling settlers and the seaboard, and served to keep up an intercourse between them and the world from which they were at that time nearly excluded; while the troops at the different posts depended on their arrival for all their supplies. For if the River was late in opening, and the old stock of provisions run short, there was no other [resourse] but patience and abstinence till the Boats could make their way up. The upper Garrison at the Grand Falls was the most exposed to these privations, for being completely isolated, no relief could be expected but from Fredericton. At one time a detachment of the 54th regiment with their families were reduced to the greatest straits by a delay in the arrival of those boats, and were nearly as much elated by their appearance as the Garrison of Londonderry at the sight of the fleet of King William. While the scattered inhabitants traced their progress along the River with the most intense interest for reasons that shall be explained in the next number.