The Prospects of our Nearest Neighbour.
A few facts from the past and Suggestions from the present.
It does not seem long since the boys used to cross in the old horse ferry and go swimming at “The Rocks,” but there has been a great change since then in that locality. A railway wharf covers the rocks and another just below, and it is probable that a third company will be looking out for a chance to get out to deep water. It is not every little town which can boast itself the terminus of three independent lines of railway; and if the inhabitants of any such place should be overheard whispering to each other that there was a boom coming, no one could blame them for their anticipations. Certainly if appearances are not altogether deceitful.
A Boom will strike Gibson one of these days, if it has not already come. There are some persons who say that the town which is growing up on the other side of the river will prove a formidable competitor with Fredericton for the country trade; but the bridge will tend to equalize things, and Fredericton merchants can hold their own if they are only enterprising enough, and that they will surely be. But it will do no harm to warn them that they cannot treat their growing neighbour with indifference.
Real estate has probably advanced more in value in Gibson during the last year than it has in any other part of the Province; and the construction of the new railway will add much more value of the farms they cross than right of way would be worth. Of course there may be exceptional cases of small lots to which this remark does not apply. The people of the town should get together and name their streets of which there are at least five. The main street running parallel with the river might appropriately be called Newton Street, in compliment to the judgement of men who fully one hundred and twenty years ago projected and surveyed a town plot here to be called after the illustrious philosopher. If some unknown cause had not upset the plans of these pioneers, it is possible that the capital of the province might have been over there. The existence of the Marysville Mill site impressed itself in connection with the town upon the minds of these unknown explorers, for they were careful to mark it on their plan; by a sort of prophetic instinct they connected the two, and the century and a quarter which has passed away has proved that without the mill site on the Nashwaak there would be no town on the river front.
Other good historical news could be given to the streets, and it would be well to do so to perpetuate in some way a remembrance of the men who made Nashwaak famous, long before St. Anne’s point had ever been heard of, for our neighbour town can claim a much older and more eventful history than Fredericton. It is one hundred and ninety two years since Villebon built this fort of palisades with four bastions, on the point below where the Tannery stands. His name might be given to a street. Soulanges the French grantee of the Nashwaak seignory might also be remembered in this way.
From 1692 to 1700 there were stirring times around Fort Nashwaak. There were conferences with Chiefs and Warriors who came from Richibucto to the east, travelling across to Salmon river and thence down Grand Lake and up the St. John; from the Kennebec on the west. The warriors coming across and down Eel River and St. John, from Au pac, or head of tide from Meductic. Here plans were formed for attacks upon the English settlement in New England, which plans were afterwards carried out in terrible earnest. Here in 1696, was fought a terrible battle between the English, under Hawthorn, and the French under Villeion, when the latter were victorious, and here were other struggles, in all of which, as well as in diplomacy, the French gained the mastery. In 1700, Fort Nashwaak was abandoned and soon after dismantled, and this point ceased to be the centre of French power in Acadia.
But the times are changed, and while it is well to recall the old past sometimes that we may not forget that we are treading historic ground, it is with the present that the people of Gibson are most concerned. Of soldiers none are left, and of Indians only a few uninteresting specimens; but there are the termini of two railways now and a third one soon to be, a well appointed and exceptionally well situated tannery, with blacksmith and shoemaker shops, a saw-mill and a candy factory, stores and workshops of other kinds, a good beginning for a town. It is a growing place and it will grow still more, for it must necessarily be a town where there will be much work to do.