Sketches on the Nipisaguit : a river of New Brunswick, B.N. America
This beautifully-illustrated work is a record of a six week fishing and camping trip by the author from Bathurst, New Brunswick, along the Nipisaguit river in New Brunswick, Canada. The fine plates are all worked up from original sketches done on the spot by the author, armed "with fishing-rod and sketch-book." In the preface, he pleads for the preservation of the river's salmon, a great natural resource:
"The Nipisaguit is one of the very few rivers in North America where the salmon still visit for breeding purposes in undiminished numbers; saw-mills, spearing, netting, and what in England would be called poaching, have ruined the rest ... If the contents of the following pages should in any way attract the attention to the subject before it is too late, and the Author thus contributes to the preservation of the river he loves so well, his object in publishing them will be fully gained."
The introductory chapter includes some history of the area, of the river and of the fishing (the first salmon caught with the artificial fly ... were taken ... in August 1845), information about reaching the river (allow 13 days to travel from Liverpool, England to Bathurst), and then a glowing endorsement of the local guides ("It is impossible to speak too highly of this class of people ... the 'Vineaus' and the 'Chamberlains' are among the best-known and most experienced; but there are very few amongst them who will not give satisfaction to any reasonable employer"). The text proper consists of descriptions of locations depicted on the eight plates, these descriptions are generally accompanied by notes on the quality and type of fishing that can be expected.
References: Bobins I 51; Abbey Travel II, 629; Sabin 31706 (1861); TPL 3988.
- 1. Above The Grand Falls.
- 2. The Grand Falls.
- 3. The Camp, Grand Falls.
- 4. Portage below the Little Falls.
- 5. Morning at the Mid Landing.
- 6. The Pabineau Falls.
- 7. Shooting a Rapid.
- 8. The Town of Bathurst.
Publisher: Halifax, N.S. : Published by John B. Strong ; London : Day & Son
Date Added: 2019-01-11
Hickman, William. Sketches on the Nipisaguit. Halifax, N.S. : Published by John B. Strong ; London : Day & Son. 1860.
Hickman, William (1860) Sketches on the Nipisaguit. Halifax, N.S. : Published by John B. Strong ; London : Day & Son.
Hickman, William, Sketches on the Nipisaguit. Halifax, N.S. : Published by John B. Strong ; London : Day & Son. 1860.
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A RIVER OF NEW BRUNSWICK,
B. N. AMERICA.
WILLIAM HICKMAN, B.A.
PUBLISHED BY JOHN B. STRONG, BOOKSELLER AND LIBRARIAN. LONDON: DAY & SON, LITHOGRAPHERS TO THE QUEEN,
GATE STREET, LINCOLN S-INN FIELDS.
TO HIS EXCELLENCY
THE RIGHT HONORABLE THE EARL OF IULGRAYE,
LIEUTENANT-GOVERNOR OF NOVA SCOTIA, ETC. ETC.
IS RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED, BY HIS OBEDIENT HUMBLE SERVANT,
The Sketches comprised in the following work were not originally intended for publication, but merely as mementos of a pleasant visit paid by the Author, with fishing-rod and sketch-book, to the banks of the Nipisaguit. At the request, however, of those whose party he joined there, and other friends, they have been put into the hands of the lithographer, and now make their appearance, attended with a short account, for the purpose of explanation. This apology, if, indeed, it can be so called, may he hardly considered a sufficient one for introducing before the public a work of such apparently little general interest. The drawings and description of an almost unknown river, flowing through a remote part of one of the North American colonies, cannot be expected to attract a large share of attention, more especially when those drawings, the efforts of a self-taught amateur, but little enhance its merit, while the details contain none of that scientific research which might attract the notice of the geologist or naturalist. Tailing, however, in this, there are still two classes of persons by whom it is hoped it may be kindly welcomed. The first, a small one, consists of those who have themselves visited the rocky river; who cannot but look hack with pleasure to the time they spent there, and who will feel kindly disposed to anything that recalls to their memory, amidst the bustle of every-day existence, a vision of the green trees, cool clear waters, salmon, rapids, canoes, and the other concomitants to that life of health and freedom. The next is the larger body of fishermen in general, and lovers of the noble sport of salmon-fishing, whose interest in the subject is most specially solicited.
The Nipisaguit is one of the very few rivers in North America which the sa lm on still visit for breeding purposes in undiminished numbers; saw-mills, spearing, netting, and what in England would be called poaching, have ruined the rest. Here, however, the fisherman can still, with good tackle, fair luck, and, last but not least, a muscular arm, kill his eight, ten, or even twelve fresh-run salmon a day. This, however, will not he the case much longer: the peculiar nature of the river, the height of its falls, the clearness of its waters, its extreme narrowness in many parts, expose it to every kind of foul fishing. Even now, Indians are leaving their own exhausted streams, and congregating on it in numbers, spearing immense quantities of fish on their spawning-grounds, from mere wanton love of destruction.
Parties of settlers, too, discovering the lucrative nature of the speculation, camp on the river at certain times, and stretching a deep net across some narrow part of it, for some days capture nearly every fish that attempts to ascend the stream: the salmon are salted and conveyed to the coast, where they are readily bought up by American traders. It is not to he supposed from this account that good laws have not been made by the Government of the province, for the protection of so valuable a stream; but, from the thinly-populated state of the country about it, the difficulty of enforcing them is great, particularly when the individual interests of the magistrates are but little enlisted in the cause. And thus, in a few years it is much to be feared that the NISipisaguit, like the rest of its fellow streams, will have little but its old reputation left to glory in: still, there are many plans by means of which it could be saved from such a fate, though it might appear, perhaps, presumptuous to suggest them here; hut if the contents of the following pages should in any way attract attention to the subject before it he too late, and the Author thus contribute to the preservation of the river he loves so well, his object in publishing them will be fully gained.
Government House, Halifax, U.S.,
The little town of Bathurst, N.B., is built on two small peninsulas, formed by four rivers, which debouch into the same bay, and at almost the same point. Of these, two, the Little and Middle Rivers, are worthy of but small notice, except, perhaps, for the numbers of brown trout that frequent them. The third, called the Tootoogoose, or River of the Paries, is an exceedingly beautiful stream; it's clear waters flow for a distance of twenty-five miles over a bed of rock; it abounds with brown and white trout, and contains some very good salmon-pools. The fourth, however, surpasses the others in every particular: its scenery is of the most wild and varied character, while as a salmon-river it is without a rival in the known parts of the North-American continent, and, most probably, in the world. Its Indian name w r as originally Winkkapiguwick, or Place of Troubled Waters, which has become, in course of time, Nipisaquit, or Nipisaguit. The lakes from which it takes its rise are at a distance of about ninety miles from the coast, and situate in a perfectly uninhabited part of the north of New Brunswick. The first half of this journey the river performs over granite, the latter over a bed of calcareous formation, thickly strewed, however, with granite boulders.
The Grand Palls are distant about twenty miles from the tide-way, and their height is one hundred and ten feet; by them the salmon are effectually prevented from ascending the river any higher, and concentrated in a comparatively small part of it; so that, at the proper season, the stream between the Grand Palls and the sea is literally swarming with fish, seeking some place of safety where they may deposit their spawn.
The first salmon caught with the artificial fly in the Nipisaguit were taken by two residents of Bathurst and two English officers, in August 1845. Incited to the attempt by the stories which the lumberers told of the numbers and boldness of the fish, they made an expedition to the Grand Palls, and in two days killed ninety salmon and thirteen grilse; they, however, laboured, on this occasion, under great disadvantages, as they had only one canoe and one gaff between them. Since that time, there have been usually five or six rods on the river during each season, but seldom more; still, the fish have learnt what an artificial fly is, and, with the exception of the first run of the year, are sufficiently shy to render some amount of skill necessary to capture them.
Salmon are taken in nets in Bathurst Bay, in the month of June, but they seldom ascend the river until July; during that month and August fish are continually running. The first arrivals consist generally of females alone, after which they are accompanied by the males, and in August are followed by large numbers of grilse. The time, therefore, for the fisherman to arrive on this river is the first week in July, as he may then enjoy eight weeks of uninterrupted sport.
All fishermen crossing the Atlantic, will, of course, bring their rods, tackle, &c. with them; but they cannot possibly make a greater mistake than that of encumbering themselves with a number of superfluous articles. Two good strong salmon-rods, with spare tops; two or three hundred-yard, lines, as fine as consistent with strength, with winches to match • sin°'le-«Tit lengths, stained with ink; with gaff, and pocket-scale, make up the list of necessaries. The flies used on the stream are small, and of a sober colour; but, as many of the canoe-men are expert fly-makers, a good stock of feathers and materiel is almost preferable to a large assortment of ready-made flies; a gun is not out of place amongst the outfit, as bears are to be met with on the river, and smaller game is comparatively plentiful; but a valuable piece runs the risk of being ruined in a canoe voyage.
Although situated in what may be generally considered an out-of-the-way part of the world, Bathurst is easily and quickly reached in the present days of railways and steamboats. In ten days, at the furthest, Cunards steamers transport the traveller from Liverpool, England, to Halifax, U.S.; from thence, a three days journey, either by sea or land, brings him to the mouth of the Nipisaguit. When, fatigued by continuous travel, he arrives at Bathurst, he will find that, however behind the rest of the world its inhabitants may be in other respects, they are unrivalled for their kindness and hospitality to strangers. He will rest himself in comfort, if not in luxury, at the Wellington Hotel, kept by one of the most eccentric and attentive of landlords, Mr. Baldwin; and can obtain every kind of provision for his stay on the river at the store of Mr. Smith, who is well known for his unvaried civility to visitors.
Before ascending the river, however, and commencing the work of destruction, it is necessary for the fisherman to hire a canoe and two men, who will convey him and his stores to the station he has decided upon occupying, and assist him in camping and fishing there. The canoe-men who are employed on these occasions, and who are of Erench extraction, live on the banks of the river, and are perfectly acquainted with every part of it. Eor their services they are each in the habit of receiving a dollar a day and their food. It is impossible to speak too highly here of this class of people; the skill with which they manage their light barks, forcing them up pitches, guiding them down, or holding them steady and motionless in the midst of the most rapid stream, to give the fisherman a better chance of a cast, is only a small part of their accomplishments. They all love fly-fishing, and are no mean proficients in the art, though they never spoil their employers sport by attempting to kill fish with the rod, but only give vent to their enthusiasm in the cause by gaffing the still unconquered fish, a proceeding in which they are most wonderfully expert. They are most of them good cooks, can repair rods, tie flies neatly, mend clothes, wash them, make mocassins, and do fifty other things, which cannot be narrated in detail here. Besides being honest in the extreme, civil, and obliging, they arc perfectly sober, drinking little else than tea and peppermint water; and, last, but not least, they arc amusing companions round the camp-fire, and possess a large stock of stories and songs, in the singing and narration of which they wile the time pleasantly away. The Vineaus and the Chamberlains are among some of the best-known and most experienced; but there are very few amongst them who will not give satisfaction to any reasonable employer. And now, having brought the sportsman as far as the scene of his future triumphs, and placed him in the hands of the men described above, with a wish that every good fortune may attend him, it is time to bid hi in farewell, and to proceed to a more detailed description of the different parts of the river.
The first sketch is intended to represent that part of the river immediately above the Grand Tails; but no pencil can successfully depict the wild and solitary character of the scenery. The banks are formed of immense rocks, heaped in grotesque confusion by some mighty convulsion of past ages; between them are deep crevices, some of which are partially filled up with driftwood and sand, others form wells of water, clear as crystal, and of great depth; while Nature, as though ashamed that such confusion should exist amongst her works, endeavours to cover the whole with the luxuriant mantle of vegetation she so lavishly distributes in that part of the world. Over this bed of stone the river hastens, taking one or two little leaps, preparatory to its great fall of one hundred and ten feet. Above this spot, the Nipisaguit is little known: parties of lumberers have, of course, gone up it, and their camps stand on its banks; but they are the only traces of human habitation between the Tails and their source. A few parties of fishermen, too, have gone through, i. e., have ascended the stream, and by making a portage of about six miles through the woods, gained the head-waters of the Tobique, and descended by that river into the St. Johns. This expedition, however, is attended with no little hardship; the numerous rapids, and the great shallowness of many of the higher parts of the Nipisaguit, make long portages necessary, a proceeding which the impenetrable nature of the bush that clothes its banks, the heat, and, above all, the mosquitoes, render one of great toil and discomfort.
There are no salmon above, as their ascent is effectually stayed by the height of the Grand Tails; but quantities of large brown trout exist there, greedy and fearless in the extreme, and easily caught by the most clumsy imitation of the fly, or even by a piece of red flannel fixed on the hook. The canoe-men tell strange stories of the numbers of moose, bear, beaver, &c., that, attracted by the undisturbed solitude, still frequent its banks. Several species of wild duck, too, are abundant there; and, in the autumn, many of the flappers, or young birds, are caught in the vortex of the falls, and, by it, unceremoniously introduced to a new world below, where they form an agreeable variety in the bill of fare of some hungry fisherman. The waters at the head of the Grand Tails once roared and foamed through a much narrower passage; but, a few years ago, the channel was widened by blasting, to facilitate the descent of timber, and prevent the occurrence of jams in so dangerous a position.
The Grand Tails, or Les Grands Sants, as the Trench canoe-men call them, are, of course, the great sight of the river, and the question put to the sportsman on his return to Bathurst, next to How many salmon did you kill? invariably is, Did you see the Grand Tails? They certainly are an imposing spectacle, and the more so, because as you approach you do not catch glimpses of them from time to time, but come upon them suddenly and at once, in all their glory of thunder, foam, and rainbows of spray.
During the many ages of their existence, the Grand Tails have worn themselves back through the soft limestone rock for a distance of nearly a quarter of a mile, so that the stranger who would visit them, must first ascend two or three small rapids, in a canoe, between two walls of lofty perpendicular rock. His attention, probably, during this proceeding, is too much engaged by the dancing motion of his canoe, as it is forced through the rush and roar of the boiling waters: he is too intent upon watching the skill and activity of the canoemen, upon whose sureness of hand and eye he feels certain that his life depends, to regard anything else, until, passing round a sharp turn in the rock, he finds himself in comparatively smooth water, in full view, and within a short distance of the object of his search. The Grand Tails descend from a height of about one hundred and ten feet; and, though not so in reality, present from many points of view the appearance of a perfectly unbroken cascade. At a little distance below them, and in the foreground of the accompanying plate, is the first salmon-pool. The fish, returning exhausted from their unsuccessful attempts to ascend higher, lie in great numbers in this place of rest, and, on a bright morning, may be seen drawn up, or rather laid out, in regular ranks across it; a sight which, though pleasing and instructive to the observer of nature, is one that riles the temper of the most patient disciple of Walton, when he has, perhaps, tried every fly in his book without attracting more notice from them than, perhaps, a lazy wave of the tail. It is, however, nearly the best pool of the river, if not too much fished, as, from the height of the banks, the sun does not fall upon it until nearly mid-day.
There is one circumstance connected with the falls of so singular a nature, that it cannot well be passed over here without some notice. The river, as previously stated, after descending the falls, flows through a deep chasm in the rock of about a quarter of a mile in length. At the mouth of this pass are some shallows, formed by sand and other detritus collected there; and on these, at the commencement of winter, large pieces of floating ice lodge: as they accumulate, and the season becomes more severe, they gradually form a solid barrier there. In vain the rising waters overtop it, they but heighten in their efforts the wall of their prison; until, at length, the dam reaches the level of the banks, and changes the hollow pass into a kind of vast reservoir; in this the falls entirely disappear, while a feeble imitation of them trickles over or through the ice below. The next freak of the frost is to cover in this new lake, and, in a night or two, it is safely bridged over. With the approach of spring, however, the heightened temperature of the water by degrees destroys the barrier below; the long-imprisoned stream is freed, and Les Grands Sauts resume their former position; yet still they are hid from view, the bridge of ice across the channel is the last part of the work that yields to the influence of the sun, and the canoe-men affirm that they have stood upon it late in the spring, have listened to the roar of the invisible cascade, or, looking through a fissure in the ice, have caught glimpses of its foam through the darkness beneath them. All these traces, however, of winter, are generally quickly removed by the freshets of spring, and the river is then open, and fit for lumbering purposes; but even in the heat of midsummer the boatmen know where to look for ice, in cunningly-devised refrigerators of nature; viz., cool holes in the rock, within the shadow of the falls, where the sun never penetrates; so that that luxury, at least, is not wanting to those who rough it on the Nipisaguit.
The wooden camp represented in the accompanying sketch, may appear, at first glance, rather devoid of comfort to those who have never experienced the pleasure of living in the open air; but in a climate like that of New Brunswick, it is by far the most enjoyable kind of dwelling-place during the summer and autumn months at all events, such was the opinion of four fishermen, who, not before unaccustomed to luxury, spent six weeks of last summer there in health and enjoyment, and bade farewell to it, at last, with the liveliest feelings of regret.
This camp, raised upon a platform of logs, is dry in the wettest weather. It is situated on the side of a steep hill overlooking the river; and so great is the clearness of the waters below, that from it the numbers and movements of the salmon in the pool beneath can be easily marked. On the left is the sleeping-apartment, an open tent, with its four blankets of red and blue laid in order, and mosquito-curtains above them: below, with its pewter basins, is the wash-hand stand, of rustic architecture. The camp itself is divided into three compartments: the first is the sitting-room; the next the canoe-mens quarters, who, less refined, combine their sitting-room and bedroom in one; while, beyond that, is the larder, sacred to the cook. The odd little bark hut, with the smoke issuing from its roof, is the curing-house for the salmon. In the foreground is the well, with its water clear as crystal, and cold as ice in the warmest day, the receptacle of many a noble fish during the stay of the above-mentioned fishermen, and especially when, on one memorable morning, its overflowing waters bore token to the presence of forty-one goodly salmon within it. To the question of How can people live in such places? an answer is easily given, for all days in camp are so much alike, that a description of one will serve for a very good type of the rest. With the first light of morning the cook, not forgetful of the early breakfast that is wont to be rather peremptorily demanded of him, awakes from his slumbers, lights the fire, fetches the water, and rouses the remainder of the party. By the time that the duties of the toilet, which consist principally of shaking oneself, are performed, and ablutions got through, breakfast is smoking on the table breakfast consisting, probably, of fried pork and biscuit, perhaps fried salmon, trout, or oatmeal porridge without milk; tea is the beverage usually preferred on such occasions, the alternative being cold water. These good things, in time, satisfy appetites sharpened by the fresh morning air, and an end of eating is made. Then pipes are lit, rods are carried down the hill to the canoes, and the sportsmen, with their attendants, set out for the pool allotted them, and commence the business of the day. At noon, unless it be cloudy or wet, the sun is on the water, and the fishing, for the time, at an end: each returns to camp, relates his adventures, and compares notes of sport with the others; the salmon taken are inspected and weighed, and their size and number duly entered in the journal kept for that purpose. Next follows dinner, consisting of pork or beef, boiled, as a variation on the fry of the morning, and tea, cold, instead of warm. By this time the day has become insufferably hot: no exertion can even be contemplated without discomfort; some, stretched at lazy length on the fresh-picked spruce boughs, read light literature of the period; others prepare some favourite fly for future conquests; the majority sleep. Should a volunteer be found, who, forgetful of self, will venture into the burnt barrens behind the camp, the abode of the mosquito and blackfly, the hot-bed, too, of every kind of wild fruit, grateful mashes of blueberries and raspberries and sugar will reward him for his exertions, and be eagerly devoured by the rest of the party on their awakening. Instances of such virtuous self-devotion are on record; but, alas for human nature ! are but few and far between. As the sun, however, again nears the horizon, signs of activity begin to display themselves in camp; but a bath in the cold water below is absolutely necessary, to refresh its inmates after the heat of the day; down the hill they accordingly proceed, towel in hand, and are soon disporting themselves therein, at a safe distance, however, from the salmon-pools. This proceeding over, some visit the pools they are to fish on the morrow, inspect their inmates, or, if the fish be rising, take a cast or two across them; others seek the basin below, the stronghold of the greedy and much-despised trout, and gratify their love of destruction by taking them in great numbers. Thus are they occupied until forced to return by the approach of night, when the bloodthirsty mosquitoes sally forth to seek their food; the niglit-jars wheel and flutter round the camp, in pursuit of the numerous moths which the light attracts; while large melancholy owls, sitting motionless on the old rampikes round, watch with great apparent interest the preparations for supper. The large wood fire now throws its light on the half-hidden shapes of tree and rock; the canoe-men, seated round its blaze, in turn recount their lumbering adventures, or sing long ballads in Trench patois or bad English, but nevertheless with good tune and time; and thus the night wears on, until the moon, rising over the wooded heights, peeps in upon them with her quiet face, a silent warning to betake themselves to tent and blanket; nor is the notice unregarded by those who have already begun to doze over the bright log fire, and, in a short time, nothing but the heavy breathing ( i . e.) snoring of the sleepers breaks the silence of our camp.
The Little Falls are not more than three miles distant from Les Grands Sauts; yet the character of the scenery about them is of an entirely different description. The river here is rapid and shallow, its bed broad and full of large stones and boulders, its banks low and thickly wooded; while here and there the course of the stream is interrupted by small islands, called interval flats, formed probably from detritus washed down from above: they may be seen in all the different stages of progression, from the barren sand-bank, hardly visible above the water, to the tree-covered, fertile island. The soil of these latter is very rich and productive; they abound with every variety of wild berry, nuts, apples, plums, wild onions, mint, and other self-sown articles of garden produce may he found on them; and, for this reason, they are often visited by the fisherman camped on the river, to whose little-varied fare of pork and biscuit these gifts of nature form an agreeable variety.
The Falls themselves cannot be compared with their larger brethren above them; since they are little more than strong rapids, which render a portage necessary. The absence of deep still pools in this part of the river affords but little inducement to the large fish to stay there long on their way to the spawning-grounds; but the shallow, rippling waters above the Little Falls are the favourite haunt of numbers of grilse: these take the fly freely on the clearest day, and give great play in the broad and rapid stream.
The part of the river which bears the name of Mid Landing, and which the accompanying drawing is intended to represent, is by no means the least curious or picturesque spot on the Nipisaguit. The usually broad bed of the river is here contracted within a rocky channel of about twenty yards in width, through which the waters pour in one long rapid of great force and volume. Above this place the canoe-men land their passengers and cargo, but pass down it themselves, choosing rather to run the risk of being drowned than take the trouble of portaging their canoes. It is most exciting to see these fellows following one another so rapidly down the pitch, threading their way through the sharp rocks that surround them with the greatest skill. Sometimes the poles with which they guide their frail barks become firmly fixed in some crack in the rock, and are jerked suddenly from their grasp; but it is with them but the work of a moment to snatch another from the bottom of the canoe, and they are again prepared for the next difficulty. It may be remarked, that, going at the rate they do, the slightest collision would suffice to sink or upset them; in which case their bodies would undergo very much the same process that rags do when about to be converted into paper, and but a very few shreds would be discovered at the other end of the channel.
The high rock in the middle distance forms a good and picturesque camping-ground, and from its elevated position, it is more free from the plague of mosquitoes than other parts of the river. There are also many very good salmon-pools in the neighbourhood of the Mid Landing, but the narrowness of the river, unfortunately, affords great facilities for netting, and the fish there are too much disturbed by such proceedings to render a good days sport with the rod at all certain.
The Falls of the Pabineau are the last and lowest rapids on the Nipisaguit that are dignified by such a name. Although not of sufficient altitude to stop the strong and persevering salmon, sea-trout are unable to ascend them, and, accordingly, assemble in great numbers below. It is hardly necessary to say that, in such a salmon-river as the Nipisaguit, trout-fishing is much despised, and the trout themselves looked upon very much in the light of vermin by the ambitious sportsman; they increase and multiply, however, under such contempt. The stories of their numbers and greediness here are perfectly incredible; who, for instance, would believe that in less than an hour over three dozen fair-sized trout were taken with a bare hook, without any disguise of bait or artificial fly ? yet there are many witnesses who can vouch for the truth of this tale. The sea-trout here run to a very large size, and a fresh fish of three pounds weight, in the rapid water, will often show great play before he succumbs. Some of the best salmon-pools in the river are in the vicinity of the Pabineau, and very large fish are often hooked there, but not so certainly captured; for, if they take down stream in their first mad rush, the rugged nature of the river-banks renders it very difficult to follow them. The accompanying sketch represents the best salmon-pool there at rather low water. An endeavour has been made in it to imitate the wonderful colours which the water-stained rocks wear; but so bright are they in reality, that it is impossible to reproduce them on paper. There is a good wooden camp at the Pabineau, and a fair bridle-road all the way from Bathurst to them; so that the fisherman there is in a comparatively civilized locality. There is one drawback, however, to this part of the river, and that is, that it certainly excels all others in the number and size of its mosquitoes. The new-comer no sooner arrives there than he is bewildered by the force and fury of their attacks. All kinds of plans are resorted to for the purpose of resisting them: some rub their face and hands with anglers defence, a compound of lard, camphor, and creosote, or smear themselves with pork-fat, this may, perhaps, disgust more civilized flies, but on the Nipisaguit it only attracts them in greater numbers; others wear green veils tightly fastened round the neck, within which defence some half-dozen mosquitoes invariably insert themselves, and then torment at their leisure their distracted victim. The best plan, after all, is to let them bite. If no spirit or wine is drunk, their sting soon ceases to cause anything more than a momentary irritation, and the insects themselves, after a time, become tired of a well-bitten subject, and seek some newer arrival for their prey.
Did yon ever shoot a rapid, reader ? If not, be assured there is still a sensation untried by you that will quicken your pulse, and bring the blood to your cheek, however blase you may be to the ordinary excitements of life. Place yourself in a canoe on the Nipisaguit, and, in imagination, make trial of the experiment: be careful how you take your seat; although an easy proceeding enough to the initiated, to one who has never made the attempt, an outrigger skiff is hardly more difficult to get into. Once seated in the centre of your ship, with your luggage packed behind you for a back-rest, your blanket to sit on, rod in hand, and gun beside you, you are tolerably comfortable, and have everything belonging to you within reach: you are now gliding rapidly down the placid river, which broadens out as it nears the sea; sometimes you pass between high red cliffs that cast their sombre shadows over the stream; now past low green banks and interval-flats, clothed with every variety of tree, flowers, and ferns, where the river dances and ripples joyously on in the bright sunshine; here and there, too, a log hut, with its cattle and inhabitants, reminds you that you are approaching the dwellings of your species. Suddenly, on passing one of the bends of the river, the noise of falling waters strikes upon your ear; at this sound the canoe-men smile, take their belts up a hole or two, or roll their sleeves still higher on their arms. As you proceed on, the noise becomes louder, almost deafening; you see the smooth line which marks the head of the rapid, the spray dashing high above the waterworn stones beneath, while all beyond, as far as your eye can reach, is broken water, roaring and foaming over masses of rock; these are the Rough Waters.
At about fifty yards distance from the first pitch the canoe stops, and, as you are wondering to yourself whether you are in your senses, and yet about to descend in a piece of birch bark the cataract before you, the Frenchmen are talking excitedly in their patois, probably debating which is the safest channel in the then state of the water. When this is settled, all the loose articles are packed behind and fastened securely; then, laying down their poles, the men kneel in their places, and paddle in hand, with a wild shout away they go. You have hardly time to draw a long breath and grasp your fishing-rod tightly, before you are on the edge of the rapid; another moment, and you are in it; the light canoe buries her bows in the water as she pitches down headlong; the man in front of you is hid by the cloud of spray; you catch glimpses of rocks flying by you, avoided as though by a miracle, and then, bewildered by the noise and rapidity of the motion, you do not at once realize that you are floating quietly in the backwater below, and the canoe-men are already busy in baling out the half-filled boat. Unfortunately, however, as with almost everything else, the excitement of shooting a rapid does not long survive its novelty; after one or two more descents, the English sang froid triumphs, and in a short time, reader, you would be seen carelessly curling your moustache, or knocking the ash from your cigar, on the brink of a miniature Niagara. Although this proceeding is certainly attended with some amount of danger, the skill and experience of the canoe-men are so great, that an accident is of rare occurrence; and such is the lightness of the canoe, that when perfectly full of water, it will sustain two or three people in it, as long as they remain still, without sinking or upsetting.
The accompanying sketch is intended to represent canoes shooting Williss Pitch, one of the best rapids on the Rough Waters. This part of the river abounds with salmon, and, but for its proximity to the town, would be by far the best station on the stream, as the fish here are all fresh-run, strong, and greedy. Last summer, two small boys, with wattle, string, and fly, of home manufacture, hooked between thirty and forty salmon in the day, though, from the want of strength, both of themselves and tackle, they secured but a very small part of them.
The Last Sketch of the book represents the return of a fishing party to Bathurst, after a successful six weeks on the river. The four canoes are lashed together and gaily decorated with such flags as can be hastily manufactured for the occasion; the men, dressed out in their best clothes, sing, as they slowly paddle down the stream, while repeated discharges from the guns that will still go off, disturb the peaceful inhabitants of the little town.
The part of Batlmrst which is seen in this picture is connected with the rest of the settlement by a well-constructed bridge of about half a mile in length, and, altogether, contains about eight hundred inhabitants, English, Scotch, Irish, and French Acadians, though the Hibernian element appears to preponderate amongst them. It boasts of four churches, whose spires add much to its appearance; four ship-yards, from which are launched from five to ten vessels annually; and an extensive lumbering establishment, belonging to Messrs. Eergusson, Rankin, & Co. Jean Jacques Enaud, a Erencli Roman Catholic priest, is said to have been the first white man that settled there, which he did as early as 1638. At that period the spot was the head-quarters of the Mic-Mac Indians, and bore the same name as the river, Winkkapiguwick. During the dominion of the French it was called St. Peters, but, on being finally ceded to the English, took the name which it now bears.
The harbour, though a secure one for the smaller vessels of the coast, is too shallow to admit any craft drawing more than twelve feet water; a safe anchorage can, however, be found outside a bar that lies at the mouth of the bay.
DAT & SON, LITHOGRAPHERS TO THE QUEEN, GATE STREET, LINCOLNs-IXN FIELDS, LONDON.