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Our Village History

        Three miles from Campbellton stands a quaint little borough. Its winding streets and small homesteads clinging to the mountainside give it a peculiar aspect. The panorama everywhere is entrancing. Horizons swell over wooded mountaintops rather hazy blue with smoke. A deeper blue is reflected in the tranquil waters of the Restigouche, curving around the "Flat", oblivious of the fact that here New Brunswick separates from Quebec. The "Flat", as it is called here, is a fertile tract of level land built up from sediments accumulated by the river. This contrasts very strikingly with the mountainous surroundings.

        Such is the setting nature has prepared for the quaint hamlet of Atholville. Formerly, it was known as Ristigouche. The Indians have a peculiar way of pronouncing the name:Rist-ah-gouche. For hundreds of years, the mountain has re-sounded to the echo of Micmac songs and legends.

        Built on the Flat, this cluster of wigwams must have presented a curious spectacle to the explorer. A forest full of game and a river teeming with fish warrant of the prosperity of the settlements.

        But way back in the eighteenth century, war clouds spread from Acadie to the Baie des Chaleurs. French settlers had sought a haven far from their persecutors. They put up for the winter on the present site of Campbellton in December 1755. Seven families immediately set out for Tracadièche, now called Carleton. The Micmacs from Ristigouche were friendly and hospitable to the unfortunate French peasants. In the spring of 1758, seven hundred of them crossed the river and settled at Pointe de la Garde.

        Several names have been designated to Atholville in the past forty years. The first Post-Office was located on the "Flat", at the "Corner", so called. It was found in the store belonging to the Shives Company. The address then was "Shives Athol". Later, a second Post-Office was set up on what is now the "Main Highway." It was then known as "Ferguson Manor". The Canadian National Railway depot meanwhile insisted on stamping its tickets "Athol House." Since 1918, however, all have rallied to the name "ATHOLVILLE".

        This, we venture to call the "ancient" history of Atholville. Thus was Atholville described by Father D'Amour in 1937.

An historical sketch of Atholville, courtesy Allan MacNeish.

  • From ? to 1600 stood a MicMac stockade: a circle of wigwams and graves, relics were found which were over 2000 years old
  • 1620 - 1624: Recollets - Father Sebastien established a mission here
  • 1624 - 1642: Capucins
  • 1642 - 1661: Jesuit Order
  • 1661 - Recollets
  • 1669 - Nicolas Denys built trading post
  • 1675 - 1690: Richard Denys
  • 1668 - Census - seven men and clerk dealing in furs and fish. Three settlers with families arrive.
  • Chapel "Morin" erected which stood until 1760
  • 1670 - Iberville acquired grant
  • 1691 - Richard Denys bought it back but died the same year going to France
  • 1745 - MicMacs moved to Ristigouche, Mission Point, P.Q. across the river and down a bit Richard Denys's daughter sold the grant to Monsieurs Bonfils,who lost the grant in 1764 through a law enacted cancelling all French Claims in New Brunswick
  • 1760 - The great Battle of the Restigouche, French-English war for suppremacy
  • 1769 - 1770: George Walker - Trading Post - Walkers Brook
  • 1773 - Baillie sold to Schoolbred whose agent (William Smith) brought out eight Aberdeen fishermen establishing first permanent settlement Old Mission Point *150 years old*
  • 1779 - Schoolbred abandoned his settlement due to Revolutionary War "USA". During Schoolbred time, dried cod, salted salmon (Mediterranean), barrelled cod for London, herring , mackerel, and lumber - building ships When Schoolbred left, MicMacs burnt the buildings, remaining were a few Scots, two of whom were Robert Adams and John Duncan
  • 1785 - Schoolbred leased to Samuel Lee. The rent: a peppercorn
  • 1787 - The land reverted to the Crown
  • 1788 - Samuel Lee applied and received Mission Point. Smith Island. Other successful applicants were Thomas Busteed, John Duncan, and John Adams
  • 1793 - Lee got 400 acres at Walker Brook and built a saw mill. The site was probably used later for Doherty Mill
  • 1794 - Other Scots kept coming over and settling. Alexander Ferguson was one of them and became a competitor to Lee
  • 1796 - Robert Ferguson, a brother to Alex arrived
  • 1803 - Alexander died and Robert inherited the business
  • 1810 - Robert bought the Lee property erecting "Athol House" which is burnt in 1895 or 1896. The first estate was permanently established and was a landmank for 80 years. Robert was the first man to introduce "netting" in Restigouche
  • 1856 - Lanman: "Athol House was built directly on the ruins and consisted of a large commodious house furnished with every possible comfort and flanked by at least two dozen buildings that would attract attention in any land" Robert Ferguson died in 1851
  • 1851 - Adams was running Athol House
  • Lanman: "Arran settlers on the Restigouche were not only the most numerous but also the most industrious frugal, and religious portion of the community."
  • 1824 - Archdecon G.L. Mountain. September 12th: " At the appointed hour we walked to the Mission Point a sandy projection with some old spiked guns upon it, so called from its proximity to the Indian village and Church. From the Mission Point there, we pulled across a beautiful basin enclosed by wooded heights, one of which (Sugarloaf Mountain no doubt) standing detached, is a conspicuous feature in all views of this neighbourhood, and in several of them, presents a conical form. This basin is full of stakes for the salmon-nets, which almost meet in the middle of the water, and when covered by the tide are frightfully dangerous to any boat of which the steersman is not accurately acquainted with the typography of the spot. As soon as I stepped out of the boat I was once more, after a separation of seven years, in N. Brunswick, where we spent the first three years of our married life in peace and comfort, and where our dear little girls were born. We dressed at a large house (Athol House) belonging to a Mr Ferguson a Merchant from the Bay, from which we had a short walk to the Church, a building without any other exterior indication of its purpose than its site in a burying ground, I was glad however to see it well furnished with prayer-books within... a congregation of from 80 to 100 persons was assembled... Three children were baptised on this visit."

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