Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Past Lives: Waterside

Times change, and when faced with adversity or dwindling communities, rural dwellers frequently move to more urban areas and leave their homes, schools, and churches behind.  Eventually most abandoned buildings fall prey to vandals and nature.

Waterside is a tiny community of farms and cottages on the shore of the Bay of Fundy in Harvey Parish, Albert County, New Brunswick.  First settled in 1805, by 1898 Waterside was a farming community with one store, three sawmills, one church and a population of 255.  Major landowners included families by the names of Anderson, Ackerley, Chandler, Downey, and Copp.

On present-day County Road 915 is the Waterside United Baptist Church Cemetery.  The original building was constructed in 1854 as the Baptist Meeting House of Roshea.  Later the United Baptist Church was built on the site in 1899 and dedicated in 1900 with a membership of 154.  In January of 2012, the church was struck by lightning and burned to the ground.  Its foundations are still visible but it's unknown as to whether it will be rebuilt.

A short way down the road is the boarded-up Waterside School.  At one time it served the communities of Waterside, Little Rocher, Anderson's Hollow, Roshea, and Dennis Beach.  However as the "consolidation" movement gained momentum and enrolment declined due to families moving out of the area, many rural schools were closed.  Waterside School closed its doors in 1967 and students now attend Riverside Consolidated School in the town of Riverside-Albert.

The area is now sparsely populated with fewer than 100 people but is known for its local wineries, scenic beaches, and the Cape Enrage Nature Preserve.

Photo courtesy of Phyllis and Melven Dewolfe, circa 2010

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