Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Past Lives: Black River

In Simonds Parish of Saint John County, New Brunswick lies the village of Black River.  It was founded in 1853 by some of the first Irish and black families to settle in the area and quickly became known for its shipbuilding facilities at the mouth of the nearby river that bears the same name.

A scandal erupted in 1869 when the remains of a woman and child were found near Black River Road by men who were picking blueberries.  The ensuing investigation found that a respectable architect from the city of Saint John had an extramarital affair with a young woman who had a child by him, and he killed them both in an attempt to keep it secret.  The man was tried, convicted, and executed by hanging.

By 1898 Black River and its surroundings was a thriving farming and fishing settlement with a post office, store, sawmill, two churches and a population of 200.  Prominent business and property owners included families named Matthews, Connacher, Power, and Hawkes.

At the corner of present-day County Road 825 and Duffy Road sits the St. Patrick's Catholic Church and adjoining cemetery.  One of its first priests was Father Andrew Barron who included the church in his circuit from Saint John.  Unfortunately due to the steep decline of the number of parishoners in recent years, the building has fallen into disrepair and is slated to be demolished.

The area has now mostly gone back to forest except for a few farms, gravel pits, and a community club.  A large concrete and stone wharf in the river is a remnant of what was once one of the main industries.

*Photo courtesy of Debbie Hamilton-Bernard, 2016

1 comment:

  1. well that was an interesting bit of history. Pinning this for my Canada studies