Canoeing on the River
EXCITEMENTS AND PLEASURES OF A TRIP DOWN THE UPPER ST. JOHN
For over 200 years New Brunswick has been a destination for travel writers, sports,
and adventurers. Steamboat transport, from the mid-nineteenth century on, made the
interior of New Brunswick more accessible, still, leisure travel continued to be
only within the realm of the very wealthy. The introduction of rail transportation
in the latter part of the nineteenth century reduced the time required to travel
in North America. At the same time, there was an increase in the number of people,
particularly in urban areas of New England, with the resources and time to partake
of such travel opportunities. This combination of cheaper, faster travel and a larger
upper middle class made for the possibility of a holiday industry. Of course, New
Brunswick was not the only possible destination but it had the advantage of close
proximity to New England and the province's rivers and forests had already fostered
the development of fishing camps on all the major river systems and hunting camps
throughout every region. What was needed was a concerted effort to package New Brunswick
as a tourist destination and critical to the growth of such an industry were promotion
and charisma. The forests and rivers of New Brunswick and the province's renowned
guides - prototypical, frontier sages, provided the ingredients for a naturalist
adventure for the new urban elite and these two cornerstones would form the thrust
of province's advertising campaign in the United States market for over 50 years.
Since most of these endeavours were aimed at males and had seasonal limitations,
there were efforts to extend the season for such traffic and broaden the appeal
of the province to couples and families by depicting an ambience of rustic leisure.
By the turn of the century, part of these promotional efforts was to attract residents
of New Brunswick's largest city, Saint John, to partake of the pastoral experience
their province had to offer. One such attempt took place in 1903. Sponsored by the
Canadian Pacific Railway, the Saint John Globe newspaper, and the Fredericton Tourist
Association, a canoe trip down the St. John River from Grand Falls to Fredericton
was organized as a way of marketing the tourism potential of the upper St. John
River Valley. In addition to publishing an article in the Saint John Globe on August
1, 1903, an album was produced containing photographs of the journey.
This virtual exhibit contains the original newspaper article, a transcription of
the newspaper article interspersed with the photographs taken on the trip, an essay
by David Folster providing a commentary on the newspaper article, and a selection
of other photographs taken in the late 19th, early 20th century in the upper St.
John River Valley.