Friday, February 10, 2012

Cochrane's 1921 History of Welsford

Yesterday, I unearthed 3 pieces of buried treasure. This post will talk about the first. There are two more to come.

This may come as a shock to anyone who know me, but yesterday, I ventured into a library. A very prestigious library at that. Hidden at the back of the Legislative Assembly there is a large collection of books and papers focusing on N.B. In a search of that collection the following document caught my eye: "A History of Welsford, New Brunswick - Evande Cochrane (1921)" I think we can reasonably presume that this author is the same person who our cliffs are named for. Although the librarian wouldn't let me leave with the copy I was allowed to photograph it. So you can have a look at it below and read for yourself. Unfortunately you won't get the pleasure of opening 90 year old paper worried that it's going to crumble as you read it.

There are a few interesting passages. Cochrane talks about a town that supported 220 souls. That's not much less that what's there today according to last week's Canadian census. There's mention of extensive logging at the time and a rich Nerepis valley supporting a population of elm. (today virtually gone from N.B. due to dutch elm disease and agricultural development on river soils). The huge pine and red spruce which are still around the base of Cochrane lane and Eagle rock are described as widespread, despite a healthy logging industry.

There's mention of the terrain, which is what I was hoping for. Eagle Rock was named much earlier on in the 1800's. Mt. Douglas is mentioned as a popular place for a hike due to it's easy terrain and views of the valley. There's also mention of trips to the summit of Mt. MacDonald, which was described as more challenging terrain. I expect this is now what we know as Cochrane lane cliffs... and I wonder where the trail lead? Maybe up the gully between Waterfall Wall and Pooh Corner leading to the view on top of Cheekbone or the Ampitheatre? That would make the trail about 100 years old!

To my disappointed there's no mention of proper climbing occurring. The author seems much more focused on the dealings of the local churches. Also disappointing is the authors description that Welsford has: "an inexhaustible supply of red and grey granite". I think that was a way of inviting quarrymen to come mine the resource. Thank god they decided that the southwest face of Mt. Douglas had easier access than the L-shape.

 All in all, an interesting read about a place I spend a good deal of time in.

 ...and remember... I found 2 other treasures there!


  1. Couldn't see the picture, but I'm wondering if this is the same book we got from our neighbour George. Isn't it incredible to read the history of such a beloved place, where we all spend so much time! Thanks Chris for sharing... and a library nonetheless :)

  2. Stacey, the document is supported by the Google docs platform... which is unfortunately blocked at many workplaces. If you are using a Gov. computer that might explain it. I know it works. Try from another location.

  3. Unfortunately, even at home I can't view it (and my computer does this horrible 'clicking' noise the entire time I'm on your blog now :( I have no other location, just the one computer ....

  4. Great Blog Chris! Can't wait for the other two treasures...

    Dan Caldwell

  5. I just found this book as well at the Library. I have been looking up history in the area as I own a house that was built back in 1892 in Welsford. Love the area.