It is 1845 here in Salmon River, a village in southeast New Brunswick. We are a hard-working lot of farmers, shipbuilders, lumbermen and fishers. Thanks to a weir we built in 1840, we are having huge success fishing shad and herring.
Our food supply comes from local farms in addition to fishing and hunting. It seems most settlers have parcels of at least 100 or 200 acres of land, which are used for gardening and for pasture and hay fields for livestock. Our farmers are quite self-sufficient but barter for certain items or services they need, such as horseshoeing. There is a lot of camaraderie among our folks. We make our own entertainment and have many songs and stories to share.
We are isolated, but live together in harmony. We care for our neighbours and check in for visits. The women get together with church groups, sewing circles, baking and quilting.
Our lives are quaint, totally what I call “B.C.” (before computers). In 1856, our village was renamed Alma to honour the battle of Alma, which was fought and won by our British soldiers on the banks of the Alma River during the Crimean War. (Crimea is land now under dispute between Ukraine and Russia.)
In its heyday, Alma boasted 1300 inhabitants, yet today we have barely more than 250. A few resident families can trace their ancestors back to the days of the original settlers, but many of our current residents are from “away.” It is now a community of people who are in touch with the globe.
Our way of life has undergone significant changes and we may be, at times, nostalgic for a simpler past. Occasionally we try to revisit the past by hosting “kitchen parties.” Visiting is no longer just going to meet with a neighbour, visiting now includes welcoming tourists from around the world. The shad and herring fishing runs of the past have been replaced with lobster and scallop seasons. There are high-end restaurants, along with home baking and home-cooked meals.
The past has instilled in us the value of caring for each other and the importance of working together. We are one large community, not separated by different needs, but bound together by celebrating everyone’s achievements. This is what makes Albert County so very special, so very strong and so rewarding to be part of.
Both images are from the New Brunswick Provincial Archives. The pictures were taken in 1950, the year Fundy National Park opened.