Doaktown History

*The following excerpts are taken from an editorial from the Doaktown Review published in 1902, and revised in 1954. Joseph E. Doak was the manager and Mrs. Frank D. Swim wrote the editorial.
The first white people in this area were French. They fled up the Miramichi River to escape exile by the British who had gained supremacy during the latter part of the 17th century. They formed an encampment and many implements and old French coins were found here around the beginning of this century. However the French people left here when peace was restored between the French and the British. The first white people to actually settle in Doaktown were a certain Mr. Davis and his sister.

1807 – Mr. Ben Davis began erection of the first Hotel in Doaktown.

Around this time the lumbering industry had its beginning. At 17 years of age, William MacKay cut the first pine. At this time all the land from Ludlow to Indian town (now Quarryville) was granted to 70 old soldiers. Ephriam Betts held this grant in trust.

1815 – The first Blacksmith shop was built.

1818 – The first Grist Mill was built by Mr. McAllister.

1820 – A scow and canoe ferry was established where the bridge now is. It was run by Mr. Henry Swim who had come to Doaktown at the age of 7 years. He was also the first person in the area to own a wheeled vehicle which he built himself.

1822 – The first School House was built.

Not long after the the great Miramichi fire of 1825, the government surveyed the present road from Newcastle to Fredericton and turnpiking began. With the building of roads and bridges, traveling became easier. The mails were carried on horseback by the post-master who would ring a bell on approaching a house, so persons could come out and get their mail.

The government set out to name and record each settlement. Since Robert Doak, known as Squire Doak was the most influential man of the place, it was called Doakton, which by some means has been changed to Doaktown. In 1847 the bridge was being built, but Squire Doak didn’t want a large beautiful elm tree cut down to make way for the road so he paid Mr. Elliot, the government surveyor to go around it. Eventually the tree did end up getting cut but not until the 1940’s when the new bridge was being built. (* Note: The Communion table in Saint Thomas United Church is made from pieces of the large Elm tree.The planting of an elm tree in memory of Squire Doak took place on August 5th, 2000 at the Doak Historic Park in Doaktown, N.B. This idea was developed by the Mega Reunion 2000 Planning Committee in conjunction with their school reunion.)

1855 – Mr. Burk was employed as a school teacher.

Everyone traveled by horseback. Church services were held in private homes by a Mr. Crandall, who was a Baptist minister and Rev. McCurdy, a Methodist.

Our first doctor was Dr. Robinson who came from Saint John. The first shingle mill was erected and run by Mr. Samuel Freeze. The first postmaster was Hiram Freeze, father of Samuel Freeze.

There were no stoves at that time, only fire-places and since matches were not used, fires had to be kept going day and night. If the fire went out, the nearest neighbor supplied a few coals.

All grain was reaped with the sickle and all the women were skilled reapers. Lumber was cut with the whip saw and many young women were expert whip sawers and many old buildings show the skill and muscle of our grandparents.

Over the Portage (by local author – Bill MacKinnon Jr.)


Author Denis Mackenzie