The 55 km-long designated stretch of the Upper Restigouche River in New Brunswick flows mainly through Crown Land forest, and is home to Bald Eagle, moose and Canada lynx. The river’s outstanding Atlantic salmon habitat has drawn anglers to the region for hundreds of years, and today it remains one of North America’s premier fly-fishing destinations.
The Mi’kmaq peoples have always relied on the Restigouche for transportation and survival. The river was also an important transportation corridor for early Europeans travelling from the St. John River to the St. Lawrence River. In 1760, the English destroyed the French fleet in the pivotal Battle of the Restigouche, the last naval battle between France and Great Britain for possession of the North American continent. At the time, the hamlet of Restigouche was inhabited by a number of Acadian refugees and some 150 Mi’kmaq families.
Atlantic salmon has been an integral part of the Restigouche’s allure throughout history, and continues to draw anglers to the river to this day. Four fishing camps are located within the designated section, three of which are private; Carter Camp, Kedgwick Lodge and Down’s Gulch Lodge. The fourth, at Larry’s Gluch, is owned by the Province of New Brunswick.
Concern over the future of the salmon resulted in the creation of one of North America’s first conservation laws, in 1824. In the face of further decline, the 1858 Fisheries Act paved the way for the current system of private fishing club leases mixed with a draw system for public access.
The Restigouche is a popular destination for canoeists and kayakers. Established campsites and ecotourism operators provide excellent service within the region for paddlers, hikers, and snowmobilers. Further information about canoeing activities are available through the Restigouche River Watershed Management Council.
Mi’kmaq legend contends the Restigouche was named by a distraught chief after learning of his son’s death at the hands of Mohawk who had been poaching on the river. The chief had opposed his son’s battle plan against the poachers, and so named the river “he who disobeys his father.”
The Restigouche River Watershed Management Council is responsible for management of the designated section of river.
A 55 km-long stretch of the Upper Restigouche in New Brunswick was designated as a Canadian Heritage River in 1998 in recognition of its outstanding natural, cultural and recreational values. This river provides an outstanding example of a river environment resulting from the geological processes of the Palaeozoic and Cenozoic eras. It was a major Mi’kmaq transportation route and is closely associated with European settlement.
The Restigouche provides exceptional recreational opportunities, including sport fishing and canoe-camping.
The Canadian Heritage River plaques offer a brief glimpse into why a river has been designated to the System. They are often located nearby one of its historically significant locations, and highlight some of the most important natural, cultural and recreational values of the river.
Upper Restigouche River Plaque Text
Upper Restigouche River - Salmon is king on the Restigouche, where sunlight leaps, dancing into swift riffles and clear pools. Lynx track deer and grouse in thick forests of cedar, spruce and fir, where lumberjacks once drove the mighty logs to lumber mills on the Baie des Chaleurs. Osprey and bald eagles perch on cliff ledges to scout for salmon and trout; for them as for the Micmac and Maliseet Nations, the river’s vital good supply links their past to their future. From Jardine Brook to the Patapedia River, only one bridge on this 55 km stretch provides access to superb wilderness canoeing and camping, and to a century-old tradition of angling for Atlantic salmon that have historically reached fifty pounds. Designation as a Canadian Heritage River will help ensure that the outstanding natural, cultural and recreational values of the Restigouche will be recognized and conserved for all time.