Among the keenest fishing fans was Ted Williams, one of the greatest batters in baseball for many years. As soon as the baseball season finished at the end of September, Williams would be out of his Red Sox uniform and heading for the Miramichi. It was just as well — for his fishing — that the Red Sox got into the World Series only once during his career, for his team’s absence from the championship enabled him to reach Miramichi before the season closed.
The entire Miramichi area was almost destroyed by one of the worst forest fires in Canadian history on October 7, 1825. In the afternoon the wind was moderate and shifting. A broad cloud of smoke was seen to rise vertically, Northwest of Newcastle. At seven o’clock in the evening the breeze freshened, and the air suddenly darkened. Ashes and cinders came down so heavily that people were blinded and could hardly breathe. About an hour later a loud roaring noise was heard in the woods, and the wind began to blow with hurricane force. Suddenly sky and earth were illuminated by a sheet of flame which enveloped Newcastle and Douglastown. Houses were blazing within three minutes.
People in Newcastle ran into a marsh about half a mile away, and tried to escape from the flames and heat by burrowing into the mud and water. Others rushed to the river and clambered into boats, or hung onto rafts and logs. Many simply stood or swam in the river and tried to protect themselves from the scorching heat.
Cattle and other animals, wild and domestic, followed the people into the river. At one place a bear was seen sheltering in the river with some cows, but did not try to harm them. Even the salmon were terrified of the flames. They rushed from pool to pool, and many were bruised to death on the rocks.
New Brunswick is famous for its folk songs, and the story of the great Miramichi fire is still told in songs and verse.
There are sites on the Internet that cover this terrible tragedy. I would suggest the Miramichi Landings, and the John Wood 1946 blog, as well as the Charlotte Taylor webpage, and finally a .pdf Lest We Forget (a very good article about Canada’s major wildland fire disasters of the past, 1825-1938).
- salmon fishing in the miramachi (intlwomenflyfishers.wordpress.com)
- Experts Share “What Works and What Doesn’t” in Restoring Wild Atlantic Salmon (prweb.com)