Located in Victoria County, Plaster Rock sits on the Tobique River. The town received its name from Hezekiah Day, one of its first settlers who arrived with his two brothers in 1881. He named the town after a hill on the opposite side of the Tobique River, composed of gypsum, also known as plaster.
The following year, Henry Ridgewell and his wife became the second settlers, with David Roulston and his family joining as the third. Gideon Day holds the distinction of being the first true native of Plaster Rock.
As the settlement expanded, new infrastructure and facilities began to emerge. The first school was established at Pig’s Ear in 1901, with Henry Ridgewell serving as its janitor. After a fire destroyed this school, a store was built in its place.
The early inhabitants primarily engaged in farming, raising pigs, cattle, hens, and other animals for their own consumption. Potatoes were not a significant crop during this period. During winter, the men ventured into the woods for lumbering. In 1896, Fred and Archie Hale constructed a lumber mill, which Donald Fraser bought in 1901. The mill was situated where the current Twin Rivers Paper Company (formerly Fraser Paper Inc.) operates.
The Fraser name has been identified with logging on the Tobique River for over 100 years.
In 1895, Donald Fraser Sr., the founder of Fraser Companies Limited, played a role in forming the Tobique Log Driving Company. The firm, incorporated in 1895 as Donald Fraser and Sons, consisted of Donald Fraser Sr. and his two sons, Archibald and Donald. The majority of the logs cut on the Tobique were water-driven to mills on the St. John River. In 1894, Donald Fraser and Sons built a large sawmill at Fredericton, the Aberdeen Mill, which was destroyed by fire in 1905 and never reconstructed.
The Canadian Pacific Railway, built in 1896 by John Stewart using manual labor and rudimentary tools, only serviced Plaster Rock when a plaster load was required. The Canadian National Railway was constructed through Plaster Rock in 1909.
After the mill’s completion around 1900, James McNair, the father of former Premier J.B. McNair, established a general store on the river’s west side, marking the town’s first commercial venture outside the mill.
Historically a logging and lumbering community with primarily English-speaking residents, Plaster Rock was incorporated as a village on November 9, 1966. The town, often referred to as the Gateway to Mount Carleton Provincial Park, serves as the commercial and social hub for the surrounding hamlets and homes in the Tobique River region.
The Tobique First Nations Reserve is located where the Tobique and Saint John Rivers come together.
The town hosts six churches of varying denominations. Baptists in Plaster Rock initially worshiped at Linton Corner Church from 1898 to 1901 before moving services to a room in the sawmill and even the hotel office during colder months. In 1908, they dedicated a new church, but it was unfortunately destroyed by fire in 1920, along with the parsonage. A second church was dedicated two years later at the current site.
Plaster Rock annually hosts the World Pond Hockey Championships in February on Roulston Lake, featuring 120 teams from around the world. Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky attended the event in 2016, when Budweiser unveiled its 20-meter goal-light before it journeyed across Canada to the North Pole.
In June, the Fiddlers on The Tobique event sees around 1300 canoes fill the river, accompanied by fiddlers playing Maritime music. This significant event draws tourists and visitors from all corners of the globe.
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My great great grandfather was Hezekiah Day on my maternal grandmothers side. Thank you for this.