By Doug Underhill
When the term Miramichi is used, it is a multi-leveled concept. The
Miramichi is a river, a city, a community, a region and a state of mind. It is unique and special in its own way. When local
hockey broadcaster Hoppy Dunn began his radio telecasts, it was with "Hello, hockey fans from the headwaters of the Miramichi
to the farewell buoy." Dunn captures in spirit what the term Miramichi means.
Located on the northeast coast of New
Brunswick, the Miramichi encompasses virtually all of Northumberland County, an area of 4, 720 square miles. Its main artery
is the Miramichi River itself which is the second longest in the province.
The Miramichi River begins in Miramichi
Bay some 25 miles across at Escuminac about 30 miles below the former Town of Newcastle, and journeys inland making its first
branch at Beaubears Island about three miles above Newcastle, breaking into the Main Southwest which continues through Renous,
Blackville, Doaktown and well above Boiestown to its source near the village of Juniper, a distance of close to 75 miles.
The other branch, The Northwest Miramichi heads up into Red bank and Sunny Corner where it branches into the Little
Southwest and the Northwest Miramichi which continues beyond what was Heath Steele Mines.
So much a part of the identity
of a Miramichier is the river that one could find himself on the North Branch of the Little Southwest Branch of the Northwest
Branch of the Main Miramichi and know exactly where he was.
For a small community, Miramichi has left its mark on
the world, and will continue to do so. As local historian Manford Wasson has so aptly said:
"The Miramichi is a microcosm
of the country. We encompass most of the founding ethnic groups of Canada. We have a strong traditional and cultural base
from the Native community, The French, the English, the Scottish and the Irish."
Miramichi has had its boom times
and times of hardship, but it has always managed to rise above adversity, and continue to grow. Its best resource has always
been its people and the spirit they have shown.
Perhaps it is this optimism and sense of enthusiasm which shows naturally
when any Miramichier greets another. The conversation will go something like this:
"How she goin ?"
is always "The very best."
SELECTED passages from the Introduction to Doug Underhills book Miramichi Tales Tall and