Wharves of Cambridge-Narrows
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Cambridge-Narrows Wharves are a series of three wharves along the western shore of the Washademoak Lake. The Cambridge Wharf is located on the west side of the Washademoak Lake in the centre of the Village of Cambridge-Narrows just to the right as one approaches the bridge on Route 695 when traveling east. Humphrey’s Wharf is on the west side of the Washademoak Lake about 4.5 km down the lake from the Cambridge wharf. It is accessed by a road marked Humphrey’s Wharf Road which is off the Lower Cambridge Road (Rte. 715) at a small community known locally as MacDonald’s Corner. Mott’s Wharf is on the west side of the Washademoak about 3 km further down the lake from Humphrey’s, and it also has a marked road leading to it.
The Cambridge-Narrows Wharves are designated Local Historic Places for their association with the inland navigation and leisure history of the area.
Originally, these wharves were a federal responsibility and, when no longer required for navigation, the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans decommissioned them. The Village of Cambridge-Narrows was able to acquire them and preserves them as points of public access to the water, sites for recreational use, and places of historic importance.
These wharves were built originally in the 19th century and were made of wooden cribbing over rock and field stone fill. In the first third of the 20th century, generally they were upgraded and rebuilt of locally mixed, reinforced and poured concrete over the same rock fill. Usually there was both a high water and a low water wharf, one beside the other. The wooden high water wharves received less use and normally were not replaced. Some evidence of these can still be seen.
Their historic value lies in the huge part these wharves played in transportation and commerce throughout the steamboat era. The normal route was from Saint John to Coles Island, up one day and down the next, stopping at a dozen or more wharves along the way. For about a century, boats named the Beatrice Waring, Crystal Stream, Star, Sincennes, David Weston, Oconee, Majestic and others carried on this trade from spring break-up until freeze-up in the fall. This was how people traveled to and from the city (from the Washademoak, this tended to be Saint John). This was how mail was carried, and farm produce was shipped to the market and grocers in Saint John almost every day in summer. Local storekeepers ordered their supplies “to come up on the boat”, the local physician had his medicines sent by boat, and someone building a house might have bricks and lime for the mortar sent this way. Also these boats had wood-fired boilers and local men often made money supplying wood to the steamship companies. The wharves at Cambridge, Humphrey’s and Mott’s are a substantial part of this heritage and serve as strong material evidence of an age long past.
Source: Queens County Heritage Archives – Cambridge-Narrows Historic Places files
The character-defining elements of the Cambridge-Narrows Wharves include:
- footprint of the original wharves maintained;
- Mott’s wharf being more substantial than the others, made up of two high water wharves and one low water wharf;
- concrete decking over rock and rubble fill;
- continuous use as places for pleasure boats to dock and for swimming;
- remnants of wooden high water wharves adjacent to concrete high tide wharves.
Local Governments (NB)
Heritage Conservation Act
Local Historic Place (municipal)
Theme - Category and Type
- Developing Economies
- Communications and Transportation
Function - Category and Type
- Undetermined (archaeological site)
- Underwater Site
- Dock or Dry Dock
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Queens County Heritage Archives, 69 Front Street, Gagetown, NB
Cross-Reference to Collection