Eel River Falls

Waterfall Detail: This collection of cascade provides an air of excitement to this quiet riparian northwest of the rural community of Canterbury. It is here, along the county-line between York and Carleton Counties that the Eel drops over a series ridges in its path. These ridges also provide large rocky outcrops stretching out into the channel from which to sit in contemplation and enjoy the trundle of this beautiful waterfall. During the spring freshet and after a heavy rain, the area becomes a whitewater enthusiast haven. The Eel drains a large region of several big wetlands and lakes and for the most part the river sweeps gently along guided by low hills that dominate the region.

Beyond this location the Eel returns to it melancholic demeanor until it meeting with the Saint John River near the village of Meductic, which was once a gathering place for the Maliseet and later as a military stockade. Presently the charming community, nestled along the rivers western shore, is recognized as the home of Sabian  Cymbals.

This is by far the quickest route if driving. An abandoned railway bed runs parallel to the river near the falls. This provides easy access to an old logging road and then to a narrow pathway through the woods. Take the Canterbury exit from the Trans Canada Highway and drive out Route 122 to the community of Canterbury. In the village look for Mill Street, on the right and drive to the end and turn left. Drive up the hill to the first road on the right. Drive out this road until it meets a T junction. At this point you have two choices. Turning left leads to Benton and turning right leads to the river and falls. Turn right and drive out this road to house number 91. Opposite is an access to the joint Trans-Canada Trail. Park here and walk along the trail 2 km to an old woods road on the right. Walk down and at the first logging road on the right turn and within 100 metres there is a narrow trail on the left, marked with red tape that leads through the forest to the waterfall. The crash of the waterfall can be heard from the trailhead. Caution is required near the waterfall because the trail twists and turns around large boulders.

Visit Detail: This summer I had the opportunity to lead a group to the waterfall. The organizers of the 2012 Debec School Reunion wanted to see the waterfalls so they could add a trip to the location next year. Prior to the outing, John Murchland and I drove out and met with Gordon Porter. Our intent was to see how difficult the hike would be for older people who would attend the outing. My friend Jason Bennett came along as well. We had a wonderful time photographing the falls. This was my second trip to the site. Water levels formed a luxurious veil over the granite rocks providing picture perfect conditions. As well the waning sun provides exquisite highlights along the far shore while casting long shadow on the near edge. The subtle change of hue along the boundary gives the waterfall a mysterious character.

It was decided that the trail needed to be widened and that a rope would help guide people along. So on a sunny Saturday in August, I was on the road heading for the falls. We arrived around 9:00 AM and immediately began cutting back brush to widen the trail and then strung rope along its length. John left me to complete the job and drove out to the Benton Community Centre.

Job done, I returned to my truck, drank water and had a light snack and waited for the group to arrive. Eventually I heard the sound of ATV’s and within minutes of their arrival we set off for the trailhead. Slowly we worked our way along the path to the waterfall. For many it was their first trip back to a place that they frequently went to as children. I am sure it brought back fond memories. Many a picture was taken as well as a group shot.

Interest quelled we returned to Benton and enjoyed a wonderful lunch at the community center. I must say I enjoyed this outing very much. For the occasion, Geneva Hirsch wrote a poem. Geneva grew up in the area and attended the Debec School.

It was a homecoming and a bit of nostalgia for his John Murchland’s brother, Bernard. A few community minded folks from Benton and surrounding area showed up and had lunch with us, twenty three in all. Maxine Anderson and Sylvia Blackie made tea and set out the lunch. It was a beautiful day and a great outing. Thanks to Reg, Troy and Duane who provided four-wheelers and knew where they were going, and to Nick who made the going easy.

Eel River Falls Excursion

A cloudless sky above us,

Warm sun upon our shoulders,

We headed for Eel River Falls

Among the rocks and boulders.

It was a bit of a reunion,

Impromptu in many ways

But fifteen brave souls

Showed up and saved the day.

Nick Guitard was our able guide

Followed by Reg and Troy and Duane

The rest of us just followed along

On the trail once built for the train!

The falls performed quite well,

As waterfalls usually do

The spray glistening in the sun

Gave the impression of morning dew.

We posed for photos at the falls

It seemed the fitting thing to do

Faye, Troy, John, Gordon, Pat, Jean, Janice, Reg,

Duane, Connie, Bernard, Bob, Geneva and Betty Lou.

Nick was also our photographer

And he roped the final trail,

He gave us a book to raffle

With him, our day couldn’t fail.

The picnic back at the old school house

Concluded a perfect day

The food was great, the camaraderie swell

Thanks to John who paved the way.

It was really an inspiration

As into history we delve

We’ll meet again at the Homecoming

In August, two thousand twelve.