The Township of Greater Madawaska


The Township of Greater Madawaska is relatively recent history, having been created as a political entity, in 2001. It is made up of five former townships that had themselves been amalgamated, at various times, in their history. You will find them mentionned in the historical sketches that follow, but it is the towns and villages of the area that are the focus of these stories. One of these villages, Black Donald Village, no longer exists, as it is under the Madawaska River in 80-feet of water. History on the village of Springtown is currently not available but will be added at a later date.

This history and associated memories were published between October 2004 and the summer of 2005 in the Madawaska Highlander, which is a community newspaper located in and serving Greater Madawaska.

For the most part, this history is that of roughly 160 years of European settlement of the area, but in the section on the Madawaska River, attention is also paid to the original aboriginal inhabitants of the region.

The material is organized by locality as follows:

  • The Madawaska River
  • Black Donald
  • Calabogie
  • Mount St. Patrick and Dacre
  • Griffith and Matawatchan

This material may be freely used, but acknowledgement of The Madawaska Highlander as its source would be appreciated.

History: The Madawaska River
More than anything it is the river-The Madawaska-that binds us. It flows through all of the geographic townships that were amalgamated into Greater Madawaska. It is fundamental to the history of this area since it is the first highway by which people first travelled here.
History: Mount St. Patrick & Dacre
The first settlers to appear in what would become the Parish of Mount St. Patrick probably arrived in the 1830s. No one knows for certain because these settlers could be considered squatters since there was no land registry until the 1850s. Some were certainly shanty men who lumbered the pines of what would become Brougham Township. Some of these men took land and brought their families to the area. Others were genuine immigrants who in this case arrived from Ireland.
History: Griffith & Matawatchan
This is the story of two townships, which have been closely linked for many years. Before the political organization of this part of Eastern Ontario there were many small settlements, which were isolated communities of people trying to eke out a living from a stony landscape.
History: Black Donald
At one time, a vibrant community named Black Donald Mines flourished in Brougham Township. Today there is no evidence of it-it has been literally removed from the face of the earth. The name Black Donald is now used for a lake but once referred to a mining village located on the shores of White Fish Lake, 13 kilometres from Calabogie.
History: Calabogie
By some accounts, this Gaelic phrase is said to be the derivation of the name of what is now Calabogie. Early documents list the place as Calaboga. In those days it referred to the lake and not the town.