Anyone heading onto the waters of Eel River via the Benton Boat Landing, even those new to York County waterway, can now easily chart their course.
Whether heading out on a fishing trip, paddling along the picturesque New Brunswick countryside, or planning a camping trip, the recently installed 4 X 8-foot map highlights locations and descriptions of significant landmarks along the Eel River between Benton and Kirkland.
Showing the Benton Boat Launch starting point, the sign highlights such landmarks as Molly’s Rock and The Falls, identifying both as potential tenting locations, or Trout Pond, where the river flows around Sugarloaf Mountain and the water depth can reach 60 to 100 feet.
Benton Recreational Council member Lana Dickinson said the new billboard is part of a series of recreational and tourism improvements courtesy of a provincial government grant.
She said the council also used the funds to upgrade the village’s park next to the Benton covered bridge and install a pair of signs at Eel River Falls.
Unfortunately, Dickinson said, someone stole the signs at the falls.
The Benton Boat Landing provides easy access to the Eel River. To access the landing, visitors can travel to the community via Benton Road from Route 165, the old Trans Canada Highway between Woodstock and Meductic.
Follow Benton Road into the centre of the community. As Benton Road takes a 90-degree turn towards the Eel River covered bridge and park, continue straight. After less than a kilometre, the road ends at the boat landing.
Dickinson said Eel River is part of the historic Maliseet tribal territory, which the local Indigenous people used to travel to and from the region for centuries.
Benton Road sits a few kilometres south of the newly established Meductic (Mehtawtick) village in Hay Settlement, which before the 17th century was a principal settlement for the Wəlastəkokewiyik (Maliseet) people. It sits across from the Maliseet Trail, a popular hiking spot leading to Hay Falls.
While Benton appears remote, the boat landing and Eel River serve as a drawing card for outdoor enthusiasts.
“A lot of people, especially fishermen, come here,” said Dickinson.
The map identifies perch, pickerel and smallmouth bass as the most popular fish targeted by anglers.
Dickinson said some visitors travel from outside the region to take advantage of the boat landing and what Eel River offers.
“A man from Nova Scotia sent a donation for the recreation council,” she said.
After a couple of years of downtime during the pandemic, Dickinson said, the recreation council plans to become more active. Council members see opportunities to promote activities for residents and encourage tourists to take advantage of what the quaint community offers.
Jim Dumville, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, River Valley Sun