ON THE RIDGE
Keswick Ridge is a watershed four miles wide between the Keswick and Macnaquac Rivers. Geologists believe that the Keswick may at one time have been the main stream. The "Ridge" was thrown up by a contraction of the earth's crust forming a dam on the prehistoric river which drained the watershed to the west of the newly formed ridge. The present course of the Saint John River was created when the river broke through this dam near the mouth of the Macnaquac Creek.
The receding glaciers of the last Ice Age left behind a layer of soil and the occasional huge granite boulder, it edges ground smooth as testimony to the eroding action of the ice. On this fertile mantle of soil sprang up dense stands of hemlock, spruce, pine, beech, birch, and maple.
The Maliseet Indians were the first inhabitants of the Keswick-Saint John River area. These primitive hunters, trappers and fishermen ranged the woods of the great valley and what was later known as Keswick Ridge in search of moose, deer and beaver. They fished the waters of the Noo-kam-kee-chwuk (Gravelly River-the Keswick), the Mak-te-quak ( Big Branch-the Macnaquac) and the Woolastock (Goodly River-the Saint John).
The Europeans to settle the Ridge were the French. In 1697 the seignory of Vilrenard was granted to Charles Cecaples, Sieur de Vilrenard. Some of the old stone cellars which can be found neat the banks of the Keswick and the Saint John rivers are relics of this settlement.
Many people assume that the name Keswick was brought over from England by some early settler to preserve the memory of his homeland.. This is not the case. The name has its origins in the Maliseet name of the stream Noo-kan-kee-chwuk meaning Gravelly river. On some early maps it appears as two streams the Nequomquiqua and. also as the Madam Kissaway; Later it becomes Madamcajwick and Madam Keswick. Finally around 1826 the Madam was dropped.
Settlement of the Ridge by English settlers began with the arrival of the Loyalists. Because of their allegiance to the British monarch during the American Revolution these new settlers had faced constant harassment making life in the original colonies unbearable. They fled north and northeast into New Brunswick. By 1783, 1300 settlers had arrived in the Saint John River Valley, in the following year the number increased to over 10,000. The first grants of land on Keswick Ridge were made to some of these settlers in 1788.
By the late 1780's many of the older families in the Maugerville area began to look to land further up the river to escape the spring floods on their low-land farms and to obtain new land for their numerous sons. Among the names of those seeking land on Keswick Ridge are the names of several of the old Maugerville families; Christie, Pickard, Coburn, Jewett, and other pre-Loyalists. Stephen Coburn petitioned for land between the Madam Kisaway and Mackdequack Creek in 1787, but there is no record that the grant was ever made.