In 1835, David Beach built a home for his family next to a stream in the township of Westmeath. This was the beginning of a community that has grown to become home for approximately 900 people today. Situated along a trail that led to the settlement of Miramichi (now Pembroke), the village became known as Beachburg.
Not long after 1835, more settlers arrived including James Condie and his family. Both Beach and Condie built grist mills along the stream. Over the years, the Beach Mill changed hands and had to be rebuilt due to damage and fire. The water wheel of the original 1867 mill is still on site. The now-abandoned mill can be seen close to the corner of Beachburg Road and Lapasse Road, across from the present-day liquor store.
The main industry in the early years was lumbering. Timber was cut into square logs and sent to England to make masts and spars for ships.
By 1857, David Beach had established a hotel on the corner of Morris and Main Street. The first fair – called the Westmeath Township Fair – was held in this very hotel in 1857.
By 1880 there were two hotels with livery stables, two sawmills, two grist mills, a dancing school, four general stores and three carriage and wagon shops, and a post office of which David Beach was postmaster.
The village of Beachburg experienced devastation many times due to fires that swept through the town. The positive pioneering spirit of the community prompted the re-building and growth of the town on several occasions.
When traveling through town, watch for some of these remnants of the past:
- Beachburg Creamery: Located at the far end of town, this building was originally a creamery and later the home of an insurance office, siding business, convenience store and gas station. It is now the home of Simple Things.
- Beachburg Apartments: The building on the main street that has now been converted to apartments was once a general store. Built in 1865, it has also operated as a hardware store and a motel.
- Beachburg Pronto: Built in 1864, this building was originally a Wesleyan Methodist Church. It later became a grocery and dry goods store and also housed the post office. Throughout the years it was also used as a dollar store, a gift shop and a fabric and craft store.
- Post Office: In 1964, Beachburg celebrated the inauguration of the first Federal building in the area.
- Freshmart: The local grocery store was built as a general store and residence in 1892. For many years, it served as a cold storage for homeowners who had no refrigeration. The upstairs housed a dancing school and an adult education centre.
- Past location for the Heart & Home Gift Store (now torn down): This building located next to the Beachburg Apartments, has also served many purposes. It has been a harness shop, dress shop, restaurant, flower shop and gift shop. The small building next to it served as barber shop and a lawyers office.
- Smokey’s Pizza (no longer in operation): This building was once home to a hardware store, a Mom and Pop grocery store, a shoe store and electronics business.
- Whitewater Trading Post: Located near the corner of Smith and Main Street, this shop was once an appliance and electrical shop. An underground tunnel joins this building with the house next door where the original owners lived. It is now the location for local photographer Jo-Anne Gauci’s business and gift shop.
- Lion’s Hall: A jail existed at one time in Beachburg. It was the basement of he building that is now the Lion’s Hall, built in 1862.
- The Beachburg Inn: Now operated as an Inn and Restaurant, this building was once the location of a funeral home and casket-maker.
- Beach-West Pharmacy: In 1902, a local doctor built this structure for his son who was a pharmacist. Also used as a bank for many years, this building was bought by Jim Labow and taken back to it’s roots being used as a pharmacy once again today.
- Service Station: Across from the Beachburg apartments, is an old building that was originally a Methodist Church in the 1850’s. After a fire in the upper structure, the building became the Weedmark’s garage and service station. It has since changed hands and is now the Whitewater Service Centre.