Locals gather to celebrate the return of Gagetown ferry
The ferry was removed by previous government in 2016
Locals gathered in Gagetown, N.B., before 8 a.m. Sunday to celebrate the long-awaited return of the ferry that connects the village to Jemseg.
People showed up with balloons and party favours and held a ribbon cutting.
It's the moment people like Carolyn White have been fighting for since the ferry was removed by the Brian Gallant government in 2016.
"Incredibly rewarding," White said Sunday morning as she looked at the ferry in the water.
White was part of a committee that formed four years ago to save the ferry and has been advocating for its return since.
"Seeing this back again is wonderful," she said.
The cable ferry can take 15 cars and operates on a load-and-go basis.
It only takes four minutes to make the crossing while the drive is closer to a half hour.
Hugh Harmon is a poultry and beef farmer in the area. His business operates on both sides of the St. John River.
He said his operations changed drastically when the ferry was removed in 2016.
"It just became a much bigger deal to do anything over there [Jemseg] and more expensive," Harmon said.
He said he would make the drive to Jemseg from Gagetown each day and that would add close to two hours of commuting, especially when driving heavy machinery.
Harmon said the ferry will save him time and money. He will have quick access to check on his herd of cattle on the Jemseg side.
Andrew MacInnis lives on the Jemseg side and said the two communities have been separated since the ferry was removed.
There have been concerns for tourism and other businesses in the area, but MacInnis said it's also been hard on residents.
"Their lives have been disrupted because this link — it's been here for the better part of a hundred years — was broken," MacInnis said Sunday morning shortly after making his first crossing on the ferry.
MacInnis said it's a victory for the community to have the link back, but he expects it's going to take people some time to get used to having a ferry again.
"I think by fall we'll see old patterns return, but it's not going to happen overnight."
Myra Boyd was the first person in line to cross the river Sunday morning. She was headed over to visit her sister on the Jemseg side.
"I was very anxious to have it back, of course, because I think it's been well-needed, and it's too bad that we lost it in the beginning — but those things happen."
Boyd and the people who showed up early Sunday morning had to wait a couple of hours longer than expected.
The boat didn't start first thing in the morning and crews had to wait for a generator.
It put a small damper on the celebrations. Many people who showed up hoping to catch the first crossing left before the boat was repaired.
White wasn't concerned about the glitch. "Seeing the boat in the water is just wonderful in itself." she said.
The ferry was up and running by 10 a.m. and will run seven days a week until fall.