You say Meduxnekeag; I say....
In the 1890s, the New Brunswick historian W. O. Raymond, whose family home was near Woodstock, wrote the following account of the Meduxnekeag name.
“The earliest notice of the MEDUXNAKIC is that contained in the narrative of John Gyles, published at Boston nearly two hundred years ago. During six years captivity among the St. John river Indians, Gyles lived chiefly at the old Meductic fort. In his narrative he states that in the autumn of the year 1689, soon after his arrival at the Meductic village:" we went up the St. John river about ten miles to a branch called ‘MEDEOCKSEENECASIS’ where was one wigwam.”
“The form of the word MEDOCKSEENECASIS as given by Gyles, is worthy of consideration as being the oldest on record and likely, for that reason, to be the original form. It seems probable that Gyles has preserved the proper pronunciation of the word in the form he gives, as he acquired a pretty thorough knowledge of the Indian language during his captivity and was afterwards frequently employed as an interpreter in negotiations between the whites and the Indians.
“The termination "asis" is a diminutive and it is possible MEDOCSEENECASIS is merely a form of the MEDOCTEC-ASIS or Little Meductic (Meductic being the old French and Indian name of Eel River). It may be urged in opposition to this idea that the creek at Woodstock would scarcely be spoken of as "little Eel River" since the volume of its waters is not, except perhaps in the dry season, much, if any less, than that of Eel river itself. To this it may be replied that the river Meductic would appear of much greater importance in the estimation of the Indians as forming the great highway for inland travel from the valley of the St. John to the westward connecting by short and well worn trails or portages with the St. Croix Lakes and the head waters of the MATTAWAMKEAG or eastern branch of the PENNOBSCOT.
“The usual interpretation of the word MEDUXNAKIC is "rocky at its mouth". Professor W. F. Ganong and Deward Jack, two of the leading authorities, agree that this is the probable meaning of the word. It is equally appropriate to the creek at Woodstock, or to Eel River.
“Next mention of the creek at Woodstock which the writer has at hand occurs in the description of the St. John river written in the year 1783 by Captain John Munro, a loyalist. Alluding to the river MEDOCTICK, (Eel River) he writes:
‘This stream has excellent falls and fine timber for boards; here is a fine piece of interval where two or three Indian families live; about the centre of this interval are the remains of an old breast work sufficient to contain 200 men. The next river on the west side is MADOCHENQUICK; here the Indians lived formerly; their church is still standing and kept in good repair. On both sides this river is good land and some of the islands opposite are very good.’
“Our next authorities are the older maps or plans in the Crown Land Office at Fredericton. On one of these, made by Isaac Hedden, Esquire, in 1790, the creek is marked ‘RIVER MEDUCTXNICOOK’ and the island opposite MEDUCTXNICOOK ISLAND. In a plan made a few years later by George Sproule, surveyor general, the creek is marked MEDUCTSINICICK, and in two other plans of similar date we have respectively MEDUCKSINIKECK and MEDUCTXNICK. Still another form occurs in the journal kept by Wm. F. Odell, Esquire, in which were recorded his surveying operations during the year 1818 by direction of the boundary commissioners. Mr. Odell said ‘on my return from Mars Hill homeward, I halted the party on the 12th October, at the mouth of the MADUCTSINICIK River.’
“Peter Fisher (father of ex-mayor of Woodstock) adopts another and a simpler form of spelling in his little work Sketches of New Brunswick (published 1825). Speaking of the parish of Woodstock, he says: ‘the river MADAXNIKIK passes through this parish to its exit into the St. John and adds to its importance as several settlements are making along its banks.’
“The journals of the House of Assembly make frequent references to the MEDUXNAKIC in connection with appropriations for roads and bridges. But there is still the same lack of uniformity of spelling; road commissioners, supervisors, legislators, all seemed to have agreed that it was better never to write the word twice alike. Witness the following:
MEDUCTSNICICK (Journal of 1793)
MEDUCTICNICICK (Journal of 1816)
MADXWAWICK (Journal of 1817)
MEDUCTINICIKICK (Journal of 1818)
MADISHNAKICK (Journal of 1820)
MADUXNEKEEK (Journal of 1823)
MEDUXNIKEEK, MEDUXNIKICK (Journal of 1827)
MADUCXSNIKIC, MADUCKSNEKIC, MADUCKSNEKICK (Journal of 1828)
“But with all these variations we note there is as yet no sign of the termination keag. The form MEDUXNAKEAG apparently came into existence about the time of the negotiations in 1840 which led to the settlement of the boundary between Maine and New Brunswick under the Ashburton Treaty. Dr. Gesner adopted the spelling in his history of New Brunswick, our provincial map makers did the same, and now it is difficult to convince the public that the name of Woodstock’s own little river was ever anything else than the MEDUXNAKEAG. Nevertheless MEDUXNAKIC is certainly older and probably the more accurate form.”
Raymond’s list, long as it is, doesn’t exhaust the possible spellings! Other sources record the original Maliseet word as MEDUKSENEEKIK, and offer these other versions: MADOKENQUIK, MADOCHEMQUICK, MADUSHNAKEEK, MADAZNIKIK, MADUZNEKEAG, and MADUXNIKEAG.
Some time during the 20th Century, after W. O. Raymond compiled his list, the spelling of the river’s name took another form and became standardized as the MEDUXNEKEAG. For generations of Woodstock residents, it has been known much more simply as “the Creek”, distinguishing it from the St. John – “the River”.