Oh Rabbit Town Where I Was Born…

A comment — thank you very much — that I first thought was in regards to this Blog-spot but have found out on closer reading that it has to do with my previous ‘Rabbittown Ramblings’ efforts at blogging and,  it has to do with the history of Rabbittown, or Rabbit Town as it was really spelled out.  I’ll try to give some background, which I may have touched on in my previous efforts at this blogging thing under the name of Rabbittown Ramblings (still findable on, so called by George W. Bush, “the internets”).

Rabbit Town (historically two words, which I have combined into one for the business name) apparently acquired its name sometime in the early 1900’s.  Writings by the true Rabbit Towners say that the name came from their trapping of rabbits in the area then ‘back of town’ for food and for the skins.  I also think the name may have been fueled by the thought that this was where the local factory workers lived and they ‘bred like rabbits’.

Rabbit Town officially was the area back of the railroad tracks stretching even up the hill between York Street and Smythe, with some overflow in the outskirts all around.  I grew up on Aberdeen Street next to the corner on Northumberland Street which was on the outskirts of Rabbit Town.  My father worked at the shoe factories when he moved to town in the mid to late forties, moving from one to the other as they gradually shut down.  I was born in the mid-fifties and by this time the use of the name ‘Rabbit Town’ was at its peak and would soon start to wane as the area  would know a change in demographics and an influx of residents from elsewhere.  Fredericton was growing and changing.

The name was lifted up, so to speak, in the 1990’s as the old residents of Rabbit Town were truly getting old and going the way of things and as the industry was dying out.  I remember the feeling that Paul Simon put into words in his song — “Nothing but the dead and dying back in my little town…..”.  So, with the railroad tracks being torn up and turned into the Trans-Canada Trail, or whatever, a move was made by some of the remaining original residents to have the section between Northumberland and Westmorland Streets designated as Rabbit Town Park or Trail.  One of the ‘Nouveau-locals- from the late sixties era, John Oliver, was one of the driving forces behind this as was Rabbit Towns ‘Mayor’, Ivan Hancox.

With that, and the efforts to record some of the history of the area, Rabbit Town sort of came back into its own.  The odd one of the newbies even liked to pride themselves that Rabbit Town was an ‘exclusive’ neighbourhood.  However, there are few left here now who hold the banner high.  Most have little knowledge of it, including myself really.  As I think about it, I’m one of the oldest residents of the area who was born and grew up here — at least on this street — and I lived away for quite a few years, moving back in the late nineties.

When I found out we would be living in the house I was more or less born in and grew up in, and was in the process of renovating the house and then the garage for a print-shop / studio, it came to me to register the name Rabbittown Press as a business name.  I took literary licence with the name for aesthetic reasons for the most part.  The blog follows from the press name.

Now, the name ‘West Platt’ is one that I’m not sure of the origins of.  I believe it came about in the late eighties or early nineties to apply to the west end of town below the hill from about Odell Avenue to York Street or maybe, maybe, maybe Regent Street and out as far as the river.  I might be wrong about that.  It was, I believed designated as the West Platt for practical reasons of politics, infrastructure, municipal development, etc. and the likes, as well as for reasons of ‘community’.  So, Rabbit Town and the West Platt overlap, with Rabbit Town extending beyond and up the hill a ways and the West Platt extending the other way to the river and to the west.

So there you have it — or at least the high points of  a version of ‘it’ that is more or less accurate although it might set some of the old time Rabbit Towners spinning in their graves.

 

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