Interviews have played a vital role in the preparation of this history. Such interviews have confirmed how Gunningsville received its name. Miss Jessie Stannard has related how Bridgedale was spread out over a considerable distance, while several families were living in close proximity to one another near the end of the wooden bridge across the River. It was decided to divide Bridgedale, and a contest was advertised for people to submit entries in an effort to find a suitable name for the little community near the end of the bridge.
Miss Stannard's mother was a young widow, and when Hazen Gunning, a widower, called on her it was his intention to seek her services as a housekeeper. However, she became his wife and with her four young children moved from Weldon to the Gunning home in a community that would soon bear his name.
We do not know when the Gunnings came out from England, but the distinguished historian, Dr. Esther Clark Wright, tells us that John Gunning married Elizabeth Steeves, daughter of Matthias, October 12, 18185 and died in 1828, when the Schooner Sophie was lost in a storm in the Bay of Fundy. No children are recorded. It is also known that Mary, wife of James Gunning Senior, died in 1830 and is buried in the cemetery by the Coverdale United Church. The gravestones of James Gunning Senior and James Junior may be there as well, but possibly illegiible or have sunk into the ground. Both were dead before 1851 as neither of them were listed in the census. In fact, Margaret Gunning is listed as the head of the family and her son, James Hazen, was 8 years old of age. Their grant was 300 acres which was subdivided and when Miss Stannard was a girl, the farm only consisted of 100 acres.
Among Mr. Gunning's duties was a contract to clean the bridge. One day, while doing his work, Mr. Sanford S. Ryan, County Councillor and a Member of the New Brunswick Legislature, was crossing the bridge and stopped to talk. He informed Mr. Gunning that he intended to submit the name Gunningsville since the Gunnings had been the first settlers on an English land grant. Hazen Gunning was stunned and felt other names wer more deserving, the Gunningsville it became, c 1910, and remained until 1973. A post office was established in 1910.
The Directory of 1911, to which reference has already been made, lists 18 men as heads of households, of whom 4 were farmers, 6 worked for the railway, 2 for the Paul Lea Lumber Company (now Lockharts), 1 for the Record Foundry. Samuel Edgett Senior tended the lighthouse while his son Samuel Junior had a store which later was operated by the Eno family. The natural gas pipeline passed through the Gunning property and was still there in 1984.
A housing crisis developed when the Naval base was enlarged in 1949. Married personnel preferred to live 'ashore' but still handy. Gunningsville, already a Local Improvement District, became an incorporated village November 9th, 1966 and Victor Croft became the first Mayor in June 1967. Frank C. Clarke served as Mayor from 1969 until 1973, and was elected Town Councillor after amalgamation. Mr. Harry Stoyles served as Village Clerk from 1966 to 1971.
A complete list of Councillors may be found in the Appendices. The section on Golf gives a concise history of the Riverdale Club and its successor, the Moncton Golf and Country Club. The Gunningsville Bridge is in the news from time to time and rightly so, for this bridge was the vital link in the birth and growth of Riverview Heights. The story of transportation across the river will be fund in the section entitled Ferries, Bridges and the Causeway.
Excerpt: A History of Riverview - Bridgedale, Gunningsville, Riverview Heights
Photo: circa 1910 - PNB Archives - P33-114