Local Ecological Knowledge
“Rivers develop individually as human beings do. From the moment of their birth, in some remote hillside far in the interior, until they lose themselves in the salt water of the ocean or bay, they undergo varying experiences which leave their marks.”
– Esther Clark Wright (notable Atlantic historian)
Our history lies in the riverbeds that helped to form it.
It’s easy to overlook the significance of the Petitcodiac River if you do not know the history that accompanies it. The river has provided the people of its watershed with food, agricultural lands and economic prosperity. It has seen industries rise and fall. It has seen kids run and play along its bank, chasing the tidal bore. It has taken down 3 bridges that spanned its length, it has been blocked off by a causeway. The story of the Petitcodiac River is one that intimately connects it with the people who have lived along its banks. We are all connected to the river, even if we do not know it. We are here because of a bend in a river.
But the river has seen significant changes within the last fifty years, corresponding with the construction of the causeway connecting Moncton and Riverview in 1968. Fish populations greatly declined; some disappeared. The river filled in due to sedimentation; its width cut down to less than half of what it was before, and the tidal bore became known as a total bore. But how did these changes affect the interactions people have with the watershed?
Throughout the spring and summer we have been collecting and archiving photos, stories and significant locales of local community members. The “Local Ecological Knowledge” project was created to archive the changes within the Petitcodiac watershed from the perspective of the local community and their interactions with the watershed. The goal of this project is to display the importance the Petitcodiac River and watershed hold, whether that be historically, ecologically or culturally, and to foster a sense of pride and stewardship towards the watershed.
“Stewardship taps our basic human impulse to care for our home and its surroundings-be it a parcel of land, a neighborhood, or an historic monument, or the larger area of a watershed, mountain range, or stretch of coastline. It builds on our sense of obligation to other people: our family, our community, and future generations.” – Jessica Brown of the QLF/Atlantic Center for the Environment
There is hope for our watershed. The Petitcodiac River and watershed is a resilient force. Since the gates of the causeway have been permanently opened in 2010, we have seen encouraging changes happening in the river, namely the presence of a larger tidal bore again. We hope that as you browse the information we’ve gathered, the social and ecological significance of the watershed becomes apparent. We hope to encourage you to learn about the work that is being done for the watershed and to get involved. Let’s work together to keep the watershed healthy for future generations to come.
This project would not have been possible without the financial support of the New Brunswick Wildlife Trust Fund and the Environmental Trust Fund. We thank them for their support, and encourage all to visit the nbwtf.ca website. You can also help by purchasing a conservation license plate, as all proceeds go back to our NB Wildlife Trust Fund for projects such as this.
The PWA would like to thank the following people for their involvement in this project. We are grateful for the support we’ve received from the community.
Dr. Patricia Kelly Spurles
Members of the Hillsborough NB Senior Citizens Federation