Wolastoq language has a storytelling code which uses verbs to describe actions as if they are occurring in present time. This helps the listener visualize what characters are doing and how things are happening in his or her mind. When the story is told in the places which were originally created, a solid experience and teaching occurs. It gives the listener a gift which he or she can pass on to others.

There are hundreds of stories about Koluskap, whose name means “good man”. He is a powerful being who created himself and gave himself the gift of transforming negative into positive. Stories about the places Koluskap created and recreated give Wolastoqiyik not just a territory where they belong, but also a place in the universe. The stories reinforce a connection to the land and the places where ancestors lived and worked. Places of fishing, hunting, gathering food and medicines were named so that future generations could continue to survive. Koluskap stories about animal encounters in those named places reinforced memory.

The stories are also about time and beliefs. Animal giants take us back to the time of the dinosaur, reaffirming the belief o Read More
Wolastoq language has a storytelling code which uses verbs to describe actions as if they are occurring in present time. This helps the listener visualize what characters are doing and how things are happening in his or her mind. When the story is told in the places which were originally created, a solid experience and teaching occurs. It gives the listener a gift which he or she can pass on to others.

There are hundreds of stories about Koluskap, whose name means “good man”. He is a powerful being who created himself and gave himself the gift of transforming negative into positive. Stories about the places Koluskap created and recreated give Wolastoqiyik not just a territory where they belong, but also a place in the universe. The stories reinforce a connection to the land and the places where ancestors lived and worked. Places of fishing, hunting, gathering food and medicines were named so that future generations could continue to survive. Koluskap stories about animal encounters in those named places reinforced memory.

The stories are also about time and beliefs. Animal giants take us back to the time of the dinosaur, reaffirming the belief of Wolastoqiyik having been here since time immemorial. The stories confirm that Koluskap loves his people. When the giant frog drank up the river and caused a drought, Koluskap came to the rescue when requested to do so. He made the frog into present day size so no more damage would occur. He also made Wolastoq better by creating more tributaries to the river; she would never go dry again.

The exploits between Koluskap and Beaver are prevalent because Beaver is a land and water animal. Wolastoqiyik are land and water people. The parallel is intentional because the lessons are directed to the listener about the creation of harmonious living. Consequences always occur when spiritual laws are broken. Even giants (bigger than humans) are reduced in size.

Many place names have survived to this day. Many other names are returning to this land.  This attests to the power of ancestors to reach future generations – the descendents who now reach back for that sense of belonging.
In The Spirit of Mother Earth
Schmidt, Jeremy
1994 McQuiston & McQuiston
San Francisco

Expressive Culture
Akwe: Kon Journal
1994 Cornell University
Vol. XI, Nos 3 & 4, Ithaca; New York

Unbroken Circles
Northeast Indian Quarterly 1990
VII, No 4, Winter

Encyclopedia of American Indian Costume
Paternak, Josephine
1994 WW Norton & Co. Inc.
New York; New York

The Sacred
Beck, Peggy V; Francisco, Nia; Walters, Anna Lee
1977 Navajo Community College Press
Tsaile, Arizona

The Wabenakis of Maine & the Maritimes
1989 American Friends Committee

© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.

The physical geography of New Brunswick is one of the main areas of documentation for the New Brunswick Museum. Artifacts, specimens and written documents record those forces that have an effect on the landscape, or are affected by the landscape, whether they are natural events, plants, animals or humans. In order to understand and appreciate the landscape in which we live, a variety of approaches are employed. Through scientific methods, specimens and artifacts are collected, examined and quantified in an effort to more accurately comprehend their context. Archaeological material may be excavated and analyzed to shed light on past human activities in the landscape. Aesthetic approaches to the landscape are studied by viewing the way that people incorporate their experience with their environment into their works of craft, art and language.

Wolastoq (Saint John River) and its tributaries have been the ancestral home of the Wolastoqiyik for thousands of years. Surviving and flourishing in this topography demands an intimate knowledge of plants, animals, other people and weather conditions. Familiarity with particular locales also informs Wolastoqiyik about how the landsc Read More

The physical geography of New Brunswick is one of the main areas of documentation for the New Brunswick Museum. Artifacts, specimens and written documents record those forces that have an effect on the landscape, or are affected by the landscape, whether they are natural events, plants, animals or humans. In order to understand and appreciate the landscape in which we live, a variety of approaches are employed. Through scientific methods, specimens and artifacts are collected, examined and quantified in an effort to more accurately comprehend their context. Archaeological material may be excavated and analyzed to shed light on past human activities in the landscape. Aesthetic approaches to the landscape are studied by viewing the way that people incorporate their experience with their environment into their works of craft, art and language.

Wolastoq (Saint John River) and its tributaries have been the ancestral home of the Wolastoqiyik for thousands of years. Surviving and flourishing in this topography demands an intimate knowledge of plants, animals, other people and weather conditions. Familiarity with particular locales also informs Wolastoqiyik about how the landscape was shaped and moulded by forces both natural and supernatural.


© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.

In accomplishing his mission for the good of mankind, Koluskap summoned all the animals to appear before him and asked of each animal what he would do if he met a man. When the bear was asked the question he trotted off a short distance and looked over his shoulder, as he generally does now upon meeting a human being. Koluskap signified his approval.

The squirrel at that time was as big as a lion and when Koluskap asked him what he would do if he met a man, he flew at a stump furiously and tore it with his teeth and claws. Koluskap considered him altogether too dangerous an animal and reduced him to his present size. Bever-P'chee Qua-beet, the big beaver, had been the source of considerable annoyance to the other animals and was cautioned by Koluskap with regard to his future conduct.

In spite of the warning he had received, the beaver made himself very obnoxious by his behaviour at Pestemohkatiyek (1), and Koluskap determined to drive him away. He came to Pestemohkatiyek and climbed up the hill on the east side of N'monee-quen-ee-moosa-kesq (2), the place of many sugar maples. From the summit of this hill he saw the beaver's house, Qua-beet-a-woosis (3), a dome Read More

In accomplishing his mission for the good of mankind, Koluskap summoned all the animals to appear before him and asked of each animal what he would do if he met a man. When the bear was asked the question he trotted off a short distance and looked over his shoulder, as he generally does now upon meeting a human being. Koluskap signified his approval.

The squirrel at that time was as big as a lion and when Koluskap asked him what he would do if he met a man, he flew at a stump furiously and tore it with his teeth and claws. Koluskap considered him altogether too dangerous an animal and reduced him to his present size. Bever-P'chee Qua-beet, the big beaver, had been the source of considerable annoyance to the other animals and was cautioned by Koluskap with regard to his future conduct.

In spite of the warning he had received, the beaver made himself very obnoxious by his behaviour at Pestemohkatiyek (1), and Koluskap determined to drive him away. He came to Pestemohkatiyek and climbed up the hill on the east side of N'monee-quen-ee-moosa-kesq (2), the place of many sugar maples. From the summit of this hill he saw the beaver's house, Qua-beet-a-woosis (3), a dome-shaped island in the bay. But the beaver had been warned of his danger and fled up the river Waweig whence he afterwards went to Men-ah-quesk where he made a dam across the Wolastoq at its mouth. He still continued his evil deeds and his dam was built so big it caused the water to flow back far up the river, and all the country from Jemseg to Pilick became a Jim-quispam, a great lake.

Then Koluskap heard the beaver was still a source of annoyance he at once set out for Men-ah-quesk. He saw signs of the beaver's work at Mon-ha-quats (4), and further east he had abundant evidence of his proximity. Here the beaver had a feeding place called Q'uabeet-a-wee-qua-sodek, the beaver's landing place, or Q'ua-sodek for short.

Koluskap explored See-bes-kas-tahgan (5) as far as Moos-ow-tek, the moose's path but, not finding the beaver, came back to the mouth of the Wolastoq where he found the beaver's dam. This he broke with a blow of his ponderous club and the great rush of water that followed swept a part of it out to sea. This fragment became the island Quak-m'kagan'ik, a piece cut out, and the falls are Quabeet-a-wee-sogado, the beaver's rolling dam. A split rock, just below the falls, is Koluskap’s club which he threw away after it had served its purpose in the destruction of the dam. Jim-quispam was greatly reduced in size but remains to this day a large lake (6).

Koluskap pushed on up the river in quest of the beaver. A little below Boar's Head there is to be seen today in the rocky cliff the face of a man with curly hair called Glooscap-sa-kah-beet, Koluskap looking out. They say that only aboriginals can see it.

Still seeking the beaver, Koluskap went on and at length looking up the broad waters of Mah-ti-gek (7), he saw in the distance the beaver's house Q'ua-beet-a-woosis-sec, the beaver's nest. The beaver was very big and dangerous but Koluskap seized him in his brawny arms, strangled him and then flung him to the foot of the island several miles away, where certain rocks were stained red by the beaver's blood.

Koluskap killed the second sized beaver also, but the youngest one got away and went up the Wolastoq. Koluskap followed him a little way and hurled after him two big rocks known as So-bag-wopps, sea rocks, which may still be seen in the river a little below Negotkuk. The beaver eventually escaped to Toma-squatacik (8), where he built himself another house, which is now a big hill opposite the mouth of the Woosis-sec (9).

1. Passamaquoddy
2. Oak Bay
3. Cookson’s Island
4. Manawagonish
5. Marsh Creek
6. Grand Lake
7. Kennebecasis Bay
8. Lake Temiscouata, Quebec
9. Mount Wissuk

© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.

Suspension Bridge, Reversing Falls, Saint John, New Brunswick

Suspension Bridge, Reversing Falls, Saint John, New Brunswick, 1915

Frederick H.C. Miles, 1862-1918
Gift of Charlotte Walters, 1942

Saint John, New Brunswick, CANADA
42074
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Giant beaver tooth

Beaver tooth, Geologic Period: Quaternary

New Brunswick Museum

New Brunswick, CANADA
NBMG 10368
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Koluskap's Face

Koluskap's Face, the Narrows near Saint John, Saint John River, New Brunswick, 1919

Dr. William Francis Ganong, 1864-1941
William Francis Ganong Collection

Saint John, New Brunswick, CANADA
1987.17.1225.25
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Rocks Koluskap Threw at the Great Beaver

Tobique Rocks, the Rocks Koluskap Threw at the Great Beaver below the Tobique River, Victoria County, New Brunswick, 1919

Dr. William Francis Ganong, 1864-1941
William Francis Ganong Collection

Tobique First Nation, New Brunswick, CANADA
1987.17.1225.11
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Long Point, Grand Lake, New Brunswick

Long Point, Grand Lake, New Brunswick, 1946

Dr. William MacIntosh, 1867-1950
Gift of the Dr. William MacIntosh Estate, 1950

Grand Lake, New Brunswick, CANADA
1950.120.190
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


After the struggle with Izignapogos that freed the food for everyone, Groundhog warned Koluskap that he was not finished because half-stone man had some friends down below. Koluskap and Mikumwesu, the two brothers, started down the river in their canoe with Koluskap paddling. After a while Mikumwesu said, “Let’s go ashore because that partner of Izignapogos is down here somewhere. You know the one I mean? The Big Skunk who can shoot his spray across the ocean?” Koluskap replied, “Yes, I know him. I’m here to kill dangerous and large animals so let’s go.”

Mikumwesu went ashore and cut a long stick and took it to Koluskap in the canoe. “Sharpen this stick,” instructed Mikumwesu. “We’ll use it to plug him up so he can’t shoot.” Koluskap was reluctant to try that plan as he thought the giant skunk too dangerous. He suggested lighting his pipe so there would be a lot of smoke and that way, the giant skunk wouldn’t be able to direct his spray. Then, while the smoke confused the skunk, Koluskap would jump in and plug him up.

They came around a bend to a narrow place in the river wi Read More
After the struggle with Izignapogos that freed the food for everyone, Groundhog warned Koluskap that he was not finished because half-stone man had some friends down below. Koluskap and Mikumwesu, the two brothers, started down the river in their canoe with Koluskap paddling. After a while Mikumwesu said, “Let’s go ashore because that partner of Izignapogos is down here somewhere. You know the one I mean? The Big Skunk who can shoot his spray across the ocean?” Koluskap replied, “Yes, I know him. I’m here to kill dangerous and large animals so let’s go.”

Mikumwesu went ashore and cut a long stick and took it to Koluskap in the canoe. “Sharpen this stick,” instructed Mikumwesu. “We’ll use it to plug him up so he can’t shoot.” Koluskap was reluctant to try that plan as he thought the giant skunk too dangerous. He suggested lighting his pipe so there would be a lot of smoke and that way, the giant skunk wouldn’t be able to direct his spray. Then, while the smoke confused the skunk, Koluskap would jump in and plug him up.

They came around a bend to a narrow place in the river with cliffs on each side. Koluskap saw that the two brothers could not pass any further without risking the danger of the giant skunk because they couldn’t see ahead clearly. Mikumwesu said, “I’ll start smoking and the smoke will rise up like fog.” The little brother took out his pixnoggin, a pouch made out of a whole fisher’s skin, and put his special smoking mixture in his pipe. When the smoke was thick like a fog, they continued their journey through the narrows. Suddenly the Giant Skunk was before them ready to fire. But because of the smoke, Koluskap had time to shove the sharp stick in him and down went the skunk.

Mikumwesu asked, “Why didn’t you pierce him so as to kill him?” Koluskap replied that he hadn’t wanted to kill the giant skunk. He wanted to keep him until he made him small enough that people might use him and not risk getting hurt with spray. “From now on,” claimed Koluskap, “the skunk will have just enough power in his spray to protect himself.”

© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.

Grand Falls, Down from Bridge

Grand Falls, Down from Bridge, Grand Falls, New Brunswick, 1928

H. W. Beecher Smith, 1860-1934
William Francis Ganong Collection

Grand Falls, New Brunswick, CANADA
1987.17.806
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Ronald Paul discusses the Snowshoe Islands

Snowshoe Islands can’t see them now, way past Kingsclear…Islandview right up between Islandview and Woodstock?…five islands, they’re under water… there’s also a falls there, Pokiok Falls, and rapids, Stone Rapids… I know I went through them, I went through them in a summer regatta one year, canoe racing…

Courtesy of Ronald Paul

Snowshoe Islands, New Brunswick, CANADA
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

Shaping the Landscape Learning Object is designed for students and educators to meet the following objectives:

  • select, compile, and display evidence and information from various sources, in different formats, to support a given view in a presentation about ecosystem change 
  • communicate questions, ideas, and intentions, and receive, interpret, understand, support, and respond to the ideas of others in preparing a report about ecosystem change 
  • investigate how artistic and literary expression reflects the following aspects of Canadian identity: landscape, climate, history, people-citizenship, and related challenges and opportunities 
  • demonstrate an understanding of the basic features of Canada’s landscape and climate: identify and locate major landforms of Canada, explain the creation and characteristics of mountains and plains, describe and account for the variation in physical landscape across Canada 
  • evaluate patterns for preserving, modifying, and transmitting culture while adapting to environmental or social change 
  • evaluate complex issues by asking and answering geographic questions and by acquiring, organizing, and analysing geographic information 
  • select and use appropriate geographic representations, tools, and technologies to evaluate problems and issues
  • use spatial concepts and models to interpret and make decisions about the organization, distribution, and interaction of physical and human phenomena 
  • evaluate issues concerning the diversity and sustainability of Earth’s ecosystems 
  • recognize that communication involves an exchange of ideas (experiences, information, views) and an awareness of the connections between the speaker and the listener; use this awareness to adapt the message, language and delivery to the context
  • demonstrate active listening and respect for the needs, rights, and feelings of others - analyze the positions of others 
  • demonstrate an awareness of the power of spoken language by articulating how spoken language influences and manipulates, and reveals ideas, values, and attitudes 
  • demonstrate an awareness that texts reveal and produce ideologies, identities, and positions 
  • understand the origin and diversity of rocks
  • identify, describe and explain the processes that shape the earth’s surface
  • demonstrate how these processes create specific landforms
  • identify and explain the origin of selected local landforms

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