For our ancestors, Wolastoq was vital for their basic survival by providing food, medicines, and a means of transportation. Villages were established along the banks of our Grandmother Wolastoq. For example, Meductic and Ekpahak were the largest Wolastoq villages and the remaining smaller villages were established along Wolastoq. As a result, our ancestors identified themselves as Wolastoqiyik (People of the River). In essence our identity is forever tied to Wolastoq.

According to our Elders Wolastoq provided salmon, trout, bass, eel and other gifts. The islands within Wolastoq also provided fiddleheads and medicines. She provided sustenance and a means of transportation from one village to another and beyond. Wolastoq was pure and free of toxins and therefore provided clean drinking water. All members were instructed to respect and live in harmony with Wolastoq to ensure that she is healthy for succeeding generations. Wolastoq was more than a river! She was and continues to be sacred and therefore a place of ceremony. She also continues to be the source of our identity.

Unfortunately, Wolastoq is unhealthy today due to policies and practices of colonial au Read More
For our ancestors, Wolastoq was vital for their basic survival by providing food, medicines, and a means of transportation. Villages were established along the banks of our Grandmother Wolastoq. For example, Meductic and Ekpahak were the largest Wolastoq villages and the remaining smaller villages were established along Wolastoq. As a result, our ancestors identified themselves as Wolastoqiyik (People of the River). In essence our identity is forever tied to Wolastoq.

According to our Elders Wolastoq provided salmon, trout, bass, eel and other gifts. The islands within Wolastoq also provided fiddleheads and medicines. She provided sustenance and a means of transportation from one village to another and beyond. Wolastoq was pure and free of toxins and therefore provided clean drinking water. All members were instructed to respect and live in harmony with Wolastoq to ensure that she is healthy for succeeding generations. Wolastoq was more than a river! She was and continues to be sacred and therefore a place of ceremony. She also continues to be the source of our identity.

Unfortunately, Wolastoq is unhealthy today due to policies and practices of colonial authorities, corporations and individual citizens. Wolastoqiyik continue to live along the Wolastoq but in “reservations” established by British and Canadian authorities. Corporations have constructed hydro-electric dams along Wolastoq and they have established pulp and paper mills next to Wolastoq with the waste from the mills being dumped into the river. The Wolastoq is now highly polluted and therefore unsafe to drink. The dams have destroyed our salmon pools, supply of medicines, plant foods, habitats, and bird sanctuaries. Our islands have been flooded and a few of our villages have also been relocated to higher ground along Wolastoq due to higher river levels caused by the dams.

Wolastoq needs healing! We hope governments and individual citizens will adopt policies and practices that ultimately revive a relationship with our Grandmother Wolastoq based on the principles of respect and harmony.

Opolahsomuwehs 07

© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.

From the headwaters of Wolastoq (Saint John River) to its mouth at the Reversing Falls in Saint John, Wolastoqiyik have maintained a physical, intellectual and spiritual bond with the river from time immemorial. Traditionally, the river, its tributaries, lands and forests provided an abundance of food, materials and medicines for the population to survive and to thrive. Wolastoqiyik settled close to the river, near easily accessible food and transportation sources. At all times of the year, they traveled the river's length, using it as a map, with portage routes providing access to other neighbouring waterways. It seems that for the better part of its history the river has been a critical route for trade as well as for the movement of goods and people. The New Brunswick Museum’s collections of images, written documentation and artifacts reflect many aspects of the population’s physical interaction with the Wolastoq. These items record the changing activities that link the people places and events through time. Whether these reminders take the form of an actual canoe used to navigate the river or are images of particular locations and structures along the shore that hav Read More
From the headwaters of Wolastoq (Saint John River) to its mouth at the Reversing Falls in Saint John, Wolastoqiyik have maintained a physical, intellectual and spiritual bond with the river from time immemorial. Traditionally, the river, its tributaries, lands and forests provided an abundance of food, materials and medicines for the population to survive and to thrive. Wolastoqiyik settled close to the river, near easily accessible food and transportation sources. At all times of the year, they traveled the river's length, using it as a map, with portage routes providing access to other neighbouring waterways. It seems that for the better part of its history the river has been a critical route for trade as well as for the movement of goods and people. The New Brunswick Museum’s collections of images, written documentation and artifacts reflect many aspects of the population’s physical interaction with the Wolastoq. These items record the changing activities that link the people places and events through time. Whether these reminders take the form of an actual canoe used to navigate the river or are images of particular locations and structures along the shore that have changed the way the river is accessed, they are ample evidence of the massive transformation that has taken place in the recent past.

© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.

Canoe

canoe, c. 1875, First Nations; Wolastoqiyik

Unknown
Gift of Theodore Holland Estabrooks, 1941

New Brunswick, CANADA
41997
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Madawaska County Farm Scene, Looking up Saint John River

photograph: Madawaska County Farm Scene, Looking up Saint John River, Madawaska County, New Brunswick, 1928

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

Madawaska, New Brunswick, CANADA
1987.17.880
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Log Jams Upper Saint John River

photograph: Log Jams Upper Saint John River, 1911

Unknown
Gift of Sylvia Yeoman, 1970

New Brunswick, CANADA
1989.69.24
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Wolastoqew Men Poling Canoes on the Tobique River, New Brunswick

slide: Wolastoqew Men Poling Canoes on the Tobique River, New Brunswick, c. 1900

Unknown

Tobique, New Brunswick, CANADA
X15568
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Neqotkuk (Tobique First Nation) from Andover, New Brunswick

slide: Neqotkuk (Tobique First Nation) from Andover, New Brunswick, 1946

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

Tobique, New Brunswick, CANADA
Neqotkuk, New Brunswick, CANADA
1950.120.15
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Grand Falls, Saint John River, New Brunswick

photograph: Grand Falls, Saint John River, New Brunswick, 1875-1880

Unknown

Grand Falls, New Brunswick, CANADA
X11700
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Bridge at Grand Falls, Saint John River

stereograph: Bridge at Grand Falls, Saint John River, Charlotte County, New Brunswick, c. 1880

George Thomas Taylor, 1838-1913
William Francis Ganong Collection

Grand Falls, New Brunswick, CANADA
1987.17.801
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Pokiok Falls, York County, New Brunswick

stereograph: Pokiok Falls, York County, New Brunswick, c. 1875

George Thomas Taylor, 1838-1913
Gift of Douglas B. Peters, 1979

Pokiok Falls, New Brunswick, CANADA
1979.127.21
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Ronald Paul recounts his canoe race from Woodstock to Fredericton

Pokiok Falls, and rapids, Stone Rapids. I know, I went through them, I went through them in a summer regatta one year, canoe racing. Longest canoe race, 150 canoes. I held the championship for eleven years, canoe racing, championship, everybody was after me, and I was out there and I was number one. I was number one, I had a sticker number one, and I had a hardwood paddle, six and a half feet tall and twelve-inch blades and cedar, and the other extra set for cedar, cedar paddles. Sixty-three-mile run from Woodstock, Island Park to Fredericton, out there by the art gallery. Twenty thousand people all along the riverbank. I had fun. I’d come out of the woods, I spent all that summer from April until August and I was primed and I was all muscled up. Come in there and Birch, George Birch, Chestnut Canoe Company, he said, “I got a couple canoes, entering a race, I’ll put two guys in there. You and your uncle take the other ones.” I went, “Okay, how much money?” “I’ll give you $150 a piece, it’s for advertisement.” I thought, okay, we went up. Had to have your water and your lunch right there. Sunday morning, people from the States and all around the area came to Island Park. We were the top priority, everything was done for us, we didn’t have to lift a finger. “Okay guys, hook your numbers up!” We got our numbers, stick them on. “Ronald, you take number one on the shoreline.” At the shoreline and then from there we were just lined up like steps going across the water. “On your mark.” The current is bad and then held the gun, when that gun went off, my canoe jumped about ten feet, it took off. Then paddled, really moved that canoe. Harold Sappier was one of them, George Eaton, Jack Waterbury, Harold [indecipherable], Wimpy Solomon and then a feller from Tobique and his wife. I made comedy, I met people, I was like a clown on the river. I chased them guys, I chased Wimpy. Wimpy and his partner, I chased them, I put the canoe right against them and he turned around and said, “Dont do that! You want to go by, you go by! Don’t fool around eh?” Wonder he didn’t [indecipherable] go right by them.  When I got to Woodstock, Woodstock was about from here to the Devon Park Save Easy, the reservation you can see the Indians along the shore there cheering their guy on, White Pete, Peter Paul from Woodstock and his son, “C’mon, c’mon, c’mon.” And then that Gregory and then the other one, and I went right between them, right along here, right beside them. I got right to the reserve and I went by them, he said, “Oh what’s wrong with you…what’d you have to do that for?” [Wolastoqew phrase] They were just left right there [Wolastoqew phrase]. I come down, I come down through them rapids, Harold Sappier, George Eaton, five Indian canoes hit them rapids, they just went hoah, went swimming. Our canoe hit that thing there, just jumped right up in the air and a half boat full of water. I told John, “Bail the water out, bail the water out, keep that thing going, bail the water out.” I was number one all the way, then I made a mistake when I switched places, with my partner. How did I know he couldn’t steer? Went round the other island, went round instead of going with the current this way he went this way. I went around this way by the time I got out they were way ahead of us, I thought, “Oh my god! We’re not gonna catch up without some work!” This was out here in Pokiok twenty-seven miles above Frederiction, I told him we have to change places if we’re gonna catch up we have to change places. I told him, “You see that rock way up there in front, right there in the middle of the river.” “Yeah.” I told him, “You jump on that!” Just like I was jumping on the rock so we could switch. Oh no don’t stop, switched and kept right on going. That man, looked like an otter jumping in the boat. A bear and the otter. We had a hard time, but our canoe came in. The Chestnut Canoe Company, the people that represented us, came in number one and I came in number two but I chased them twenty-seven miles to get number two and there were only three canoes that came across that sixty-three miles. The rest of them all gave up. We got our prize, we had a silver cup, we had our money and we had a bag of flour and silver pillows, big cushions. And they said, “You guys all won prizes?” “Yeah.” “Ron?” I said, “Yeah?” He said, “If we ask you a question…” “Yeah, what is it?” “For to double our money would you go back?” I said, “No way!” I told them, “Coming down was easy but you’re not gonna get me to paddle back up there!” No way, I’m not paddling back up, nine hours and eighteen minutes is a long time. I told them up against the current, is something else, would take you two days, the hardest thing.

Courtesy of Ronald Paul

Fredericton, New Brunswick, CANADA
Pokiok Falls, New Brunswick, CANADA
Woodstock, New Brunswick, CANADA
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Chasseurs dans des canots wolastoqiyik près de Springhill, comté d'York, Nouveau-Brunswick

photograph: Hunting Party in Wolastoqew Canoes near Springhill, York County, New Brunswick, c. 1875

George Thomas Taylor, 1838-1913
Gift of Grover Martin, 1939

Springhill, New Brunswick, CANADA
32550
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Mactaquac along the Saint John River, New Brunswick

slide: Mactaquac along the Saint John River, New Brunswick, 1944

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

Mactaquac, New Brunswick, CANADA
1950.120.13
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Mactaquac Dam, Saint John River, New Brunswick

postcard: Mactaquac Dam, Saint John River, New Brunswick, c. 1970

Unknown

Mactaquac, New Brunswick, CANADA
X14793
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Kingsclear along the Saint John River, New Brunswick

slide: Kingsclear along the Saint John River, New Brunswick, 1944

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

Pilick, New Brunswick, CANADA
Kingsclear, New Brunswick, CANADA
1950.120.9
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Drawbridge over the Saint John River, Fredericton, New Brunswick

slide: Drawbridge over the Saint John River, Fredericton, New Brunswick, 1943

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

Fredericton, New Brunswick, CANADA
1950.120.53
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Part of Fredericton, New Brunswick, in a Gale

Part of Fredericton, New Brunswick, in a Gale, 1825

John Elliott Woolford, 1778-1866 ?
Gift of Dr. William Francis Ganong, 1942

Fredericton, New Brunswick, CANADA
1987.17.17
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Maquapit Lake, New Brunswick

slide: Maquapit Lake, New Brunswick, 1948

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

Maquapit Lake, New Brunswick, CANADA
1950.120.167
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Maurice Sacobie discusses traveling on the Wolastoq

All I ever done was like, on the river. I used the boat, eh, on the river, and maybe get some wood that’s drifting by, you know, and as far as anything else that’s about the only thing. I’d travel, you know, travel on water with a boat or canoe, cross the river where people grow vegetables or else I’d paddle across the island get them butternuts, bring them in, or went on to Gilbert’s Island, Duck’s Island, or else I’d go hunting on there, after school I’d go. Paddle over, stay there until say about 6 o’clock maybe get one duck and come back. Like I say I enjoyed that. Couldn’t swim, just paddled around no life jacket. Me all alone out there, just me and the dog. No I, if I could go back to that way I would again.

Courtesy of Maurice Sacobie

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


Otnabog Lake, New Brunswick

slide: Otnabog Lake, New Brunswick, 1946

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

Queenstown, New Brunswick, CANADA
Otnabog Lake, New Brunswick, CANADA
1950.120.124
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Belleisle Bay, New Brunswick

slide: Belleisle, New Brunswick, 1944

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

Belleisle Bay, New Brunswick, CANADA
1950.120.207
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Prince's Beach, 1908

painting: Prince's Beach, 1908

Frederick H. C. Miles, 1862-1918
Gift of Fred G. Heans, 1951

Grand Bay-Westfield, New Brunswick, CANADA
1951.20
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


D.J. Purdy at Gorham's Bluff, New Brunswick

slide: D.J. Purdy at Gorham's Bluff, New Brunswick, 1944

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

Gorham's Bluff, New Brunswick, CANADA
1950.120.105
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Maurice Sacobie discusses transportation and the riverboat, D.J. Purdy

As far as a car, my father never, nothing no. Finally he got a motor, a motorboat after awhile, didnt know anything about that, geez every now and then you’d look I’d run down to the river and see this boat going by and wish it was me in the boat driving it eh. I couldn’t think what it, how it ran, or what. Every now and then, I don’t know, you remember that, see a picture of that big boat in the paper that docked in Saint John here last week, there was one that used to go by home, Saint John River maybe every other week, they used to call it the Purdy, it was shaped like that, a great big boat, holy geez, I could hear it coming quite a ways downriver, could hear the horn, WHONK, I’d run down and look at it and I couldn’t, you know, I’d wonder how that thing stayed in the water floating with people standing on there, how in the hell could it run, things like that I wondered, eh.

Courtesy of Maurice Sacobie

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


Kennebecasis River Looking towards Clifton, New Brunswick

slide: Kennebecasis River Looking towards Clifton, New Brunswick, 1947

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

Clifton, New Brunswick, CANADA
Kennebacasis River, New Brunswick, CANADA
1950.120.224
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Governor's Table, Saint John River, New Brunswick

photograph: Governor's Table, Saint John River, New Brunswick, 1919

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

New Brunswick, CANADA
1987.17.1225.17
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


View of Saint John, New Brunswick

painting: View of Saint John, New Brunswick, 1814

Joseph Brown Comingo, 1784 - after 1821
Webster Museum Foundation purchase, 1966

Saint John, New Brunswick, CANADA
1966.100A
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Dream with me a journey, descending Wolastoq in a canoe with Koluskap himself. A trip with the most powerful man whose love for his people has protected them so many times in the past the same way as it does today.

The dream begins and he speaks to me with such softness in his voice that he warms my heart right away. He tells me, “We are going on a journey on the Wolastoq, but this trip is no ordinary voyage.” I ask what he means, and he responds, ”The river has spoken to me and has told me of some of her stories from the last few thousand years.” I sit there in such honour that such a great man would take me an expedition with him.

We begin our journey around Madawaska and I look around me and I realize that we are in the past! I ask in amazement, “How this can be?” and he says to me with a smile, “I told you this is no ordinary trip.”

He speaks to me and tells me to listen to the sounds around me and asks me what I hear. My ears tune intently to the sounds around me. I tell him I can hear the different birds singing in the trees nearby, I can hear the water splashing against our canoe as we float Read More
Dream with me a journey, descending Wolastoq in a canoe with Koluskap himself. A trip with the most powerful man whose love for his people has protected them so many times in the past the same way as it does today.

The dream begins and he speaks to me with such softness in his voice that he warms my heart right away. He tells me, “We are going on a journey on the Wolastoq, but this trip is no ordinary voyage.” I ask what he means, and he responds, ”The river has spoken to me and has told me of some of her stories from the last few thousand years.” I sit there in such honour that such a great man would take me an expedition with him.

We begin our journey around Madawaska and I look around me and I realize that we are in the past! I ask in amazement, “How this can be?” and he says to me with a smile, “I told you this is no ordinary trip.”

He speaks to me and tells me to listen to the sounds around me and asks me what I hear. My ears tune intently to the sounds around me. I tell him I can hear the different birds singing in the trees nearby, I can hear the water splashing against our canoe as we float down the river, and I can hear the wind as it moves gently across my face.

He tells me to listen more closely to the river, to focus my ears on the drops of water as they ripple by the canoe and make contact with the canoe. I strain my ears for a while then I begin to hear her hum. She vocalizes and greets me, “Hello Marie, I am Wolastoq, and I have asked Koluskap to bring you here so I can tell you some stories.” I smile and reply that I would be pleased to hear her stories.

And she begins to tell me her tales, she tells me that for many years your people have travelled my waters and fed from her waters and she had enjoyed these journeys with my ancestors.

However, some of her experiences with others have not been as enjoyable. I ask her what she means and she tells me that she will show me.

In a flash we are in the present-day Mactaquac. I am in awe how we have travelled through time and space and have arrived here. I turn my head around and inquire why we are here. Wolastoq replies that for many years she has given many gifts to us, from fish to energy but we have not honoured her in the same way. She explains to me how others have re-named her St. John River, and she misses the respect she received as Wolastoq. She explains to me how she used to flow out to the sea and that since people began to build these strange objects on her it has caused her to swell and take parts of her sister, the land, and other objects away to sea.

I begin to cry, and my tears fall into the water. She tells me not to cry that she knows that we still love her as much as she loves us, because we are all interrelated. But she just wants us to remember more all the gifts that she has given us, and to honour her by calling her by her real name - Wolastoq.

Koluskap and I continue our journey on Wolastoq and he spoke to me again and tells me, “Now you know why we took this journey together. You must remember your connection with Mother Earth and Father Sky, and remember the lessons of the sacred wheel”.

When I awake the next morning, I walk down to the river bed of Wolastoq and offer her some tobacco and say, “Woliwon Wolastoq. Thank you for all your beauty and all the gifts that you have given to me and my ancestors.”

© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.

Learning Objectives

Wolastoq Journey Learning Object is designed for students and educators to meet the following objectives:

  • propose a course of action on social issues related to science and technology, taking into account human and environmental needs 
  • explain why ecosystems with similar characteristics can exist in different geographical locations 
  • explain why different ecosystems respond differently to short-term stresses and long-term changes 
  • explain how biodiversity of an ecosystem contributes to its sustainability 
  • analyse the impact of external factors on an ecosystem 
  • plan changes to, predict the effects of, and analyse the impact of external factors on an ecosystem 
  • 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 
  • propose and defend a course of action on a multi-perspective social issue 
  • 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 complex issues by asking and answering geographic questions and by acquiring, organizing,and analysing geographic information 
  • evaluate issues concerning the diversity and sustainability of Earth’s ecosystems 
  • analyse the interactions within and between regions 
  • evaluate how physical and human systems shape the features, uses, and perceptions of place 
  • analyse the causes and consequences of human modification of the environment on systems within the environment 
  • use note-making, illustrations, and other ways of representing to reconstruct knowledge 
  • choose language that creates interesting and imaginative effects 
  • create an organizing structure appropriate to the purpose, audience, and context of texts 
  • use a range of appropriate strategies to engage the reader/viewer 
  • analyze and reflect on others’ responses to writing and audiovisual productions and consider those responses in creating new pieces 
  • demonstrate awareness of what writing/representation processes and presentation strategies work for them in relation to audience and purpose 
  • consistently use the conventions of written language in final products 
  • experiment with the use of technology in communicating for a range of purposes 
  • demonstrate the ability to work effectively and interdependently in a team/group situation 
  • apply learned techniques of various technologies to take a concept to final product

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