When I was a child in Nackawic, New Brunswick, I remember going on walks with my Mom to a place I called the castle. My mother was aware that these were not castles but old basements or farm outbuildings, abandoned when farmers were forced to move before the Mactaquac Dam headpond was flooded in the late 1960s, but she did not ruin my fun. To get there we had to clamber down over a guardrail, and down a rocky ravine at the outflow of a culvert. As I got older I went there with friends, and then alone, attracted by that hint of history (much more recent than I realized). It was not a history that was discussed with children when I was young (or we didn’t listen).
I am very pleased to see that the town of Nackawic – itself constructed to house the relocated families as well as new families attracted by work at the pulp and paper mill constructed to use the new energy – has reclaimed the story. In the late 1990s, a ‘Nackawic Rural Experience’ walk was created along the shoreline, now the Nackawic Nature Trail, including explanatory plaques on old structures, and other evidence of what was once there, including roads into the water and fruit trees like quince that were likely once in farmhouse gardens. We did the two-kilometer walk last week when on holiday in the area. It is much overgrown since I played there, but beautiful and also melancholic. It is interesting to see how much more focused the town is today on the headpond frontage as an asset; this is emblematic of some of our observations of changing perspectives in our research on connections to the headpond through time.