Larissa Holman’s NiCHE piece on our storymap Before the Mactaquac Dam.
I was pleased this week to learn that Dalhousie MREM graduate Larissa Holman, who was a summer intern with the Energy Transitions in Canada project, has a piece about her Mactaquac storymap in an online publication by NiCHE (Network in Canadian History and Environment). The article, Does This Dam Have a Future?, recounts the process of creating the storymap and the role that it was designed to play in the ongoing public consultation process around the New Brunswick dam’s future.
Bathymetry of the Mactaquac headpond, NB, by the Ocean Mapping Group at UNB, revealing the former townsite of Culliton, near Nackawic, including its road and rail bridges.
The Ocean Mapping Group at UNB has released the Mactaquac bathymetry (depth of water) in a wonderful Google Map interface. A Nackawic resident sent it to me this morning with a story of how moving it was to see the former features revealed. I have been waiting a long time to see this, too, and it impresses with crisp 1.66 metre resolution detail. Little sedimentation is evident up against the dam wall, and islands, towns and former river channels remain intact. It will be interesting to navigate it in parallel with our storymap of pre-dam airphotos, to decode some of the more curious shapes. The ‘illumination’ applied to provide a 3D effect has the visual effect of making it look inverted, (i.e. causeway lower than water channels). But this is a marvellous dataset which will enable important visualization work in the consideration of options for the Mactaquac dam.
When I need to unwind I watch Time Team on YouTube. Tony Robinson (Sir, knighted in 2013), once comedian and actor and now activist and amateur historian, hosts this show that features three-day archaeological digs, generally within the UK. It is in its 20th season, which puts it in slim company. It is fascinating for anyone interested in landscape change, human modification and the meaning of place. Last night’s episode, Beacon of the Fens, was from Season 16, and examined a small rise on the edge of the English fenlands (marshy areas). It’s relative prominence has made it a beacon for millennia, but it is now farmed. They found pottery and remains of a burnt wattle and daub dwelling from a stone age settlement, bronze age axes, evidence of a wooden church, and a medieval stone chapel, as well as landscape modifications (causeway, enclosures) of manor houses, etc. These were all overlaid in situ over time, and then largely forgotten in all but the name: chapel hill. And what was winging away in the background for most of the shots? Massive wind turbines.
The smokestacks from the now-decommissioned generating station in Dalhousie, NB, were finally demolished today.
It is remarkable how locals can get attached to man-made infrastructure, even that which has no aesthetic value to an outside observer. The smokestacks in the now-decommissioned power station in Dalhousie, NB, were finally demolished today after a failed attempt August 16. They have been standing since 1969, and the plant’s closure represents the third in a line of industrial closures, starting with AbitibiBowater Pulp and Paper and Olin Corp in 2008. What is notable to me is the coverage about the value of these stacks as a local landmark. According to the Mayor, “…losing the smokestacks will be a major loss to the community’s skyline”:
It’s gonna be sad to a certain point because we give direction to people in and out of town. Where do I go and how do I find one route? Well, you just gotta have a look at the smokestacks in or out of town, and then you’ll find your way.
Such attachment to industrial heritage and landscape has often been described in post-industrial England, but not often in ‘new world’ countries like Canada. There is a lot of infrastructure reaching the end of its life, some of which may no longer be fit for purpose. We will see even more of this as the large number of smaller and more distributed installations (e.g. wind turbines) reach their own use-by date. How we respond as a culture to the need to re-write landscape to suit new challenges or opportunities, or calls to memorialize past ones, will have a big impact on our capacity to adapt.