Posted in Creative writing

Tidal Bore and Tidal Lore

Sanger in his essay, Groundmass, describes the tidal bore on the Shubenacadie River from the diaries of Charles Lyell and William Dawson (p.83). He also links the phenomena to the Elizabeth Bishop’s poem The Moose p.84.

Last week, we attended a meeting of the Paradise Historical Society. Aaron Taylor gave a presentation on ‘Where did the First People live before the Europeans came? What patterns can be found that might predict these locations in our area?” Aaron described the results of his archaeological research on Paradise riverside land. In particular on the properties of Jack Pearle and David Whitman.

Much of the discussion concerned the location of the tide head on the river. This brings fish species on the tide up into the river valley. Today, of course, we have the tidal power dam on the river at Annapolis Royal. Imagine if we had the same natural conditions today between the Annapolis Basin (Bay of Fundy) and the Annapolis River.

This week, I was able to pick up three books by William Inglis Morse from the Frank Morse library in Lawrencetown. In Acadian Lays and other verse, the poem The Call of the Marsh Hen (p.8)

In creaking flight the marsh-hen flies
Along the old French road, where the vale of Paradise
And gently down from the ancient hills a rippling stream
Doth wend its way to song and Acadian dream”.

There is a footnote. ‘The location of the old French road is near the confluence of the Annapolis River and the Paradise Brook, Nova Scotia,. The tides, freshets and the lapse of time have practically obliterated this way, leaving only a few traces across the interval of marshy land’.

in Genealogie (p.24) we find a photograph of Burn Brae. It is still recognizable as the house on the Morse Estate.

From his poem, ‘Acadia’ p9.

Land of the dark forest and mountain
And tides that surging flow,
Land of the murmuring pine tree
And the romance of long ago.

Evidence suggests that both the Mi’kmaq and the French Acadians were intimately familiar with the relationship between the Fundy tides and the river systems of Nova Scotia. They located their settlements, permanent or seasonal, to take advantage of the concentration of the fish stocks in the rivers.


To John Wightman for sharing his copy of William Inglis Morse Limited Edition book.

Thanks to Edward Wedler for finding the video of the tidal bore on the Shubenacadie River.


Peter Sanger.2002. Spar: Words in Place. Gaspereau Press.

Elizabeth Bishop. 1983. The Complete Poems. p 169

William Inglis Morse 1908.Acadian Lays and other verse. William Briggs, Toronto

William Inglis Morse (ed). 1925. Genealogiae or data concerning the families of Morse, Chipman, Phinney, Ensign and Whiting. Nathan Sawyer, Boston. Limited Edition 200 copies.


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