A Hillsborough history lesson

Posted by on February 7, 2009

I’ve had to laugh when I’ve visited other blogs lately and seen comments about spring and warm weather. Sometimes it’s easy to forget in this global blog world, we don’t all live in the same climate zone. Here, in Atlantic Canada…we just enjoyed a wonderful winter snowstorm that dumped about 20 cm in our yards. Spring is a long way off.

After a particularly bitter cold snap, I’m just beginning to enjoy winter! A week ago, following an ice storm that lay down a solid sheen of glass, the marsh surrounding my village gleamed like calm water. Small dips and lines of brush caught drifts of snow, rolling them like waves on the beach. I’m always amazed how nature finds ways to mimic itself…

During my walks on the marsh, I often dwell on what life must have been like for those who came before. I happen to live in one of the first villages settled by Acadian pioneers back in the early 1700’s. Upon arriving on the Atlantic Coast in the early 1600’s, the Acadians settled in the Annapolis Royal area of Nova Scotia, then gradually moved up the Bay of Fundy.

Three families – Thibodeau, Blanchard and Gaudet – seeking land for themselves and their descendants, sailed a small boat further up the bay to the areas now called Riverside-Albert,Hillsborough, and Memramcook. They were drawn to this place by the wide,grassy,salt marshes,similar to those of their homeland in France. Hillsborough was originally called Blanchard’s Village for the family who settled here.

Twice a day, the tide covered these marshes, leaving behind algae and nutrients to enrich the soil. Like they did in Nova Scotia, as well, the Acadians of Blanchard’s Village built a series of dykes along the edges of the marsh to keep out the tide, making the land suitable for crops and animals. They lived quietly here, until the Acadian Expulsion of 1755 when the British, fearful of rebellion, packed them on ships and sent them back to France or down the eastern seaboard to Louisiana.

When my German ancestors arrived a decade later, they rebuilt the dykes that today, I walk upon. The wide ridges curve in serpentine fashion, separating the high water of the Petitcodiac tidal river from the flat farmland now used for grazing cattle and growing fodder crops.

Their lives were so much harder than mine…I wonder if they ever paused to idly walk upon these same dykes…just for the sheer joy of it all.

Somehow, I am sure they did.

9 Valued Thoughts on A Hillsborough history lesson

  1. Diane

    How wonderful to honour them by thinking of them in this way. I have sometimes wondered similar things. It all comes down to appreciate and consideration doesn't it? So many people don't stop to consider these things.

    Although your delightful photos are of snow blown marsh & dykes, I thought you'd find it interesting to see that today (before reading this) I had posted this image of our drifted driveway:


  2. Deborah Carr

    Diane – I get your drift 🙂

    The perspective and sweep of your image shows your keen eye for the dramatic.

    And, of course, I know you also have a gift for aptly capturing subtle simplicity…

  3. Marie Alton

    Hi Deborah … I found you (again) through a comment you posted on Gwen’s blog!

    I had to check to confirm that you were the same Deb that I did an RR with years ago…and after double checking my address book … it WAS you!

    Awesome pics and fabulous history lesson.

    I love the name of your blog!

    I saved your link .. and will visit again!


  4. Shayla

    Hello Deborah, Florine forwarded me your article in the Times today and I followed you here. Beautiful photos of the area. Makes me miss the country 🙂

  5. Nancy J. Bond

    Thanks for the local history lesson, Deborah! I thought I was the only one who actually liked winter — and you might as well embrace it as fight it. If often thought — in the middle of a grumble — just how much harder our “forefathers/-mothers had it so many years ago. It must have been such a struggle and worry, simply to survive. Great post, as always, and beautiful shots.

  6. Deborah Carr

    Shayla & Nancy – you are so right…being in the country makes winter much more enjoyable…but I confess that I've always loved the season of snow.

  7. matthew houskeeper

    Beautiful blog, Deborah!!!

  8. hele

    oh, what mysteriously beautiful photos.

    i love to think of future generations flowing along the beauty of that silver and golden landscape.

  9. Gwen Buchanan

    I thought I left a note back a few weeks ago but I must have just read it and thought about… how The marshes were dyked at one time here in St. Martins too by the French.. they are wonderful to walk at low tide when the moon is in the right place..

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