Restoring Ancient Portage Trails in New Brunswick

 Dave McLeod, field biologist working on species inventory. Photo by Tim Humes
Dave McLeod, field biologist working on species inventory. Photo by Tim Humes

Canoe Kayak New Brunswick (CKNB) is a volunteer non-profit organization devoted to safe recreational paddling in New Brunswick (NB) through awareness, education, instruction and community engagement “The Ancient Portage Trails of NB” project is a special project under Canoe Kayak NB (CKNB).

The project deals specifically with restoring only six ancient portage trails of the more than 80 portage trails that once existed in the province. An ancient portage trail is a true link between the past and the present, a link historically between the waterways as our highways of the past, versus today’s land highways. CKNB, through the Heritage Committee, has been working for just over seven years to bring this project to fruition.

The portage trails represent a link between peoples & culture across time. These values are voiced in the statements: “Hands Across the Waters” & “Hands Across Time” as seen enmeshed with the 2011 $20 silver coin.

Boardwalk on portion of trail. Photo by Tim Humes.
Boardwalk on portion of trail. Photo by Tim Humes.

The restored trails and connecting waterways are part of the NB Trails network, with CKNB as a Local Trails Sponsor (LTS).

The trials exclusively offer an outdoor experience for an eclectic host of folks: historians, hikers, naturalists, recreationalists, paddlers, photographers, geocachers, etc. In short, the ancient trails are an exceptional active living experience. As noted, the ancient trails are a true link with the past. In today’s electronic and speed driven world, travel by foot and/or canoe over these canoe/portage routes is indeed a milieu for thought, reflection and achievement. We invite the citizens of the province and visitors to the province to enjoy this valued resource and to be stewards of our waterways and forests.

It certainly becomes clear as a living history why both the pole and paddle were proper instruments of travel, not to mention the beauty and simplicity of the canoe along with the skill and knowledge of aboriginal peoples.

Travel across these ancient portage trails is intended only for foot travel. The restored trail is maintained through the invaluable dedication of volunteers. Please respect care of the trail.

Species Inventory
Canoe kayak NB (CKNB) has partnered with the Miramichi Naturalists Club (MNC) to perform a species inventory along the 3 kilometer portage trail and have received a grant from the Wildlife Trust Fund (WTF).

The species inventory has discovered 142 different vascular plants and 23 species of birds. Once complete, the results of the species inventory will be available to the public via several websites; CKNB, MNC and NB Trails initially. The species inventory is being compiled by the dedicated work of Dave McLeod and Jim Saunders from the MNC. The quality of their work is not only evidenced by the work to date but also by their commitment to continually update the inventory.

portage trail mapExplore the Portage Trail near Miramichi

Portage River to the Nepisiguit
Northwest Miramichi to the Nepisiguit River, connects the Nepisiguit to the Miramich watershed – 3.0 km. – McKay Brook to Gordon Meadow Brook

The portage trail, listed No. 2 on the map above, the three kilometer McKay Brook-Gordon Meadow Brook portage connects the Miramichi and Nepisiguit watersheds. This portage trail, serving as a bridge between the two watersheds, made it possible for aboriginal peoples from Metepenagiag and Pabineau to have contact for hundreds of years, if not much longer. Metepenagiag, via archeological work, shows a history of 3,000 years.

Directions to Portage Trail:
Option 1- Travel Directions From City of Miramichi
From junction of route 430 and Newcastle Blvd
-to Wayerton, across the Northwest Miramichi River -23 km
-turn right onto the Tomogonops Road – 9.6 km
(the Tomogonops Road is a logging road, be prepared to meet logging trucks)
-turn left onto The Spurline (will cross 2 bridges on route) 18.5 km
-drive 1 km, park along shoulder area 1 km

Option 2 – Travel Directions From City of Miramichi (north section of the city)
-assuming arrival at Centennial Bridge, City of Miramichi (former Town of Chatham).
across or near the Centennial Bridge to route 8 to exit to Allardville 54.4 km
-turn left onto route 360 (stop sign)
-turn left onto the Anacon Road (slow down to see exit)- a logging road 13.8 km
-turn right onto Taylor Brook Road 6.8 km
-turn turn left to Tomogonops Road 7.1 km
-turn right at The Spurline (old rail bed, now a Sentier NB route) 6.6 km
-drive 1 km, park on shoulder area 1 km

Acknowledgements:
Mr. Robert Doyle, from the Miramichi area, has been tirelessly researching the portage trails in New Brunswick since 1995. The work to date by CKNB could and would not be, had it not been for the dedicated support and work by Mr. Doyle. Significantly, Mr. Doyle deems all his efforts to highlight and honour the original work by W. F. Ganong.

Information submitted by Tim Humes,Co-leader with Kevin Silliker of the CKNB project, Ancient Portage Trails of New Brunswick.

 

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