Wednesday, September 30, 2020

ISSUES: Is the Proposed Dam Removal on the St. Croix River Really a Good Thing?

The St. Croix River and its estuary has a long history of heavy commercial use, the impacts of which can still be observed in the waters and sediments of the watershed, including western Passamaquoddy Bay. Additionally, the marine and freshwater flora and fauna has been diminished significantly and for many decades anadromous fish species, in particular, have had restricted access to their up-river spawning areas.

In the 1960s, the Woodland mill dumped black liquor directly into the river for nearly 10 years causing the virtual death of the river. Since this practice was brought to an end, the river has gradually improved, but current industrial and domestic pollution continue to impact this valuable ecosystem and up-river dams continue to restrict fish passage.


While NB Power’s proposed removal of the dam at Milltown may have a therapeutic effect that will appeal to some interested parties, there are legitimate arguments for examining the environmental and economical potential of upgrading and retaining the dam versus removal.

In what appears to be a rush to remove the Milltown dam, NB Power has publicly indicated that the costs for upgrading the dam outweigh the economic returns from such a facility. Is that really true? In the absence of any opportunity to analyse real options for this facility, there really is no answer and this is why the process needs to be slowed down so as to assess the available options.


Release of Pollutants: As alluded to above, the sediments of the river and estuary are well known to contain highly toxic elements that negatively impact aquatic organisms, as well as humans. The head pond will be a concern in this regard if the water there is rapidly drawn down without any remedial plans. Toxic elements will be released with downstream impacts; the extent of which is hard to estimate, but should not be ignored.

If the dam is removed, it is clear that water release should be over an extended period so as to reduce down-stream impacts. Since stream flow is regulated upstream, downstream scouring out of other toxic elements may also occur over an extended period.

It is clear that the contents of the sediments of the watershed will not magically disappear and as a wise ecologist suggested: “If you have toxic elements in your sediments, don’t stir the pot!”

Action: In addition to existing studies, a current study is required to determine the composition of sediments in the headpond and up river to Woodland. Based on these results, actions for treatment, removal or release should be considered by the appropriate authorities.

Dam Removal and Anadromous Species: Generally speaking, dam removal is considered to have beneficial impacts on fish migration and indeed there are many instances of this being true. However, original waterfalls are not necessarily better than fishways and this may be the case at Salmon Falls. It is possible that fish passage may be reduced to highwater spring tides and this needs to be considered. Even some proponents of dam removal have suggested that a new fishway may be required.

Action: A study is required to determine the physical structure of Salmon Falls after the dam is removed. Fishway requirements should be determined by the results of this study.

Community Impacts: Pollution of the St. Croix River is known to have had impacts on property, property values, property upkeep, tourism, aquatic industries, and human health. Based on the toxicity of the sediment elements, will the removal of the dam have similar impacts?


Salmon Falls has an important history. Originally an important and sacred site of the Passamaquoddy Tribe and as the oldest power operation in Canada, it is seen by many as a historical asset that should be preserved and promoted for the benefit of the community at large..

Action: Analyse whether or not the historical significance of Salmon could be promoted to the economic benefit of the community.


Once an economic powerhouse, St. Stephen, Calais and the two Milltowns continue to see their industries disappear and business costs rise. Among the most serious liabilities is the cost of electric power. If the dam, fishway, and power generation system can be upgraded with modern technology and redesign, could the increased power output, be used to make these towns attractive to business once more?

At the moment, no answer has been provided. But this possibility speaks to the absolute necessity of slowing down this process and immediately initiating a public consideration of alternatives that could benefit both the river ecosystem and the residents.

Art MacKay 9/30/2020

Sunday, April 26, 2020

DISTANCE LEARNING: Stuck at home with the Kid's. Here's a fun whale project to keep them busy!

This "Blue Whale Puppet" was inspired by one I saw online somewhere. I've included 2 sizes, 8-1/2 x 11 and 11 x 17. Print your size choice on heavy card stock, cut out the parts, punch holes in the appropriate places and insert paper fasteners in the holes or you can use heavy twine tied on both sides. Hang your finished artwork on the wall where everyone can enjoy it ... and maybe play with it a bit.
Want to add a little more time onto this project? I've included black and white versions so your kids can paint or color their creations before they assemble the puppet.
Maybe they can come up with some titles to add ... like "I whale always love you!" or "I'm looking for a porpoise"... you know, something that adds more fun for everyone.

Download it now for FREE from our store at
Enjoy, Art MacKay

Saturday, April 25, 2020

OPINION - Frankenfish coming to Bay of Fundy soon?

© Art MacKay

Atlantic salmon swim to forefront of science
By JOHN McPHEE Environment Reporter, Halifax Chronicle-Herald
Thu. Dec 10, 2010

A genetically modified Atlantic salmon escapes from a fish farm into a river.

But it doesn’t live long enough to enjoy its freedom. Because the salmon isn’t eating a particular feed, a "kill gene" kicks in and it dies.

It may sound like science fiction but researchers are well on their way to this kind of genetic tweaking, said Fred Whoriskey, of the Atlantic Salmon Federation, in an interview Wednesday.

Genome mapping and research will eventually open up a wide array of biological tools. Most of them

Friday, April 24, 2020

ISSUES: 20 Years ago Olympia Snow"s "pity lecture" pointed to serious issues. Have things changed?

This was published 20 years ago and brought to light many of the serious issues facing folks along our Atlantic coast. I am astounded that the issues have only become more serious. Or am I wrong?

Monday, April 20, 2020

Sunday, April 19, 2020

FOOD - It seems we used to make our own ketchup ... and catsup!

WOW!! The old Grand Manan Cookbook is filled with surprises! But ketchup and catsup both?

LOOKING BACK: The Phalarope is Fundy's "canary" ... is it dead or dying

This article was written 20 years ago. During that time right whales have moved northward and the presence of Phalaropes has been "up and down" according to the few reports we have received. Is anyone aware of recent studies?

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

EXPLORE: The Strange Rocks of Campobello Island, Bay of Fundy

Some of Campobello‘s young people like to call the ledge off the island’s Liberty Point “Frog Rock.” Some also see the image of a turtle.

With a little imagination, the image of the stone stack below Campobello’s Friar’s Head reveals an “Old Friar.” A Passamaquoddy legend speaks of the stack as a young Indian maiden, turned to stone while awaiting the return of her lover. The cracks in the “Old Friar” indicate he is likely to loose his head in the not too distant future.

LOOKING BACK: A tunnel to PEI?

The Northumberland Tunnel, the Big Question in the Little Province

by johnwood1946
We Must Have It — The Tunnel to P.E.I.
By Bird Bear Press, as found in a CBC online article
Prince Edward Island joined Confederation on the understanding that a reliable year-round mode of communication would be established between the island and the mainland.                                                      Ferry services turned out to be very unreliable, however, and P.E.I. was left isolated for long periods of time. Proposals were brought forward in the late 19th Century to install a steel and concrete tube on the floor of the Northumberland Strait to serve as a tunnel. This idea was abandoned by around 1900 in favor of a more conventional excavated tunnel.
Alfred Burke was a Prince Edward Islander, a Catholic priest, a self-trained agriculturalist, and an advocate for public works. He supported the construction of the tunnel and explained the whole background in a 1905 article entitled The Northumberland Tunnel, the Big Question in the Little Province. Following is his presentation.
The Northumberland Tunnel, the Big Question in the Little Province
In the great game of land-grab which the provinces of Canada are now playing with such

Saturday, April 4, 2020

DISTANCE LEARNING - Why now is a good time to become a backyard biologist!

DISTANCE LEARNING - Why now is a good time to become a backyard biologist!  FREE DOWNLOAD AND LINK. 

DISTANCE LEARNING - Why now is a good time to become a backyard biologist!
DISTANCE LEARNING - Why now is a good time to become a backyard biologist!
DISTANCE LEARNING - Why now is a good time to become a backyard biologist!
DISTANCE LEARNING - Why now is a good time to become a backyard biologist!
DISTANCE LEARNING - Why now is a good time to become a backyard biologist!

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DISTANCE LEARNING - Why now is a good time to become a backyard biologist!

Saturday, December 14, 2019

LOOKING BACK: Advice to Emigrants to New Brunswick, 1881 (from John Wood)

Advice to Emigrants to New Brunswick, 1881

by johnwood1946
'Lawrence Camp' on the Tobique River, in about 1915
William Notman & Son, from the McCord Museum
The New Brunswick Land and Lumber Company received a federal charter in 1881, and owned over 1.6-million acres of land in northern New Brunswick, principally along the Tobique River. They were given responsibility for all manner of commercial undertakings within this territory, including lumbering, farming, mining, etc., and to provide ancillary services such as manufacturing and transport. They also undertook to sell parts of their holdings to would-be settlers. One of their publications was Guide to New Brunswick which was directed toward tourists and sportsmen, but most importantly to prospective settlers. This included a chapter entitled 'Advice to Emigrants,' and that chapter follows.
This 'advice' is certainly optimistic, and the once penniless but now prosperous immigrant that he used as an example could have encountered many pitfalls. Then as now, buyer beware.
Advice to Emigrants to New Brunswick, 1881
The class of men who are wanted in New Brunswick, and will prosper there, are the small farmers, and the more hardworking day laborers of England and Scotland, men who can work in the open and who can till the land and fell the trees. Mechanics and tradesfolk are in less demand.
Work can be had throughout the year by an able-bodied man.
In the prairie and timberless country of the far West the soil is frozen for more than six months in the year, and the farmer, whether he will or no, can find little to do; but in New Brunswick directly the snow falls lumbering begins.
Strong men can always find work in the lumbering camps. The life in the bright, keen winter air is said to be most exhilarating, and the wages paid are high.
A farmer tilling his own land will find plenty to do throughout the winter in felling trees and clearing his farm.
Married men should remember, that while to a poor man a large family in Great Britain is a loss and a hindrance, in New Brunswick it is a distinct gain. Provisions are so cheap and