Grand Lake Meadows
 


 

 

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Home > Why: Historical Significance
 
Moose, drawing by Cheryl Bogart, Queens County Museum Collection
Moose, drawing by Cheryl Bogart, Queens County Museum Collection.
Aboriginal Tools: scraper and nutcrackers, Queens County Museum Collection.
Aboriginal Tools: scraper and nutcrackers, Queens County Museum Collection.
Jemseg River and farm in background, Grand Lake Meadows, courtesy of Ian Varty.
Jemseg River and farm in background, Grand Lake Meadows, courtesy of Ian Varty.
Grand Lake Meadows, courtesy of Richard Goodick
Grand Lake Meadows, courtesy of Richard Goodick.
Bridge across St. John River near Grand Lake, courtesy of Keith McKenzie.
Bridge across St. John River near Grand Lake, courtesy of Keith McKenzie.
Deer, Grand Lake Meadows, courtesy of Keith McKenzie.
Deer, Grand Lake Meadows, courtesy of Keith McKenzie.
Historical Significance
 
From Aboriginal times to the present, the Grand Lake Meadows and surrounding region have been home to a beautiful natural environment and vibrant community, a vital component in the social, political and economic development of our province.
 
Both Wolastoqiyik and Mi’kmaq lived and worked in the area with Grand Lake and the Meadows acting as a cultural crossroads through the multiple waterways, inlets and portage routes. Rich soil for planting, animals for hunting and trapping, ease of transportation, and a profusion of resources for tools were all found in the area of the Grand Lake Meadows.
 
Pottery shards, stone tools and implements recovered from the local area evoke an appreciation of day to day life and arrows and spearheads, axes and scrapers reveal a sophisticated and adaptable society. The abundance of archaeological evidence in the area underlines its importance to the First Nations and thus the early ecological and community history of the province and nation.
 
European contact lead to one of the more active periods in the history of the Grand Lake Meadows. While the exact location of Fort Jemseg remains a mystery, it seems clear that it was near the confluence of the Jemseg and St. John Rivers, thereby protecting the valuable land mass of the Meadows to the north.
 
Recognizing the importance of the region as did the Aboriginals, the Dutch, French and English vied with each for control of the St. John River through most of the 18th century. At the geographical heart of these conflicts were the Grand Lake Meadows and its boundless resources.
 
The arrival of the Loyalists in the late 18th century and then the great European migrations of the 19th century brought a more peaceful existence but also fundamentally altered the First Nations communities and their use of the area.
 
Exploitation of resources accelerated as more and more settlers inhabited the area, all realizing the immense assets of the region. The lush grass made quality hay for livestock and the open intervales served as seasonal feeding grounds. Timber in the surrounding hills and further up the Lake contributed to successful logging and lumbering industries with the waterways of the Lake and Meadows providing easy transportation to markets and the movement of people.
 
In more modern times, while many of the small farms and industries have disappeared, they have been replaced with other changes to meet the needs of a growing and fast paced society. Recognizing the beauty of the area, cottages dot the shorelines and pleasure craft explore the numerous waterways during the warmer months. Hunting and fishing continue, but at a reduced scale.
 
Most recently, the importance of the Meadows’ geographical location was illustrated once again when it became the logical avenue to construct a section of the Fredericton to Moncton four lane highway.
 
Modern development, of course, comes with an environmental cost and the maintenance of the significant natural environment of the Meadows and its ecological integrity are among the most important challenges in the future.