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The Great Trek - Week 5: St. John River

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This week we have been travelling up the St. John River in New Brunswick. Author Hugh MacLennan wrote of it:

 The St. John in its upper reaches is slim and graceful, a delicate band through fields and forests, and it looks quiet until you come to Grand Falls where suddenly you see the power of it. The flume of the falls, utterly savage, hurls itself; twisted by the contour of the rock, into a huge slide of water before it plunges into a gorge with walls about a hundred feet high. No salmon could ever surmount the Grand Falls of the St. John, but logs can go down it, and only once in a century or more of lumbering has Grand Falls been jammed. Then it was done on a bet by an old river character called Connor, who was known in the district as The Red Rover.

From Woodstock down to Fredericton the river flows in bold sweeps and curves about the width of the Thames at Oxford but after passing the head of the tide (the furthest upstream point penetrated by salt water) at Crock's Point, and receiving the Keswick, it widens at Fredericton to nearly half a mile, passes under three bridges and proceeds deep and generally still toward the majestic stretches lower down. The Long Reach is one of the fairest sections of river I have ever seen in Canada, and a little below it the stream swells into Grand Bay behind the city of Saint John. Here the Kennebecasis comes in from the east, not as a tributary but as a separate river that - ages back in geologic time - flowed in the opposite direction.

Below Grand Bay the St. John ends in the last of its many surprises; it reaches the Reversing Falls between the city and the raw new suburb of Lancaster. When the tide is low the river goes down a gorge in a drop of 17 feet into the Fundy. But when the Fundy lifts, salt water surges into the gorge and floods right into the river itself, and at high tide there is enough depth to float a sizable tanker.

The Great Trail follows close beside the river for its entire length.

As we camped out just below Fredericton, I shared this memory from my youth: