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1700s to 2000s in Grand Lake Meadows

Value of wetlands

During the 1700s the wetlands were considered 'undesirable' and 'sunken' land.

Settlers lived off the land, planting crops and raising livestock, and considered this saturated land 'undesirable' for farming practices.

In the 1900s, we realized the importance of wetlands for our environment:

  • for clean water
  • for flood control
  • for shoreline and storm protection
  • for cultural value
  • for materials and medicines
  • for recreation
  • for wildlife habitat
  • ...
  • Land within Grand Lake Meadows which was previously considered 'worthless' is now 'priceless'.

    Why settlers were attracted to Grand Lake Meadows

  • The system of rivers and lakes provided relatively easy transportation throughout the year
  • The abundant rivers and lakes provided fresh fish year-round
  • Rich moist soil was excellent for planting crops
  • Moderated climate and rich ecosystem was full of animals which provided meat and leather skins used for clothing and shelter
  • Many resources were available for making tools
  • Who were the settlers?

  • Maliseet (Wolastoqiyik) and Mi’kmaq peoples
  • Acadians (1600s)
  • Dutch (1600s)
  • English (1700s)
  • French (1600s)
  • Loyalists (1700s)
  • Land ownership & land use

  • By mid-late 1700s land parcels were divided up and granted to individuals in New Brunswick by the government. (by the Surveyor General, cum Commissioner of Crown Lands, cum Commissioner of Lands and Mines, cum Minister of Natural Resources, cum Minister of Natural Resources and Energy)
  • In the 1800s some of these lands were subdivided into smaller parcels.
  • By the 1900s over 900 families inhabited this area. The land was used for agriculture and forestry.
  • Starting in the 1950s land was expropriated by the government in order to construct base facilities for Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Gagetown.
  • In the 1990s additional land was returned to the Crown (Her Majesty the Queen) and became part of the New Brunswick Protected Natural Areas program. This land is managed and maintained by Eastern Habitat Joint Venture whose purpose is to protect and enhance the wetlands for wildlife habitat.
  • Eastern Habitat Joint Venture partners: The six easternmost provinces: Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and Quebec Canadian Wildlife Service Ducks Unlimited Canada Wildlife Habitat Canada
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    Diverse ecology


    Grand Lake Meadows is known for its diverse ecology and its abundant wildlife: especially its waterfowl during the spring and fall migration.

    This diversity is due to three factors:

  • The presence of Grand Lake
  • Extensive floodplains
  • The presiding water levels over the growing season

    “Outside of the flood season GLM contains almost 22,000 ha of open water with swamps and marshes concentrated in several areas” [Dickinson, P.J, 2008; Dzikowski et al. 1984; NBDNRE 1998]. Nearly 82% of this open water (17,870ha) is considered part of the Grand Lake. Grand Lake is the largest open body of water in New Brunswick being a total of 20 miles long and 7 miles wide [Nason, R. 2013]. This large body of water acts as a heat sink: moderating local temperatures, creating the warmest climate in the province, and extending the growing season [D’Arcy, M, 2008]. The climate modification influence of Grand Lake coupled with moist rich soils has yielded a unique collection of diverse vegetation in GLM [GNB, 2013]. GLM contains the largest number of tree species found in New Brunswick including the Silver Maple, Butternut, and Bur Oak - each of which has adapted to the high flooding frequency and are scarce outside the region [GNB, 2013].

  • Transportation

  • Transportation methods within the region have changed over the past few centuries with the earliest transportation being along the waterways in canoes.
  • Evidence of roads are first found in the maps from the late 1800s.
  • Expansion of the road along the southern shore (TransCanada Highway - Route 2) occurred in the 1900s. With an expansion and construction of a new bridge across the St. John River at the village of Burton in the 1960s. Then a re-alignment of the TransCanada Highway (to expand it to a 4-lane freeway) was proposed in the 1990s. This construction was completed in 2007.



  • Geography section





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    Content last updated 2013. University of New Brunswick, Geodesy and Geomatics Engineering Department