Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Parks Canada 100th Anniversary

Parks Canada is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year by doing something long overdue - at least for parks in our area.  Fundy National Park was formed in 1948 by the expropriation of approximately 206 square kilometers of Acadian Forest and kilometers of rugged Bay of Fundy coastline. This land, unfortunately, held the homes of many people plus logging businesses on the Point Wolf and Alma Rivers.  Many people were relocated, some homes (my parents and grandparents were two) were moved as well.  People were paid very little and moved because the government told them too.  My great-grandmother lived near where #7 green is on the current golf course.  She had lived there all her life and when the Park was created she was moved, even though she was quite elderly.  She died a few years later and my Mom always said it was of a broken heart.

Anyway, this year the Park decided to have a birthday party and invite all of the people they booted out, plus their children and grandchildren and, (drum roll please) a seasonal pass for the next month or so that you need one was given to everyone.  It was suggested that this may happen each year but we'll see what 2012 brings.

It was a nice get together even though they ran out of food early.  The crowd was much bigger than anticipated which is a good thing.  It was a like a family reunion and a number of people got to get reaquainted with people they hadn't seen for years.

My father Otty, who is 86, and his brother Leo, who is 94, were among the two oldest ones attending and were some of the last of the original expropriates.  My grandfather's home and Mom and Dad's home were located where the Fundy Highland Motel and Chalets are now.  Their homes were moved to Alma.  Ironically, Dad's house is now owned by the Park and is used for summer students.

My brother and sister lived in the Park.  They were 3 and newborn when they moved to Alma.  I was born after the Park was established and only lived in Alma until I was 6.

I grew up camping in the Park and heard all the stories from my parents of what life was like in that area when fishing and lumbering were the big employers.  The fishing is still there - you haven't lived until you've jack-hammered your way into a Fundy lobster - but the lumbering is gone.  Those jobs were replaced by government jobs with pensions and health benefits.  So in some way, some people benefited.

Don't get me wrong. I'm actually glad the Park was created as it is protected some very unique land like all National Parks do.  It would have been nice, however, if the "powers-that-be" had given those free passes to the expropriates many years ago.  Better late than never I guess.

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