Monday, April 26, 2010

Hebbs Landing

Since the small Hebbs Landing site along the Annapolis River was opened a few years ago, I have always meant to stop to take a look. I often look at the small picnic park as I drive between Annapolis Royal and Bridgetown, but I always seem to have a reason not to stop. At least I always seem to be able to convince myself that I have some more pressing engagement when I drive by the site. Well, this afternoon as I was driving back from an errand in Bridgetown I decided that I should stop to take a look around.

Believe it or not, my main reason for stopping was to get some photographs of the trees which are leaning into the river. I am impressed by the sheer tenacity of these trees. As if elm trees did not have enough to worry about with dutch elm disease, these poor trees have their toehold on the world literally eroding away. The trees will hang at a precarious angle for years until a storm or gravity sends them splashing into the river. It is almost like a Nova Scotia version of the sword of Damocles. There is something tragically beautiful about the way the trees cling to life in the face of a predetermined fate.

When I got out of the car and looked around, I realized that Hebbs Landing is an absolutely charming spot. The Annapolis River is an old meandering river which moves very quietly in this location. Today the water was so calm that it was acting as a mirror for the clouds and trees.

If you squint your eyes just the right way, you can almost imagine this landscape as it would have looked historically. This peaceful river would have been the primary means of transportation in the days before engines were invented. When roads were muddy and horses were expensive, it was simply easier to travel on the water. To the Mi'Kmaq this river would have been an essential part of a network of inland waterways used to move between seasonal encampments. By building dykes the Acadians were able to take advantage of the unique tidal properties of the river. They would have also used the river for transportation when their community expanded from Port Royal into the nearby settlements of Belleisle and Paradis Terrestre. Crops would have been sailed to Annapolis Royal for trade or because they were being forced to provision the garrison. The Annapolis River would have taken both Planters and Loyalists to their new homes in the middle of the county. In the Age of Sail these waters would have been navigable by vessels much larger than anyone today could imagine sailing up the river. The Annapolis River not only runs through the heart of Annapolis County, but it is at the heart of our history.

All for now,

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