The Saint John River
Saint John River
For Wolastoqiyik who have lived along its banks for centuries, the Saint John River is known as Wolastoq – the beautiful or good river – a bountiful river that leads to a bountiful sea. It is their refuge, but it was destined to become the refuge of other cultures, as first the Acadians, and then the Loyalists, fled from persecution and personal danger to the safety of its valley. The Saint John was also destined to become both an international boundary and a major artery of culture and commerce through the heartland of New Brunswick, leading, ever so conveniently, to one of Atlantic Canada’s most important harbours. Its beauty is praised, its virtues extolled, its rich heritage of sacrifice and settlement described.
New Brunswick’s greatest waterway was named by one of Canada’s greatest explorers, Samuel de Champlain, as he sailed into its mouth at the Bay of Fundy on June 24, 1604, the feast day of John the Baptist. Stretching 673 kilometres from its rugged headwaters in the woods of northern Maine, running southeast to its mouth at the city of Saint John, and draining a vast area of 55,000 square kilometres, the Saint John is one of Canada’s greatest working rivers. Forests, farms, massive hydroelectric projects have all left their mark on the beloved Wolastoq, but its rank as one of eastern Canada’s greatest waterways remains unchanged.